INTERVIEW With Hope Nicholson, Author of ‘The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen’

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What the world needs now is the Sisterhood of Superwomen…

It seems like the perfect time with Wonder Woman hitting the big screen this week, to talk about the newly released The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History! The book that is all about the Superwomen that have had impacted the world of comics for decades.

The history *but like the cool mom of history* book is broken down by the decades and features a detailed descriptions of some of the super ladies that shaped the comic world. As a history nerd, it is truly fascinating to see how the world of comics for the female characters, writers, creators, and illustrators change from decade to decade. And while we should be celebrating how far we have come, I did mention that after being around for 76 years, Wonder Woman is finally getting her own solo film this week, there is still so much we have to hope and look forward to.

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History is the perfect gift for yourself or a friend and will look great on any geek’s coffee table (that is exactly where my copy is hanging out)!

So we should cheers our past, present, and future super lady creators and supporters!

Speaking of celebrating, we were able to chat with The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History author, Hope Nicholson, about the book, comics, and duh Superwomen! Check out the interview below…

AGtM: Your past work includes publishing The Secret Loves of Geek Girls and the re-release of Fashion in Action, was working on The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen a natural progression for you professionally and personally?

HP: I think it was more of a spinoff of the history work I had done on the Canadian comics scene (ie. in books like Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Brok Windsor), very similar type of deep dives, the only difference is for this project, I was doing it every day for dozens of comics instead of concentrating on just one!

AGtM: What was the research process like for this book and how did you decide what super ladies to include?

HP: I had a large spreadsheet where I wrote down potential characters, with different meta data for each, ie. what year they premiered, what publisher they were under, what genre of comics they were. The idea was to take a sampling of them to showcase the breadth of comics, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list! I wanted to make sure for example, even though we call them superwomen in the title, that we didn’t focus TOO much on superheroes, and on Marvel/DC. There’s been a lot of great publishers, big and small, outside of these two and I’ve been very happy to include works that have been largely forgotten.

AGtM: For me personally when I was reading the book I thought the most dramatic evolution for women in comic came between 1960s and 1970s, what surprised you the most from decade to decade?

HP: I think I was mostly surprised that the 1930s were so saucy! Though I shouldn’t have been so surprised, since I’ve been a fan of pre-code films from that time period, it makes sense the comics were equally scandalous!

I agree as well, I think the rise of the women’s movement in the 1970s had a great impact on the comic industry at the time. It seemed to go backwards a bit though after this…

AGtM: Which decade do you believe was the most powerful for women in this industry?

HP: There are parts in the 1940s, when more female artists had creative jobs in the comics industry (due to the war) but I think that the rise of women’s collectives in the 1970s also had a powerful effect, since it was women making comics for women. And then in the last few decades, the rise of webcomics and the gender parity there has been really great to see. I think that this decade is the best for industry, but it’s a hard call.

AGtM: Tell me about the inspiration behind the cover and visual layout of the book?

HP: I dunno! Timothy O’Donnell did all of that! I just endlessly sourced visual references (both in terms of scans and in terms of license requests) then he made magic with them.

AGtM: Now with comics being taught in schools do you have hopes that this book will be used for college courses?

HP: Oh gosh. Not really! I wouldn’t have said vulva, tits, and hymen so often if I had thought schools would use it! They’d probably be better off with Trina Robbin’s more extensive histories like Pretty In Ink.

AGtM: Though we have come far when it comes to women in comics, what is your dream for females in this medium?

HP: Well I want to see men and women working in all different comic book genres and formats. That means more women working in horror and action. More men doing fashion and romance. An end to women in comics panels, and not a single all-male panel ever again for other topics.

AGtM: Who is your all time favorite super lady?

HP: Probably Dazzler! But only in her first series. I liked that she was like me, struggling, with an unrealistic dream (though at age 7 I didn’t know that was where I’d be!) plus she had really cool friends.

AGtM: What character, creator, artist, etc inspired you the most while writing this book?

HP: Well Trina Robbins again probably! Not only did she start off a whole MOVEMENT of underground comics in the 1970s, but she’s the foremost historian of female representation in comics. Without her work breaking down the walls with a hammer, I couldn’t come by with my chisel and find some of these strange gems!

AGtM: Finally what is next for you?

HP: Writing/history wise, I’m not sure! I focus a lot on my publishing company, and we’re doing a few things in the next several months. A zine follow up to Secret Loves of Geek Girls, a Gothic Romance comics anthology, an adaptation of the NFB film Window Horses, and the upcoming Habibi Muslimah love anthology. It’ll be a busy year!

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen: Awesome Female Characters from Comic Book History is currently anywhere you get your books! 

Kait Calabrò

Kait Calabrò

Lady Kaitlin Marie Bernadette Calabrò of House Ravenclaw, First of Her Name; Mother of Recaps, Breaker of News, Khaleesi of Wonder Wharf, Queen of Geekdom, and Empress of Anglophiles, is the Managing Editor of AGtM.  By day she is the Marketing Manager of the Philadelphia Film Society, by night she is a serious relationship with her Netflix account. Kait is a proud Temple Owl! And is currently in a celebrity feud with both Samuel L. Jackson and Zachary Levi, unbeknownst to them. She spends her evenings watching the skies waiting for Thor to fly down and take her back to Asgard!
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