Thursday, October 11, 2007

1970's Flashback: Rima the Jungle Girl

Rima was the heroine of the 1904 Victorian-era novel Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest by Argentine-British writer W. H. Hudson, a naturalist who wrote many classic books about the ecology of South America. Hudson based Rima on a persistent South American legend about a lost tribe of white people who lived in the mountains. DC Comics adapted the character in a short-lived comic book series, Rima the Jungle Girl in 1974.

All but forgotten now, the 7-issue run of her monthly series is of significance within the world of comics, because it features rarely seen interior artwork by famed Filipino illustrator Nestor Redondo and covers by Joe Kubert. Rima the Jungle Girl is noteworthy as one of DC's first major publishing efforts (other than Wonder Woman) to feature a woman hero as the titular star of her own book. The ecology movement of the early 1970s also made her stories very timely. Writer Robert Kanigher, used many themes showing Rima passively interfering with predatory hunters and natives rather than engaging them in outright battles.

Like other jungle girls, Rima is always scantily-clad and barefoot, however unlike the literary character, DC’s Rima is a fully-grown and powerful woman with Ashe-blond hair. In the Hudson novel Rima the Bird Girl was 17 years old, small (4' 6"), demure, and dark-haired. Natives avoided her forest, calling her "the Daughter of the Didi" (an evil spirit), but Rima's only true defense is a reputation for magic, earned through the display of such strange talents as talking to birds, befriending other animals and occasionally plucking poison darts from the air.

Trivia: Green Mansions became a 1959 film for MGM Studios starring Audrey Hepburn as Rima. This filmed adaptation deviated far from the novel; in particular, Hepburn's Rima was simply a mysterious girl who lived on her parents' plantation.

1 comment:

Matthew H Camp said...

I picked up Issue #5 from a 50-cent bin and was pleasantly surprised. The illustration is wonderful even if the scripting (and the premise!) is campy. Very enjoyable time capsule of a different era in comic books! And Rima wrestling an alligator is priceless.