Underground/alternative cartoonist and editor Diane Noomin has passed away.
The news of Diane’s passing is being shared on social media.
I am so sorry to share the news that Diane Noomin passed away earlier this afternoon.
Diane was a seminal creator in the underground comix movement—one of only a handful of female writer/artists in that space. Her first work was in 1973, in “Wimmen’s Comix.” She was also a regular contributor to “Arcade,” “Young Lust,” “El Perfecto,” and “Weirdo,” and was the creator of DiDi Glitz and the co-creator of “Twisted Sisters” with Aline Kominsky-Crumb.
Diane Noomin is an acclaimed comics artist and editor and creator of her alter ego, the glamorous and bouffant DiDi Glitz. She has been a central figure in women’s comics since the early feminist publications of the 1970s. From “Red Diaper Baby” (2003), in which Noomin reflects on her parents’ Communist views and activities, through her comics on abortion, female masturbation, abusive relationships, and miscarriages, to her most recently edited volume, the multi-award-winning anthology Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival (2019), Noomin has fearlessly championed feminism and autobiography with “humor [that is] self-deprecating and ironic.”
What was the relationship between women cartoonists and men cartoonists at the time?
I had no problems. I really didn’t. When I went out to San Francisco, it was kind of a “wild and crazy” time, and someone would throw a party when they published a book…
When I first got there, I met Bill and Art Spiegelman and cartoonist Michelle Brand. Michelle was nice and really helpful…
In a way, it was like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney saying, “Let’s put on a show, kids.” If you wanted to, you’d say, “Let’s put on a comic, kids!” and you asked all the people you liked to be in it. Bill and Art had started Arcade and I was inspired. I wanted to edit a comic book, so in 1978 I edited a comic book called Lemme Outta Here!: Growing Up Inside the American Dream. It has a cover by Michael McMillan and a back cover by MK Brown, it has long stories by me and Aline, and Bill did a story called “Is There Life After Levittown?” And Crumb did a story about Treasure Island…
Have you ever found it hard to be in a relationship with a male cartoonist and have people focus on your work?
I side-stepped that. Aline and I did opposites once again. Her thing was changing her name to Crumb, and I never changed my name. People who weren’t friends didn’t know for a long time that Bill and I had gotten married. For about the first five years of my being a cartoonist, someone would ask what I did and I would say, “I’m trying to be a cartoonist.” Eventually I stopped caring what anyone thought. But I still don’t use Bill’s name, and I’d rather not be labeled as “the cute cartooning couple.”
Back to The Encyclopedia of Jewish Women:
Throughout her career as a cartoonist Noomin has enjoyed significant success as a multi-award-winning editor of women’s comics. Her beautifully presented edited volumes have continued to make comics history through their choice of artists and subject matter…
In 1976, Diane Noomin and Aline Kominsky Crumb edited Twisted Sisters. In 1991 Noomin edited Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art, followed by Twisted Sisters Comics and Twisted Sisters, Vol. 2: Drawing the Line. Through her publications, Noomin is responsible for bringing many cartoonists to the public eye for the first time: “I’m very proud of the Twisted Sisters anthologies…
In 2019, Noomin edited the critically acclaimed Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival, which in 2020 was awarded the Susan Koppelman Award for Best Anthology, Multi-Authored, or Edited Book in Feminist Studies in Popular and American Culture, and in the same year the Eisner Award for Best Anthology. Featuring 60 artists, this collection was described in the New York Times as a “landmark collection, beautifully produced, [which] shines a light on a relentless, unwelcome aspect of women’s lives” (Chute, 2019). Noomin revealed her motivation behind the anthology: “The idea came to me after watching Trump brag of sexual assault […] I was so angry and had nowhere to put that anger. […] I decided in that moment to create a book about real women being exposed to sexual violence or threat by real men” (Mielke, 2019).
Anyway, in this first Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art, this was all previously published work, and when it came out, it got a huge response and people were saying, “Where did all these strong women cartoonists come from.”
This made a difference in my life. I think, before this I felt invisible. And after this, I felt that not only had I helped all these other women become visible, but I was really proud to be part of this group. I was really proud of it and glad to be in it, and that was the only reason I did it. I got asked a lot of questions about, “How did you choose artists, and how come you have no lesbians in there?” At various book signings, you have different audiences. And basically I did this: if I liked the work, I put it in.