Lily Renée's Señorita Rio from WWII-Era Fiction House, Up for Auction

Señorita Rio was one of the premiere female spy thrillers of the Golden Age of comic books, drawn by a historically important artist Lily Renée and running through most issues of Fight Comics #19-71. The Fight Comics Señorita Rio feature appeared from 1942 to 1950 starring the titular character fighting Axis agents conducting espionage throughout South America.  The character, named Rita Farrar in the story, was a Hollywood actress whose fiance was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  As chronicled in the debut story in Fight Comics #19, Rita faked her own suicide to become a spy against the Nazis in response to this. Lily Renée's art on Señorita Rio is perhaps her best-known body of work and is considered to be some of her best. An underappreciated eight-year-long saga from an important Golden Age artist, you can get a Fight Comics #19 (Fiction House, 1942) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white pages featuring the origin and first appearance of Señorita Rio, plus many other issues of Fight Comics featuring her saga up for auction in the 2022 October 13 The Fiction House Showcase Auction #40199 at Heritage Auctions.

Lily Renée's Señorita Rio in Fight Comics.
Lily Renée's Señorita Rio in Fight Comics.

Some references have noted that the character may have been inspired in part by actress Dolores del Río, who is considered the first female Latin American crossover star in Hollywood with her film work in the 1920s and 1930s.  About the feature, Lily Renée said, "I just wanted to say with all these comic strips and also this name Senorita Rio, it's sort of like a fantasy. Senorita Rio got clothes that I couldn't have, you know, she had a leopard coat and she wore these high-end shoes and all of this and had adventures and was very daring and beautiful and sexy and glamorous and all of that."

Lily Renée Phillips (1921-2022) was born in Vienna, where her father was an executive with the Holland America steamship line. After the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, her family sent her to England, and she eventually reunited with them in New York City. She took classes at the Art Students League and the School of Visual Arts, and responded to a newspaper ad from Fiction House looking for comic artists. She spent the bulk of her comic book career initially at Fiction House and later at St. John Publications, and is perhaps best remembered as the artist of Señorita Rio.

Señorita Rio appeared on a handful of covers for Fight Comics by Lily Renée, sometimes in collaboration with Joe Doolin. An important Fiction House saga, there's a Fight Comics #19 (Fiction House, 1942) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white pages featuring the origin and first appearance of Señorita Rio, plus many other issues of Fight Comics featuring her saga up for auction in the 2022 October 13 The Fiction House Showcase Auction #40199 at Heritage Auctions. In addition to the items listed in this post, you can check out Fiction House titles such as Planet Comics, Jumbo Comics, Jungle Comics, Fight Comics, Rangers Comics, Wings Comics and much more. New to collecting Fiction House or want to learn more?  Bleeding Cool is doing an ongoing deep dive into the history behind Fiction House in the run-up to this auction. If you've never bid at Heritage Auctions before, you can get further information, you can check out their FAQ on the bidding process and related matters.

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Mark SeifertAbout Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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