I came across a cartoon sequence in the Daily Mirror today titled Mandy, charting the adventures of a robust blonde with a cleavage fighting to either get out of, or stay in, her dress (it hasn’t decided yet). You might already be familiar with the illustrations, but for the uninitiated Mandy is described as “a maneater and girl-about-town,” who “doesn’t let her life as a single mum get in the way of having a good time.” Here’s a sample of Mandy’s shenanigans from today’s paper:
I’m not sure about the Mirror’s fictional creation. Why? Because of the six cartoons offered by the paper each day, Mandy is the only female character who has her own comic strip. She is juxtaposed with veteran Andy Capp, Horace and Scorer to name a few, giving the distinct impression that she has been shoe-horned in so that the Mirror can’t be accused of not catering for a female readership.
It seems that in creating Mandy the Mirror has not only made her into the traditional big-breasted blonde caricature that populates the tabloids, but has also attempted to tick all the boxes in the hope that she encompasses as many female lifestyles as possible. She’s not only a sexually liberated “girl-about-town man-eater,” but she is also an independent single mother. The Mirror might believe they have broken some sort of taboo here (you haven’t!), and while I realise a cartoon is usually by nature an exacerbation of reality, what I don’t understand is why the Mirror felt it necessary to make Mandy such a densely concentrated comic creation instead of offering more for a female readership.
When it comes to comics “male” seems to be the default, with female characters rarely represented as damsels to be rescued (and thus to demonstrate the superior intellectual and physical abilities of the men folk) or as humorous fodder.