The way that female characters have been portrayed in comics has changed considerably over the years. Dundee-based publishers DC Thomson were especially prolific in this area – as well as the famous Bunty (1958-2001) they produced many other titles including Judy (1960-91), Diana (1963-76), Mandy (1967-91) andSpellbound (1976-77).
The stories and characters in these comics covered a surprisingly wide range. The focus was mostly on teenage girls – their daily lives and their thirst for adventure and new worlds. They addressed important issues such as how to deal with new classmates; how to become a ballet dancer; how to fly a spaceship and save the world…
The girls’ comics of DC Thomson reflect the attitudes of their time, but were also quick to respond to readers’ demands. The traditional pony and ballet strips were soon joined by sports stories, historical dramas and tales of the supernatural. The majority of artists and writers were men, but recent years have seen a huge increase in the number of female writers and artists, creating new representations of women and girls in comics and graphic novels.
A new exhibition at Dundee University’s Tower Foyer Gallery presents original artwork on loan from DC Thomson as well as a selection of pieces by current comics creators including Maria Stoian, Tanya Roberts and Kate Charlesworth, offering a broad range of interpretations of what female figures can be in British comics culture. The exhibition has been curated by Louise Quirion, a recent graduate from the University’s MLitt course in Comics Studies.
The exhibition is on from 22 July to 21 October 2017, Mon-Fri 09.30-19.00 Sat 13.00-17.00
While you’re here, why not read our interview with Dundee-based comics artist, Rebecca Horner.