Comics Herstory: Rachel Pollack
Rachel Pollack is a versatile writer who is most known in the comics world for her writing on Doom Patrol, published by Vertigo in the 1990s. Outside of comics, Pollack writes science fiction, nonfiction, short fiction, and essays. She is an expert in reading tarot, and has published several books on the subject.
In Pollack’s run on Doom Patrol, she introduced a number of LGBT+ identifying characters and explored topics like menstruation, the generation gap, and sexual identity. Pollack was one of the first to write these kinds of themes and characters for a mainstream company. She also created Coagula, a transgender woman and lesbian who was one of the first transgender characters in comics and is still one of only a few trans superheroines. Pollack’s run on Doom Patrol ended with the book’s cancellation two years after she began writing it. She has said that her work on Doom Patrol remains one of her favorite projects.
In addition to Doom Patrol, Pollack also penned eleven issues of New Gods in 1995. Since her work in comics, Pollack has written numerous books about Tarot. She has collaborated with author Neil Gaiman, helping to create a Vertigo Tarot Deck. The deck featured cards drawn by Sandman cover artist Dean McKean. Gaiman wrote an introduction for the book that accompanied the set, the rest of which was authored by Pollack.
Many of Pollack’s works are inspired by her experiences as a trans woman, and she has also drawn inspiration from many real-life people. One example of this is Coagula, whose real name Kate Godwin comes from author/actress Kate Bornstein and activist Chelsea Godwin. Pollack is Jewish, and writes many Jewish characters. Themes of spirituality are also present in many of her books, and she also writes extensively about the connection between transgender identities and spirituality. Pollack has taught tarot for much of her adult life, and most recently taught creative writing at Goddard College. Though her writing in comics is now considered something of a cult hit, Pollack was one of the first to write the subjects she did, opening doors for future characters, writers, and stories.
Edit 3/28/16: Rachel Pollack was also the first transgender woman to write comics for a mainstream publisher, which was a significant step for transgender writers and artists in comics.