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August 10, 2011 5:53 PM   Subscribe


 
So much awesome!
posted by TheCoug at 5:55 PM on August 10, 2011


It would look silly? Is that the right answer? It looks silly.
posted by kbanas at 5:55 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love how they included Grant Morrison's giant scar.
posted by griphus at 5:56 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um...this is pretty dumb.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:57 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Deadpool one doesn't seem that out of character.
posted by catwash at 5:58 PM on August 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


So what is so dumb about this, kittens for breakfast. At this point as a female comic book fan, I either have to laugh by way of things like these or cry myself to sleep at night.
posted by strixus at 5:59 PM on August 10, 2011 [24 favorites]


Oh god Alan Moore oh god.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:00 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why the hell is Robert Smith there among the superheroes?
posted by jonmc at 6:05 PM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I enjoy that Batman's bulge is noticeably larger than the rest of them.
posted by EtzHadaat at 6:05 PM on August 10, 2011


Man, that Finch cover is terrible. Wonder Woman isn't just posed stupidly, she's all out of proportion in very weird way.

Probably the only nice thing you can say about it is at least it's not Rob Liefeld.
posted by kmz at 6:06 PM on August 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


Why do I want to start singing "YMCA"?
posted by tomswift at 6:06 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is awesome.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:07 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Newsflash: Comic book dorks/aficionados are drawn (get it?) to attractive female forms. It helps sell product.
posted by Renoroc at 6:07 PM on August 10, 2011


Oh god Alan Moore oh god.

Alan Moore is pleased to be acknowledged as your personal deity, and he has specific instructions for you.
posted by hippybear at 6:08 PM on August 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


Man, that Finch cover is terrible.

Batman's fist is as big as his head! No wonder Robin keeps dying of internal hemorrhaging!
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:08 PM on August 10, 2011 [34 favorites]


Newsflash: Comic book dorks/aficionados are drawn (get it?) to attractive female forms.

Newsflash: a large number of comic book 'aficionados' are female.
posted by Tknophobia at 6:09 PM on August 10, 2011 [62 favorites]


Who is the non-scissory Edward Scissorhands-looking dude supposed to be?
posted by elizardbits at 6:10 PM on August 10, 2011


So what is so dumb about this, kittens for breakfast. At this point as a female comic book fan, I either have to laugh by way of things like these or cry myself to sleep at night.

It's just...kind of obvious and dumb and not drawn very well. I guess it's not hurting anything, but if you were going to do a FPP on sexism in superhero comics, this link would maybe be a footnote, at best.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:11 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


A sexy footnote.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:11 PM on August 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's the Sandman.
posted by zoetrope at 6:12 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Batman's fist is as big as his head! No wonder Robin keeps dying of internal hemorrhaging!

Oh god, I shouldn't, but I literally laughed out loud.

Who is the non-scissory Edward Scissorhands-looking dude supposed to be?

Gaiman!Sandman, Morpheus, King of Dreams.

Newsflash: Comic book dorks/aficionados are drawn (get it?) to attractive female forms.

Not only are there plenty of women comic book fans, not all the male fans are drooling idiots.
posted by kmz at 6:12 PM on August 10, 2011


Why the hell is Robert Smith there among the superheroes?

Guy can transform into a giant robot and never loses at Roshambo.

Who is the non-scissory Edward Scissorhands-looking dude supposed to be?

Morpheus aka Dream aka Sandman.
posted by cortex at 6:12 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Amazing. That one pose transforms them all into characters straight out of an episode of Venture Bros.

strixus: "At this point as a female comic book fan, I either have to laugh by way of things like these or cry myself to sleep at night."

This. I mean, at this point, I've just accepted my belief that a majority of male comic book writers' imaginations are frozen at the onset of puberty.

Related: Conan and Pierre Redesign DC Superheroines. Pure. Comedy. Gold.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:12 PM on August 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Guy can transform into a giant robot and never loses at Roshambo.

Well, at least it's not Morrissey.
posted by jonmc at 6:13 PM on August 10, 2011


My medical training and expertise affords me the unfortunate motivation to diagnose people by sight. For example: I once met up with someone on a date and my first thought was "my god, she looks anemic." Years later she turned up online to be a semi-famous comedian in NYC.

Anyway, the men look like they are suffering from gastrointestinal distress. But my powers cannot discern more, due to lack of detail in the drawings.

Wonder Woman, however, is drawn well enough that she appears to be suffering from a terrible case of some sort of rare helminthic disease involving magical, golden tapeworms. Which she is grasping. Which the other superheros are determined to find a cure for.
posted by herrdoktor at 6:14 PM on August 10, 2011 [18 favorites]


I once met up with someone on a date and my first thought was "my god, she looks anemic." Years later she turned up online to be a semi-famous comedian in NYC.

Aye, friend, that's some fine diagnosin'.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:15 PM on August 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


The sad thing is that this is a relatively minor artistic infraction. See The Over the Shoulder Pose. Nothing could look less powerful and heroic. It's a recipe for a slipped disk. Verging on anatomically impossible, but quite common in comics.

caution: TVTropes link
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:15 PM on August 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I do love that Batman is seriously hairy.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:17 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Don't dream it. Be it.
posted by munchingzombie at 6:18 PM on August 10, 2011 [19 favorites]


I laughed so hard at this, my formerly sleeping cat is now posing like wonder woman and glaring at me.
posted by dabitch at 6:19 PM on August 10, 2011


Sweet jeebus, I can't stop looking at Batman's giant fist now.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:23 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Amazing. That one pose transforms them all into characters straight out of an episode of Venture Bros.

The only redeeming quality of superhero comics is that they provide fodder for Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer. So looking forward to the upcoming seasons 5 and 6.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:28 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dude with the bandelero is Roxbury ready.
posted by clavdivs at 6:32 PM on August 10, 2011


I do love that Batman is seriously hairy.

Batman isn't a superhero. He has no powers. He's just a dude with a cool outfit and a secret identity. By that logic, drag queens are superheroes.
posted by jonmc at 6:35 PM on August 10, 2011 [19 favorites]


"Eddy, Don't Hurt Me"
posted by clavdivs at 6:37 PM on August 10, 2011


hmmm, that explains alfred.
posted by clavdivs at 6:38 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wonder Woman seems to have had some sort of terrible, untreated ACL injury.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:50 PM on August 10, 2011


Everyone on that cover looks very grumpy. I'm afraid there's only enough grumpy for Batman, Justice League.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:54 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think what's bothering me about this post is the false equivalence. They've posed Wonder Woman "sexy". And yes, that's dumb for someone who is supposedly a warrior princess. But "the same way" for a male superhero isn't copying the female one. It's some male "sexy" pose. Which comic books do in fact do for male superheroes, albeit a smaller percentage of the time (and maybe only a male idea of what a male "sexy" pose would be).
posted by DU at 6:56 PM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, that TV Tropes page misses a big reason (or justification, anyway): So the character looks alert. As in "what was that sound I just heard over my shoulder!?"
posted by DU at 6:57 PM on August 10, 2011


Newsflash: Comic book dorks/aficionados are drawn (get it?) to attractive female forms. It helps sell product.

Wha?
posted by the noob at 6:57 PM on August 10, 2011


Nope. Don't buy it.

A loner weirdo like Batman? Full body shaver. Absolutely. No question.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:59 PM on August 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Also, that TV Tropes page misses a big reason (or justification, anyway): So the character looks alert. As in "what was that sound I just heard over my shoulder!?"

pretty sure i don't make come-fuck-me eyes at things that startle me
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:00 PM on August 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


By that logic, drag queens are superheroes.

...Aren't they?
Granted, the Sisters are pretty damn special, but my point stands.
posted by smirkette at 7:00 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


This little game has been around a while.

Photoshopped versions.

