"Sure I'm naked, tied up, gagged and having a cock waved in my face, but it beats being a romance comic character!" Image source: Sex and Submission.com.
When my flying monkeys brought this article (Myth_Understood: Wonder Woman: Feminist Icon Or Exploitative Fantasy?) by Betaraysyr in I tabled it, thinking it might be useful but was probably just another bit of the Wonder Woman glurge that pops up on comics sites every so often.
I wish I had not tabled it, it's a good and interesting article that brought up a few new bits about the background of Wonder Woman that answered questions that have puzzled me.
For example, I had always wondered if Marston (Wonder Woman comics' creator and initially, writer) had really gotten away clean with ALL the out-there bondage imagery he put in Wonder Woman comics. I mean, he was RIGHT OUT THERE with it. Check out my article on Wonder Woman's bondage years if you don't believe me.
Well, turns out Marston didn't get away with it, according to Betaraysyr. The usual bluenoses and busybodies were "who'll think of the children?"-ing their asses off. They wrote letters to William Gaines, Wonder Woman's publisher, complaining about all the bondage. But Marston pulled the argument to authority on Gaines, saying that as a psychiatrist he knew the comics were not harmful with all the bondage. (Marston was right, of course, the amazing thing is that Gaines bought it, comics publishers being a uniformly churlish and dumb group, as a rule, though Gaines is considered an exception.)
The other interesting point, and I think the more interesting one, is why Wonder Woman's popularity declined so sharply after Marston died and DC got their grubby little hands on the writing end of it. Of course they immediately dumped all the bondage stuff, especially Transformation Island. But that should not have KILLED the comic, it was never a BONDAGE comic per se. If they had written halfway decent stories using the rich mythos Marston has created for Wonder Woman, it should have puttered right along.
Well, according to Betaraysyr, DC killed the popularity of Wonder Woman comics by trying to transform it into a romance comic, hoping to attract female readers while Somehow retaining its male readership. Well it didn't happen. Female readers did not pick up on Wonder Woman and male readers lost interest in droves. DC probably would have dropped the title entirely if Marston's terms for giving DC rights to publish the comic hadn't stipulated that the rights to the comic would revert to Marston's estate if they failed to publish four issues a year.
The back cover of "Wonder Woman True Romance Comics" circa 1955. Ok, that's a lie, but oh, IF ONLY they had thought to do lesbian bondage romances back then. This is actually a scan from Russ Heath's Cowgirls At War" comic in "The National Lampoon Encyclopedia of Humor." I wrote about that some time ago.
I have some doubts about Bataraysyr's claim here ... I did a lot of research for my article on Wonder Woman's Bondage Years and I never came across any such claim. If this HAD occurred, you'd think everybody would have mentioned it to explain Wonder Woman's slumping sales post-Marston. Yet none of the sources I looked at did. I LIKE Betaraysyr's explanation, it's so consistent with the combination of greed, sexism and stupidity that characterized comic book writers and publishers in the 1950s. But I have to doubt it.