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From the archives: Summer vs. Wenchita

July 13, 2009

Summer the Wonder Chick

I am still in the stages of purging and decluttering and I came upon this little GEM of a drawing I did in high school. It’s a comic book cover I did for a comic I never created, Summer the Wonder Chick. I so wanted to LIVE in a comic book or animated world when I was younger. I went and saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit TWICE in the theater when I was fifteen just to savor the POSSIBILITY of being in a world where humans and cartoons co-existed. I actually tried to watch this movie recently and was so shocked at how the special affects did NOT hold up. I turned it off after about 20 minutes. I prefer my memories instead.

A couple of things struck me about this mock comic cover (besides the HIGH SELF-ESTEEM that the title implies). The terms ‘chick’ and ‘Wenchita,” got me in particular. I remember loving the word CHICK. I used it as often as I could to describe any female. I thought it made me sound tough and in some sort of mysterious way HIP and ARTY. It’s wild to think back to your brain 20+ years ago and see HOW the parts were there, but not the REASON behind it. I don’t know why this tickled my fancy, but it did.

And then there is the fact of the villain being named Wenchita. According to my journals and stacks of drawing books, girls I didn’t like were often called “wenches.” (Ladies and gentleman, I give the the early thoughts of a budding FEMINIST. Good lord!) I have no memory of this, but the evidence is AMPLE and CLEAR. Nothing was worse than a wench in my book (literally) and so I came up with a name that echoed these sentiments. Like any great villain Wenchita has the better outfit. This was not intentional on my part, but if you go through all great superhero comics the villain ALWAYS has the better outfit. Consider something like the Joker or the Riddler to Batman. Yeah Batman has the whole dark knight thing going on, but frankly I am a girl of color. The Riddler’s colors are usually PURPLE and GREEN with brightly colored hair and a giant QUESTION MARK on his clothes. SO PUNK ROCK! Wenchita is punk rock meets Sheena Easton. Spike heals, great legs and FABULOUS colors. I am me in the UNIFORM of 1980’s Palo Alto High School: short jean skirt and plain tank top. Nothing says SAFE AND SOUND like primary colors (minus the wildness of yellow).

It made me laugh when I saw it. These are the things I did on a Saturday night in high school: I listened to Motown records and drew mock comic book covers where I was the hero. I lived in my imagination. Apparently, even in my wildest dreams I would not break the dress code. It seems some CODES OF CONDUCT would take years to break. Thank god they did.

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