And a whole blog project: Dressed to Kill.
posted by emjaybee at 7:01 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oops, sorry, Dressed to Kill is mostly the artist's blog, but she does do posts about heroes-posed-like-heroines occasionally
posted by emjaybee at 7:04 PM on August 10, 2011


Tknophobia: "Newsflash: a large number of comic book 'aficionados' are female."

Cite please. Until I see numbers, hero comic books* are entertainment made by white male nerds for white male nerds, with women, non-whites and non-nerds making a very small percentage of the readership. Which is why these attempts to make hero comics more diverse are doomed to fail.

* read: Marvel and DC. Independent, manga, etc. are another story altogether.
posted by falameufilho at 7:05 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Capt. Renault: "Nope. Don't buy it.

A loner weirdo like Batman? Full body shaver. Absolutely. No question.
"

Disagree. Unlike superheroes who usually acquire their powers through exposure to radiation, which is going to eliminate hair growth, or aliens, who have evolved without body hair, Batman would have to shave and he's way too busy keeping up with the frenetic, unrelenting pace of crimefighting to waste time on something like so insignificant like shaving. Just cover that man fur up with a full body batsuit and get down to business.
posted by Dr. Zira at 7:06 PM on August 10, 2011


I once met up with someone on a date and my first thought was "my god, she looks anemic." Years later she turned up online to be a semi-famous comedian in NYC.

No, I think she was in cinema.
posted by nzero at 7:06 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Falameufilho, perhaps you have heard of this thing called Google? Try typing in words like "girl" and "comic readers". It's amazing what you find.

Oh wait: independent and manga don't count. For some reason. Perhaps because they scare you?
posted by emjaybee at 7:08 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love the idea, and I agree that sexism in comics needs to be constantly called out, but I'm not 100% sure about the art style.

here's Too Busy calling out Bendis' sexism
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:15 PM on August 10, 2011


Independent, manga, etc. are another story altogether.

I'm not sure what you're trying to prove by removing everything non-Marvel or DC from the mix. Manga's not exactly free of overly sexualized women. This is happening outside of Marvel and DC Comics, too, where there are *gasp* actual female readers!
posted by asnider at 7:16 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


pretty sure i don't make come-fuck-me eyes at things that startle me
this is my evolutionary strategy

my great grandchildren will let you know how it goes
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:17 PM on August 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


The Alan Moore kills me. He probably does that all the time when he thinks only the Great Old Ones are looking.

Now I want Comedian Bloody Smiley Underoos.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2011


I love this.

My 3 year old son is having a superhero birthday party.
I can not find a female character's costume* to be that doesn't look like it's from a fetish website. Why can't the women look tough too??

In Marvel world, because in our house DC doesn't exist
posted by beccaj at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


pretty sure i don't make come-fuck-me eyes at things that startle me

Speak for yourself mister.

Just cover that man fur up with a full body batsuit and get down to business.

The Batman is frequently depicted in comics with 3-day stubble.

(google image searching "batman shave" returns odd results)
posted by device55 at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's just a dude with a cool outfit and a secret identity. By that logic, drag queens are superheroes.

A lot of drag queens ARE superheroes. If you say otherwise, you haven't met enough drag queens. They fucking rock. Ever heard of Stonewall? That was drag queens throwing rocks and pennies at the police, and look what it led to. (Pennies because what else do you throw at the coppers when they come to harass you?) And they did it all in high heels.

Drag queens = superheroes. If they don't, get your reality adjusted.
posted by hippybear at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


read: Marvel and DC. Independent, manga, etc. are another story altogether.

I wonder who Marvel was making those swimsuit editions for.
posted by emeiji at 7:26 PM on August 10, 2011



A lot of drag queens ARE superheroes. If you say otherwise, you haven't met enough drag queens. They fucking rock. Ever heard of Stonewall? That was drag queens throwing rocks and pennies at the police, and look what it led to. (Pennies because what else do you throw at the coppers when they come to harass you?) And they did it all in high heels.

Drag queens = superheroes. If they don't, get your reality adjusted.


There's a drag queen superhero in Simon R Green's Nightside books (think the Dresden Files, only also like The Dresden Files).
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:28 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Um...this is pretty dumb.

Am I the only one getting the artist's point that the dumbest thing about Wonder Woman on that JLA cover is the way she's holding her lasso so that it's going to get caught between her legs when she tries to throw it?

My problem with the cover is that I usually picture the JLA as looking angrier than that.
posted by straight at 7:29 PM on August 10, 2011


pretty sure i don't make come-fuck-me eyes at things that startle me

but that poor lonesome velociraptor just wanted to ask you out for some coffee!
posted by elizardbits at 7:30 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


but that poor lonesome velociraptor just wanted to ask you out for some coffee!

and then there was one immediately to my left which asked if maybe i was free that night 'cause there was a good movie playing

clever girl
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:32 PM on August 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


A loner weirdo like Batman? Full body shaver.

But which Batman?

Bob Kane Batman? He's never heard of it.
50s & 60s "Silver Age" Batman? He's got a bit of chest hair, but it's no big deal.
TV 60s Batman? Shaves with the Bat-shaver, of course. But only his face.
70s O'Neil & Adams Batman? He's too gritty to shave.
late 70s and 80s, Earth-1, Jim Aparo 80's Batman? Sure. He's a bit of a swinger.
80s Earth-2 "WWII" Batman? He's all natural,
The Dark Knight? He takes Rogaine for extra body hair.
Tim Burton's Batman? He doesn't have any hair. At all. Keaton had to wear a wig for the Bruce Wayne scenes.
Mid-90s Grim-'n-gritty Batman? All natural again.
All-Star "god-damn" Batman? He doesn't just make Minoxidil, Wayne Labs invented it for him.
Grant Morrison Batman? Sure. He's a freak under the latex. With lots of tattoos. That's why you never see Bruce Wayne out of a suit.
posted by bonehead at 7:38 PM on August 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


but drag queens perpetuate feminine stereotypes? i don't know
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:44 PM on August 10, 2011


Batman isn't a superhero. He has no powers.

The criteria for being a superhero is: Can you defeat a supervillain?
posted by free hugs at 7:46 PM on August 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


Ha geez, DC Comics. All they do nowadays is make me sad and confused.

How much longer does Grant Morrison have left on that exclusive contract of his?
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:50 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because, just to be clear, Morrrison's writing is about the only thing that line has going for it right now. And there's a lot of Marvel characters that could use his attention.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:52 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


She looks cross eyed and they made me snigger.
posted by infini at 7:55 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Batman's fist is as big as his head! No wonder Robin keeps dying of internal hemorrhaging!
Now that's just wrong.

A loner weirdo like Batman? Full body shaver. Absolutely. No question.
Rich guy Bruce Wayne could well afford to have all that hair lasered off. He doesn't have time to be bothered with shaving when he has to go fight crime at the drop of a hat.

Just cover that man fur up with a full body batsuit and get down to business.
But wouldn't it be awfully hot and sticky? Man, I'm going to be watching the next Dark Knight movie with a whole different, squirming outlook.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:57 PM on August 10, 2011


Dang, you guys are being awfully hard on David Finch considering it's the first time he ever had to draw a woman's face. I think it's really cool that he noticed that women have less chin than men and also less eyebrows and also look a little like a deer that smelled something bad. Good job, David Finch!

*affixes to David Finch drawing a sticker depicting a dinosaur on a skateboard with the caption "GOOD TRY-O-SAURUS!!!"*
posted by Greg Nog at 7:58 PM on August 10, 2011 [34 favorites]


Unfair, EatTheWeak. There's also Gail Simone, Paul Cornell and a book about Frankenstein's Monster leading a crack team of secret agents who at one point ended World War II by killing Hitler.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:00 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cite please. Until I see numbers, hero comic books* are entertainment made by white male nerds for white male nerds, with women, non-whites and non-nerds making a very small percentage of the readership. Which is why these attempts to make hero comics more diverse are doomed to fail.

