Where all the women are strong…

Yesterday brought a mini-wave of mainstream media paying attention to comics thanks to DC trying to reach beyond its core audience. That’s always interesting, but, for me, yesterday’s clear “comics in unexpected places” came from noted American humorist Garrison Keillor.

In addition to his well-known radio variety show, Keillor also produces a short weekday feature for National Public Radio, The Writer’s Almanac. It provides an interesting litany of cultural milestones, biographical sketches of authors and other creative types, and poetry. I generally kind of half-listen, since it airs when I’m driving home for lunch. Yesterday’s show offered the startling aural spectacle of Lake Wobegon’s official historian using the words “shôjo manga.”

One of yesterday’s notable birthdays belonged to Yumiko Ôshima, who Keillor described thusly:

She is a member of the Year 24 Flower Group, one of two Year 24 groups of women who are considered to have revolutionized shojo manga — comics for girls — and introduced many elements of the coming of age story in their work. Oshima and the other women of her group have brought to their art issues of philosophy, and sexuality and gender, and marked the first major entry of women artists into manga.

Now, it should never come as any surprise that nerds lurk in every corner, at every outlet of National Public Radio, but this was extra cool. Ôshima doesn’t seem to be as well known as some of her Year 24 peers – your Moto Hagio, your Keiko Takemiya, your Riyoko Ikeda – so the spotlight was especially nice.

So, if you need a break from hearing familiar media figures discuss the Justice League, go give the piece a listen and read the expanded text.

As for the Justice League, I managed to resist, because if there are two members of that team that do not merit any more of my attention, those members are Batman and Green Lantern.