So I’m doing something a little different for this entry. Instead of doing this breezy info-comic style, I’m doing a full-on graphic novel-length comic on the life of Nancy Wake. I’ll be releasing it in installments, divided out into different chapters of her life, as I complete it.
As it stands, I plan for this to be the last RP entry I do, at least for a long while. I’ve been doing this for five years now – when I started, there was almost nobody else doing this sort of work. But now, if I stop for a bit, there will be others carrying the torch.
I don’t plan on just slinking off into the ether. There’s other projects I want to be doing, which I’ve been putting together (which explains the slow posting rate here). I’ll be announcing those near the completion of the Nancy Wake story.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll enjoy Nancy’s story. It’s truly incredible.
- I go into this in more detail throughout, but Nancy gave many interviews later in her life where subtle details don’t quite add up or fit. Where I’ve run into these, as opposed to directly portraying verbatim what she described, I portray a more verifiably-plausible version. I absolutely believe the crux of her stories — and given her extensive collection of war medals, so did many governments and militaries — but I also believe she inflated her tales somewhat, as many do. ↩
- Nancy was born in New Zealand, and was descended from broadly western European lineage, with the exception of her great-great-grandmother Pourewa, who was Maori. Her father left when she was very young and her strict religious mother raised her alone. She had four siblings, most of them much older. ↩
- This incident, of her writing a fairly innocuous dirty rhyme and being excoriated by her mother, is recounted verbatim in the FitzSimmons book. For those who have trouble with the handwriting, it reads: “Isn’t it funny / to see a little bunny / waiting for her Mummy / to come and wipe her bummy?” ↩
- This was far from the last time she engaged in bawdy wordplay. Another instance, several years later, had her making fun of an unfortunately-named teacher, Fanny Menlove, by transposing her surname and given name to make the most obvious possible joke. ↩
- Anne of Green Gables is a book (well, first of several) about a young girl who goes to live with another family and ends up on a lot of adventures. Nancy loved this book and Anne of the Island, and took them with her wherever she went. ↩
- Skipping over a LOT of her story here. She ran away at 16, stayed with one of her siblings, took on a different name (where the middle name was Anne, off of Anne of Green Gables), and started working as a nurse. One anecdote I’m gutted I couldn’t fit in had her and another young nurse getting shitfaced on wine to handle carting out a dead patient, only for them to slip in the mud, the corpse to slip out of their hands, and for them to realize he was enormously well-endowed. ↩
- Her aunt Hinamoa, one of the black sheep of the family, gave her 200 pounds to go out and travel. She hit up Vancouver, New York, and London, where she went to school for journalism. Along the way, she got into a fight with a boxer over a game of cards and got hit on by a lesbian woman, at which point she decided, somewhat to her chagrin, that she was straight. She had a lot of stories. ↩
- This interview is basically verbatim lifted from her telling of it. Her hairstyle, the Eton Crop, was taken from her love of contemporary movie star Tallulah Bankhead. ↩
- Yes, she actually went to clubs with her dog, a wire terrier named Picon. ↩
- Henri was a wealthy industrialist and man about town. Nancy talked a fair bit about the nasty and frequent sex they would have. ↩
- This scene actually happened at the end of the club night, as opposed to them ditching their dates in the middle of a dance, but I maintain that’s something they would have done. ↩
- If it isn’t obvious, these are Jewish refugees, whom she met at her favorite cafe in Paris, Luigi’s. ↩
- I’m pretty proud of the background in panel one. I am trying to do more full-painted backgrounds and it came out well. ↩
- So here is a deviation from the story as she tells it. She recounts going to Berlin in 1935, seeing Jews tied to wheels and whipped, and Hitler giving a speech in front of Brandenberg Gate. I could find no mention anywhere of Nazis strapping people to wheels for public shaming, or for them using whips outside of concentration camps (and occasionally, by Hitler, for show). Hitler did speak in Berlin at Brandenberg Gate, but in 1936, for the Olympics. I’ve no doubt, however, that she saw some awful treatment of Jews, so I instead portrayed some incidents for which I could find photo evidence, and hit the same note in her life. The guy on the right is using a metal baton with a leather strap on the end of it, which is the closest thing to a “whip” I could find used by street patrols. ↩
- The background of the top panel shows a window with the word “JUDE” (Jew) painted on it, and some actual flyers handed out that warned against racial mixing. ↩
- As she describes it, this scene actually would have happened before she met Henri (in 1936), but it the story flowed better if it was slotted it in here. ↩
- Henri’s parents hated Nancy. And they did get them super drunk at their wedding. ↩
- At this point, war is about to break out, and Henri has been drafted into the French army to defend against Germany. Partly their marriage was hurried up because it felt like they didn’t have much time to enjoy life before all hell broke loose. ↩
The main image has a bunch of callbacks to her story — her destroying bridges, calling in airdropped supplies (with her handy radio operator, Denis Rake!), and her infamous 400km bike ride.
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Next Time on Rejected Princesses
As mentioned in the entry, this is the last entry I plan on doing for a while. I will continue to add chapters of her life as I finish them, and it will likely be north of a hundred pages when completed.