Women’s History Month: June Brigman by Katie Liggera

June Brigman, an American comic book artist, comic strip artist, illustrator, and cat-lover was born on October 25, 1960. She studied art at the University of Georgia. Having dipped her creative pen into nearly every major comic book company — from Marvel, to DC, to Dark Horse — June’s lovely illustrative work in the industry spans decades. She’s married to fellow comic book inker/colorist, Roy Richardson, who Brigman constantly collaborates with in her artistic work. For over fifteen years, June drew popular, long-running, syndicated comic strip “Brenda Starr” until it ended its run in 2011. Brigman was awarded the Inkpot Award at Comic-Con International San Diego in 2014. 

In 2016, Brigman re-entered the comic strip world when she and her husband Roy emerged as the new artistic team for the newspaper comic strip, “Mary Worth.” Roy and June are truly comic book couple goals. “Mary Worth” was conceived as far back as 1938, written by Allen Saunders and originally drawn by one of the few women in the comics industry, Dale Connors. Sadly, Connors left “Mary Worth” shortly after by 1942. Brigman’s 2016 entrance onto the “Mary Worth” strip marks her as the first female artist on the comic since then. For the first time, “Mary Worth” now has an all-female creative team, since Karen Moy took over writing the strip in 2003. Dale Connors’ pioneering work in 1942 as a woman comic artist is in great hands now with the fabulous June Brigman!. 

“Mary Worth” (2016) Karen Moy/June Brigman

Aside from comics, Brigman currently combines her multifaceted talents by teaching comic storytelling art as a professor in the Sequential Art Department at Kennesaw State University’s School of Art and Design in Atlanta, Georgia.

After entering the comics industry in 1983 at AC Comics with an Astron story (Venture #1 (1986)) which was later published in 1986, she moved upward and onward and joined DC Comics as an artist. In 1984, she was featured in DC Comics’ New Talent Showcase #4. Brigman also pencilled Legion of Superheroes (Vol. 4) #37 (1992), the Supergirl #1-4 (1994) mini-series, as well as the Supergirl/Lex Luthor Special #1 (1993) for DC Comics in the 90’s.

When Brigman joined Marvel Comics her career skyrocketed — *powerfully.* For the seven year interim between leaving and rejoining DC Comics, Brigman exclusively worked on various Marvel projects like New Mutants (Vol. 1) #56 (1987), Solo Avengers # 9 (Hellcat co-feature) (1988), and New Mutants Annual #4. Her illustrations also appear in several editions of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Brigman’s time at Marvel especially perpetuated her legacy though with one particular title: Power Pack.

June Brigman is most actively recognized for her pencilling in Marvel’s Power Pack, co-created with Louise Simonson. Both from Atlanta, Georgia, the two women began publishing Power Pack for Marvel Comics in August of 1984. The female-spearheaded dynamic duo released 17 issues about the tween superhero sibling team of Alex, Julie, Jack, and Katie Power. Brigman pencilled Power Pack #1-17 from 1984-1985 before being replaced by artists Jon Bogdanove and Hilary Barta. Power Pack is a powerful and impactful look at social issues that (specifically) plague children while also featuring aliens, super-villains, and awesome superhuman abilities. When Power Pack was cancelled after 62 issues in 1990, co-creators Louise Simonson and June Brigman reunited to write/pencil the one-shot issue Power Pack Holiday Special (1992). 

Brgiman and Simonson also collaborated for Star Wars: River of Chaos #1–4 (1995) for Dark Horse Comics and for other Marvel Power Pack stories such as Girl Comics #3 (2010) and Power Pack: Grow Up #1 (2019). These women are unstoppable! Since Marvel keeps calling them back to work on Power Pack titles together, it’s safe to attribute much of the comics’ success to June and Louise’s hard work and creativity. 

Power Pack #1 (August, 1984) Louise Simonson/June Brigman

Although I never grew up with Power Pack, I can easily recognize Brigman’s art style just by glancing at some of those 1984 covers. Anyone familiar with Power Pack is aware of Brigman’s contribution to the title. Power Pack has been rebooted several times since Brigman’s departure, but her initial artistic influence prevails. Brigman excels at energy in her artwork. None of her characters feel stiff, but fluid. She represents motion with varying angles and compositions that show off her knowledge of artistry. Capturing visual effability but also strength in young characters can be challenging, but Brigman’s Power Pack reveals her artistic range. 

Since 1984, June Brigman has pencilled hundreds of comic issues for Marvel Comics. She briefly stepped away from the comics industry, but we are happy to see her name on the covers of titles from Marvel, DC, and even on the Black Beauty graphic novel from 2005. One niche comic series Brigman pencilled for 6 nonlinear issues is Marvel’s Barbie comic series.

I’ve always been a Barbie fan. As children, my sister and I loved collecting Barbies and creating these extravagant storylines for them. Then, we were introduced to the Barbie movies (the early 2000s films are some hilariously great content). A year or two ago, I became aware of the expansive Barbie movie empire. Mattel is still pumping those movies out with . . . mixed results, to say the least. Also, if you’ve never heard of the BCU (Barbie Cinematic Universe), research it. You won’t regret it. Coincidentally, I also discovered that Marvel and Mattel (the corporations that rule us all) teamed up and created Barbie comics. There’s an endless amount of Barbie content, and I appreciate it all. From 1991-1996, Marvel published the Barbie title along with Barbie Fashion (1991-1995). There’s over 100 issues of Barbie comics that I’ve barely scratched the surface of reading. 

