Fat, Media


I don’t know shit about comic books, but via Joy Nash and a really terrific post by Noah Brand, I have just fallen in love with Wonder Woman’s sidekick Etta Candy.

The original version of her, that is. The one who looks like this:

That Etta was drawn by William Moulton Marston; Brand has this to say about the Marston Etta:

Let’s take a moment to look at her body and her attitude about it. Etta is short, and she’s fat. Not a little plump, not fake Hollywood Janeane-Garofalo faux-fat, actually fat. And she’s surrounded by all these girls who are a clear foot taller than her, with figures like Wonder Woman’s. Does Etta look embarrassed to you? Does she look self-conscious, ashamed, any of the things a girl who looks like her is expected to be? Hell no. And it’s not just those five panels; go over every page Etta’s ever appeared on, and look for a single moment when she apologizes for or is ashamed of how she looks. You won’t find one. While you’re at it, find me another female character with the same body and the same attitude about it. Check the 40s, check the present. No, go ahead, keep checking. I’ll wait.

See? You’re in love with her now, too, right? (Also, you’re a little in love with Noah Brand, aren’t you? Me too.)

But check this shit out. Brand intrigued me with this tidbit at the end of the article:

Etta’s mostly forgotten now, retconned out decades ago as too silly and fat, retooled as a military officer with a couple extra pounds, made safe and acceptable and nonthreatening.

So I made with the Google. This is the new Etta:


Wait, it gets better. According to Wikipedia,

Etta Candy was revived in the early 1980s, when Steve Trevor and General Phil Darnell were also revived. Etta was featured as secretary to Darnell, and Diana’s roommate. Unlike the Marston characterization of a bold, sassy, wisecracking sorority leader, Etta was now presented as meek and insecure. She was weight-conscious, and shared an apartment with Diana Prince, unaware of her secret identity.

Emphasis mine.

And I thought America Ferrera on the cover of Glamour was bad.

12 thoughts on “Revision”

  1. thank you for bringing all these new loves to my attention. first rule of story making: CARE about your characters. seems like this new iteration of etta has little or no connection to her genesis. classics like her should not be messed with.

  2. Very good point, Col. Bad storytelling is almost as repugnant to me as taking all the power and fat out of a fat, powerful character. (Not to mention making her TALL! I love how short Original Etta is!) In fact, they might be equally repugnant.

    Also, my first thought when I saw Original Etta was, “HALLOWEEN COSTUME!” which always makes me think of you.

  3. Also, my first thought when I saw Original Etta was, “HALLOWEEN COSTUME!”

    I’ll see your dorky thought and raise you this: I thought “hey, if I ever went to Comic-Con, I could actually go in costume!”

    Let’s just say that if I wrote this post, I would have been able to put the “I don’t know shit about comics” disclaimer. Although actually I basically don’t know shit about superhero comics.

  4. Believe me, a lot of us protested this retcon at the time. And fortunately, some artists do draw Etta larger than average. Another character with which many artists (and writers) have trouble is Amanda Waller, who has (the original) Etta’s proportions with the added drawing difficulty (for some) of being black. My husband’s currently inking a book in which Waller is a featured character, and while her proportions seem correct the penciller doesn’t draw her quite as I’ve pictured her from past artists. Her face is too rounded for my tastes, not stocky and strong-looking as in the past.

  5. I used to read WW comics obessivey as a kid. (I lived in a remote part of Canada where we didn’t get WW tv.) There were always retro snippets from the older WW comics in the comic books. I remember Etta as the ONLY girl around in comics who looked like remotely me (who wasn’t also a joke, a villian, or an old lady). And the best thing was, WW loved and respected her just as she was. (Which was part of the reason WW was a goddess to me.) DAMN, I can’t believe what they’ve done to her! I want to cry!

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