This paper examines the ways that comics can subvert twenty-first-century nostalgia for an imagined halcyon 1950s by refusing to treat history as idyllic, unchanging, or distant, focusing specifically on Joëlle Jones's Lady Killer (2015–17). Lady Killer engages with long fifties nostalgia in two ways: on a formal level, through artwork reminiscent of illustrated advertisements of the period, and on a narrative level, through evocations of the romance comics that were hugely popular even as they are forgotten by Golden Age constructions. Lady Killer revels in fifties nostalgia, but to the point of absurdity, including so many elements of the nostalgic imaginary that it overwhelms readers with its period. In the process, it reveals the cracks in that imaginary, reminding readers of just how problematic the era actually was. Lady Killer challenges the ideological uses of nostalgia through its refusal to engage in the reification of history.
Desperate Housewives: Murdering Gendered Nostalgia in Lady Killer
Kathleen McClancy is an assistant professor of film and media studies in the English Department at Texas State University. She has published in Film & History, the Journal of Popular Culture, and the Journal of Popular Film and Television, and her essay “Winter Soldiers and Sunshine Patriots: World War II and the Cold War in Captain America” appears in the spring 2018 issue of ImageTexT. She is the primary organizer of the Comics Arts Conference.
Kathleen McClancy; Desperate Housewives: Murdering Gendered Nostalgia in Lady Killer. Feminist Media Histories 1 July 2018; 4 (3): 179–204. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2018.4.3.179
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