(Originally posted on Ink-Stained Amazon,August 24, 2010)
In addition to the 10 novels Honey appeared in, she was the star of an eponymous television series in the mid-1960s.
Honey West (1965-6)
Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet, The Twilight Zone) featured as the va va voom, tough-cookie, private investigator – and one of the first female action heroes to headline a TV show in the United States.
Honey ran her own detective agency. Her arsenal of undercover gadgets included a lipstick microphone, radio transmitters disguised as martini olives, teargas earrings and an exploding compact. She was skilled in martial arts, and in an all-too-rare reversal of gender roles, she had a male sidekick who deferred to her authority. The show only lasted one season – though Francis won a Golden Globe for her role.
Honey is revisited in a new comic series out this month from Moonstone Books. The first two issues are written by comics legend and herstorian, Trina Robbins, and drawn by the extremely talented Cynthia Martin.
Honey West from Moonstone
Issue number one sees Honey (modeled here after the extraordinary Francis) hired by performer Mimi Malloy to investigate who at the sunset strip nightclub she owns is trying to kill her. This means Honey must go undercover as a go-go dancer at . . . The Purple Pussy.
I’m grateful to Trina Robbins for taking the time for an interview!
I know you’ve always been fascinated by strong female protagonists, but how did you come to be involved in creating a Honey West comic?
When Lori Gentile told me that Moonstone had gotten the rights to publish Honey West comic books, and asked me to be one of the writers, I was thrilled. I had loved Honey West when I watched her played so perfectly by Anne Francis on TV in the 60s. At last, a beautiful but tough female private eye! Heaven for this girl raised on Nancy Drew! (And it wasn’t until years later that I knew about the books!)
What inspired you, artist Cynthia Martin, and publisher Moonstone to model the Honey West of the comic after Anne Francis’ appearance instead of an original interpretation?
To me, Anne Francis IS Honey, just the way Lynda Carter IS Wonder Woman. (And the way Irish McCalla IS Sheena!)
Francis, Carter, McCalla
How many issues of the title can we expect to see?
I actually don’t know! Mine is a 2 issue series, and then there will be other writers and artists. Not even sure who all of the writers are, but I know one of them is Elaine Lee, and I LOVED the Galactic Girl Scouts she wrote for DC! I hope the title goes on forever. I for one would like to write more of Honey’s adventures!
Gloria Fickling contributes a personal essay to the back of the issue – how did she come to be involved in the comic? Did she have any say over the story? Is she as cool as she comes across?
Ms Fickling had to approve every story, so I’m so glad she liked mine enough to contribute that essay. I haven’t met her yet, but I am dying to meet her!
What sort of research did you have to do for these issues?
I watched the entire run of TV shows, and read about 4 or 5 Honey West books, including the first one, This Girl for Hire.
Did you watch Honey West when it was first on television? Or read the books when they were first in print?
See above. I gobbled up the TV series, didn’t know about the books at the time.
Why do you think Honey is so appealing? What about her will captivate modern audiences?
I like everything about Honey: her noirish Private Eye toughness is so unique — you never see a woman private eye in those old noir films — and the period during which the TV shows took place, the mid 60s. You can do so much with that period! I think people today are very much into retro (I sure am!), and that’s what Honey is. Also, I tried to capture the sexiness, which is a charming pinuppy retro sexiness, rather than the raw “bad girl” stuff you see in so many comics today. And of course I adore the real hero, Bruce the Ocelot!
Here, Kitty Kitty!
What has been your favorite part of this project?
I really loved scripting it, and then seeing how Cynthia Martin turned my script into a gorgeously drawn comic. Cynthia is one of the best artists in comics today, her work is so luscious I almost can’t stand it! I am so lucky to be able to work with her.
About Jennifer K.
Causes Jennifer K. Stuller Supports
Planned Parenthood, Child's Play, Heifer Organization