One of the earliest female comic book creators, Tarpe Mills’ creation Miss Fury is believed to be the first female action hero created by a woman.
Born June Tarpe Mills, she used her middle name professionally, unsure if the buying public would support a supehero created by a woman. She received her education at New York’s Pratt Institute.
Mills started working in the comic book industry in 1938. She created a number of comic book heroes when starting out, including Devil's Dust, The Cat Man, The Purple Zombie, and Daredevil Barry Finn. Then in 1941, she created the character she is most associated with, Miss Fury, who had both her own comic strip and comic book.
Miss Fury, based loosely on Mills’ own appearance, was drawn in a glamorous style with great detail paid to the fashion of the heroine’s outfits in her secret identity of Marla Drake. As the strip became popular, Mills was unable to hide her gender from the public and found that they were indeed accepting of the female creator.
She introduced her cat, Perri-Purr into the strip and during World War II, it became an unofficial mascot for the allied troops. Sometimes her fashion statements of Miss Fury were a bit too racy for the times. Legend has it, at one point she managed to lose 37 newspapers in one day due to a dispute over content.
Miss Fury ran until 1951. Mills returned briefly to the comic book industry in 1971 with Our Love Story in Marvel Comics. She died in 1988 at the age of 73.