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Women and comics in the 1990s: Friends of Lulu

Jackie Estrada, life-long geek girl and author of the Comic Book People books has been sharing her stories with us during this final week of her Kickstarter for Comic Book People 2: Photographs from the 1990s. One of the aspects of the book that interested me was Friends of Lulu, and I asked Jackie to tell us more…

Friends of Lulu  was an organization founded in 1993 with the purpose of getting more women and girls involved in comics.

Some of the women at the first Friends of Lulu organizing meeting at a coffeehouse in San Diego in 1993: Cat Yronwode, Lee Marrs, (unidentified), Kim Yale, Martha Thomases, Maggie Thompson. [image courtesy of Jackie Estrada]

Friends of Lulu (named for the feisty comics character Little Lulu, created by cartoonist “Marge”) was an organization founded in 1993 with the purpose of getting more women and girls involved in comics, both as creators and as readers. It was the brainchild of comics editor and journalist Heidi MacDonald (who most recently is known for her blog, The Beat).

At the 1993 San Diego Comic-Con, Heidi called for a gathering of women to talk about what such an organization would consist of—what would be its goals, who would run it. About 30 women met at a coffeehouse and hashed out some initial ideas. An organizing committee was formed, and after a few more meetings, the initial board of directors was elected. We obtained nonprofit status as an educational corporation in 1995. The original steering committee consisted of Heidi, Anina Bennett, Liz Schiller, Deni Loubert, Cheryl Harris, Martha Thomases, and myself. I served as president of the organization for the first five years.

Among FoL’s accomplishments were establishing the Lulu Awards to honor female comics creators, publishing a regular newsletter and recommended reading lists, conducting surveys to see what women comics fans read, producing a booklet for retailers titled How to Get Girls . . . into Your Store, and presenting panels at conventions around the country, where the group also had booths or tables. FoL also put on successful conferences on topics such as kids comics and graphic novels, held in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New Jersey. There were also local FoL chapters, with the most active being in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.

At its height the organization had a few hundred members and nearly a dozen committees, ranging from mentoring and outreach to fundraising and membership. I’m very proud of what FoL accomplished during that era. I think we did what we had set out to do, which was to get the word out to girls and women that comics has a lot to offer, but as entertainment as an outlet for creativity.

Link of interest: Friends of Lulu newsletters, 1995/1996: 

by Jackie Estrada

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