Jill Trent, Science Sleuth: The Most Radical Comic Character of the 1940s?

Posted by September 5, 2015 Comment

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Running until Sept. 13, 2015. Edited and lettered by D.M. Higgins. Anthology featuring 3 stories: 1.) “The Mystery of the Music From Space” written by D.M. Higgins, art and color by Roxanne Bee. 2.) “Who Atomized Prof. Van Diana?” written by N.J. Coyle, art by Ryan Incandenza, colors by Liezl Buenaventura. 3.) “Fianchetto’s Gambit” written by Charley Macorn, art by Michael R. Hall, colors by Frank Barbara.

By D.M. Higgins

When modern readers discover Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, a comic book heroine originally published in the 1940s, they tend to think of her as a bit radical, revolutionary, ahead of her time.

Even the acclaimed sci-fi novelist (and amateur comics historian) Saladin Ahmed recently declared that Jill Trent “might be 40s comics’ most radical hero.”

It’s easy to see why. Even in the ‘40s, Jill Trent was an educated, independent woman who is a super-genius scientist and inventor, a detective who solves crimes using only her wits, her wacky inventions, and the fighting prowess of her faithful partner, Daisy. And they do it all without superpowers, without costumes, and without men.

Not to mention, Jill and Daisy call each other “honey” and share a bed together. In fact, it’s possible that Jill Trent, Science Sleuth (first published in 1943) is comics’ first queer hero.

Jill & Daisy - 1948

(The original Jill Trent and her partner Daisy in 1948.)

So when we decided to reboot Jill Trent, Science Sleuth for a modern audience, there was a lot to work with — and to live up to. The newly revamped “Jill Trent, Science Sleuth” series edited by D.M. Higgins is an anthology where each creative team can re-imagine and redesign the characters however they want. Jill and Daisy (who are now in the public domain) can change racial and ethnic identity as well as time periods from story to story. There’s no narrative explanation for it, it’s just part of the anthology format.

We want Jill Trent to be an inspiring figure for women in comics as well as in science, so she can and should look like any woman.

3 Jills

(Three version of Jill Trent from JILL TRENT, SCIENCE SLEUTH #2. Top by Roxanne Bee; middle by Ryan Incandenza & Liezl Buenaventura; bottom by Michael R. Hall & Frank Barbara.)

We’ve kept the basic premise — that Jill is a super-scientist who fights crime, solves mysteries, and has adventures with her partner Daisy. And while the original comics hinted at a special relationship between the two women, in the new comics Jill and Daisy are married to each other.

The stories are short, wacky, and fast-paced. The second issue, currently on Kickstarter, features a whimsical foray into outer space with an astronaut Jill Trent, a classic “whodunnit” murder mystery set at a Ray Gun Convention, and a 1940s style adventure in which Jill matches wits against an evil chess master working for the Axis.

Hall 5-7

(Image from “Fianchetto’s Gambit” in JILL TRENT, SCIENCE SLEUTH #2, written by Charley Macorn, art by Michael R. Hall, colors by Frank Barbara, lettering by D.M. Higgins.)

As the Kickstarter heads into its final week, editor D.M. Higgins is offering an exclusive art print by artist Ryan Incandenza, featuring a gorgeous portrait of Jill Trent, Science Sleuth. If Bleeding Cool readers help us reach $5,000 by Sept. 13, this art print will be included free with every print copy of Jill Trent, Science Sleuth #2.

1900 poster2 smaller

(Exclusive art print by Ryan Incandenza)

Jill Trent, Science Sleuth is on Kickstarter until September 13, 2015. For more information about the ongoing series, check out SuperdamesComics.com and follow Superdames on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

(Last Updated September 5, 2015 4:05 am )

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