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  • Writer's pictureKelly Sue DeConnick

March 4th: Lily Renée

Golden Age Artist


Lily Renée Phillips, known by several pen names including L. Renée and Lily Renée, was a comic artist and illustrator born in Vienna to well-to-do Jewish parents in 1921. Her early years were marked by a passion for art, nurtured through visits to museums with her artistically inclined father and her efforts to keep herself entertained as an only child. Renée’s life took a turn for the tragic when she was forced to leave her parents behind to escape Nazi-occupied Vienna in the late 1930s.


Renée’s parents eventually escaped to the United States and the whole family reunited in New York City. Once settled, Renée enrolled in art school, studying at both the Art Students League of New York and the School of Visual Arts. Her cartooning talent was quickly recognized, and she was hired by the comic book publisher Fiction House


During the Golden Age of Comics in the 1940s, Lily Renée was among many women artists employed to replace male artists drafted into World War II. Renée was prolific, working on, among other titles, Jane Martin*, The Werewolf Hunter, The Lost World, and mostly-famously Señorita Rio.


Beyond her contributions to comics, Lily Renée's creativity extended to children's books, playwriting, textile design, and jewelry. Her remarkable career and her resilience in the face of adversity make her a significant figure in comic book history.


In 2007, Renée attended Comic-Con International in San Diego, for her nomination to the Friends of Lulu’s Hall of Fame. She celebrated her 100th birthday in May 2021 and died in her beloved New York City on August 24, 2022, at the age of 101.


For further exploration, #VisibleWomen recommends Lily Renée, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer by Trina Robbins, Anne Timmons and Mo Oh and the documentary short “Lily” directed by Adrienne Gruben and available for viewing on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/744354825.

 


 

“*Jane Martin,” was the story of a female pilot working in the male-dominated aviation industry. 











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