Halloween being a national holiday here on the Nerd Farm, we’re taking a little vacation this week. But just so as not to leave you with no funnybook diversions in the meantime, we thought we’d do a little link-blogging instead…
Yesterday, NPR had a long-form interview with Jill Lepore, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman, a look at the character’s creation and at her creator, William Moulton Marston. Marston was a psychologist, the creator of the polygraph, and a man with a keen interest in feminism, domination, submission, and a polyamorous lifestyle. It’s easy (and fun!) to make jokes about all the S&M trappings in Marston’s Golden Age Wonder Woman stories, but Lepore has done her research and dug much deeper, looking at the strange brew of obsessions and fascinations that made the early Wonder Woman comics so compelling.
Because, make no mistake, Golden Age Wonder Woman stories are amazing things to read. Though they’re crude by modern standards, I’m often stunned by the stuff I find in them, whether it’s characters pondering Marston’s unique philosophy on male-female relations, or villains clearly designed to show the negative side of the bondage fantasies the stories indulge in. But beyond that, they’re also crazily imaginative and fun. Marston’s Wonder Woman is the only version of the character I’ve ever read who seems like a whole person. In his hands, she’s boisterous and fun-loving, a powerful dynamo with a can-do attitude and an active libido that’s noticeably lacking in most later versions of the strip.
In the interview, Lepore discusses the mix of influences and beliefs that shaped Marston, and lead to that strange, heady mix of funnybook brilliance. It’s a great stuff, and well worth the time for any serious student of funnybook history. If I’ve piqued your interest, you can check it out here:
And, if that doesn’t sound like your cuppa tea… That’s cool, too. Hope you have a Happy Halloween. And we’ll see you next week.