Released in 2018, The Inking Woman is a groundbreaking picture-led celebration of the work of over 100 named British artists and a few more anonymous ones, revealing a wealth of women’s wit and insight spanning 250 years. Both editors of the book – and Nicola Streeten and Cath Tate – discuss the project in a video hosted by the book’s publisher, Myriad Editions, just one of several items on the Myriad Editions YouTube Channel that appear to have been criminally overlooked.
The video discussion is one of several great items available, including comic creator Kate Charlesworth discussing her brilliant LGBTQI+ graphic memoir, Sensible Footwear, Sarah Lightman talking about Book of Sarah, and Oliver Kugler talking about his book, Escaping Wars and Waves.
Based on an exhibition of the same name, held at the Cartoon Museum in 2017, The Inking Woman, edited by Nicola Streeten (the co-founder of Laydeez do Comics) and Cath Tate demonstrates that women have always had a wicked sense of humour and a perceptive view of the world.
For many years, the world of cartoons and comics was seen as a male preserve. The reality is that women have been drawing and publishing cartoons for longer than most people realise.
In the early 1760s, for example, Mary Darly illustrated, wrote and published the first book on caricature drawing published in England, A Book of Caricaturas. In the nineteenth century, Britain’s first comic character, Ally Sloper, was developed by the actress and cartoonist Marie Duval (1847–1890) – the creator the subject of a separate book from Myriad by Simon Grennan.
Cartoons were also used by the suffragettes, and, during the Great War, artists such as Flora White and Agnes Richardson produced light-hearted propaganda comic postcards.
From the 1920s, a few women cartoonists began to appear regularly in newspapers. The practice was for artists to sign with their surname, so most readers were unaware of the cartoonist’s gender. In 1920, Mary Tourtel created Rupert Bear for the Daily Express, and, one hundred years later, her character is still going strong.
From the 1960s, feminism inspired cartoonists to question the roles assigned to them and address subjects such as patriarchy, equal rights, sexuality and child rearing, previously unseen in cartoons.
Over the last 30 years, women have come increasingly to the fore in comics, zines and particularly graphic novels, and The Inking Woman is well worth tracking down if you haven’t already, offering a wide-ranging curation of women’s comics work includes prints, caricatures, joke, editorial and strip cartoons, postcards, comics, zines, graphic novels and digital comics, covering all genres and topics, also addressing inclusion of art by women of underrepresented backgrounds.
If you haven’t already subscribed to Myriad Editions YouTube Channel, now might just be the time.
• The Inking Woman is available from all good book shops and here from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
• Marie Duval is available from all good book shops and here from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)
• You might also like Sensible Footwear by Kate Charlesworth, also available from all good bookshops and here from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)