Anecdotes are not data, I know. But. I used to read my older brother's comics, and I came pretty close to being a bonafide fan. I couldn't do it, however. The relentless barrage of impossibly-proportioned women - who could miraculously fight crime without sports bras - just wore me down. I'm not exaggerating; that was the exact reason I stopped reading comic books. I felt shut out.

Were it otherwise, I'd likely be a hardcore comic book geek today. Maybe I would have channeled my love of doodling into comic book art, and maybe I'd have ended up one of the female artists or writers DC seems to have so much trouble finding. Who knows.

I'd read a decently-written comic about a non-cheesecakey superheroine. I'd read the shit out of it. But I'm reluctant to set foot in a comic book store and have to search the racks of shiny T&A for something I can identify with.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:03 PM on August 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


Frankenstein's Monster leading a crack team of secret agents who at one point ended World War II by killing Hitler.

Oh. Oh wow. Okay, the DC line has two things going for it then.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:06 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is not a new idea. Yet, for me anyway, it is one that never gets old.
posted by HostBryan at 8:08 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The complaint that this art seeks to answer isn't why I gave up my pull, but it's one of the reasons why I keep not re-upping it. Every time someone sells me on something that I think I might like to read, something like that David Finch cover comes along and I think "I'll get the TPB of that Zatanna series from the library instead". And rewatch Batman: The Animated Series.
posted by immlass at 8:12 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


What comics needs are some Strong Female Characters.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:19 PM on August 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


From the sidebar of Dr. Zira's Conan link, I found these, which are amazing: Indiana Jones in the style of a Popeye comic and Jaws retold as a Peanuts comic.

apologies if these have been on MetaFilter before
posted by davejay at 8:22 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This. I mean, at this point, I've just accepted my belief that a majority of male comic book writers' imaginations are frozen at the onset of puberty.

I'm not saying writers are blameless (Jeph Loeb, I'm looking at you), but I've looked at comic scripts, and I've yet to come across one where the description is:

PANEL ONE: Wonder Woman poses real sexy-like. No, sexier. Like, with her back arched and stuff. Can you get her lasso between her legs there? Awright, perfect.

Art problem probably stems from artist, is all.
posted by Amanojaku at 8:26 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cite please. Until I see numbers, hero comic books* are entertainment made by white male nerds for white male nerds, with women, non-whites and non-nerds making a very small percentage of the readership. Which is why these attempts to make hero comics more diverse are doomed to fail.

I don't see why your claim should win out when you haven't provided any numbers either. But anyway, here you go. I found this person who attempted to measure it based on self-reported numbers on Facebook and concludes that 25% of comic book readers are female, but of course this is non-scientific.

A real academic effort is this book "Of comics and men: a cultural history of American comic books", by Jean-Paul Gabilliet, Bart Beaty, Nick Nguyen, which I was able to browse in limited preview on Google Books. Interesting excerpts:

1989 study conducted for Marvel: 39.3% of boys and 31.9% of girls aged 6 to 17 had read comic books in the last six months.

1999 study by SmartGirl.com and ALA: 42% of boys and 27% of girls aged 11-18 read comic books or graphic novels. (Though notes that readership is declining and few people report reading them frequently.)

Survey by 'Comics Retailer' trade magazine: Clientele of comic book stores are 94% men and 6% women with an average age of 26 years (authors believe this is a pessimistic estimate for female patronage)

Survey by Friends of Lulu in 1995: Average of 13.41% female patrons across 123 comic stores, with individual stores reporting a low of 1% female and a high of 75% female.

And just as the book is starting to get interesting, with the authors setting up an argument about the masculine vision of the body and its influence as an explanatory factor for the dominance in male readership, the Google Books preview cuts out. This would kind of flip your argument; rather than comic books having pretty girls because their readership is male, their readership is male because comic books have pretty girls. (Which is dead obvious to most people in this thread, I would wager.) Wish I could read the rest of this book.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:32 PM on August 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


I am ashamed to admit that I have spent the past minute wondering how the artist decided which superheroes got to have, er, enormous packages and which didn't.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:32 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Frankenstein's Monster leading a crack team of secret agents who at one point ended World War II by killing Hitler.

Let me emphasize: Frankie wakes up from frozen slumber because he can sense evil in the world, and then he cuts off Hitler's head with a sword, and that is the opening of the first issue.
posted by cortex at 8:36 PM on August 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


metroidbaby what you need is some modesty blaise. I'd link to the fpp but not with this half smart fon
posted by infini at 8:39 PM on August 10, 2011


Metroid Baby: "The relentless barrage of impossibly-proportioned women - who could miraculously fight crime without sports bras - just wore me down. I'm not exaggerating; that was the exact reason I stopped reading comic books. I felt shut out."

I respect that this is how hero comic books made you feel, but I don't think the proposed alternative (more "real" looking female characters that female fans can relate to) is a realistic proposition. Hero comic books are about this more than perfect beings that defy reality. You felt unable to relate to "impossibly-proportioned women", but fat neckbeards have no problem in relating to impossibly-proportioned men and that's the whole point. I think that boys and girls are impacted differently by the heroes, and the fact that, as I said before, hero comics are written by white male nerds for white male nerds doesn't help.
posted by falameufilho at 8:39 PM on August 10, 2011


Everyone on that cover looks very grumpy. I'm afraid there's only enough grumpy for Batman, Justice League.

This is why i miss the 80s/90s Justice League done by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis. It was fun, sometimes goofy, but always pretty damn awesome. I'm so beyond and over this grumpy, gritty, and "dark" crap that has taken over comics. It's also part of why i'm tired of crossovers, even as much as i liked the Darkest Night run. I can only take that tone for so long.
posted by usagizero at 8:39 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everyone on that cover looks very grumpy.

Indeed. They look dyspeptic. Batman seems to have been captured mid-belch.

JLA 0, Microwaved burritos 6
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:46 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


PercussivePaul: "I found this person who attempted to measure it based on self-reported numbers on Facebook and concludes that 25% of comic book readers are female, but of course this is non-scientific."

Please look at the footnote on my original post and bear in mind I am talking SPECIFICALLY of hero comics - Marvel and DC's bread and butter. There's a bunch of female fans of indie comics, manga and others, and these generate comparatively little controversy from a diversity of readership and point of view perspective. Most of the debate is around hero comics not acknowledging female fans, and I think that's a tired debate since there aren't many female readers anyway.

PercussivePaul: " This would kind of flip your argument; rather than comic books having pretty girls because their readership is male, their readership is male because comic books have pretty girls."

This is kind of obvious, but I wonder if hero comics were made for a broader readership what would be the end result. I fear we would have a product that would basically alienate everybody while appealing to nobody. An analogy that comes to mind is remaking Schwarzenegger's "Commando" to appeal to a female audience too. I'm pretty sure what would come out of that exercise would be something nobody wants to watch.
posted by falameufilho at 8:57 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hero comic books are about this more than perfect beings that defy reality.

Tits bigger than your head is a physical flaw to the person wearing them. They're only perfect bodies if you want to fuck them.
posted by Jilder at 9:00 PM on August 10, 2011 [18 favorites]


The trouble with these parodies is that unlike the originals, they don't objectify men in a way that appeals to anybody. Tom of Finland it up a bit and we'll talk.
posted by mobunited at 9:01 PM on August 10, 2011


Tom of Finland is a member of the Global Guardians.
posted by benzenedream at 9:06 PM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Newsflash: a large number of comic book 'aficionados' are female.

