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Gray, Maggie. "Hanging Out With Halo Jones. ‘The first feminist comics heroine’?". Comics Forum 2010: Women in Comics II: Leeds, 2010.
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|Resource type: Conference Paper
BibTeX citation key: Gray
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Keywords: "2000 AD", "Halo Jones", Gender, Gibson. Ian, Großbritannien, Moore. Alan
Publisher: Comics Forum (Leeds)
Collection: Comics Forum 2010: Women in Comics II
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The eponymous protagonist of Alan Moore and Ian Gibson’s The Ballad of Halo Jones was described in The Observer as ‘possibly the first feminist heroine in comics’. This paper will consider the extent to which a character created by male practitioners and featuring in a popular science fiction weekly can be said to have truly subverted the conventionally sexist representation of women in mainstream Anglophone comics of the time.
It will briefly summarise standard portrayals of female characters in contemporary British and American mainstream comics and demonstrate how Moore and Gibson transcended that model in terms of narrative and visual style, composition and structure. I will argue that their freedom to do so was contingent on the specific production context of 2000AD in the mid-1980s, in terms of its editorial outlook, political attitude and relation to its readership.
However, this paper will predominantly discuss how The Ballad of Halo Jones engaged with the theories, practices and culture of the second-wave feminist movement (including feminist comix): how it refracted key debates about class, work, the family, imperialism, rape and violence, and related to the different positions taken by liberal, radical and socialist feminists. It will also consider how these debates were tempered by the experiences of women under Thatcherism, and relate the strip to the shifting concerns of third-wave feminism, particularly regarding pornography, sex-positivity, and gender essentialism. Finally it will discuss the ways in which the strip aligned philosophical reflections on sex and gender with questions of the nature of representation in the comics medium itself.
While it remains a contradictory work, I will argue that Halo Jones marked a significant self-conscious engagement with both feminist criticism of comics and feminist activism that paved the way for more challenging female characterisation and contributed to substantial debates within comics fandom.
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