comicbookGRRRL Do not offend the chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible.

20Sep/150

Calling All Londoners: The Kewpies Are Coming

What do you get when you combine three of my favourite things: the history of women in comics, tattooed ladies, and animal rescue? Things & Ink's second Miniature Ink exhibition featuring kewpie dolls with all sales proceeds going to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home!

Miniature Ink II

I've been a subscriber to Things & Ink for a while, an independent tattoo magazine packed with gorgeous artwork and great articles, all with a supremely women-friendly approach. The Miniature Ink II exhibition at the Atomica Gallery in London begins on the 23rd of September, showcasing work from over 100 international tattoo artists who were given a kewpie doll as their canvas.

Painted this Kewpie doll for an upcoming charity exhibition at @atomicagallery @thingsandink

A photo posted by Wen (@wenramen) on

Kewpies, perhaps most well known now for their stylish place in traditional tattoo work, are rejuvenated from their initial popularity as flash tattoos in the early 1900s. These cute little characters were the creation of Rose O'Neill back in 1909 in the Ladies' Home Journal (US), tumbling down the side of her story pages and advertising multiple products. 

The Kewpies marched for suffrage, an important milestone on the road to improving women's rights given the national love for these little cherubs. O'Neill would parade through the streets, holding her Kewpie dolls high with banners running between them: "Votes for Women!" and "Give Mother the Vote!"

Done for @atomicagallery @thingsandink #MiniatureInk #charityevent

A photo posted by Heinz (@heinztattooer) on

Unusually for the time, O'Neill maintained all her rights to her creations, achieving great financial success and popularity, allowing her to bring attention to the cause without fear of bad press or harassment.

Demand was so high that the Kewpie doll was soon created in 1912, with many a soldier carrying them to war for luck, and it took at least twenty factories in Germany, as well as manufacturers in France and Belgium, to fulfil the orders.

Later, in the '30s, the Kewpies were given their own comics but that isn't what O'Neill is most renowned for in comics. That honour goes to 'The Old Subscriber Calls', a four panel comic rendered in O'Neill's favoured cascaded style published in 1896 in Truth magazine - the first recorded American comic created by a woman.

🔪🔪🔪 #miniatureinkII #occulttattoo A photo posted by Liz Clements Illustration (@lsbeth) on

You can see many more of the Kewpies before the exhibition on Instagram using tags #miniatureinkII and #miniatureink, get all details at the event page on Facebook here, and sales are on a first come, first serve basis.

You can also read more about Rose O'Neill on my site here, with more soon to come!

Hit the jump for the full list of artists: 

30Apr/121

Women in Comics History: Rose O’Neill

History has not been kind to the early US cartoonists, with only a few names regularly remembered - even then, details are patchy. Women cartoonists are mostly forgotten and what research has been done is often contradictory – from differing dates to whether certain individuals were male or female! Yet the contribution from women was immense, particularly in how often their work included gender politics, and in comparison to the contemporary gender disparity within the industry.

It is also a period of Women in Comics history that I hold close to my heart.

Rose O'Neill is regarded as the first woman cartoonist (1874-1944). Self taught, and from a poor family, her parents ensured she was never without paper to draw on, and her father in particular was keen to support her love of books and art as best he could. In 1888, at the age of 13, Rose won an art contest held in the local paper (the Omaha World Herald) and the judges were so doubtful that her entry, "Temptation Leading to an Abyss", could have been drawn by a 13 year old, that they summoned her to prove her skills in person. Proving her skills, from then on Rose was able to supplement the family income with regular work in the periodicals.

Give Mother the Vote!