The Literary Horizon: Polly and the Pirates, The Supergirls

This week, let’s take a look at some awesome female characters in genre fiction. Nothing like Wonder Woman and pirates to start off a Tuesday.

Polly and the Pirates by Ted Naifeh

Polly has grown up in a prim and proper boarding school, far from any kind of adventure, and she likes it that way. But when she discovers that she’s actually related to the Pirate Queen, she’s got to find her inner-adventurer. Hijinks and high adventure await in the world of the pirates, so can Polly rise to the occasion?

In Polly’s fictional world, half the city is built on tall, Victorian style houseboats, including her boarding school, which rocks her to sleep at night. It’s a place where houses look like boats and boats like houses, where the line between the comfort of home and adventure on the high seas is blurred.

This volume collects all six issues from the critically acclaimed miniseries.

via Oni Press

I picked up the recommendation for Polly and the Pirates during a fannish celebration of female characters. I’m an avid Legend of Zelda fan, one of my very favorite incarnations of Zelda is the pirate Tetra–young lady pirates on the high seas living up to the family name appeals to something in me, apparently, which is why Polly and the Pirates sounded delightful. The art style looks a bit juvenile, but then again, so was the art style of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, where Tetra appears.

Read About Comics quite likes it, enjoying the progression of Polly from prim young lady to pirate queen and Naifeh’s clean art. Dexter K. Flowers at Broken Frontier loves the combination of swashbuckling and coming of age, and describes Polly as “Shirley Temple Bilbo Baggins”. If that doesn’t make you want to at least find out who Polly is, then I can’t help you.

You can read a twenty-five page preview at Oni Press’ website, if you’d like to get a taste.

Polly and the Pirates‘ entire run was released as a trade paperback on August 9, 2006.

The Supergirls by Mike Madrid

A much-needed alternative history of American comic book superheroines—from Wonder Woman to Supergirl and beyond—where they fit in popular culture and why, and what these crime-fighting females say about the role of women in American society from their creation to now, and into the future. The Supergirls is an entertaining and informative look at these modern-day icons, exploring how superheroines fare in American comics, and what it means for the culture when they do everything the superhero does, but in thongs and high heels.

Has Wonder Woman hit the comic book glass ceiling? Is that the one opposition that even her Amazonian strength can’t defeat?

Mike Madrid, a San Francisco–based refugee from the world of advertising, is a lifelong fan of comic books and popular culture. His goal is to inform and entertain readers with a new look at modern-day icons. He’s popular culture editor for Exterminating Angel Press and the creator of, where comic book fantasies come to life.

Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman create the triumvirate of DC Comics, but a proposed Wonder Woman film is still languishing in pre-production hell. Our fictional superheroines are, obviously, just as likely to be hit by the double standard as we are–consider Power Girl (“Peej” to her fans), whose enormous bust was originally a prank on the censors, and the various distaff counterparts to male superheroes. So The Supergirls sounds like something I want and need to read.

Nicki from Fyrefly’s Review Blog loved it, praising its accessibility and how it ties the histories of comic books, feminism, fashion, and more together to let us see comic book heroines in a different light.  She does, however, note that the lack of the actual comic book pages can be frustrating. Mart from Too Dangerous for a Girl! enjoys the chronology, and mentions that the book devotes time to Barbara Gordon’s transformation from Batgirl to Oracle, which intrigues me. All in all, I hope the lack of the panels themselves doesn’t keep me from enjoying this.

The Supergirls was released on September 1, 2009.

8 thoughts on “The Literary Horizon: Polly and the Pirates, The Supergirls

  1. I really want to read Supergirls! It looks like a fascinating read (despite the lack of comic book pages – you’d think they’d put some in there for examples).

  2. Polly and the Pirates! I don’t think I ever read the last three issues, so that’s really awesome they’re all in a collection now. Ted Naifeh did the Courtney Crumrin series, too, which I heartily recommend.

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