Book Review: The History of Girls’ Comics-Susan Brewer

In the past Girls Comics has been a neglected subject in the comic world. There are many websites, blogs, books, articles dedicated to US comics and even to boy UK comics. In the last few years though, there has been more recognition for girls comics. Hopefully this will become a continuing trend. I was quite pleased when I found this book “The History of Girls’ Comics” I thought it was great to have a book fill the gap of information on this subject. While I did enjoy reading it, I  did find it didn’t exactly deliver  what it promised to be.

It is a nice read and there are a lot of positive things to this book, but it has it flaws too. First the title, it  says “a history” of girls comics, rather than a historical view of these comics it is written in a more nostalgic framework. There is nothing wrong with being anecdotal and nostalgic, but makes the history part of the title a bit misleading. Although Brewer does touch on the historical context a little, again the tone is more casual, not very analytical. This is not necessarily a bad thing depending on what you are looking for from the book.

Its not a large book only just over 200 pages, but there is a lot of subjects covered even if some is a bit more briefly than I would of liked. Some other problems I had  was some of the repetitiveness, for example in one chapter; using the example of Bunty as a first issue, there is a detailed description of the first cover. When talking about the Bunty comic a page later there is yet another long description of the cover page. Then there are some mistakes that should have been caught by editors,  like in one part  Bunty is said to have been released on Wednesdays, though previously the correct day Tuesdays had been mentioned. These are small issues but can be a bit annoying.

What the book actually covers is quite a lot, although it can be a bit limited at times, I know there is a large amount of comics out there, so Brewer can’t go into great detail with every one.  Some comics just get a paragraph whereas others like Bunty get page and a half,  so maybe would have liked some more details, on the less known comics. While I am most familiar with golden and silver age comics, Brewer also has chapters dedicated to comics for tots and early comics and teen magazines and I did learn interesting things about these comics/magazines that  I did not know.  There is also a chapter dedicated to Brewer’s personal talk of favourite characters which was a nice addition, yes some of my favourite characters weren’t mentioned but it was nice to see a bit more detail on characters. The chapters on comics; the descriptions break down into general what to expect from the book looking at early and later issues.  I found the book only touches on things it could have been bigger, more detailed (i.e. dates, artists) and analytical. But for what it is it is a nice and informative read. So that covers the first half of the book, which was the part I was most interested in.

The second half of the book covers features such as the clubs, freebies, problem pages, newspaper strips, toys and annual tie ins.  It ends on a chapter about going about collecting comics. These were an enjoyable addition to the book, but one chapter I thought didn’t need to be included was the part works chapter, and its appendix at the back. I wouldn’t have considered them as girls comics, and it seemed strange to have a whole chapter dedicated to them, but maybe that’s just me. I just thought that chapter could have been used to talk about other things, like the publishing companies or creators or even just expanding on the previous chapters.

While I was slightly disappointed that some of my expectations of the book weren’t met, it is still a good book for anyone interested in the subject to look through. The nostalgic tone is nice and easy to read. The book does actually cover a lot even if it what it covers is a bit brief in some cases.  Overall for what it is, its a nice read, if you want to have a nostalgic look at these comics, you may find new information and there is enough detail to keep you interested as long as you aren’t looking for a complete critical analysis of the subject. It’s a good read and I’d recommend it to any comic lovers.


7 thoughts on “Book Review: The History of Girls’ Comics-Susan Brewer

  1. I’ve ordered my copy, and I can’t wait for it to arrive. I’ll see how I find it and give some feedback.

  2. Looks like Brewer was fed a piece of misinformation about Tracy. She was told that Tracy was just cancelled and didn’t merge into anything. Well, if that’s true, then how come I have some Judy & Tracy issues?

    1. Yes I own some Judy & Tracy issues too, I did notice some mistakes in the book, which is something that really should have been checked. I think its a nice book for an overall view of the comics, but wouldn’t rely on it to be a definitive guide.

      1. You have some Judy & Tracys? Hmm, do you have any around the #1301-1305 mark? I’m trying to complete a serial called ‘Hard Times for Helen’.

  3. I haven’t read the book, not knowing about it until now, but there is no mention of ‘Girl’ or ‘School Friend’. Are these too old to be featured?

  4. The book does have a section on the older comics as well. Mostly the book is an overview of all the comics that were available plus additional features and characters etc. There is a good section dedicated to ‘Girl’ it gets about 4 pages ‘School Friend’ meanwhile only gets just over 1 page. Some of the characters such as Lettice Leefe also pop up in the favourite characters chapter.

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