From the cover of the 'Model by Day' graphic novel. Artist: Kevin J. Taylor.


Original medium: Comic books
Published by: Rip Off Press
First Appeared: 1990
Creator: Kevin J. Taylor
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For the past couple of decades, movie and TV producers have been prowling the aisles at comic book conventions, looking for properties they might be able to turn into lucrative film projects. Their criteria for selection aren't always the same as those of actual comics readers. A title can easily flop on the newsstand, but still show certain qualities that attract film makers. Model by Day, for example, made little …

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… or no impact when it was published by Rip Off Press (Wonder Warthog, Zippy the Pinhead) in 1990, but within four years, it was a movie of the week on Fox TV (The Simpsons, The Tick).

The "certain qualities" shown shown by Model by Day consisted mostly of what some older comics fans call "good girl art", and the rest of the world calls "cheesecake" — lots of attractive women who don't wear too much, in other words. The cartoonist who created her, Kevin J. Taylor, was virtually unknown in the field when he came up with Model by Day, but has since gone on to a career of graphic novels with plenty of cheesecake, such as Foreplay (1999) and Jill: Part-Time Lover (2000).

Model by Day might best be compared with Stripperella, created for Spike TV in 2003 by none other than Stan Lee (Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor), no longer under exclusive contract to Marvel Comics. Her day job consisted simply of looking pretty. But when the sun went down, she'd put on a superhero suit and run around town battling crime and/or evil. She was assisted by Master Chang, a karate instructor by day.

The media referred to her evil-bashing persona "Lady X" (no relation), taking the name from the crossed suspenders that her costume featured on her otherwise-naked back. In the movie version, at least, she hated that name, and tried to get them to call her "The Silhouette". But nobody paid any attention, so Lady X became who she was.

Her comic book lasted two issues, which were later reprinted in graphic novel form. The movie, which aired on March 21, 1994, starred Famke Janssen (Phoenix in X-Men) as Lady X and Clark Johnson (who played a bit part in Hammerman) as Chang. The screenplay was written by Jeph Loeb (Batman, Challengers of the Unknown) and Matt Weissman (Firestorm, no relation).

Despite high hopes on the part of the property's purchasers for a weekly series, the TV version made no more of a splash than did the comic book.


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Text ©2008-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Kevin J. Taylor.