Green Lantern’s Original Fridging Art

There’s an article over on Newsarama (with a dreadfully misleading headling) where Ron Marz and Darryl Banks, writer and artist of GREEN LANTERN back in the 90s talk about the run they had together on the title. As a fan of that run, and of Kyle Rayner who was created by them and introduced at the start of it, I was interested to read it and a couple of things caught my eye.

From the interview:

Banks: I was already on the project with another writer then the editors decided to go in a different direction.
Marz: The previous writer had a different storyline in mind for issues #48 through #50, and Darryl actually drew some pages from that issue script.

It’s almost as though they can’t bring themselves to mention Gerard Jones by name, the writer who revitalised the Green Lantern books in the 90s . . . and who was sentenced in 2018 to prison for possession of child pornography. Don’t get me wrong – the guy’s a scumbag and deserves everything he gets, I just don’t see the point in pretending he didn’t exist.

There’s also mention of the “fridging” scene where Kyle’s girlfriend Alex is killed by Major Force and stuffed in the refrigerator. This is the original incident that sparked the “women in refrigerators” movement that rightly brought attention to the way female characters were/are often treated in fiction.

When the incident is brought up, Marz says:

Marz: Right, I knew that Kyle’s irresponsibility with the ring was going to get Alex killed. We wanted her death to be a gut punch for the audience, something unexpected and memorable. And I guess in that respect we succeeded. Certainly, in retrospect the larger context is much more apparent … Then, it was a story I was writing. I was not thinking about the larger context, both in comics and other media. Now, or course, it’s impossible to think of it without the larger context. Which I think is a good thing.

He’s right, it is a good thing that this sort of treatment of female characters should be front and centre when people are putting stories together.

Banks, however, seems to miss the point.

Nrama: What do you think of the term “fridging”?
Banks: That term wouldn’t exist except for a botched attempt at censoring the scene. If the panel was left the way I originally drew it (clearly showing Alex intact) fans may have just moved on.

Here’s the original art (which I hadn’t seen until this interview):

And here’s what was published:

Banks is wrong – “fridging” is not and never has been about how Alex appeared in the fridge, or whether she was intact or not – it’s the fact that she was created and killed with the express purpose of supplying angst and motivation to the main character.

It’s a shame that Banks, unlike Marz, doesn’t get that.

Despite that, it’s a good interview and if you, like me, remember that run with fondness overall, you’ll probably enjoy it.

5 thoughts on “Green Lantern’s Original Fridging Art

  1. Being a young teen reader back then, the full impact of Alex’s death and the whole “Fridging” thing didn’t really hit me at the time. I can defintiely appreciate it now and the movement it sparked. But I’m curious why the movement started with Alex’s death, when there had already been plenty of prior examples of girlfriends, wives, and female teammates getting killed off, with Iris West and Katma Tu being two such notable examples. Was there outrage then too but just not enough to create an entire movement> Where was the outrage then?

    I’m not sure which is worse though, Banks’ original depiction of Alex, which hits you in the face with the gruesome-ness of it all, or the published version where your mind had to fill in the blanks provided by the picture, which often imagined the whole scene to be even worse than was intended.

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    1. I think the timing was part of it; you’re right that Alex wasn’t the first (or the last) but with the internet starting up, it was easier for people to pull together examples and disseminate them wider than it would have been earlier. In the old days, there may have been a handful of letters sent in to the comics but if the editor chose not to run them, or they did but the concerns were dismissed, that would have been the end of it. Posting a bunch of stuff on the net, even in the late 90s, was clearly more effective.

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  2. I was willing to give Kyle a chance when I got an issue from a multipack that showed how he and Alex worked together and how good Kyle was with the ring. The first issue I was able to buy solo was #0, where I learned she was killed and lost interest. That relationship was what sold me on the new GL.

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