Favorite Female Characters in Literature # 7: P’Gell

Favorite Female Characters in Literature # 7: P'Gell. Ahhh... P'Gell, the type of woman who breaks heroes with her voice and her hips, and sends them home in grinning defeat.

P’Gell was the creation of Will Eisner, arguably the greatest comics creator of all time. He was creating his Spirit comics way back in the 1940’s, at a time when comic books were nothing but absurd four-color power fantasies (which I love, incidentally) and the level of story-telling sophistication was roughly equal to that of a five-year explaining how he would win the war with dinosaurs and laser-horses. But there was Will Eisner, telling stories of the city, of its people, the highs and lows of humanity, with humor and more than a couple bundles of sexiness. And one of those bundles of sexiness was P’Gell. What kind of woman was P’Gell? Well… here’s a hint. She was named after the Pigalle district in Paris. You know, the red light district. The Moulin Rouge and all that. You get named after the red light district, there’s something seriously wrong with you. And something seriously wonderful about you, too.

This district. It's rather tawdry in this day and age, and I'm sure it was rather tawdry back in its heyday as well, but at least it was more romantic back then, chock full of the Impressionist painters and amazing personalities. I once spent a day in the area, absolutely determined to take in a show at the fabulous (or at least famous) Moulin Rouge. I backed out of that, because it was apparent that the Moulin Rouge I loved was long gone. And it would have cost something like 600.00 to take in a show. Fuck. Really? The locals said, "Oh, the Moulin Rouge? That's for rich tourists and Japanese businessmen." It was clearly no longer the world for which P'Gell was named.

Depending on her mood, THIS is the life that P'Gell was named after, an area of "loose women" with loose morals. Of wine and dances and torch singers and bawdy shows and anyone likely to think absinthe was the goal for the day, and a painting and a garter belt was a bonus with the bottle.

Or, if she's in a different mood, THIS is the Pigalle district for which P'Gell was named. An area that hosted the Grand Guignol, where everything and everyone shrieked in the night, hoping for salvation they knew would never come.

If you knew P'Gell, you knew that even though she has one hand holding a cigarette, and one hand in her hair, that doesn't mean she isn't holding a loaded pistol behind her back.

So who is P'Gell? Is she the sultry seductress? Oh yes. Is she the dangerous backstabber? Yes, that's true as well. Either way, she's no damned tease. If you think she's going to let you in her bed, you're right? If you think she'll betray you, you're right. If you think she's going to fall in love with you, rethink your damn position boy-child, cuz P'Gell is too much woman for you. Even the Spirit took his knives in the back, though she meant her kisses more than ever before.

Things that P'Gell loves. 1: Diamonds. 2: The Spirit (citation needed)

All About P'Gell. 4 complete stories that reveal a truth that can be read from the design of this wonderful cover. P'Gell wants money, boys, and she's the hell you pay.

An unfortunately small image of the only P'Gell cosplay I could find. Ladies of fandom..... more P'Gell cosplay, please!

Eduardo Risso brings his take on P'Gell. His Spirit is way too smooth and far too unruffled, but that's P'Gell alright. Yes it is.

Have to toss a salute to Will Eisner, here. All this hue and cry about no strong women in comics, and Will was crafting strong women like P'Gell, and others that I'll touch on below, since waaaaay back in the beginning.

Will Eisner. Genius artist. Genius writer. Genius creator. Dead on sexy beast.

My studio-mate Chris Samnee knows how to tear up the Spirit's damn jacket. P'Gell is curves and the Spirit is jagged and a collision of lips is inevitable.

P'Gell had a simple way of dealing with problems. Start with a kiss, and if that doesn't get it done, a bullet will do. She didn't need many bullets.

A few pages from P'Gell's first appearance. The poor thing has a some troubles, here. So sad, because, as she says, deep down, she's just a shy, sensitive girl who dislikes bloodshed. Really. Truly. Don't... don't you believe her?

P'Gell was always willing to throw a little sex into a deal. Hell... she was mad when she was refused. How the hell could she trust someone who didn't want to sleep with her? WAY too suspicious.

Oof! Betrayed by P'Gell?!!! What are the chances?!!! (hint: 100%)

Even if she tried to kill them or rob them, P'Gell was still enraged at any man who "thoughtlessly" betrayed HER.

A P'Gell story was so full of betrayals that the characters could almost stand in one spot, and just wait until the betrayal train pulled back into their own station.

P'Gell. The poor, delicate, defenseless widow. Won't somebody take her in?Â

That's P'Gell's first appearance there on the left... and an image that has been repurposed several times during the years. P'Gell was sort of a master of repurposing things herself: this is a woman who, during her appearances in the Spirit newspaper strip... took NINE different husbands. A few of them even survived.

Darwyn Cooke takes his turn with P'Gell's adventures. Careful, you might get a little sex on you.

