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Comic Legends: Did Wonder Woman Nearly Get a New Costume in the 1940s?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and seventy-eighth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends.

NOTE: I noticed that the the CSBG Twitter page was nearing 10,000 followers. If we hit 10,050 followers on the the CSBG Twitter page then I'll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week that we hit 10,050. So three more legends! Sounds like a great deal, right?

COMIC LEGEND:

Wonder Woman nearly got a new costume in the 1940s because her classic look was considered too immodest.

STATUS:

Basically False

Since I did a TV Legends Revealed about Wonder Woman this weekend, I figured I'd delay the next two comic book legends because they were both Wonder Woman-themed, so now here they are!

Okay, so everything starts for this story before Wonder Woman even existed. In the early 1940s, DC Comics (which I'm including All-American Comics as part of, even though it was kind of sort of its own thing under Max Gaines' ownership) was dealing with criticism from people over the content of their books almost right off the bat. So as part of a way to cut that criticism off at the pass, DC had a special editorial board of respected folks who could say, "No, no, DC is totally fine. There's nothing untoward going on here"....

Okay, so Wonder Woman comes out and initially, her costume had these sort of free-flowing, flaring culottes...

But soon, her outfit became a bit more form-fitting...

We're really not talking anything too risque, even for the era, but it is fair to say that yeah, she wasn't wearing a ton of clothing.

Then there was all the bondage thrown in there, like the infamous sequence in Wonder Woman #6...

As I noted in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed, things got so bad that Max Gaines had to tell William Marston to cut down on using chains to tie Wonder Woman up, including a classic memo where Gaines' assistant, Dorothy Roubicek, had to come up with a number of different ways that Wonder Woman could be tied up other than using chains.

Josette Frank, the most prominent member of the DC Advisory Board, was not feeling Wonder Woman during this period, noting that Wonder Woman, "does lay you open to considerable criticism from any such groups ours, partly on the basis of the woman’s costume (or lack of it), and partly on the basis of sadistic bits showing women chained, tortured, etc. I wish [MC Gaines] would consider these criticisms very seriously because the have come to me now from several sources."

Gaines did not take her seriously and Frank eventually left the board.

Meanwhile, a Catholic-organized group, the National Organization for Decent Literature (NODL), noted that Wonder Woman was on their "black list" because of the costume, telling Gaines, "We see no reason why Wonder Woman should not be better covered, and there is less reason why women who fall under her influence should be running around in bathing suits."

This, then, led to Roubicek coming up with a design for a new Wonder Woman costume that was more modest...

noting that this was "a sketch of the type of clothes I would suggest - feminine and yet not objectionable - as those short, tight panties she wears might be."

Gaines sent the drawing to Marston, adding "Doc: She did this without even knowing close she came to the original costume!"

Marston, though, dismissed the idea out of hand and also angrily dismissed all of Frank's complaints (that is what led to Frank just leaving the board).

So no, Roubicek's design was never actually seriously considered for a new costume.

As an aside, the featured image is just an issue showing what secretaries would wear in the future. I needed something with Wonder Woman in a different outfit!

Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed - Was an episode of Wonder Woman set at a convention not allowed to use Superman costumes?

Check back soon for Part 3 of this week's legends, which is Wonder Woman related, as well! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com!

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