Childhood Heroine #8: April O’Neil
When aliens intercept our TV signals from the 1980s, we’d better hope that they don’t pick up Saturday morning cartoons. Otherwise they’ll get the impression that the gender ratio on Earth is roughly four males to every female, and since such a skewed population is impossible through normal genetic selection (see The Selfish Gene), they’ll naturally conclude that our species engages in widespread female infanticide. Then they’ll blow up Earth for the good of the Galactic Confederation. In such a scenario, we have only two hopes: that the aliens will assume that gender in our species is determined by temperature or something, like with snakes, or that they happen to see something like Jem, where the gender ratio is reversed. But nobody watched the girl cartoons except my husband Andrew, who had a crush on Jem’s alter ego, Jerrica Benton.
(I remember the otherwise terrible cartoon Galaxy High making its lack of female characters into a plot point by explaining that its titular space school had a hard time recruiting girls, and as a result the few girls at the school were very popular. This information is stored in the part of my brain that’s supposed to contain Spanish.)
Anyway, April O’Neil. Plucky girl reporter. Open-minded attitude regarding reptilian sewer mutants. Wears a yellow speedsuit everywhere, a wise choice for someone who spends much of her time in the sewers. I understand she’s a lab assistant in the newest version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but I prefer her with a camera and a mic.
As a kid I was also fond of April’s gawky friend Irma, for absolutely no other reason than that she looked like me. My favorite turtle was Donatello, who did machines, so the greatest episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the one where Irma has to impersonate Donatello at a science conference because he’s been publishing papers under the name “Donna Tello,” and then they have to defeat the Foot together. That episode didn’t, admittedly, have a lot of April O’Neil in it, but I felt like drawing April.
Update: In the course of researching this post, I discovered that my parakeet, Grace Hopper, goes completely batshit at the sound of the Jem theme song.