Michael Fitzgerald Troy: Thanks so much for agreeing to this, Christie! I am so jealous that you are Wonder Woman's granddaughter. You are involved in Wonder Woman Day, a great charity that helps women in distress, and you work with your father with The Wonder Woman Museum. Can you tell us what Wonder Woman meant to you growing up and how she has influenced your life?
Christie Marston: Wonder Woman Day is Andy Mangel’s baby. I suspect that you were confused because we have a WW museum, and his website is named wonderwomanmuseum.com. Ours is wonderwomannetwork.com.
WW is, simply, part of the family. Her [original!!] ethics and values are, not surprisingly, those of my grandmother, and I have always been in total agreement. Add in that WW [and Gram!] was fun, and you have the entire picture of how WW impacted my approach to life. Laugh, love, be always fair and generous . . . and take no guff from anybody [‘guff’ being Gram’s polite version of ‘bs’…]. Basic ‘Golden Rule’, with a bit of ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ built in!
So, it’s safe to say that WW was a major influence in my life!
MFT: Your grandfather is unarguably an interesting man. What can you tell us about him?
CM: Well, since he died before I was born, I have no first-hand knowledge at all. That said, the stories from all members of the family make me regret the bad timing. Highly intelligent, extremely perceptive, always curious about what makes things tick, and topped off by a great sense of humor. [Plus, that Gram chose him for a mate speaks volumes!]
MFT: What do you know of his relationship with early Wonder Woman artist H.G. Peter?
CM: Really, all I know about Harry Peter is that he was a quiet and unassuming ‘older gent’ who was well liked by all. He was a regular at the house. HP certainly did well by WW; his WW art is heavily visible to this day.
MFT: The war between DC and Superman's creators is no secret. How is the relationship with DC and the Marston family?
CM: To put that into perspective, you need to know that both my grandmother and my grandfather had law degrees. Contracts were in place before WW was ever published; the relationship with DC has always been professional.
Of course, I have no doubt that my grandmother had most of DC hiding under their desks at times when she visited their offices. She was not shy about voicing her concerns when she saw WW taking a wrong turn. I don’t think that they rejoiced at her death, but I’m sure that there was a big collective sigh of relief!
Personally, I find it most unfortunate that the family no longer has any kind of connection with DC editorial. Time and attrition eroded that relationship completely. Charlie Gaines, WMM, Shelly Mayer, Gram . . . time does go on.
MFT: Do you read the comics? If so, what have been memorable runs of you (aside from your Grandfather's, of course)?
CM: My sister taught me to read before I was 3. At that point in time, Gram lived in NYC, about 60 miles from our home in CT. Whenever we visited, I would say my hellos and then run down to the bookcase at the end of the hall, grab a huge volume of bound WW comics, and lay on Gram’s bed reading all day. The WW in those original comics will always be the ‘real’ WW for me. I’m sure I read the then current issues – Shelly Mayer used to visit us in CT, always with a big handful of comics, including his awesome Sugar & Spike – but I really have no clear memory of WW past the oldies. By the time I was 6 or 7, comics were just too short a read, so they pretty much dropped by the wayside.
I do remember grabbing a WW comic off the rack in a checkout line somewhere around 1970, simply because the cover was so totally bizarre. Laughed about that one for quite some time . . .
Now that I’ve re-entered the WW world, I’ve read various comics and graphic novels [big comics!] sporadically. Sometimes, I’ll stop for a few minutes to read in the midst of cataloging or re-setting, sometimes somebody will suggest a specific comic or writer; it has been random sampling, and never a full run. I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing how incredibly inconsistent WW has become! Really, think about it; here you have a character who has somehow survived throughout all these years . . . but who has had character and history changes both major and minor in every passing decade!
There have been a few books that really stood out to me, likely because of the value of the lesson in each. First and foremost, Trina Robbins’ The Once and Future Story; I seriously believe that it should be required reading in schools. The Perez suicide issue, and the Unicef/DC Hidden Killer with WW and Superman teaching kids the dangers of unexploded mines are obviously also in that category. It could be that I like to see WW fighting real villains; we have sufficient in our own society that she could be busy for a very long time. And, maybe inspire the next generation to join the battle…
MFT: Wonder Woman's background has been shaken to the core with some pretty hefty changes and revelations lately, including being sired by Zeus (which I guess makes you Zeus' great granddaughter). Do you have an opinion on the changes? What would gramps think?
CM: Well, since he was the person who created WW – a heroine! - I’ve no doubt that he would consider this direction to be a poor choice. There is a major difference between a leading character and a hero[ine]. Zeus has so many offspring that one more is hardly a surprise; such common parentage obviously does not make WW’s origin at all unique. As to her basic character, I would suspect that he would find it somewhat lacking, and certainly not inspirational. [Perhaps if she had been raised by the Amazons of yore, she might have turned out a bit different?!?]
Remember, WMM believed that comics had educational value; a big factor in the decision to write the comic in the first place. Positive role models have an important place in life; most especially in a world rife with chaos and greed. WW has been a role model to many, many people. I’ve been collecting ‘WW messages’ from fans; what she means to them, how she has impacted their lives. It is truly amazing – and very wonderful – to see how this fictional character has had such an inspirational impact on so many real peoples’ lives. THAT is the ‘real’ WW.
And, on top of all that, my grandfather would want WW to be FUN! Think about it . . . are there kids out there playing together re-enacting scenes from the current book? What happened to heroes? What happened to fun? [Actually, heaven help us if there are kids playing this one out . . .]
LOL - I guess I do, indeed, have an opinion on the changes!
MFT: Wonder Woman is such a great role models for girls (and boys!), can you share some of your other female role models with us?
CM: My grandmother is the best role model that I have yet to see, but since she is WW, I suppose that’s rather redundant! Also in the family, Dotsie [Olive Richard] was a very intelligent, creative, and strong-minded woman. Dotsie’s mother, Ethel Higgins Byrne [ . . . Richard being the origin name for Higgins!] and her aunt, Margaret Sanger, always impressed me with their crusading spirits. Going back to the previous century, my grandfather’s mother, Annie Dalton Moulton, was very much of the same ilk.
With woman like this in my family, it makes perfect sense that I was of decidedly independent nature since birth, and that being female did not hinder me; however, this was not the case with many of my generation, and even to this day. I greatly admire Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and many others for teaching women everywhere to take hold of their own lives. They’ve made a huge difference to women all over the world, and are excellent – wonderful! - female role models.
MFT: I recently read an article debating the meaning behind the introduction of the phrase "Suffering Sappho!" (A declaration I make in real life.) Any clue to it's true origin?
CM: Gram always loved ancient Greek, she studied it in school and had her favorite Greek books until the day she died; I’m sure that factored heavily into WW’s origin. ‘Great Hera’ is just a Greek-ed up ‘Good God,’ obviously. I suspect that ‘Suffering Sappho’ came about simply because she loved the poet and it makes for fun alliteration. Never thought to ask her.
MFT: P.S. I forgot the most important question on my interview. For the record: Skirt? Panties? Or, long pants?
CM: I’m rather fond of the original – skort! Was never a skirt, just looks that way at first glance. After all, if she was doing all that running around, saving the day in a skirt, “It would be up over her head half the time!” [Gram]
MFT: Well, I think I have tortured you enough. I will remove my lasso of truth and let you get back to doing wonderful things. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to chit chat, Cheetah Cat! You're a wonder, "Wonder Christie!"
CM: My pleasure! Always have time for WW friends!