Funny Ladies

A Portrait of Women Cartoonists
Year Released
Film Length(s)
46 mins
Remote video URL


WHY are so few women in the comics pages? That question becomes even more provocative as we watch four smart and witty role models — Cathy Guisewite, Nicole Hollander, Lynda Barry and "Brenda Starr's" Dale Messick — share their creative process. Viewers will find themselves looking at the comics, and the world, in a new way.

Featured review

POSITIVELY EMPOWERING. A perfect way to inspire discussion about the role of gender in humor, language use, and storytelling.
Professor Veanne Anderson
Department of Psychology, Indiana State University


Entertaining and informative, the cartoonists reveal fascinating relationships with their characters, who say or do exactly what their creators wish they could say or do in real life. Their feisty heroines speak their minds, allowing the cartoonists to explore the power of humor in storytelling. Within a few frames, the cartoonists manage to dig deep and explore a variety of subjects: childhood dreams and torments, the disarray of domestic life, the elusive nature of self-image, and the power of friendships to restore the spirits. Viewers will see that the comics can communicate unexpected truths about politics, stereotypes, self-esteem, relationships and aging.

This film would make an ideal companion to MacArthur Fellow Lynda Barry's book Making Comics (2019) — the bestselling, creative curriculum that teaches us how to draw and write our story. Barry believes everyone and anyone can be creative and that creativity is vital to processing the world around us.


These feisty heroines make the fantasies, self-doubt, and inner life of women the source of humor and hope.
Professor Linda Majka
Department of Sociology, University of Dayton
I loved Funny Ladies. The fact that one can witness these fictional characters emerging as visual images while at the same time learning more about why they were shaped is one of the film's great strengths.
Professor Whitney Chadwick
San Francisco State University and author of "Women, Art, and Society"
Funny Ladies is as thought-provoking and joyful as ever. I found it deeply relevant, given continuing conversations about women and humor—in the context, for example, of Netflix's groundbreaking Northern Irish comedy 'Derry Girls.' I dare anyone to watch Funny Ladies and not pull out their pens and sketchpad immediately afterwards...while humming the catchy theme!
A 23-year-old viewer

Awards and Screenings

Blue Ribbon, American Film & Video Festival
Editor's Choice, Booklist
PBS broadcast

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • DVD Extras

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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