I've begun to notice that any comment that begins with 'newsflash' or ends with 'news at eleven' is stupid and would have been better left unsaid.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:08 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think those statistics I found ARE for hero comics though... I mean it doesn't say so explicitly, but most of those studies are from 1990s or earlier before independent comics and manga became popular in US. I don't buy your blanket assertion that there aren't many female readers, and won't until you can trump my data. I think female readers are certainly outnumbered, powerless, and voiceless in the hero comic culture, but not absent.

In any case I mostly agree with you, and I think that you're correct that it's "unreaslitic" to expect "real" females without changing what hero comics are. The point, and the problem, is that hero comics are a masculine power fantasy (a white male fantasy, at that), which includes female objects of sexual fantasy. It is hardly shocking that females have trouble relating to this and get turned off.

So now it's a 'so what' question. Is it problematic, or okay? I don't think male power fantasies necessarily have to include sexual dominance over females, and I don't buy your claim that if this changed no-one would read them, and I do think this stuff is problematic. But there's a lot to unpack here and it could get messy.
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:08 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wonder Woman should be hairy too. Why would an invincible ancient immortal Amazon warrior shave her body hair? She would grow that shit like a jungle.
posted by homunculus at 9:11 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've begun to notice that any comment that begins with 'newsflash' or ends with 'news at eleven' is stupid and would have been better left unsaid.

Of course, I meant to quote this one:

Newsflash: Comic book dorks/aficionados are drawn (get it?) to attractive female forms.

posted by shakespeherian at 9:11 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


This site is down & has been for a couple hours, yo
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:13 PM on August 10, 2011


Hero comic books are about this more than perfect beings that defy reality. You felt unable to relate to "impossibly-proportioned women", but fat neckbeards have no problem in relating to impossibly-proportioned men and that's the whole point. I think that boys and girls are impacted differently by the heroes, and the fact that, as I said before, hero comics are written by white male nerds for white male nerds doesn't help.

But this isn't the same kind of thing. The impossibly-proportioned men are designed to look big and strong and powerful and dangerous. The impossibly-proportioned women are designed to look like women the artist would like to have sex with. You can see how this might not capture girls' imaginations in the same way.
posted by Adventurer at 9:15 PM on August 10, 2011 [25 favorites]


I used to enjoy how feminine WW was. It didn't affect her powerfulness. In fact, to me, she seemed more stunning for being a woman's woman wonder woman woman.

That said, the Finch Wonder Woman could benefit from an ability to stand upright. She's halfway to the bent-over-something.

And Mr Finch, maybe a touch more occipital ridge? For gravitas. Viz. Superman.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:50 PM on August 10, 2011


Almost every superhero wears some version of a spandex body suit. Are Green Lantern or Superman better covered than Wonder Woman? Is Cat Woman?

Are you happier now?
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:50 PM on August 10, 2011


this post nicely sums up why I never went near the superhero storylines as a kid, and went for Sandman, Bone, V for
Vendetta
and Watchmen instead. Realistic bodies (well, except for the cartoony Bone family) and good female characters. Gaimen and Mckean's Black orchid is good too - this and Moore's Swamp Thing are my toe-dipping into the superhero world. But I'm happier out here with the comics (like Y: the last man) which have realised that you can have women kicking butt without feeling the need to show off their naked butts. (Oh yeah, and a hell of a lot of interesting things to say about gender and society and people and life and monkeys ...)
posted by jb at 10:10 PM on August 10, 2011


Are Green Lantern or Superman better covered than Wonder Woman?

Um, yes?

Are you happier now?

At least that WW looks like a human being. And not some misshapen Barbie doll with an abnormally large head.
posted by kmz at 10:11 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


PANEL ONE: Wonder Woman poses real sexy-like. No, sexier. Like, with her back arched and stuff

The prosecution calls to the stand... Frank Miller.
"Okay, I'm shameless, let's go for the ASS SHOT."
posted by Zed at 10:32 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dammit, I read David Finch as David Lynch. I'm really not familiar with the comics industry.
posted by Senza Volto at 12:10 AM on August 11, 2011


Aquaman's trident went all limp. :(
posted by Barry B. Palindromer at 1:13 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The relentless barrage of impossibly-proportioned women

...were in stark contrast to the relentless barrage of realistically proportioned men, appropriately attired for a life of fighting crime?

They're superheros. They're supposed to be unrealistic ideals. They all dress badly, and everything they wear is designed to show off their anatomies, men and women alike.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:19 AM on August 11, 2011


The impossibly-proportioned men are designed to look big and strong and powerful and dangerous.

You mean the type of men that many people who are attracted to men want to have sex with?

The impossibly-proportioned women are designed to look like women the artist would like to have sex with. You can see how this might not capture girls' imaginations in the same way.

How do you know the artist wants to have sex with women.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:35 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


They all dress badly, and everything they wear is designed to show off their anatomies, men and women alike.

And yet I never hear any men say they gave up on or are disgusted by superhero comics because the male characters are so ridiculously sexualized. Yet I hear women saying that about female characters all the time. Any clue what the difference might be, obiwanwasabi?
posted by straight at 1:40 AM on August 11, 2011


obi, for real, take a look at the link posted earlier in the thread by emjaybee: this one.

And hey, why not, the other link from that same comment.

Basically, the fact that superheroes are crazy ripped does not account for the fact that they're pretty much never posed in the "ready to be fucked" position, unlike the women, who are constantly posed like that.

Heros in comics are, generally, there to be looked up to.
Heroines are there to be desired and/or defiled.

But then, this isn't very different from how the genders are presented in society as a whole.

For real though, thanks for the photoshop link em. The green lantern movie would have been made infinitely better by replacing about half its running length with a shot of reynolds sprawling for the camera like that photoshopped cover. :x
posted by kavasa at 2:22 AM on August 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Has it been mentioned yet that the original artist (who drew the first six characters) also writes and draws Manly Guys Doing Manly Things? Also known as the first webcomic to do a comic about a trans character that didn't make me want to hit things when I happened upon it at random?

'Kay. Consider it mentioned.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:14 AM on August 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Until I see numbers, hero comic books* are entertainment made by white male nerds for white male nerds, with women, non-whites and non-nerds making a very small percentage of the readership.

I. Cannot. Believe. I am the first person to point this out.

A percentage of those white males are gay. There are also those who are not white.

(I have a friend whose husband runs a comic book store in Texas. My friend is a man. Most of their staff is gay men. Another staff member is a lesbian. Many of their best customers are gay men. Anecdata are not data, but well.)
posted by fraula at 3:34 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the sidebar of Dr. Zira's Conan link, I found these, which are amazing: Indiana Jones in the style of a Popeye comic and Jaws retold as a Peanuts comic.

apologies if these have been on MetaFilter before
posted by davejay at 8:22 PM on August 10 [1 favorite +] [!]


Aaaaand now they're a FPP.
posted by likeso at 3:37 AM on August 11, 2011


No shout-outs for Flex Mentallo? Some serious posing there.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:42 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


That glimages search found me The Annotated Flex Mentallo. Oh, to have a longer lunch break!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:30 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It consistently depresses me when a majority of commentators fail to see the problem with a cover like the Justice League #1 example. All of the male characters are standing in poses that suggest strength and readiness to fight. There is nothing sexual about any of them. (And no, merely having a body-builder physique does not count as being sexualised. Someone mentioned Tom of Finland earlier - find me a representative sampling of comic book art that looks like one of his drawings, and we'll talk.)

Wonder Woman, on the other hand, is posed like a stripper. She's also the only character on the cover who shows any bare skin below the neck. (Even the mens' hands are covered up, except for Superman.)

She was drawn that way to be a sex object. That's the only reason for her ridiculous pose, the only reason for the gigantic cleavage, and the only reason why she's the sole character on that cover who isn't wearing pants. Even her facial expression is less aggressive than the others.