Randomly, after recently delving into the Barbie world of comics, I was asked to write for this wonderful column. Of course, I chose to write about June Brigman (because of Captain Ginger, which I’ll get to shortly). But upon researching Brigman, I couldn’t believe that she illustrated Barbie #3–4, 8, 12, 19 (1991–1992) and Barbie Fashion #5 (1991) after I had just found out about Barbie comics. Needless to say, I love June Brigman even MORE now. 

Barbie #2 (1991) Page 19

Brigman captures Barbie and Ken beautifully on the Barbie #3 cover. The two emulate some flexibility that reminds people that they are in fact, dolls. It’s interesting to see Barbie and Ken characterized by their impliabe limbs, even though Mattel wanted them to be depicted as living characters. Brigman has a quote about working with Mattel for the Barbie comics that I can’t stop laughing at: ““It’s part of the job description, and you have to follow their guidelines: Barbie can’t twist and can’t throw a beach ball.” 

Barbie #3 (March, 1991)

 

I also adore this cover because of the New York/Broadway setting. Brigman renders the image to emphasize the glamour element. Barbie appears to be having a whirlwind of a night dancing with Ken. Her hair curls are over exaggerated, but the image works to make Barbie look more malleable. Hair on real Barbies are soft, letting children style or even color their hair. Brigman adapts the doll’s image perfectly, reminding anyone looking at this cover of the famous doll. Another great addition is Brigman’s inclusion of “CATS” on a sign, signaling that the infamous play is currently showing on Broadway. While Cats seems like an odd choice to pick when there are multitudes of other Broadway titles she could have chosen, I’m wondering if this is a nod to Brigman’s love of the furry creatures in real life! June is truly too good for this world. 

Personally, I wanted to highlight June Brigman for this Women’s History Month column because of my adoration for her art in Captain Ginger Vol.1 & Vol. 2 from AHOY Comics. I write the “AHOY Deep-Dive” column here on CFC, so my obsession with AHOY Comics runs deep. Captain Ginger (2018) is the comic volume that introduced me to AHOY entirely last year. Once I saw that cover full of kittens, large cats in Star Trek-esque uniforms, and many many paws, I had to read the comic. Essentially, June Brigman’s art instigated my AHOY love. AHOY team — you can thank June for seeing my name constantly in your Twitter mentions. 

Captain Ginger Vol. 1 (2018) by Stuart Moore (W), June Brigman (P), Roy Richardson (I), Veronica Gandini (C), and Rob Steen (L) // AHOY Comics

If it’s not clear by now, June Brigman loves and owns many cats. I also love and own many cats, so June and I are destined for friendship. In my opinion, June’s art in Captain Ginger is her best art to date. Brigman draws cats so naturally. Each cat has a distinct expression yet remains reminiscent of a real cat. Captain Ginger himself may be bipedal, but his legs, tail, and face remind me of my own cats standing up on their haunches while they try to snatch a treat out of my hand. The kittens running around have adorable toe beans, and one kitten is even rolling around playing with Captain Ginger’s tail. And this is just the cover. Captain Ginger allows June free reign of character design and her passion for the subjects are evident. 

Captain Ginger Vol. 1 (2018)

Some of my favorite sequences are ones like the panel above. Brigman draws a dozen kittens in little space suits and little space helmets, all ready to take on the vastness of outer space. Brigman is appealing to every cat lover with these panels. How can you not squeal with glee over the cuteness? Additionally, Brigman channels her Power Pack background when pencilling unbelievably detailed space scenes. Spaceships and outer space itself are drawn with intricacy. The unknowability and immensity of space is perfectly contrasted with the smallness and ignorance of talking cats. Again, Brigman works with her husband on Captain Ginger. Roy Richardson inks her spectacular work throughout the series. Their talents compliment one another in a way that only two very in-sync married people can. 

Captain Ginger Vol. 1 (2018)

Brigman’s art astounds in Captain Ginger. I’ve read both volumes several times and find myself constantly taking pictures and sending them to my sister so we can gush over the cuteness on every single page. This comic is probably my favorite comic in existence. While I love Stuart Moore’s script, the art is what sold me on Captain Ginger. June Brigman outdid herself with this comic series. Because Brigman has real-world experience owning cats, the realism of each cat depiction, their features, and their movement translates flawlessly. 

Captain Ginger is why I got back into comics, and how I’m even writing this article now. I’ve written an entire piece dedicated to Captain Ginger here at CFC, and am always grateful for another opportunity to talk about the comic. I probably repeated some of my same points in this article that I made on my “Deep-Dive” piece, but that’s because I go into great detail about Brigman’s art there as well. 

June Brigman’s art inspired me to read comics again after years away from the industry. She is a spectacular artist and a beautiful person that should be celebrated every month of the year. I would love to meet her someday — and share pictures of our cats. Thank you, June, for your ongoing work in comics!