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!
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.
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.
Kewpie Sorcerer done for @thingsandink and @atomicagallery #miniatureinkii #miniatureink #miniatureinkshow #kewpie !! Cheers A photo posted by Henbohenning (@henbohenning) on
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!"
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.
Finn the Kewpie. This is the kewpie I did for Miniature Ink II. An exhibition being put on by @atomicagallery and @thingsandink to raise money for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home #rizza_boo #miniatureink #miniatureinkii #finnthehuman #bmo #adventuretime #kewpietime #finnandjake 💌firstname.lastname@example.org A photo posted by Rizza Boo (@rizza_boo) on
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:
At the end of a wonderful week of articles on the LSE Human Rights blog focusing on comics, human rights, and representation, comes my "mic drop" moment - a look at the forgotten women of comics history.
These women were popular, successful, influential and brilliant, yet repeatedly omitted from the history books with the great exception of "herstorian" Trina Robbins.
This is a brief look at just some of those women, built upon my university and ongoing research, and has had an amazing reaction - I'm thrilled!
In the last couple of weeks there has been a slew of articles about the subject of "women in comics" that range from calling out "hot" women that supposedly pretend to be into "geek culture", to telling us that the phrase "women in comics" is passée because the battle has been won, and to other articles taking the depressing line that superhero comics will never change.
The first takes a line on policing just how geeky an attractive women has to be to count as a geek, while ignoring the inherent sexism of industries that pay women to dress in provocative clothes and strut their stuff. The second, makes the mistake of thinking that the experiences of some of the women who have had success in comics are universal, and the third is a tad confusing as I know the author is not against giving up on working towards better representation and portrayals of women at DC and Marvel, yet takes the angle that we should focus on indie comics instead where women are more welcome.
"For a bulky segment of a century, I have been an avid follower of comic strips - all comic strips; this is a statement made with approximately the same amount of pride with which one would say, 'I've been shooting cocaine into my arm for the past twenty-five years.' I cannot remember how the habit started, and I am presently unable to explain why it persists. I only know that I'm hooked, by now, that's all." - Dorothy Parker, 1943
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.