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Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Old 01-23-16, 09:55 AM
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Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

I'm reading a book called "The Secret History of Wonder Woman," by Jill Lepore, about the creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, and the social, cultural and personal forces that influenced that creation. It's very good on the social and psychological history, but less so on the comic book history. The author seems to have glossed over the actual process of creating and designing WW. I'm about two-thirds of the way through it.

So I'm wondering if there are any reviews of this book by comic book historians. Did anybody here read this book and have any thoughts on it? Does anyone know any comic book blogs that might have reviewed it?

Thanks.

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Old 01-23-16, 02:26 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
I'm reading a book called "The Secret History of Wonder Woman," by Jill Lepore, about the creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston, and the social, cultural and personal forces that influenced that creation. It's very good on the social and psychological history, but less so on the comic book history. The author seems to have glossed over the actual process of creating and designing WW. I'm about two-thirds of the way through it.

So I'm wondering if there are any reviews of this book by comic book historians. Did anybody here read this book and have any thoughts on it? Does anyone know any comic book blogs that might have reviewed it?

Thanks.

Mark Waid, comic creator and historian and encyclopedia, said this about the book: "[I]t's a well-intended but poorly researched and error-filled tome."

That's been good enough for me to avoid it thus far.

I find that reviews from places like the NYT or The Atlantic are generally shitty. They're overblown prose in and of themselves that rarely ever break down to tell you if something is well written, accurate, etc. and instead opt for summarizing the book instead of, well, reviewing it.

Here is a breakdown by someone at The Comics Journal (is it some kind of prestigious comic publication/blog? I'm not sure) that simultaneously calls it "a splendid work of history, one of the three or four best books ever written on comics" but then spends paragraphs noting the short-comings of the book in relation to actual comic book history: http://www.tcj.com/wonder-womans-secrets-in-context/
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Old 01-23-16, 02:53 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Thanks, Kodave, this is very helpful.
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Old 01-23-16, 03:25 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

If you want to understand Wonder Woman's creation, read a biography about her eccentric creator, William Moulton Marston. He was easily the most unique figure among the Golden Age comic book writers. He had very...unusual...views about the role of men and women in society. Of course, much of his views on Wonder Woman have been stripped out of the character.

I know it would get howls of protest today but DC shouldn't have removed Wonder Woman's original weakness. No one ever seems to question how powerful Wonder Woman has become over the decades. Someone needs to "Alan Moore" the character in an Elseworlds tale where she takes over the world. There is a delicious potential for satire in that story.

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Old 01-23-16, 03:30 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

I've seen that book in stores but figured it looked more sociological than comic-al.
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Old 01-23-16, 05:34 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

I bought it awhile back, and have read some of it. So far its a good read. You get to read a lot about Marston and the women in his life.

I dont care if Waid didnt like it *shields up*
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Old 01-23-16, 07:03 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Originally Posted by kodave View Post
... The Comics Journal (is it some kind of prestigious comic publication/blog? I'm not sure ...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Comics_Journal
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Old 01-24-16, 05:30 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

I just finished reading the book. There's a great bit where the author quotes detailed memos Marston made to the artist (Peters) about how the chains should be depicted in a scene of Wonder Woman in bondage. And the pictures show he carried out those instructions to a T. I wish there was more detail about the creative process in the book. The author glosses over a lot of comic book history to focus more on feminist history. Not that it doesn't have a place in the story, it's just that the comic book detail gets short shrift. But the book is valuable on Marston's early history, all the stuff leading up to Wonder Woman. And there are good sections on the controversy about comic books and juvenile delinquency in the 1950s (after Marston's death) and the flack Wonder Woman's defenders got from those (like Frederic Wertham) attacking comic books. That part of the book is very good although I still wish it went into greater depth. So as a work of social history, the book succeeds, but as a work of comic book history, it comes up short. But I still found it worth reading. I got it out of the library. There's supposed to be a book discussion there about it tomorrow. Don't know if it will get canceled because of the snow or not.
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Old 01-24-16, 10:02 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Someone should spoof Fifty Shades of Grey with Wonder Woman in it.
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Old 01-24-16, 10:33 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

I would like to know more about the history of the non powered WW and how she was developed. I know there was a lot of controversy over it and how feminist hated a that version because she had no superpowers. I actually liked it and collected every issue and title she appeared in. Only one I'm missing is the Jerry Lewis issue she guest starred in. I liked how she dealt with being normal and the issues she encountered. I know Denny cowed down and was apologetic for that version of WW. Totally wussed out.
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Old 01-25-16, 12:35 PM
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Re: Book: The Secret History of Wonder Woman

DC Comics was forced to keep Wonder Woman continuously in print each month if they wanted to keep her rights from Marston's estate. Her book would have likely been canceled several times during the Silver and Bronze Ages if not for that provision, the book was never a big seller despite the character's name recognition.

She became a much bigger licensing phenomenon after the television show briefly became popular.
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