FORMAT: PAPERBACK (REVIEWED), DIGITAL | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
In the grand pantheon of Universal Monsters, the creature from the Black Lagoon has always been one of the most under-served beasties. This is perhaps because it’s origins are much less obvious than Dracula or the Wolf-Man, but it’s eye-catching design and easy menace has swiftly made it a legend. It turns out that the creature was invented by a young artist called Milicent Patrick. You would think that would make her one of the hall of famers of horror fandom, but alas it’s only in recent years that Patrick’s work and talent has been made clear.
The Lady From The Black Lagoon is the story of Millicent Patrick and the challenges she faced in the male-dominated movie industry of the 1950s. O’Meara does not allow the reader to wallow in the thought that we have put such prejudices behind us. As a young woman working in the movie industry herself, the author is able to draw parallels between Patrick’s story and her own.
This makes the book an interesting blend of history lesson, investigation, biography and essay. Ultimately it’s a look into the sexism and misogyny that plagues our culture and hampers creativity, development and growth. This is not an easy read but it is a very important work, one that will be an eye-opener for some and simply a confirmation of the facts for others.
If the title sounds familiar, that’s because The Lady From The Black Lagoon came out in the USA in 2019 and got nominated for a Hugo Award in 2020. It’s taken till early 2021 to get an official paperback release in the UK, though it’s available digitally right now. If you want a dead-tree version (with a rather striking cover) then you’re going to have to pre-order it and wait till February 2021.
O’Meara’s style is witty, engaging and strong throughout, though it is a pretty tough book in places. Recommended, but not one we advise you read in a single sitting.