Tarpé Mills is a name well known to comics historians, not only as one of the best of the female cartoonists of the war years, but as the creator and artist of Miss Fury, one of the first successful superheroine characters, which ran for nearly a decade as a strip in a Sunday newspaper supplemet. It was a lively blend of outré characters, adventure and naughtiness. This April, Dean Mullaney’s Library of American Comics imprint at IDW is reprinting the best of the strips in a deluxe volume complete with an introduction by comics historian Trina Robbins. Mullaney provided a description of the volume and this preview for our Anniversary week:
Catfights and crossdressers, mad scientists and Gestapo agents with swastika-branding irons—it’s one lurid and exciting adventure after another in this lavish, full-color collection of the first female superhero created and drawn by a woman. Miss Fury was a sexy adventurer clad in a skin-tight panther costume—complete with sharp claws on her hands and her feet!
By day, she was socialite Marla Drake. By night…Miss Fury.
The strip was populated by a cast of memorable characters who were connected to each other by far less than six degrees of separation and whose paths interwove like a complicated tapestry. They include:
The one-armed general Bruno, a Rommel-esque figure who is a German patriot, but plots to overthrow the Nazi party.
Marla’s recurring nemesis, the Baroness Erica Von Kampf, her platinum blonde bangs cut into a V-shape to cover the swastika that was branded on her forehead.
Gary Hale, the all-American man who doesn’t necessary marry the right woman.
Albino Jo, a Harvard-educated, loincloth-wearing albino Indian in the Brazilian jungle who resurfaces a year later as a pipe-smoking criminologist dressed in a well-tailored suit.
Whiffy, a French transvestite smuggler of stolen European art!
Miss Fury’s friend Era, who falls for one of two seemingly young and handsome men who actually are 200 years old, and have been drinking an elixir to stay young!
Eisner- and Harvey-nominated writer and historian Trina Robbins has chosen the best Miss Fury stories for this oversized collection, which also features a biographical essay about Tarpé Mills that places her within the history of women cartoonists, and includes pages from an unpublished and unfinished Miss Fury graphic novel by Mills from 1979.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.