June Tarpé Mills

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Tarpé Mills
Born June Tarpé Mills
25 February 1918
Died 1988
Nationality American
Area(s) artist, writer
Notable works
Miss Fury

Tarpé Mills (25 February 1918–1988) was the pseudonym of comic book creator June Mills, one of the first major female comics artists. She is best known for her action comic strip, Miss Fury, the first female action hero created by a woman.[1][2]


Born June Tarpé Mills on February 25, 1918 in Brooklyn, NY, she signed her work by her middle name "Tarpé" to conceal her gender. Mills worked as a model while helping to support her deceased sister's children and her widowed mother along with her academic studies.[3] She attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York and She received her higher education at the Pratt Institute in New York.[2]

Mills' professional career began as a fashion illustrator.[4] She created several action comics characters: Devil's Dust, The Cat Man, The Purple Zombie, and Daredevil Barry Finn, before creating her most remembered character, Miss Fury, in 1941.[5]

Comic strip[edit]

The Bell Syndicate first published Miss Fury comic strip began April 6, 1941. Miss Fury, the alter ego of Marla Drake, was a character based loosely on Mills' own appearance. The artwork was created in a glamorous style with considerable attention placed on the heroine's outfits.[2][6] Mills attention to fashion in Miss Fury was mirrored in the work of her contemporary Dale Messick's Brenda Starr, and in this sense the women were ahead of their male counterparts who typically "dressed his heroines in plain red dresses;" both series display excellent examples of 1940's fashion trends. [7] As the strip became more popular, it eventually became public knowledge its creator was a woman.

During World War II, Miss Fury was painted on the nose of three American warplanes in Europe and the South Pacific. One of the reoccurring villains were Nazi agens Erica Von Kampf and General Bruno. Mills' cat Perri-Purr was introduced in the strip, and during World War II Perri-Purr became an unofficial mascot of the Allied troops.[5] [8]

Mills' art on Miss Fury was modeled on the work of Milton Caniff. [9]

Miss Fury ran until 1952, when Tarpé Mills mostly retired from the comics industry.[1] Circulation included over 100 newspapers at its most popular stage.[10] She briefly returned in 1971 with Our Love Story for Marvel Comics.

She died on December 12,1988, in Brooklyn, New York, and is buried in Forest Green Park Cemetery in Morganville, New Jersey.


  1. ^ a b Markstein, Don. "Miss Fury". Toonopedia. Archived from the original on 2012-04-09. 
  2. ^ a b c Trina Robbins, A Century of Women Cartoonists, Northampton, Mass. : Kitchen Sink Press, 1993. ISBN 0878162062 (pp. 62, 67-71, 83)
  3. ^ "June Mills". www.tarpemills.com. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  4. ^ "June Mills". www.tarpemills.com. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  5. ^ a b Lambiek. "Tarpe Mills". Comiclopedia. 
  6. ^ Goulart, Ron (1975-01-01). The Adventurous decade. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House. pp. 180–181. ISBN 087000252X. OCLC 463530524. 
  7. ^ Robbins, Trina (2001). The Great Women Cartoonists. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 62. ISBN 0-8230-2170-X. 
  8. ^ "Miss Fury & WWII". www.tarpemills.com. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  9. ^ "Perhaps because it was the only one of many then-popular Caniff-inspired strips starring a woman, or perhaps because Mills was such a good storyteller in the film noir style, she received a lot of publicity. Miss Fury decorated the nosecone of at least one bomber..." Trina Robbins, "Tarpé Mills’ Miss Fury". The Comics Journal No. 288, February 2008, (p.110).
  10. ^ "June Mills". www.tarpemills.com. Retrieved 2017-03-11.