Wayback Whensday – You Wear It Well

Dale Messick and Brenda Starr, J.C. Leyendecker and the Arrow Collar, Rudolphe Töpffer and the first comic book.

Dale Messick, “Brenda Starr, Reporter,” © Tribune Content Agency

[F]or a strip that famously broke a major gender barrier, Brenda Starr spends an inordinate amount of time policing the boundaries of traditional femininity … However pioneering Brenda’s careerism may have been, it would be a mistake to see Messick as a prescient feminist radical. Brenda’s heroism was still entrapped in cultural convention. A glamorized, idealized notion of feminine beauty still rules, and romancing the powerful (hopefully wealthy) ubermensch to match this vision is a primary goal for the strip.

Steve Smith, at Panels & Prose, looks at the early years of Dale Messick’s Brenda Starr and has doubts that the character and the creator are the trailblazing feminists that history has made them out to be.

Leyendecker’s “Men With Golf Clubs,” circa 1909.Credit…National Museum of American Illustration

As the 20th century got well underway, who was more radical, Pablo Picasso in Paris, or Joseph Christian Leyendecker in New York?

I asked myself that as I toured “Under Cover: J.C. Leyendecker and American Masculinity,” a fascinating show at the New-York Historical Society. In a score of paintings and countless magazine pages, it gives a compact survey of Leyendecker’s work across the first three decades of the last century, as one of this country’s celebrity illustrators.

His calling card was male beauty: Jazz Age youths in their finest finery populate his ads for shirts and starched collars; athletic collegians grace his covers for the weeklies.

Blake Gopnik, for The New York Times, looks at those early 20th Century J. C. Leyendecker advertising illustrations with modern sensibilities and finds something queer about those straight Arrow men.

I’m a print guy. Black ink on white paper is how I like my histories.

But Mattt’s YouTube history about the creation of the very first comic book by Rudolphe Töpffer is such a wonderful piece that more like could turn me into a fan of audio/video histories.

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