Art by Yen Tan
Watch a clip at the bottom of the post
An Interview with
Before there was Buffy or Xena or Anne Hathaway as Cat Woman there was Wonder Woman. She spun around! Her lasso made men speak the truth! That outfit, those bracelets, that power!
Wonder Woman rocks, but she’s had some ups and downs along the way and the awesome doc directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan looks at Wonder Woman from her beginnings up until now. She talks to comic book lovers, a working mom and Wonder Woman fan with a few tats of her dark-haired hero inked forever on her skin, and a young girl who sees Wonder Woman as a real-life role model.
The flick is fun, entertaining, and features interviews with everyone from Gloria Steinem to Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill. Kristy talked to Fling Girl about the film, female heroes, and the future of comics. Take a peek!
FG: You worked with a mostly female team on the film. Was that intentional? Do you think it helps with a film like this?
KGF: I think I always tend to work with a largely female team. One the one hand it feels like a natural and unconscious decision, on the other it is important to me to “put my money where my mouth is” and support women creators when I can. I feel very privileged to be able to find such an incredible group of collaborators. I think that women might believe more strongly in projects that are centered around gender, so I can build a really dedicated and enthusiastic team.
FG: How did you choose your subjects? You have a great range, from Gloria Steinem to a young Wonder Woman fan, to a mom — what was your casting process like?
KGF: Casting was a gradual process. We always knew we wanted to interview Gloria Steinem and Lynda Carter, but it took a while to reach them! In the meantime, I did a lot of academic research and tried to think about which experts could provide distinctly unique perspectives. That was a lot of fun and quite a puzzle. And then for the everyday hero characters like Carmela and Katie, we just lucked out. We ran into Katie at a New York Comic Con when she was 9 years old and dressed as Wonder Woman. She was so articulate about Wonder Woman and other superheroes. And funny! Carmela we found when we were filming someone else. Usually what happens is we do a quick little interview and then in the edit room realize, these women are amazing! And that everyone loves them. So we go back and film them some more in their every day life.
FG: Gail Simone is a huge voice in the world of women in comics.
KGF: Gail Simone is in the film. We talked with a lot of comic artists and writers and ended up not including too much of that material because we realized the themes of the film had gotten broader and broader in terms of popular culture. But Gail was important and we filmed her early on when she had only been writing the Wonder Woman comic for a year or so. We talked with her mostly about her take on Wonder Woman and how contemporary audiences viewed the character.
FG: Did you learn anything surprising about the world of women in comics during the making of the film or now, as you’re screening it and getting it out there?
KGF: There are a lot of unsung heroes. I recommend Trina Robbin’s books on superheroines, women cartoonists and comic artists, as well as a beautiful new book she wrote called Miss Fury, about an early female comic artist, June Tarpe Mills. I’m partial to these older stories and artists. It was surprising to learn about the early women working in comics. I also loved leafing through the 70s Wimmen’s Comix and learning about those trail blazing underground artists. You know what’s funny? It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about mainstream superhero comics or underground hippie comics, they were both very male dominated. You see the same thing today. But there is a lot of interesting new comic material out there both in print and online, and I love when people turn me on to new work.
FG: A lot of people like to complain that there aren’t enough female filmmakers, but we here at Fling Girl think it’s more important to focus on what women ARE doing in the arts rather than what’s missing. What are your thoughts on this?
KGF: We agree, too! That’s why our film culminates with a piece on a video camp for girls called Reel Grrls where they write, direct and shoot their own videos. It’s funny because some people point out that that’s not really about the history of superheroines, but they are missing the point! We do need to focus on what women and girls are doing and we do also need to support women artist and filmmakers by buying their books, going to see their movies and generally voting with our pocket book. There are alternatives out there and they may be more obscure and harder to find, but they exist!
FG: Where would you like the see the future of women making comics and female comic book heroes in general going in the next few years?
KGF: I would like to see more diverse characters in more clothes! I am still pretty dismayed at the sexualization of many of these female comic book heroes, not just in terms of dress, but in posture. They are constantly preening, with butts in the air, and hips jutting forth. So, I would like to see more women artists and writers whose characters are in more complicated relationships, and not always in romantic ones. I would like to see more female characters at the center of the story, rather than only in ensembles. And I would like to see some of these characters make it to the big screen.
Visit the site at wonderwomendoc.com!