It is hard to think of a historical period when women’s bodies were not scrutinized and judged. However, in the 1990s, a fear of fatness, rising publicity surrounding eating disorders, and the emergence of feminist psychology all combined to suggest that anorexia – and later bulimia, too – served to redirect women’s attention from social progress achieved during the 1970s and early 80s to an activity more … all-consuming: watching our weight. The key texts that encompassed these theories included Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women(1990) and Susan Faludi’s Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women (1991).
This cartoon features another vampire – not the kinder, gentler vampire of Ginger Vee saves a jar, but one whose natural drives allowed him to exploit the 1990s zeitgeist. What this says about man-woman symbiosis is for you, Dear Reader, to determine.
Remember the vampire craze of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s? Movies about vampires abounded, including The Hunger (1993), which starred Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve, and David Bowie (be still, our beating heart!) – and featured six actors billed only as “Cadaver.” Werner Herzog’s haunting Nosferatu the Vampyre(1979) featured Klaus Kinski and Bruno Ganz (one day a vampire hunter, the next an angel!). Frank Langella played Count Dracula in a 1979 film that followed his wildly successful performance of the same role on Broadway several years earlier.
So it was only natural in 1992 for your cartoonist to turn to the figure of the vampire to share thoughts about violence, social conditioning, and of course, menstruation. We’ve altered a reference to the “Sensitive New-Age Vampire,” but the rest is pretty much the same, 25 years later.
This post introduces a new series, Blast from the Past. In the early 1990s, long before Mama was Mama, and certainly before she’d discerned the full potential of digital media, there were stick figures – one of whom turned into Ginger Vee. There was also radical feminism, reproductive rights, and take-no-prisoners commentary on any number of other issues.
We bring you these cartoons mostly untouched. A few edits have polished and sharpened our youthful thoughts, but the passion in these cartoons reminds us to keep the faith, carry on cartooning, and to always expect a better world.
Cartoons can now be enlarged for easier viewing!
Just click the image to open a new window.
The Macintosh Classic (1990) shown in the logo is from Wikipedia Commons. We removed the mouse. The photo is shared under a Creative Commons license.
Bill Clinton, exhaling our blast from the past, is selected from this 1994 photo in which Boris Yeltsin looks on with apparent delight at Clinton’s prowess. The photo is in the Public Domain.