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Pop Culture! Skating in Lines: Roller Skating and Comics

Roller skating has appeared in the comics medium for decades. Characters like Dazzler, Skateman, Iron Man, Harley Quinn, and Ramona Flowers all have their places in comics history. Comics strips, appearing in newspapers for the masses, have also included roller skating as subject material. In this way, comics have paved the way for skaters to laugh and relate to the comics they read and for non-skaters to perhaps pick up a pair of skates and roll into a rink. Contemporary comics are extending comics’ trek into the world of roller skating by adding LGBT representation and minority characters.


Alison Blaire, alias “Dazzler,” is a New York native with ambition to work in the entertainment industry. She’s also a mutant, someone born with supernatural powers, and hers is “transmuting sound into light,” which she utilizes when singing and dancing to disco music. Her roller skates magnetically adhere to her boots and she’s able to make quick escapes or disco dance. She’s especially iconic as Marvel’s arrival into the world of roller skating!

Alison Blaire was originally based off Grace Jones, an African American disco artist who played at the iconic Studio 54. John Romita, one of Dazzler’s creators said: “Grace Jones was a very popular singer at the time, and I wanted her to be the basis of the character, because I thought that was realistic. And then, suddenly, it became Bo Derek … and that’s when I said, ‘That’s it. They’ve sold out...’ She was very hot at the time, but I thought she wasn’t as realistic a choice as Grace Jones was. … If I thought of a nightclub chick, that was Grace Jones.”  While Marvel missed out on important representation for the time period, Dazzler was met with love by many fans, especially LGBT fans who saw her as someone facing similar hardships.

The character that would become Dazzler was created as a project between Marvel Comics and Casablanca Records. Their plan was to create a comic & film that showcased the trials and tribulations of “The Disco Queen.” Casablanca Records would have recording artists create songs that would be attributed to the character. Her name quickly changed to Dazzler and Casablanca Records left the project due to financial concerns, but Marvel published Dazzler #1 in 1981, where it sold 400,000 copies while being sold exclusively to comic book shops.

The comic ran from 1981-1985 with a total of 42 issues. The character was sidelined for the most of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. She made a couple of appearances in the 2010’s and finally made it onto the big screen in 20th Century Fox’s Dark Phoenix (2019), with a cameo of her singing at party (unfortunately sans-roller skates).

Although derided by some for her aesthetic and penchant for disco, she still holds the hearts of many devoted fans, ones who still call for more content involving her.

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn, one of DC Comics’ most iconic villains has appeared on quad skates. Harley, known for her violent nature, finds promise as a roller derby skater when the team she joins loosens up on their normal rules to allow Harley to do what she does best: hit people. She appears in a roller derby uniform, including a helmet, pads, and roller skates, but she mixes her iconic style into the mix.

This comic, Harley Quinn #1 (2014), shows Harley’s more sensitive side, as she joins the derby to make money to take care of her new home and the animals she adopts after breaking them out of a poorly run animal shelter. This comic went on to inspire a roller derby scene in 2020’s film Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), directed by Cathy Yan.

Scott Pilgrim Series

In Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series, readers meet Ramona Flowers, an enigmatic American living in Toronto, Canada. Scott Pilgrim falls in love with her and the series revolves around Scott having to beat all seven of her evil exes in order to win her love and prove himself.

In-line skating gets into the mix with Ramona’s occupation. Ramona delivers packages for a fledgling Amazon.ca. She in-line skates through Scott’s dreams via the Subspace Highways, a fantastical series of metaphysical pathways. Ramona describes how she can skate three miles in about 15 seconds with a shortcut through Scott’s brain.

It turns out that skating through Scott’s brain causes him to get rather obsessed with her, which eventually begins their relationship.

The series ran from 2004-2010, with a total of six books. O’Malley won an Eisner award, the greatest award for comics makers, in 2010 for Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe. The series also spawned a film staring Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010).


Skateman is certainly a strange chapter in the history of comics. Neal Adams, who is considered a highly regarded comics creator, produced this comic. Only Skateman #1 was ever printed, which occurred in November of 1983.

The comic centers around Billy Moon, a Vietnam war veteran who ended up in the roller derby. His best friend is killed by a violent biker gang and Moon falls into a depression, only coming out of it after befriending young Paco, and being inspired by his superhero comics. He wraps a scarf around his head and begins his career as a crime fighter on roller skates.

The reception for this comic was mostly negative. Billy Moon was not an admirable hero and frequently used racist language when talking with his supposed-friend Paco. The first issue is only 19 pages, and mostly revolves around people close to Moon dying and Moon attempting to get justice on their behalf.

Bonnie N. Collide, Nine to Five is an ongoing webcomic created by Monica Gallagher in 2008.

Slam! And Slam! The Next Jam were created by Pamela Ribon, who was a derby girl for man years. When asked why she chose to write a comic on roller derby, she said: “I love how the sport of roller derby transforms "ordinary" people into superheroes and athletes. It can truly save your life.”

Tony Stark created motorized clamp-on roller skates for the U.S. military in hopes to allow soldiers to move at speeds up to 60 mph without automobiles. Tony Stark used roller skates himself throughout the 1980’s.

Skating Skills, which was published in 1957, outlined the joys of skating and also encouraged readers to buy Chicago Skates via various advertisements.

The patch on display comes from 1989. It shows how rinks would use images from popular culture for rink-related memorabilia. Batman looks slightly distorted, as to avoid fully copying DC’s Batman.

National Museum of Roller Skating Audio Tour - Museum Proper
  1. The First Roller Skates
  2. Patented Roller Skates
  3. The Father of the Modern Roller Skating
  4. Rinking
  5. The "Newest" Craze
  6. The Disco Era
  7. Pop Culture! Skating in Lines: Roller Skating and Comics
  8. Pop Culture! Orchestras, Organs, & Disco: Music in the Rink
  9. Pop Culture! Movies: Roller Skating Across the Silver Screen
  10. Competition: The History of Hockey on Wheels
  11. Competition - Speed Skating
  12. Competition - Dance Skating
  13. Competition - Figure Skating
  14. Competition - Derby
  15. C. W. Lowe's Tent Rink
  16. When Skating Goes to War
  17. Skating for Others
  18. Roller Skating Car Hops
  19. Jam Skating
  20. Extravaganza on Wheels: The Skating Vanities
  21. Vaudeville