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Breaking News in the World of Women’s Comics History!

What started out as an offhand Google search in the midst of combing through the 1940 Census turned into a series of e-mails between myself and quintessential comics “herstorian” Trina Robbins and has concluded with a victory in the race against time in preserving women’s place in Golden Age comics history.

To wit, Frances Deitrick Hopper, one of the many female artists behind comics publisher Fiction House’s adventure heroines, such as Gale Allen, Jane Martin, and Mysta of the Moon, has been “rediscovered” alive at the age of 90 in New Jersey.

Until now, her life after her last comics credit in 1948 has been a mystery to historians— one of many in the comics field and perhaps never thought to be solved.  But in an attempt to find her hypothetical obituary turned up something better (at least for my research purposes): the obituary of her husband from 2010, stating that at least at the time, she survived him.

Alas, I am a responsible adult now with a real job, and I couldn’t be chasing down leads to possibly living nonagenarians in questionable health, so I went to the person who has the best job in the world, which is to do exactly that, Ms. Trina Robbins.

Using information from Dr. Hopper’s obituary, Trina got in touch with Fran Hopper’s daughter, a retired pediatrician in Massachusetts.  And earlier this afternoon, I got a very excited e-mail from Trina, informing me that she had just gotten off the phone with none other than Fran Hopper herself, alive and well and still sharp as a tack.

I eagerly look forward to Trina’s upcoming book, which she informs me will contain images and information furnished by Mrs. Hopper.  And just maybe we can dream of a Fiction House reunion between Fran Hopper and Lily Renee.

#WomensHistoryMonth ProFile Friday

Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht (November 23, 1931 -October 4, 1991) was an acclaimed historian and the Editor-in-Chief of Classics Illustrated.

Roberta Strauss Feuerlicht was born in New York City to Isaac and Lena (Wesler) Strauss, Jewish socialists of Eastern European extraction. She received a B.A. from Hunter College in 1952. After a stint as an editor for the Glen Oaks News (1952-1953), she went to work as an assistant editor at Gilberton, the publishers of Classics Illustrated, where she worked until 1961. By the end of her tenure, she was made Editor-in-Chief and created spin-off titles like Classics Illustrated Junior and non-fiction comics like The World Around Us.  She married Herbert Alan Feuerlicht, a sculptor, in 1958.

After leaving Gilberton, she worked briefly as an editor for This Month magazine (1961-1962) in New York before becoming a freelance writer. In 1963 she published her first historical work, Andrews’ Raiders. In 1965 she began a series of pamphlets on revolutions and biographies. This resulted in a number of books: Oliver Wendell HolmesGandhiMadame Curie (all 1965), Theodore Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1966). The series led to several more books by commercial publishers such as The Desperate Act (1968), A Free People (1969), Henry VIII (1970), In Search of Peace (1971), America’s Reign of Terror (1971), Zhivko of Yugoslavia (1971), and Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism (1972).

In 1977 she wrote Justice Crucified, a history of the trial and executions of Nicolas Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, which was praised by The New York Times as “the most comprehensive and persuasive account of the case we have.”

In 1983, she published The Fate of the Jews, a book that was critical of Zionism and Israeli aggression, which “argues that Jewish ethics and Israeli power are incompatible; that Jewish obligations to love thy neighbor, do justice and love mercy, oppress not the stranger, are being obliterated by Israel; and that the Israelis are surviving, but not as Jews.” The book was surrounded in controversy, and despite a glowing review from Publisher’s Weekly, her publisher did not take out any ads for the book and many bookstores refused to carry or reorder it.

Feuerlicht died on October 4, 1991, of congestive heart failure. She had one son named Ira.

Further Info:

Graphic History: About and By Ladies
Golden Legacy was a line of 16 biographical comics that told the stories of the lives of prominent black figures from history that ran from 1966-1976.  Harriet Tubman was the only woman featured in the line, and her story was written and pencilled by Joan Bacchus (later Maynard).  She also wrote and drew issues on Matthew Henson and Joseph Cinque & La Amistad Mutiny.  It is also possible that she contributed to the only issue of “All-Negro Comics” in 1947 under her maiden name, Cooper.
Bacchus Maynard later helped launch the preservation of Weeksville, an almost-forgotten 19th century settlement of free blacks in Brooklyn, New York.  She died in 2006 at the age of 77.

Graphic History: About and By Ladies

Golden Legacy was a line of 16 biographical comics that told the stories of the lives of prominent black figures from history that ran from 1966-1976.  Harriet Tubman was the only woman featured in the line, and her story was written and pencilled by Joan Bacchus (later Maynard).  She also wrote and drew issues on Matthew Henson and Joseph Cinque & La Amistad Mutiny.  It is also possible that she contributed to the only issue of “All-Negro Comics” in 1947 under her maiden name, Cooper.

Bacchus Maynard later helped launch the preservation of Weeksville, an almost-forgotten 19th century settlement of free blacks in Brooklyn, New York.  She died in 2006 at the age of 77.

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