Original art for one of the THE P'Gell pieces. Sadly... this isn't from my own original art collection, because if I had enough money to buy a piece of art like this, I'd probably blow it all on women like P'Gell.

As long as we're here, we might as celebrate a few of the other women in the Spirit's life, all of which had a tendency to kiss him when he was tied up, and shoot him when he wasn't. Ahhh, college.

Ladronn illustrates a fairly normal situation in the Spirit's life. Again, though... gotta rough up that suit a bit.

A nice spirit cover from back in the days when it was being re-published by Kitchen Sink, when it was straddling the line between mainstream comic and underground magazine, when Eisner could open up the stories a bit more. As usual, Eisner found himself at the forefront of damn near everything. And, of course, the Spirit was finding himself beaten unconscious with dames all over him, this time with a feminine knee in a very uncomfortable place, though he seems okay with it. Oh Spirit, you silly.

Ellen Dolan. In the early days of the Spirit strip, Ellen was desperately in love with the Spirit, and would purposefully put herself into dangerous situations so that he would be forced to rescue her, and she could maybe land a kiss or two on his lips. In later years, her character matured, and rather than being frail and helpless, she swung all the way over to becoming mayor, in charge of the whole town. An ongoing relationship between Ellen and the Spirit was heavily implied, although it sure as hell didn't stop other women from making gunfire-fueled romantic attempts to win his heart, or at least his lips.

In the 1940's, if you found the Spirit tied up and you were a woman, you were REQUIRED to kiss him.Â

Ain't nothing but strength n' femininity here, boys. Close them jaws and move along.

The siren known as Lorelei Rox only had one appearance, but she's fondly remembered. I think she had some sort of role in the Spirit movie, but I also pretend the Spirit movie doesn't exist, so let's just move along.

Another femme fatale from the Spirit comics. This one is Powder, as in gunpowder. Another dynamic kisser with a mean streak. You know what you're in for when a woman is named after gunpowder and is depicted as ruling a spider's web.

Let's just have us a fight in a women's prison then, shall we?

I swear to God, the Spirit must not have been able to get it up unless he was tied up. The second he was in ropes there was always some sultry and alluringly dangerous woman planting her lips on his. This time it's Silk Satin, an ex-criminal who began working for insurance companies, traveling all over the globe to recover stolen gems and artifacts, always running into trouble and often running into the Spirit's lips. She often got the best of him in the end. I always thought she was the best match for the Spirit.

If you want to leave a strong dating impression, might I advise killing someone who's about to murder the boy you're after? We guys will definitely spring for a fine dinner afterwards, and then you can tie us up and kiss us.

Enter Silk Satin. Don't be fooled by the name... she's harder than nails and bulldog mean.

FIGHT! Satin and the Spirit tussle for the first time, and, to cover up the fight, they have their first kiss.

I love it when ladies go courtin'.

The Spirit kissed the criminal right out of Satin. Mostly.

Satin in the modern day. I love that it's so often the women who are the heroes of the Spirit stories. If you're starring with the Spirit, you damned well better be able to shoot straight, know how to throw a right cross, know how to throw a double cross, and deal with being the hero when the Spirit is out of action.

Doesn't hurt to have full lips and be a snappy dresser, either.

And let's not forget Sand Saref, the childhood friend of Denny Colt (alias, the Spirit) and espionage agent who has taken a few wrong turns in life and who does her best to make up for them, mostly. If only things had gone differently for her, she and Denny might have ended up with a house and a picket fence, but, as it is...? Well, a few stolen kisses during escapes, a few tears here and there, and an occasional bullet. Such is love.

Sand... I confess I am attracted to how you do not shoot me very much.

Ahh, P'Gell. We bid you adieu until such a time when we feel like crawling out of harbors in battle with the denizens of the underworld, and you're in the mood to heartlessly watch our bloody struggle.Â


#25: Scarlet Witch

#24: Chance Falconer

#23: Vampirella

#22: Tigra

#21: Jean Grey

#20: Kitty Pryde

#19: Janet van Dyne

#18: Mary Jane Watson

#17: Hermione Granger

#16: Death

#15: Modesty Blaise

#14: Black Widow

#13: Sue Storm

#12: Fantomette

#11: Millie (the Model) Collins

#10a: Blonde Phantom

#10b: Betty & Veronica

#10c: Lois Lane

#10: Wonder Woman

#9: Nancy Drew

#8: Burma

#7: P’Gell


I’ve been thinking about women, lately. Women characters in comics. Women creators in comics. Female characters in literature. And pretty girls riding around on bicycles or walking along the sidewalk, etc, etc. Because of this, I’ve decided to make An Entirely Useless List. Why is it entirely useless? Because it’s my top 25 female characters from comics and literature, and such lists change at whim and at a breakneck pace. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to quantify favorites… the term favorite is far too malleable. A list of my best friends from high school, for instance, would not include anyone with whom I’m currently in contact. Times change. Still… I’m making the list. Why? I suppose I just like thinking about women.

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