Cover Image: Drawn to Purpose

Drawn to Purpose

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Member Reviews

Fascinating overview of influential female illustrators of the past 100+ years. My one gripe with the book is that it that is is too brief, but I guess it serves as a good jumping off point if you want to continue reading about one of the great illustrators featured in its pages.
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It is a volume I hope our selector for the 920s will be able to order for the library. Developing a graphic novel collection, I want volumes that showcase a variety of different perspectives and diverse artists. There could have been some more visual elements added to the book, but it is still a wonderful collection of work.
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This is an excellent overview of Women illustrators and cartoonists and despite the title includes a few non-Americans. It is well illustrated and very well written and as someone with little knowledge of the history of women in this field, a real eye opener.

The talent and skill on display has made me want to read more, learn more and fill in the gaps in my education. I am a newcomer to graphic ways of telling stories and this is an excellent discovery and guide.

Recommended if you would like to know more about the history of women in illustration and cartooning. A great place to start.

I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review.
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This is a wonderful addition to the oft overlooked contributions of women in comics, cartoons, and other illustrated books. Presented visually, it's a great metaphor and example in itself. More people will be aware of women's contributions on this masculine art, and will see how they were "drawn to purpose" by individuals of note, and individuals whose purpose was not just to entertain and educate, but to prove once again the equality of sexes. A great addition to the limited historical take on women's contributions in fields that are overlooked, such as this. Only complain is I would have loved a world history, but that's obviously impossible in just one book!
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An amazing survey of great illustrators in the U.S. over the last century and a half. I say illustrators without an adjective because they are all amazing illustrators. Unfortunately, we still have to specify gender complimenting a woman on something - apparently, if we are saying something about someone that is amazing and we don’t use an identifier, we assume it’s a man. But yes, this is an amazing survey of <i>women</i> illustrators. Who happen to be great. Or great illustrators who happen to be women. 


I really thought this would be more graphic-heavy. The history was good, but I was expecting more examples, more illustrations, more comics. But the book has good info in its history. 

We move way to slow as a society trying to make change. The book starts out with the “Golden Age Illustrators” in the 19th Century. I love this comment about “the emergence of the ‘New Woman’”: 

<i>…a social phenomenon described by writers of the 1890s and early 1900s as an independent, often well-educated, young woman poised to enjoy a more active role in the public arena than women of preceding generations.</i> 

Damn! We’re still working on this? After over 100 years? Good grief, we need to move faster. 

Then we move into the early cartoonists - which is something I was more interested in. Unfortunately, women were relegated to drawing cute kids and animals - they weren’t accepted as illustrators of anything different. WTF? 

I love the cartoon by Martha Orr that starts out, “It’s funny, every time a little work appears around here, all the men disappear.” 

Then we move on to more modern cartoons and comics. 

And we finally get into areas that I have history with! Starting with Lynn Johnston’s <i>For Better or for Worse</i> - which I grew up with. 

Wow - it’s a shame that when the Detroit Free Press (the paper my family got) started picking up Barbara Brandon’s <i>Where I’m Coming From</i>, I had just started college and wasn’t reading the funnies at home any more. Of course, I was probably too young and conservative to get it, anyway. 

And I didn’t even know about Alison Bechdel until several years ago - but now she’s one of my favorites. Her <i>Through a Glass, Hardly</i> strip in <i>Dykes to Watch Out For</i> in 1993 is horrifyingly reminiscent of today’s times. “We’ve got them on the defensive. At least the hate’s coming out in the open, instead of festering. Now we can start to heal.” 

And then comic books and underground comix! With artists like Trina Robbins and Lynda Barry. I’ve read Barry’s <i>One! Hundred! Demons!</i> I really enjoyed it. Definitely check that out. 

And then there’s Raina Telgemeier - I’m so ashamed that I’ve only read one of her books (<i>Ghosts</i>) - I need to read the rest. 

I love Jillian Tamaki’s <i>Skim</i> (I thought it was so relatable), and I enjoyed a lot of her <i>SuperMutant Magic Academy</i>. Though I have to admit, some of it was lost on me. Though my girlfriends <i><b>LOVES</b></i> it. 

But where do you go from comics?? 

There’s still industry, commentators, and politics! 

These weren’t as interesting to me as comics and cartoons - but I do recognize the importance of the social commentary by some of these amazing artists! Like Sue Coe and Frances Jetter and Anita Kunz. Where are these people today? Am I just not seeing them? (I found Anita Kunz on Instagram! Sue Coe is on Twitter!) 

I was surprised when I got to chapter 5 and it jumps back to cartoonists and cover editors back at the turn of the (20th) century. For some reason, I thought it was going chronological, but chapter 5 surveys cartoonists over the last 150 years, and chapter 5 does the same thing with political cartoonists. 

Holy crap! Anne Mergen’s mid-20th century political cartoons may as well have been printed yesterday. 

And I ended up following some interesting political cartoonists on social media! (Liza Donnelly, Ann Telnaes, Melinda Beck) 

Check this out to read about some of the amazing women artists over the last 150 years. 

<i>Thanks to NetGalley and University Press of Mississippi for a copy in return for an honest review.</i>
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Martha H. Kennedy produces a great book that is well written and just gorgeous with its panoply of selected illustrations and cartoons. She looks across almost 200 hundred years of women illustrators and cartoonists that have impacted and made a great contribution to US culture and art. There are of course some Canadian and British illustrators also covered, which as a Canadian made me very happy. 

As far as a "women" specific book I am not sure what to make of it. It shows in many ways the under acknowledged role women illustrators have played, and its helpful to be reminded that sometimes a difference of perspective in some areas can really add to the medium of expression.
For me though Kennedy writes well about the illustrations and the illustrators and its a wonderful slice of history and art. 

Simply put its just a damn good book about really great commercial artists. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys really good illustration and cartoons.
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I received electronic access to this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This is an excellent, if not *entirely* comprehensive, history of female comic artists and cartoonists - including political cartoonists, who often seem to get the short shrift in history books. Carla D. Hayden's foreword is a nice treat and the rest of the book is wonderful as well - a history of women in comics and cartooning from the early days right up to the present. The information on present-day artists is refreshing, as it includes a number of artists who are not working in mainstream superhero comics but producing alternative graphic novels instead (Alison Bechdel, Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, Noelle Stevenson, etc.). If you know anything about the history of women in comics/cartooning - or if you don't - this is a great place to start or to learn more.
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