Monday, July 31, 2006

Time-Travel Challenge: Dazzler To Flapper

With the Time-Travel Challenge, I take a comic book character who typified the trends of a particular decade, and relocate them to another era... with appropriate alterations.

Chawunky suggested I do this with 70's disco queen Dazzler; Scipio suggested I move her to the 20's and call her Flapper. Well, they really didn't have proper comic books in the 20's. But they sure as hell had comic strips!


From the book "Pioneering Women In Comic Strips" by Robbie Jerrison, published on Earth-36-24-36:

According to her friends and family, Claire Chrismont was a woman of few words. Despite -- or perhaps because of that -- her comic strip "Flapper" was a masterpiece of energy and pacing, with lean, snappy dialogue that only intruded upon the lovingly-delineated artwork when absolutely necessary.

The title character, Alison Blaire, was a shapely, roller-skating madcap with aspirations to a singing career. She was also fond of wearing spangles and sequins, which gave Chrismont the opportunity to decorate panels with dozens of "glitter lines" -- tiny starbursts which surrounded the character like a halo.

In 1926, the year of Flapper's debut, the newspapers were already filled with similar strips, such as Winnie Winkle the Breadwinner, Tillie the Toiler, Fritzi Ritz, and Mazie the Model. Where Chrismont's strip excelled, however, was in its supporting characters. While other comic strip flappers dealt with antagonists who were EITHER comic OR villainous, Alison Blaire was confronted on a daily basis by powerful oddballs who were a combination of both. And although they looked relatively normal, on an emotional level they gave the misfits of Dick Tracy's rogues gallery a run for their money.

Three of these were introduced in the strip's very first year, and they would be fixtures in "Flapper" for decades. There was Victor Von Doom, an eastern European playboy more in love with his own dueling scar than he would ever be with Alison. There was Bruce Banner, a meek, spindly radio show director with a non-verbal "split personality" that granted him the strength to overturn cars and bend lamp posts in half. And most memorably, there was the career-devouring gossip columnist Gail Atticus, whose inexplicable hatred for Alison was equalled only by her fondness for gigantic hats.

Beginning in the 30's, "Flapper" was handed off to a succession of female cartoonists, including Dee Falco, Fanny Dingeroth, and Midge Shooter, By 1958, its popularity had waned, and syndicate editors merged it with "Longshot," a dying strip about a three-fingered jockey. The new strip, Mex-Babies, found the two disparate characters running an orphanage in Tiajuana. It folded after three months.

Jeremy has the entire run of Dazzler in his collection. I'll pause here while you finish laughing. Done? Great. Anyhow, it made research a snap! As for the look, I just put her in a sparkly frock and changed the face paint to a mask-on-a-stick.

Whaddaya think?


Steven said...

The tag line for Gail Atticus's column, "The Watcher,":


And of course she has a paparazzi sidekick, Sal "Surf" Silver, who secretly loves Flapper but won't betray his boss.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh this is awesome.

The tattoo-to-mask convert? Clever.

"Claire Chrismont"? Sweet.

The old-school style that makes it look like Mr. Pennybags from MONOPOLY could guest-star? Delightful.

Victor Von Doom as a playboy in love with his scar? Genius.

It's not any blog-post that can set "The Charleston" running on the iPod in my skull.

I salute you.

Anonymous said...

My favorite detail in the generally excellent post HAS to be "Midge Shooter." I had to say it out loud to make the joke/pun make sense.

Nice work!

Anonymous said...

This is great. Very good job.

Devon Sanders said...

What do I think? I think you're brilliant.

Marc Burkhardt said...

Claire Chrismont?

Given the original's own interesting proclivities, I'm surprised Claremont hasn't come up with that persona himself!

Anonymous said...

^^^ HA. No kidding.

Scipio said...


Although it took me 15 minutes to figure out Gail Atticus...

Anonymous said...

This is one of the greatest blog posts EVER.

And Gail Atticus' bio (and hat) made me guffaw. Simply brilliant.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Very amusing. I, too, didn't get "Gail Atticus" until reading the comments. Awesome. I love Steven's idea on how to incorporate the Silver Surfer.

The part that REALLY made me laugh was Longshot recast as a three-fingered jockey.

Alison's time with the X-Men seems to have not made it into this reimagining, though. What would a group of misfits living on the fringes of the law be in the 1920s? Bootleggers? Communists?

Phillip said...

Bootlegging Communists! This one's outta the park, BB! Fantastic!