It's because of covers like this that I can't take superhero comics seriously - and I'm not even a woman. Is it any wonder (no pun intended) that girls and women aren't more well-represented in comic book fandom?
posted by anaximander at 5:31 AM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh my lordosis.
posted by brevator at 5:50 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


anaximander: "It's because of covers like this that I can't take superhero comics seriously - and I'm not even a woman. Is it any wonder (no pun intended) that girls and women aren't more well-represented in comic book fandom?"

I really, really love superhero comics, and yet I barely read them any more. It's not because of the ridiculous cheesecake -- Amanda Connor is one of my favourite comic artists, although now that I look at it even her cheesecakiest work doesn't have the slightly creepy vibe that this Justice League cover has -- but I do think the sexualisation of all women characters is part of why DC in particular sucks so much lately.

The thing with DC effectively resetting their most popular characters to the way they were when the head writers were kids -- like Barry Allen instead of Wally West, for example -- goes hand in hand with the sort of mindset that likes simple plots in which women pose and men hit each other, and think that this is the most effective way to attract new readers.

This mindset has no room for stuff like Cassandra Cain's Batgirl series, or Catwoman when it was good, Batwoman, or Wonder Woman when it was really into mythology. They want to write simple stories for kids, which apparently necessarily involves reducing the participation of women to one liners, and having plots that centre only around physical combat. Woman-centric stories and stories about "feelings", like all the stuff with Selina Kyle's sister and her old roommate, are too complex for this approach.

apologies for the disjointed comment pulled together from google talk ramblings
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:52 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


No shout-outs for Flex Mentallo? Some serious posing there.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:42 AM on August 11 [+] [!]

That glimages search found me The Annotated Flex Mentallo. Oh, to have a longer lunch break!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:30 AM on August 11 [+] [!]


I just have to relate a proud-of-myself moment here wherein I went to see a live interview of Frank Quitely for a fundraiser, and during the Q&A (which was as much of the event as the talk) I asked him what he thought of Flex Mentallo and whether the rumors of the remastered re-release were true. It turned out they were and then he just kept going on about FM, his experience with it as a young artist, fan reactions to it, working with GM and so on for a good twenty minutes. It was great.
posted by griphus at 6:19 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's because of covers like this that I can't take superhero comics seriously - and I'm not even a woman.

Um, you're not supposed to take it seriously. Earlier it was mentioned that superhero comics are male adolescent fantasy. Key word is "fantasy". They don't even treat death seriously, as every one of those heroes has died and come back. You might get some interesting stories, but it's still entertainment.

That doesn't mean superhero comics shouldn't be called out, and there have been new labels and other genres in comic that better depict women. But, guys should still have their fantasies.
posted by FJT at 6:48 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember thirty years ago, Steve Gerber talking in an interview about the Comic Book Price Guide category of GGA (Good Girl-Art), which he felt was a bit uncomfortably juvenile even for someone who at that time was the story editor on saturday morning cartoons.

(I thought it was this interview, but apparently not. I'll continue to pretend I'm certain it was Gerber, though, because I liked him - I remember it being the interview where he claimed that he was so unpopular at Marvel, that when he got to Marvel's West Coast office, the people were physically scared of him.)

Representing women in a way that appeals to thirteen-year-old boys is regrettable but understandable when your audience is composed of thirteen-year-old boys. When they're in their thirties to fifties, the nicest thing one can say is that it's undignified.
posted by Grangousier at 6:51 AM on August 11, 2011


I'm not saying writers are blameless (Jeph Loeb, I'm looking at you), but I've looked at comic scripts, and I've yet to come across one where the description is:

PANEL ONE: Wonder Woman poses real sexy-like. No, sexier. Like, with her back arched and stuff. Can you get her lasso between her legs there? Awright, perfect.

Art problem probably stems from artist, is all.


I don't totally disagree, but Frank Miller's script for All-Star Batman and Robin #1 notoriously includes him egging Jim Lee on for the most gratuitous ass shots he can draw. But, then, it's All-Star Batman and Robin, the Showgirls of comics..
posted by COBRA! at 7:07 AM on August 11, 2011


But, then, it's All-Star Batman and Robin, the Showgirls of comics.

You take that back!

Showgirls had Kyle MacLachlan.
posted by griphus at 7:11 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: holy shit, I think I just melted my brain. When I said All-Star Batman was the Showgirls of comics, I meant it on a bunch of levels: both are trashy, sleazy, and easily derided, but actually have more going on thematically and satirically than they're given credit for. And then I remembered that I was just thinking that RoboCop and The Dark Knight Returns share a lot of visual, thematic, and plot elements. And then it hit me: Paul Verhoeven and Frank Miller are the same person. SAME.
posted by COBRA! at 7:12 AM on August 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Paul Verhoeven can't draw?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:42 AM on August 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Project Rooftop had a recent post featuring some really elegant Wonder Woman designs.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:51 AM on August 11, 2011


An analogy that comes to mind is remaking Schwarzenegger's "Commando" to appeal to a female audience too. I'm pretty sure what would come out of that exercise would be something nobody wants to watch.

Wait, I can make this work!
posted by heatvision at 7:52 AM on August 11, 2011


I'm kinda interested that a lot of hay has been made about Wonder Woman's pose and her outfit- both of which has unfortunate historical issues in the ye olde comics world- but I've not seen anyone comment on her proportions. WW, as drawn, is not an adult woman. She's an adolescent. Large head with chubby cheeks, button nose and large eyes are illustrator shorthand for a child's head. The extremely narrow shoulders and neck in relation to the head are youthful, pre-growing spurt indicators. If she didn't have such breasts and hips, I think they were attempting to de-age the character with their little re-boot. Honestly, even having breasts and hips are not a good indicator of a woman's age in the superhero comics industry.

Of course, it doesn't help that she's surrounded by clearly grown men who are, at times, triple her bulk. Look at Batman's... hand. WW is supposed to be as physically strong as Superman. She's supposed to be Taller than Superman. She's an Amazon in the most stereotyped sense. Yet here she is- tiny and waif-like amongst these muscle slabs. It seems to be a gross misunderstanding about her role aside from token lady.

Clearly, this is a response to the recent SDCC discussions about women, both fictional and real, within DC but it's a literal response without any thought. When someone asks about women on the covers being marginalized towards the periphery, the wise man doesn't stick a child-like woman front in center of the page making sexyface. Given the way the industry has (and is) being run, I am grateful that this cover is probably based in a vast incompetence of how to deal with anyone not white, male, and over 30 rather than an calculated insult.
posted by cheap paper at 7:53 AM on August 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think Batman does shave - No Pants Justice League
posted by Constant Reader at 7:56 AM on August 11, 2011


WW is supposed to be as physically strong as Superman. She's supposed to be Taller than Superman.

WW is not as strong as Supes, but always the better fighter than he is.

And I know she's taller in New Frontier, but I don't think she is in any other iteration.
posted by FJT at 8:13 AM on August 11, 2011


Wait, I can make this work!

I was really afraid that link would go to the ghastly and inexcusable Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot!
posted by elizardbits at 8:23 AM on August 11, 2011


It takes such enormous efforts to even try to make any real sense of a batman or a superman or a wonder woman that the only reasonable way they can act and work like they do is that they live in a world completely separated from the real one, where most people are fairly unintelligent and psychologically stereotypes. The fact that they are also physiologically stereotypes is remarkable, but neither surprising nor shocking, considering the amount of suspension of disbelief
necessary to read the stories in the first place. I think it's a fair point that adolescent females have trouble finding interesting lead characters in these comics, for whatever reason, but blaming superhero comics for providing poor role models is, in my opinion, giving the comics far too much importance.
posted by cx at 8:36 AM on August 11, 2011


Um, you're not supposed to take it seriously. Earlier it was mentioned that superhero comics are male adolescent fantasy. Key word is "fantasy". They don't even treat death seriously, as every one of those heroes has died and come back. You might get some interesting stories, but it's still entertainment.

