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Fighting the Nazis With Barbara Hall's War Nurse and Girl Commandos

This is the start of a new feature called "She's Nobody's Child," about the overlooked female comic creators of the pre-modern era. Mostly Golden Age, but I might go back even further. Comic book artists in general sometimes have a hard time getting notice from that period, but female artists especially get very much overlooked in comic book history, so let's try to do something about that. No one has done more, of course, for the promotion of female comic book creators than Trina Robbins. She's the best. Go read her many historical works about female comic creators.

We begin this feature with a look at Barbara Fiske Calhoun, who broke into comics as Barbara Hall in the early 1940s.

Born Isabelle Hall, Hall studied art in Los Angeles. She moved out to New York City in 1940, hoping to find work as a science fiction illustrator. Instead, she was recommended to show her portfolio to Harvey Comics. Alfred Harvey had only recently formed the company, which started with a comic book, Speed Comics, that he purchases from a defunct comic book publisher. They were looking for new artists and Hall was quickly put to work.

Harvey came up with a novel idea to do a digest-sized comic book called Pocket Comics. In the first issue, he introduced a new superhero called Black Cat. Al Gabriele had always been credited with creating the character and drawing her first appearance, but Trina Robbins discussed the issue with Barbara Fiske Calhoun before the artist passed away and Fiske Calhoun took credit for drawing the Black Cat story in Pocket Comics #1...

One of the problems with this era is figuring out precisely which comics each artist drew. Without credits, it is really tough. There are really only three comic book stories that I am absolutely positive that Hall drew during this era. However, I believe she worked on Pat Parker, War Nurse, I just don't know what issues specifically.

Pat Parker, War Nurse, was a fascinating comic book feature. It began as the adventures of a generic, well, you know, war nurse...

But within a few issues, Pat stopped a Nazi mission and with her name and face plastered all over the news, she decided to become a superhero to continue her fight in disguise...

I believe that Hall drew at least one (and probably more) of the War Nurse stories from this era.

Soon, though, Pat Parker would transform as a feature into a new concept, one that Hall is perhaps best remembered for...

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