Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hola, Senorita Rio

When AC Comics first introduced me to the concept of Good Girl Art with their fabulous Golden Age reprints, I was amazed by the variety of heroines that emerged during World War Two.

Not superheroines, mind you; not the women with incredible powers, striking costumes, and alter egos. My attention was drawn to those features where the female lead could right wrongs while fashionably dressed (and in various states of undress), depending on her own wits and resources. No need for a nick of time intervention by a muscular male (as was too often the case with a certain reporter named Lois).

These ladies embodied a special ideal for the American women during wartime: beautiful, capable, and self-reliant.

My early-on favorite was Senorita Rio, who debuted in Fight Comics no. 19 from Fiction House Publications. A versatile actress turned versatile spy, she looked after the strategic interests of Uncle Sam in Central and South America. The Latin regions were a hotbed of intrigue for Rio, full of exotic locations, esoteric cultures, shifting allegiances and Nazi conspiracies, replete with resources important to the Allied war effort.

Her debut was illustrated by a rising young talent named Nicholas Viscardi. After a remarkable stint in the U.S. Army during WW2, he returned to comics under the pen name of Nick Cardy, gaining recognition for a bevy of work during DC's Silver Age. Check out his website at www.nickcardy.com.

These images were downloaded from goldenagecomics.co.uk, and were likely copied from the gallery on Cardy's website. Admittedly, the resolution is less than prime, but an opportunity to show Rio's premiere is hard to pass up.

Especially when you see her in that red gown.
AC Comics reprinted a selection of Rio's stories, with background information and a new adventure, in a paperback titled 'Rio Rita'. (Sorry, but you'll have to find your own copy.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reprinting the first RIO tale. Fans with more experience than I have told me that there are scads of heroines backup features in many Golden Age books, particularly (to my surprise) westerns. I look forward to whatever you come up with.

    I've recently started my own blog devoted to female images in comics, though from any period. I'm also just doing a "gallery" sort of thing rather than scanning stories, but who knows what the future may bring?

    It's one of two blogs I manage, so if you care to see it, it's the one titled AMAZONS ASCENDANT.