That doesn't mean superhero comics shouldn't be called out, and there have been new labels and other genres in comic that better depict women. But, guys should still have their fantasies.


Because women don't count? What about our fantasies? Oh boo hoo, dudes might have to share the comic page with characters that appeal to women, women who want more than than characters wearing bikinis and pointing their asses at any dude passing by?

Let me tell you something; women are 51% of the population, we spend a lot of money on entertainment, and we are tired of this bullshit. We are not being entertained, and fuck yes, it matters. We're not going away and we're not shutting up.
posted by emjaybee at 8:57 AM on August 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


A genre designed by and for group A contains elements that are offputting to group B. I don't see why anyone would think this is a problem.

I suppose you could make a case that the images in comic books instill ideas in their readers that are harmful to women. That's an idea I could take seriously, but that's not the complaint I'm seeing here. The main complaint I'm seeing is that some women have a hard time enjoying superhero comics because they don't like how female superheroes are drawn. This doesn't strike me as a problem. There are many genres I have a hard time appreciating for all kinds of reasons, and I deal with it by focusing on genres that appeal more to my sensibilities. Is there some reason women can't do the same thing?
posted by shponglespore at 9:09 AM on August 11, 2011


cx, that rationalization makes perfect sense... in a universe where Alan Moore never wrote comics, and never inspired a handful of writers to follow his example and write characters who were fairly psychologically realistic (to varying degrees of success)*. But he did, and they did, and the failure of most comics writers to follow his example (and even of the better, and better-known, writers like Brian Michael Bendis and Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis, etc. to consistently produce superior work), and the failure of the comics industry to recruit, nurture, and keep the better writers, is part of the reason why less and less people--like me--who read comics (and, as in my case, don't give a shit what people think of their reading superhero comics into their middle age) are no longer willing or able to suspend that disbelief and content to just look at the buff people in their leotards go about their slugfests. Legacy characters carrying the idiot ball to further ham-fisted plot devices doesn't cut the mustard for me any more.

And it's not helped one iota by crap like this, which can probably be attributed, in no small part, to the fact that one of the nineties artists who is most responsible for the trend of putting Barbie-figured women in absurdly lordotic positions is now the co-publisher of DC Comics. (Jim Lee's rise to comics superstardom came during the period of time when I first started to feel embarrassed about being in a comics store, although he wasn't the only reason.) Comics readership is shrinking, which the companies have so far managed to compensate for, more or less, by extracting more money out of their readership through various schemes--alternate covers, expanding the number of titles featuring popular characters and groups (anything featuring Batman or Wolverine, for example), and the ever-popular starting a series over at #1, which DC is going to do this fall for all of their titles. How long will that work? Possibly not even long enough for their ever-shrinking-and-aging readership to reach the point in their lives when they have a lot less disposable income.

It no longer works for me. Out of the 52 titles that DC is (re)launching this fall, I'm interested in maybe two, and that based on the presence of writers and artists who have done superior work in the past. There are too many good artists, both male and female, who are doing work that features recognizable and empathetic characters, particularly female characters, to bother with this repetitive, shopworn, hackneyed crap. I'm not going to buy a comic that I'd be embarrassed to show to my family, friends and co-workers because of the presence of a character who is supposed to be the avatar of feminine strength and power and yet is portrayed with the dignity and grace of a lad mag model.

*Not that Moore didn't have his predecessors who made their own gambits at psychologically-realistic characters--Steve Gerber, Steve Englehart, even Chris Claremont before he became a victim of his own writerly excesses--but Moore's impact was much greater, I think.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:15 AM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you're angry about something in this thread, please take a moment to consider Sturgeon's Law: 90% of everything is crap. [emphasis mine]
posted by shponglespore at 9:25 AM on August 11, 2011


Yes, but when 90% of something is the exact same crap, and most of the other 10% is wink-and-nod references to the baggage of said crap (viz. the art of Amanda Conner), something's up beyond the regular operation of Sturgeon's Law.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:28 AM on August 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


And also beyond my inability to close tags.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:28 AM on August 11, 2011


emjaybee: Because women don't count? What about our fantasies? Oh boo hoo, dudes might have to share the comic page with characters that appeal to women, women who want more than than characters wearing bikinis and pointing their asses at any dude passing by?

If you got off your soap box for a moment, maybe you'd actually see that we're much closer to agreeing with each other on this.

Heck, right before the line you so selectively highlighted, I said "That doesn't mean superhero comics shouldn't be called out, and there have been new labels and other genres in comic that better depict women."

Here let me state it a bit more clearly: There should be no reason why comics for men, comics for women, comics for men & women, and any numerous other kinds of comics can't co-exist. But, not every comic or piece of art should be done to appeal to a broad audience, just like not every piece of art should be for one kind of audience. Ideally works made for more general audiences should be able to coexist with works made ONLY to appeal to men, or ONLY to appeal to women, or ONLY to appeal to, I don't know, 1.5 generation immigrants who've lived in Southern California.
posted by FJT at 9:36 AM on August 11, 2011


Maybe I guess why is it that you think mainstream superhero comics should only appeal to heterosexual white men, especially given that they have wide readership among other demographics? And, speaking as a heterosexual white man who thinks the ridiculous fuck-me poses and outfits that mainstream comics put their female characters into, why do you think that said things actually appeal to heterosexual white men writ large?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:41 AM on August 11, 2011


A genre designed by and for group A contains elements that are offputting to group B. I don't see why anyone would think this is a problem.

There are a whole lot of people making incredibly cogent arguments for why they think this is a problem; have you read any of these, or considered their arguments, or allowed for the possibility that they might have a legitimate complaint?

I suppose you could make a case that the images in comic books instill ideas in their readers that are harmful to women. That's an idea I could take seriously, but that's not the complaint I'm seeing here. The main complaint I'm seeing is that some women have a hard time enjoying superhero comics because they don't like how female superheroes are drawn. This doesn't strike me as a problem. There are many genres I have a hard time appreciating for all kinds of reasons, and I deal with it by focusing on genres that appeal more to my sensibilities. Is there some reason women can't do the same thing?

Because maybe they'd like to enjoy superhero comics and maybe there are no actual good reasons for the current sexist practices of comic creators.

Because all of the usual arguments in favor of it are bullshit. Folks say that men in comics are equally sexualized and/or idealized; this is objectively false.

Folks say that since comics are chiefly bought by straight white males, it only makes sense for comics to be wall-to-wall jerk fodder; this is a massively stupid argument, and its premise is that it's okay and makes perfect economic sense for comics to cater to people who aren't able to separate decent escapist entertainment from things to whack off to but that it would be dumb for comics to try to create content less demeaning to half the fucking world.

Look. The way comics are now, the vast majority of woman characters are defined by their sex appeal to a specific audience. This is harmful to absolutely everyone. It means that the people making mainstream superhero comics think that their audience is a bunch of idiot goons who have no use for a woman they don't want to fuck. And it's incredibly depressing when the people in that target audience defend those practices. That's not the kind of notion I would go out of my way to prove right, if someone believed it about me.

And if you don't think the complaint has as its foundation that the images in comics books instill harmful ideas about women in their readership then, I don't know, start listening to folks' complaints I guess? The way female superheroes are drawn means that these comics - very very popular among those with developing minds - depict a world where a woman's value is primarily defined by her sex appeal. That's what is meant by "I don't like the way women are drawn in comics."

