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Public Lecture: Margaret Galvan, “Feminism Underground in Comix of the 1970s”
April 25, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Feminism Underground in Comix of the 1970s
While we often understand social movements through textual rhetoric, visual discourse tells another story. Second-wave feminist comix were out of sync with feminism, making sex-positive political critiques before such critiques were taken up by the broader movement. Because of this dissonance, second-wave series like Wimmen’s Comix (1972-1992) and Tits & Clits (1972-1987) encountered difficulties getting distributed and advertised by feminist ventures. These impediments illustrate how these works were stuck between movements and modes of feminism, threatening their legacy. In recontextualizing these comix, this talk builds a new theoretical genealogy that shows how these visual works anticipated and shaped future discourse. In retracing the relationship between feminist comix and the American feminist movement in the late 1970s, I analyze how cartoonists Lee Marrs and Roberta Gregory directly represent and therein critique the feminist movement. Their comix, The Further Fattening Adventures of Pudge, Girl Blimp (1973-1977) and Dynamite Damsels (1976), both feature a protagonist exploring her sexuality alongside her involvement in the feminist movement. These works illustrate how much feminism in the 1970s sparked sexual discovery, but suggest, as well, how much is left wanting especially for women of color and lesbians, anticipating networks that feminists would build in the 1980s to address these issues. To conclude and think about the reverberations of their early work, I look to how Marrs’ and Gregory’s contributions to the Gay Comix (1980-1998) series were formative for emerging generations of queer women cartoonists.
Margaret Galvan is Assistant Professor of Visual Rhetoric in the Department of English at the University of Florida. She is at work on a book, In Visible Archives of the 1980s: Feminist Politics & Queer Platforms, under contract with the University of Minnesota Press, which examines how contemporary publishing practices—and the historical archiving of those publishing activities—have played critical roles in the development of understandings of the visual within feminist and queer political activism during the 1970s and 1980s. Her published work, which analyzes comics through intersectional approaches, can be found in journals like Australian Feminist Studies, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Archive Journal, American Literature, and Journal of Lesbian Studies. See margaretgalvan.org for more information.