Werewolf Hunters, Jungle Queens, and Space Commandos: The Lost Worlds of Women Comic Artists

An exhibition on pioneering women comic book artists and how they drew themselves into the histories, politics, and futures from which the real world often excluded them.

Artboard 1

October 13, 2023–January 21, 2024

Art Forum Gallery
3rd Floor

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Beginning with the 1940s, this exhibition explores how American women comics artists used monsters to explore the histories and futures of the U.S. as its racial, gendered, and national politics shifted throughout the 20th century.

This exhibition examines the role that monsters play in the development of women’s comics art across the 20th century. As the market for comic books boomed in the 1940s, talented women artists with formal training in the fine arts and illustration joined the comics industry and began to make their mark on this male-dominated sphere. Working within the often gendered and racially biased conventions of the comics medium, artists like Lily Renee, Fran Hopper, Marcia Snyder, and Jill Elgin pushed against the industry’s confining frames (both literal and figurative), creating aliens, unexpected octopuses, hybrid beasts, and other monstrous bogeymen that laid the groundwork for women to make—and be—monsters throughout the mainstream comics of the 20th century.

From the women in the late 1940s who stretch their high-heeled legs across page gutters to fight the monsters of a xenophobic post-war American imagination to the monstrous women of the 1980s and 1990s who defy both gravity and gender norms with their skimpy costumes and badass powers, this exhibition explores how monsters and monstrosity became tools for women comics artists to negotiate questions of power, exclusion, censorship, and identity. The exhibition is a form of active and activist remembering, telling an old story rather than a new one: both before and after the Underground Womyn Libbers of the 1970s began carving out experimental spaces where women comics artists flourished, there is a world of mainstream comics in which girls as well as boys were the target readership, in which women produce stunning monsters for horror, sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, and other genre comics, and in which even the most scantily clad female characters have the potential to marshal the forces of monstrosity for whatever good or evil they desire.

This exhibition is presented in partnership with the UC Santa Cruz Center for Monster Studies, a group of artists and scholars dedicated to the investigation of monsters and how they are defined throughout history and culture.

Werewolf Hunters, Jungle Queens, and Space Commandos: The Lost Worlds of Women Comic Artists
is guest curated by Renée Fox and Michael Chemers of the UC Santa Cruz Center for Monsters Studies and features a variety of materials from the comics collection of Jim Gunderson.

Header Image: Cover artwork by Lily Renee for Rangers Comics 23, Werewolf Hunter, June 1945.


Copy of Nina Albright's Suspense cover, February 1944.

Copy of Margaret Brundage's Weird Tales cover, June 1936.

Copy of Margaret Brundage's Weird Tales cover, October, 1933.

Copy of Lily Renee's Planet Comics cover, November 1945.

Copy of group shot of Golden Age artists.

Presented with support from

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