Because I think Wonder Woman is great, and I think that a world where her ability to stand alongside her superpowered counterparts doesn't require that she be depicted basically presenting to the reader is not the nightmare world that a lot of people defending these practices seem to think it is.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:45 AM on August 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Maybe I guess why is it that you think mainstream superhero comics should only appeal to heterosexual white men...

I don't know if you're responding to me, but I never said that. Comics are for everyone and everyone has their own tastes. I made a case that comics should appeal to everyone, but a single comic shouldn't have to appeal to everyone.

And, speaking as a heterosexual white man who thinks the ridiculous fuck-me poses and outfits that mainstream comics put their female characters into, why do you think that said things actually appeal to heterosexual white men writ large?

I return another question back to you: Why do you buy or even read these comics, if you feel this strongly about it?

There's stuff I don't like about the way Marvel and DC does things, and I just choose not to participate. There's more than enough material out there for me, that I don't have to look at Marvel or DC ever in my life.
posted by FJT at 10:05 AM on August 11, 2011


It means that the people making mainstream superhero comics think that their audience is a bunch of idiot goons who have no use for a woman they don't want to fuck.

I think this is where you and me will hit a core disagreement. I pretty much don't believe what products we use are a real reflection of what we are. Especially since most of it is a pile of crap built up by a bunch of people I don't give a crap about. So, if someone chooses to read comics doesn't make them a misogynist.
posted by FJT at 10:20 AM on August 11, 2011


I return another question back to you: Why do you buy or even read these comics, if you feel this strongly about it?

I don't. I might if they had fewer of this type of problem.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on August 11, 2011


I think this is where you and me will hit a core disagreement. I pretty much don't believe what products we use are a real reflection of what we are. Especially since most of it is a pile of crap built up by a bunch of people I don't give a crap about. So, if someone chooses to read comics doesn't make them a misogynist.

Let me be a little clearer about this: The people who are currently making mainstream comics appear to believe that if they depict female characters as people who have value independent of whether you want to have sex with them or not, you will not buy their comics anymore.

Do I think the product reflects the audience? Not really, so no, we're not hitting a core disagreement at all. What I think is that the philosophy behind these works' creation hinges on the assumption that its consumers are misogynist and will not buy comics which feature women with more agency and less sexualization for no reason.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:29 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


free hugs: "> Batman isn't a superhero. He has no powers.

The criteria for being a superhero is: Can you defeat a supervillain?
"

What is the critera for being a supervillain?
posted by I am the Walrus at 10:40 AM on August 11, 2011


The impossibly-proportioned men are designed to look big and strong and powerful and dangerous.

You mean the type of men that many people who are attracted to men want to have sex with?


Is that what (hetero, for the sake of argument, and because they're the ones this Wonder Woman is designed for) boys who read superhero comics get out of powerful-looking characters? They don't care about feeling strong and heroic and nigh-invulnerable, they just like imagining themselves as sex objects? (Except that of course they wouldn't be objects, because they are powerful and dynamic.)

Or are you suggesting that they're designed to be cheesecake for gay boys and straight girls? This seems unlikely, for several reasons.

How do you know the artist wants to have sex with women.

Sure, of course there are artists who don't want to have sex with women or who wouldn't want to have sex with those particular women. Maybe I should have said that they're designed to appeal to the artist's idea of the audience rather than the artist him/herself. The point, either way, is that this Wonder Woman, like many other comic book heroines, looks slightly more heroic and dynamic and self-possessed than a blowup doll.
posted by Adventurer at 10:42 AM on August 11, 2011


A genre designed by and for group A contains elements that are offputting to group B. I don't see why anyone would think this is a problem.

If you believe them, even Marvel and DC think it's a problem. That they appear to be pretty lousy at making the rubber of their appeal to new casual readers across a wider demographic spread meet the road of actually producing appealing content is a little depressing, but then so are a lot of their corporate decisions, so what do you do.

What is the critera for being a supervillain?

Can you pick a fight with Batman and lose?
posted by cortex at 10:50 AM on August 11, 2011


What is the critera for being a supervillain?

Petit mal - someone the police can't handle
Grand mal - someone the military can't handle


Wonder Woman should be tall
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:02 AM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Warren Ellis had a great metaphor for the situation in comics (and comics stores, and comics conventions):
It's like every bookstore in the planet having ninety percent of its shelves filled by nurse novels. Imagine that. You want a new novel, but you have to wade through three hundred new books about romances in the wards before you can get at any other genre. A medium where the relationship of fiction about nurses outweighs mainstream literary fiction by a ratio of one hundred to one.
I don't have a problem with nineties-style superhero comics still being published--I feel a little sorry for people who are still into that, especially the closer they get to my age, but it ain't my lookout--in the same way that I wouldn't want to begrudge anyone who wants to read old-style Penthouse Forum porn featuring an endless succession of men endowed on the scale of the larger mammals getting it on with women who are willing to drop trou in the local laundromat on the slightest acquaintance. And, in fact, you can get Penthouse Forum collections in your local Barnes & Noble; they're usually located below collections of much better erotica, and that in turn is only a small part of their overall selection. But, if the guy who ghost-wrote those Forum letters was a big shot in one of the biggest book publishers on the planet? And Forum-style porn were dominating book publishing? I wouldn't get within a block of Barnes & Noble. (And while we're talking about B&N, for all that people like to knock them, they have a very favorable ratio of manga to American comics, and in the latter group there are quite a few non-superhero graphic novels and trade paperbacks in addition to the panties-and-capes titles.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:02 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wonder Woman should be tall

Are you saying Wonder Woman should be some kind of Amazon?
posted by benzenedream at 11:53 AM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


What is the critera for being a supervillain?

Can you pick a fight with Batman and lose?


Wait, no. That would make me a supervillain. I wouldn't mind being a supervillain - I understand the hours are good and the fringe benefits could add up to something - but I'm just not. That would make Larry David a super villain - he can pick a fight with anybody, and he'd definitely lose. That would make Glenn Beck a super villain. And he's not in the least bit super.

I hate to say this to you, but you're going to have to rethink your criteria, here.
posted by Grangousier at 11:56 AM on August 11, 2011


Larry David's not a supervillain?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:59 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not sufficient that you be capable of losing a fight with Batman should you somehow end up in one.

Being able to pick one with him is key: being able to get his attention long enough to get more than a one-punch takedown that doesn't break his stride is pretty much the first round of the interview process.
posted by cortex at 12:05 PM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow: "Wonder Woman should be tall"

Fuck yes. It's astonishing to look at cover art that depicts Diana as being so much smaller, in every way, than fucking Batman, where he is the child of a couple of millionaires, and she was sculpted by the gods from clay.

Wonder Woman should be the Charles Atlas of women, she should be so tall and muscular and simply so damn wonderful that she's a little inhuman. Because she is a little inhuman.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:13 PM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


New idea for a Batman villain: The Murderer

His calling card is he always kills someone, sometimes a couple people.

Like Commissioner Gordon is at a crime scene and he's all, "Hmm, someone tied the bank manager to a giant digital clock and then shot him in the face. This can only be the work of The Murderer!"

"That's right, Robin," explains Batman later. "Ever since Martin Urderer fell into a vat of mineral water, he's -- actually, come to think of it, he was doing this before that, too. Anyway his compulsion means he can't commit a crime without killing someone, which usually works out pretty well since the crime he tends to commit is murder."

Later on, the night watchman at a playing-card company is beaten to death with a metal baseball bat. Security cameras catch the villain in his special costume of whatever he was wearing that day.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:15 PM on August 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Quiet, FAMOUS MONSTER, do you want to start a panic?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:34 PM on August 11, 2011


A genre designed by and for group A contains elements that are offputting to group B. I don't see why anyone would think this is a problem.

