Comic Spotlight

Empowering Women in Comics: Celebrating Women’s History Month @ Comics Kingdom

By Nadya Martinez
Empowering Women in Comics: Celebrating Women’s History Month @ Comics Kingdom

Happy Women’s History Month! 

Here at Comics Kingdom, we’re excited to celebrate Women’s History Month, which includes timeless classics and new favorites. It’s a special time to spotlight some incredibly talented female voices and creators who have enriched the Comics Kingdom collective of cartoons. 

Comics Kingdom is for those who believe in limitless creativity, barely contained in a bite of delight. Women’s History Month is an annual celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture, and society. It has been observed annually in the month of March in the United States since 1987. Women’s History Month 2024 will take place from Friday, March 1, to Sunday, March 31, 2024, to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society.

This month, we’re focusing on some of our exceptionally talented female creators whose work exemplifies female empowerment, relatable personal experiences, and hilarious, witty strips that will have you laughing out loud. Dive into a fanfare for the classics and the cutting-edge as you browse Comics Kingdom.

We’re highlighting six amazing artists this month: Olivera Vukovic (Comiclicious), Isabella Bannerman (Six Chix), Emi Burdge and Shadia Amin (Olive Oyl), and Hilary Price & Rina Piccolo (Rhymes With Orange).

We’re also thrilled to share some exciting updates to Comics Kingdom! Our website’s new look and feel celebrate the wonderful world of cartooning and comics as art forms.

Olivera Vukovic – Comiclicious

Dive into the relatable, witty, and charming comic strip Comiclicious by Olivera (“Liv”) Vukovic. The offbeat mini strip, which first began as a webcomic in July 2017, is full of silly adventures, laugh-out-loud moments, and relatable stories.

Last April, the stylized mini comic strip Comiclicious joined the King Features Syndicate, and in June 2023, it was introduced in The Comics Kingdom blog, which introduced our readers to the strip. The brilliant mind behind these witty comedic panels is Olivera Vukovic, a Physical Chemist turned comic artist from Belgrade, Serbia. She was born in 1992, and her love for science and art emerged early on as she moved frequently with her family. She found comfort in her two younger sisters, as well as her trusted companions – books, pencils, and paper. 

Evident in her work, her love for science and art is inseparable, so she decided to go for both, which would later be the foundation of her creative career. Although she diligently honed her drawing skills, she was also immersed in her studies to become a physical chemist. The unique concept for her comic strip originated during a stressful preparation for a molecular spectroscopy exam, where she caricatured herself to alleviate stress. Olivera expresses how she discovered the therapeutic value of using humor to navigate life’s challenges. Thus, the witty and distinctive comic strip “Comiclicious” was born

Olivera, driven by her creative spirit, continues to draw inspiration from the world around her and is always looking for new ideas. She aspires to continue her creative journey, bringing laughter and joy to others through her witty short comics. The main character in this comic is Liv, the author herself. 

Inspired by people, life, and movement, Liv welcomes many guest characters into her mini-comics, letting them pass through while telling their stories. There are other main characters like Joe, aka Death, Crowford, a bird full of wisdom, and Gemmeralda, better known as Gemmy, who lives with her friends Joe and Crowford in a world of magic and mysticism. Liv also included lots of animals, vampires, and aliens. 

Comiclicious makes light of themes of mental health, self-care, and anxiety with funny experiences involving Liv, vibrant colors, and lots of purples. Follow along with the silly escapades of shared human experiences and witty laugh-out-loud comedy. 

Isabella Bannerman – Six Chix

Isabella Bannerman is an American cartoonist and animator best known for her role as one of the contributors to the syndicated comic strip Six Chix, where she appears on Mondays.

The unique daily strip Six Chix is created by six women cartoonists who each draw a day of the week and then rotate Sundays. The look and feel of the strip vary greatly amongst the different styles, and there is no particular attempt to introduce any thematic cohesiveness. Each cartoonist writes and draws with her style and perspective. You may read gags about the economy, technology, zombies, or health with a comedic female lead. 

Each day of the week brings a different style and perspective, so comic readers can enjoy a variety of art styles and humor styles. What started in 2000 as the brainchild of the late Jay Kennedy, who was also formerly the editor-in-chief of King Features, went on to receive a nomination for Best Newspaper Comic Strip of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society in 2014. Jay focused on bringing more women creators and readers to comics.

Isabella Bannerman has been the Monday artist for Six Chix since 2000, and her work has been recognized by the National Cartoonist Society, The Newswomen’s Club of New York, and the Newseum. In 2014, Bannerman won the award for “Best in Newspaper Comic Strips Division” from the National Cartoonists Society. She has been a member of the NCS since 2003. Bannerman has also won the Union of Concerned Scientists editorial cartoon contest. 

Before becoming a syndicated cartoonist for King Features, Bannerman worked in animation, creating and directing IDs for MTV, props, and characters for children’s TV programs, including  “Doug” and “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” Her cartoons have appeared in many publications, including Glamour, The New York Times, Funny Times, and World War 3 Illustrated

She was co-editor of GirlTalk, a four-issue comics anthology of women’s autobiographies published by Fantagraphics in 1995–1996. In addition to her work for Six Chix, Bannerman also creates editorial cartoons and longer-format comic stories. Her T-shirt designs, especially “Coffee God,” have been bestsellers.

