Due for release in March, Myriad Editions The Inking Woman by Nicola Streeten and Cath Tate, will be published one week after a study of early female cartoonist, Marie Duval.
Taking its name from the terrific The Inking Woman exhibition hosted by London’s Cartoon Museum in 2017, this new book is a groundbreaking, picture-led celebration of the work of over 100 named British artists, and a few more anonymous ones. It reveals a wealth of women’s wit and insight, spanning 250 years and 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, 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).
Cartoons were 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 nearly a 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.
This wide-ranging curation of women’s comics work by anthropologist-turned-illustrator and comics scholar Nicola Streeten (co-founder of Laydeez Do Comix with Sarah Lightman and author of Billy and Me) and Cath Tate (founder of Cath Tate Cards, initially to produce political (anti-Thatcher) and feminist postcard) includes prints, caricatures, joke, editorial and strip cartoons, postcards, comics, zines, graphic novels and digital comics.
The book covers all genres and topics, addresses inclusion of art by women of underrepresented backgrounds, and comes packed with art from creators such as Hannah Berry, Rozi Hathaway, Cath Jackson, Liz Mackie, Ravi Thornton and many more.
I haven’t seen a copy of The Inking Woman yet, but Myriad have sent me some imagery from the book – and from this selection alone (I’ll run more in a separate post), combined with the deserved acclaim for last year’s eponymous exhibition, it’s definitely a title on my recommended reading list.
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