Celebrating Lily Renee Phillips: A Forgotten Golden Age Artist



The Jerusalem Post wrote about the history of a female artist from the Golden Age, one particularly obscured by leftist social justice advocates – Lily Renee Phillips, whose artwork includes Senorita Rio:


Like the comic superheroes they invented, the Jewish creators of the characters often had secret identities – at least different names. Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerome Siegel used the pseudonyms Joe Carter and Jerry Ess. Bob Kane, born Robert Kahn, created Batman. Jack Kirby, the pen name of Jacob Kurtzenberg, concocted Captain America.

Although lesser known, the comic book heroine Señorita Rio was Hollywood starlet Rita Farrar by day and Nazi-fighting secret agent by night. The artist who drew Rio’s action-packed panels in the 1940s, and signed as L. Renee, lived a sort of double life, too.

“Everybody assumed I was a man,” artist Lily Renee Phillips has said of the fan mail she received at the time, which was always addressed to “Mr. Renee.” Fans knew neither Renee’s gender nor her incredible origin story, which rivaled the plotline of Señorita Rio.

In the New York offices of Fiction House, the comic book publishing firm where Renee worked, she was a scrappy immigrant who worked her way up from erasing pencil marks to drafting her own heroines. Outside work she was a Vienna-born Holocaust survivor who fled Austria after the 1938 Anschluss, the Nazi annexation of Austria. She escaped to England on a Kindertransport and reunited with her parents in New York in 1940.

Unlike her co-workers, who genuinely loved the comic world’s clearly outlined arena of villains and justice-seeking vigilantes, Renee was just trying to make a living by doing something she had always done: draw.

Those drawings will be on view in an exhibition opening Thursday at New York’s Austrian Cultural Forum. “Three with a Pen” highlights three Jewish cartoon artists who grew up in Vienna and escaped to safety after 1938: Renee, Paul Peter Porges and Bil Spira. The exhibit originally appeared at the Jewish Museum Vienna in 2019.


I’d say this is a most important female artist from her time whom today’s left-wing shows zero interest in emphasizing, in all their obsession with erasing notable lady artists from history, while promoting modern ones based entirely on ideology and background. Well whether or not Phillips was doing it for a living or for dedication to the art form, I think this is somebody who fully deserves serious mention, because she’s another female artist from early history of the profession who proves and demonstrates that lady artists and writers in comicdom are nothing new, and have a history, even if, much like their male counterparts, they used pen names that didn’t make it obvious who they were.



Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1