Classic Comic Review – Brinkley Girls by Nell Brinkley (Graphic Novels Through the Ages – Book 1)

Women’s Suffrage and Idealistic Images in early American Comics

The influence of Nell Brinkley on comic history and American culture cannot be understated. She was a prolific artist and cartoonist in the early twentieth century in a time when women didn’t work, let alone hold a position in such a prominent newspaper. Nell Brinkley drew women as strong, independent and beautiful creatures that at the time was so different than the Gibson Girls, which had gained popularity in the years before Brinkley started working, a perfect feminine ideal. Brinkley used her platform to spread messages about feminism and suffrage. A message that was very important in the burgeoning suffrage movement. The beautiful women she drew, worked, had opinions, and were more than just the beautiful ideal. Instead, they had a realness to them that actual women could get behind. Her artwork permeated newspapers, but it spread to collecting cards, advertising, and eventually to culture itself with the popularity of short curly hair.

Not only was she a terrific artist and illustrator, but she was a writer and news reporter. By the end of her career, she had written multiple articles for the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and Good Housekeeping. Again, not a mean feat considering the time in which she lived. Her work was, and is exceptional and should be lauded and remembered by comic and graphic novel lovers. She has a very deserved place in comic history and a deserved title as “The Queen of Comics.”

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