Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review- Miss Fury

MISS FURY (IDW, 2011; Hardcover)
Collects Miss Fury Sunday Strip 159-351, originally published April, 1944- August, 1949.
Writer and Artist: Tarpe' Mills
Charming to the last, Miss Fury is an absolute delight to the eyes and a joy to read. I have never read any newspaper comic strip collections outside of the old Peanuts '60s paperback books, so this was a revelation to me. 
Comic books were the ghetto for creators in the '30s and '40s. Comic strips were where the money and prestige was. The writing and artwork are worlds more sophisticated than any comic book from this era that I've read. I am now very curious about the other strip collections out there. There are boatloads of them available from various publishers. 
Miss Fury is, by today's standards, an obscure character, and The Library of American Comics did a bang up job tracking down quality source materials. Miss Fury was published in black and white in some markets, and all but less than a dozen are here in full color. Miss Fury is historically significant because she was the first female heroine created and drawn by a female cartoonist. 
There were several social taboos displayed in the strip, as well as the hard hitting action that makes this era of comic books/strips so compelling to study. 
I particularly enjoyed the parenting tips that I received from this book. To think that this was socially acceptable parenting 70 years ago is mind-blowing. 
The fears of the Nazis rising again were a recurring theme. Nazi war criminals on the lam are also a recurring theme throughout the strip. I wonder how many Nazi war criminals did launder their money through organized crime.
I am truly grateful that we live in this wondrous age of collected editions. In the past, you would have never been able to read as complete a run of Miss Fury unless you spent all of your time and energy hunting these strips down. Prior to the Internet, this would have been next to impossible. Prior to this book's release, it would have been insanely expensive to boot. This book will cost you (MSRP $49.99), but it is worth every penny.
Mills' writing is wonderful, with her shifting scenes and seamlessly starting and finishing story arcs. I was blown away by the way that she could keep a story going one page at a time. Comic strips were published a full week apart, and you had to assume that readers might not keep last week's funny pages. She could recap and/or start a scene without making this feel like a clunky, repetitive read. 
Mills' artwork is simply stunning. Her lush linework, beautiful women, and explosive fight sequences are beyond compare. They present 13 pages of an unfinished graphic novel from 1981 in the back of the book, and her craft had deteriorated on all counts. These could have been rough drafts or unfinished pencils, but even the panel composition wasn't as appealing as the strip was. 
Don't go thinking that I've gone all Mary Poppins on you with this glowing review. If a book is crap, then I will tear it to shreds. If a book is as enjoyable as this one is, then I will gush nonstop.
The OCD zone- This is a lovingly presented volume. The paper and restoration are both breathtaking. The binding is not. While sewn, it glued flush into the squared spine. This, coupled with the super thick paper, does not allow the book to lay flat at all, a pet peeve of mine. This book is extremely large, measuring over 1' tall and 9.5” wide, and you basically have to press it flat with both hands to read. This is a shame, especially when you consider the great lengths that IDW went to in terms of reproduction, etc., to make this a high quality affair. Still, this book is of undeniable quality, and it looks and feels like a luxurious art book.

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2 comments:

  1. Fantastic review. This is a book I've had my eye on for a bit. I like golden age, and I like heroines. But I hadn't been able to get some good photos and discussion of the contents.

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  2. Thanks! I try to help people make informed decisions about their purchases.

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