Emi Burdge & Shadia Amin – Olive Oyl

A very important character in the Comics Kingdom Collective is the beloved Olive Oyl. Popeye’s better half is getting the credit she deserves. Olive Oyl is much more than Popeye’s damsel-in-distress girlfriend. The witty, groundbreaking female character’s first introduction did not conform to traditional stereotypes. 

As this year marks 95 years of Popeye, did you know that Olive Oyl had a life before Popeye? That’s right! Ten years before Popeye stepped onto the scene and stole her heart, Olive Oyl was the star of Thimble Theatre, a comic about the entire Oyl family. Olive, her brother Castor, parents Nana and Cole, sister-in-law Cylinda, countless cousins, and Olive’s terrible (ex) boyfriend, Ham Gravy.

Olive and Popeye, currently published twice weekly, is created alternately by webcomic creator Randy Milholland and comic writer and artist Emi Burdge (following Shadia Amin’s departure).

The new weekly comic was originally penned by Shadia Amin (Aggretsuko, Spider-Ham) and Randy Milholland (Popeye, Something Positive) and centers on both beloved pop-culture characters and their adventures, including Olive’s yoga classes, or Popeye’s messy family dynamic, which usually leads to brawls.

Throughout the years, Olive has had a successful history on thousands of licensed products, many incantations on film and media, and is so much more than just a character. For many fans, her spunky attitude and lifestyle appeal to an audience of different generations and backgrounds. King Features is letting the leading lady get some much-needed attention with a brand refresh that modernizes the century-old character and embraces her uniqueness, her weirdness, her humor, and her self-confidence. 

After decades in Popeye’s shadow, she returns to the spotlight in Olive and Popeye.

Colombian comics artist and illustrator Shadia Amin originally penciled in the Tuesday strips, focusing on Olive Oyl. She is a lifelong Popeye fan and considers Olive Oyl an icon, so it was only fitting that she penned the icon. Shadia graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA and MFA in Sequential Art and a BFA Minor in Illustration. Shadia has won the Grand Prize and “Artwork” category for The Breadwinner Stories contest.

She has drawn many comics, including Into the Spider-verse: Spider-Ham graphic novels with Scholastic & Marvel, Aggretsuko with Lion Forge & Oni Press, Boom! Studios The Amazing World of Gumball: The Storm and more. 

Picking up the mantle is artist and streamer Emi Burdge, who loves to share their process with their fans. Emi graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in Sequential Art. They’ve worked professionally as a freelance artist for 15 years, working in various styles. They’ve done work with many groups promoting Girl and Women empowerment and see Olive Oyl as a beacon of feminine strength. Some of their fondest memories are watching their grandpa drawing cartoons in the sand during beach trips, including Popeye. You can check out our heartfelt chat on the Inside the Kingdom Podcast

Hilary Price & Rina PiccoloRhymes With Orange

Rhymes With Orange is an American Comic Strip written and drawn by Hilary Price and distributed by King Features Syndicate. It is a funny, smart single-panel strip that provides comics fans with validation. The title comes from the commonly held belief that no word in the English language rhymes with “orange.” The series was first syndicated in June 1995.

The simple classic strip currently features Hilary Price & Rina Piccolo’s funny little truths and humorous interpretations of our world. While the gag panel strip doesn’t have named recurring characters, there are common themes like cats, penguins, dogs, and absurdities of modern life. From Furry Friday to comments on feminine beauty, courting rituals, coffee, and dry cleaning, the strip delves into the humor of everyday subjects. 

Hilary Price is a cartoonist, storyteller, and speaker. Rhymes with Orange appears in newspapers internationally and is a four-time winner of Best Newspaper Panel Cartoon by the National Cartoonists Society. Her passion is teaching people how to access their ideas and showing them ways to simplify and amplify their stories. Hilary graduated from Stanford University and, at the age of 25, became the youngest-ever female syndicated newspaper cartoonist. 

Hillary’s journey introduced perspectives that did not exist on the comics page. She has also won the Inkpot Award for Career Achievement from the San Diego Comic-Con International and the Elzie Segar Award from the National Cartoonists Society for making a unique and outstanding contribution to the cartooning profession. 

Hilary’s work has been collected in The San Francisco Museum of Cartoon Art, The Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum at Ohio State University, and The Library of Congress. She has told stories for The Moth and NPR and teaches workshops on single-panel cartooning at The Center for Cartoon Studies.

She now collaborates on Rhymes With Orange with Canadian cartoonist Rina Piccolo.

Rina Piccolo is a cartoonist and writer whose body of work spans over 30 years. In 2017, she joined Hilary to collaborate on the daily syndicated comic Rhymes With Orange and is now a co-cartoonist with the strip.

Her decades-long career in comics has produced a diverse collection of comics, cartoons, illustration, flash fiction, and animation. Rina Piccolo’s work has appeared in The New Yorker, Parade, Glamour, Barron’s Business Magazine, Reader’s Digest, and more. 

She has been syndicated with King Features Syndicate since 2000 with three comic features: Six Chix (2000-2016), Tina’s Groove (2002-1017), and currently Rhymes With Orange (2017-present). Rina is the co-author and illustrator of  the book “Quirky Quarks: A Cartoon Guide to the Fascinating Realm of Physics”(Springer Publishing, 2016.) She is also the creator of “The Comic of The Future,” a digitally interactive cartoon titled “The Gallery”(MentalCanvas, 2020.) Presently, she is working on a collection of comic short stories. 

Dive into daydreaming and get your daily dose of comics online at Comics Kingdom, where Six Chix and thousands more are available!