If you believe them, even Marvel and DC think it's a problem. That they appear to be pretty lousy at making the rubber of their appeal to new casual readers across a wider demographic spread meet the road of actually producing appealing content is a little depressing, but then so are a lot of their corporate decisions, so what do you do.


Marvel and DC think it's a problem for them because they're in the business of capitalizing on the intellectual property they own. I wouldn't take their actions as an endorsement of the idea that there's a moral imperative for comic books to appeal to every possible audience.

On the contrary, I think the fact that those companies (and their competitors) haven't had more success in appealing to women is a pretty good indicator that the superhero genre simply appeals more to men than to women, and no amount of pandering to the desires of their critics will change that. Comic book publishing works by appealing to a niche audience, and they will stay in business only by appealing to that audience. Personally I think they could do a better job with their portrayals of women, but if they can't find a way to do that without alienating their core audience, I'm not going to say they're wrong for continuing to make the product their customers want. Somebody else can take care of making the products their critics want.
posted by shponglespore at 12:38 PM on August 11, 2011


Wonder Woman should be tall

Yeah, it's not exactly obscure, but props for the New Frontier pic in that post. That's as it should be. I like the idea of Wonder Woman as taller than Superman, because it's a very simple visual cue that this is not the female (and therefore lesser) version of Supes. She was hand-crafted by gods.

She should absolutely be larger than Batman, but I'd argue that she should be taller than anyone in the JL except the Martian Manhunter (I know, he's not in there anymore, but still), to underscore the fact that she's not a mere human or half-human. There should be something near-alien about her, because that's precisely what she is.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:44 PM on August 11, 2011


On the contrary, I think the fact that those companies (and their competitors) haven't had more success in appealing to women is a pretty good indicator that the superhero genre simply appeals more to men than to women, and no amount of pandering to the desires of their critics will change that. Comic book publishing works by appealing to a niche audience, and they will stay in business only by appealing to that audience.

You know, honestly I really don't see any data that supports this. A lot - a lot - of women have said that if there were better portrayals of women in comics, they'd read and buy more of them. When a woman at Comic-Con asked for everyone who'd want to read the adventures of a strong, independent, kick-ass female character to stand up, pretty much the whole room stood up.

They haven't had more success in appealing to women because they really haven't tried. The inclusion of Wonder Woman on this cover was intended as a concession to those who noticed the lack of women featured in DC, and their concession involved her looking ready for a good slippery tittyfuck.

If you honestly believe that comics would go under if they stopped trying to sell jerk material to people who already have the internet for that and started being actually worth the purchase price to people who aren't currently buying them, that's fine and all but I'd love to see data from the sources that led you to this conclusion.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 12:56 PM on August 11, 2011


and from the comic that brought you Strong Female Characters,

Sexy Batman. "...is this not where you go for cartoon butt drawings? A marriage of two fine things, like wine and more wine."
posted by morganw at 12:59 PM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


There should be something near-alien about her, because that's precisely what she is.

WHUT. Superman IS a fucking alien...FROM SPACE!

Okay, it could make sense. Superman is more like a metaphor for immigrants, so it would make sense for him to be of average human height, as it symbolizes the melting pot concept of America: immigrants injust wanting to blend into American culture.
posted by FJT at 1:01 PM on August 11, 2011


They haven't had more success in appealing to women because they really haven't tried.

This. Sweet Kirby almighty this. And what's worse, when a title is starting to draw in female readership, the big two have a horrible habit of dousing the fire before it even begins to catch - I guess I can sort of understand a publisher's nervousness about a book that doesn't start pulling numbers immediately but they've gotta have more patience when it comes to the 51% of the population they've spent decades alienating coming onboard - surely they can imagine that women might be a bit cautious about trying superhero comics given the precedent that superhero comics have set for themselves. But there have been titles that my female friends have spoken of glowingly and lamented the premature cancellations thereof (Runaways, NYX, Batgirls Cain and Brown).

Furthermore, the bar for the female character the industry needs is set ridiculously low: considering the strength of the imaginations of top-level comics creators, why does it seem so hard for them to conceive of a female character who is strong and independent, not a gender-swapped version of a male character, not defined by their relationship to a male character, and not drawn as attempting to fight crime in a bustier and fucking high heels! Even when I was the kind of lonely teenage boynerd that these underwear model crimefighters allegedly appealed to, it drove me fucking bonkers - the notion that any competent combatant would enter a life or death fight in a g-string and spike heels routinely wiped out the thin verisimilitude that superhero comics have to work with for me.

I adore superhero comics but this shit has been embarrassing for awhile. Of course their businesses are withering when they seem to be actively excluding over one half of their potential market in order to pander to what they believe to be the worst instincts of their existing customers. I fully believe that publishing and properly marketing and actual feminist superhero would, once word got out, become a license to print money and a true gamechanger for the industry. Like, a Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen level gamechanger that would set trends for years to come - for once, the claims of EVERYTHING CHANGES ZOMG would be true. And yet somehow the publishers who create stories about mortals grappling with gods lack the courage to actually attempt such a thing.

But if they want to stay afloat, they're gonna have to try something like this eventually. Either that or just go ahead and start printing The Sexy Adventures of Dick Grayson and Gambit and see if that works instead.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:21 PM on August 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


They haven't had more success in appealing to women because they really haven't tried.

Both Marvel and DC are owned by huge media conglomerates, Disney and Time Warner respectively. You can try your best to encourage change, but it's gonna come very slow, if at all. Then there's the question if the writers can write women in effectively. Without hiring the right writers, the materials just gonna come across as hammy. So I would definitely like to see more recruitment efforts of writers from other backgrounds on their part.

And I think we're using comic books and superhero comics interchangeably. There definitely ARE comics that appeal to females.

As for the super hero genre, I can only think of Astro City that actually has more assertive female characters.
posted by FJT at 1:21 PM on August 11, 2011


Because maybe they'd like to enjoy superhero comics and maybe there are no actual good reasons for the current sexist practices of comic creators.

I believe there are reasons. I don't know precisely what they are, and perhaps they're not "good" reasons, but the people who are in the business of publishing comics surely have reasons for why they do things the way they do. Presumably you believe the reason isn't just that they're a bunch of sexist assholes, because if that were the case, why would you want to buy their products at all?

Because all of the usual arguments in favor of it are bullshit. Folks say that men in comics are equally sexualized and/or idealized; this is objectively false.

I'm not making any of those arguments. I'm specifically not saying you shouldn't find mainstream comic books offensive. I'm just asking you to consider the idea that there's room in the world for all art, even art you personally find offensive.

Folks say that since comics are chiefly bought by straight white males, it only makes sense for comics to be wall-to-wall jerk fodder; this is a massively stupid argument, and its premise is that it's okay and makes perfect economic sense for comics to cater to people who aren't able to separate decent escapist entertainment from things to whack off to but that it would be dumb for comics to try to create content less demeaning to half the fucking world.

Are you objecting to the mere existence of "jerk fodder"? Do you feel the same way about pornography? Do you believe that the existence of jerk fodder comes at the expense of the material you would rather see published?

Look. The way comics are now, the vast majority of woman characters are defined by their sex appeal to a specific audience. This is harmful to absolutely everyone. It means that the people making mainstream superhero comics think that their audience is a bunch of idiot goons who have no use for a woman they don't want to fuck. [emph. added] And it's incredibly depressing when the people in that target audience defend those practices. That's not the kind of notion I would go out of my way to prove right, if someone believed it about me.

Are you sure they're not right? And are you sure that someone who enjoys the depictions of women in mainstream comics is necessarily an "idiot goon"? (Just for the record, I'm not in the target audience, and I prefer more realistic portrayals of women.)

And if you don't think the complaint has as its foundation that the images in comics books instill harmful ideas about women in their readership then, I don't know, start listening to folks' complaints I guess? The way female superheroes are drawn means that these comics - very very popular among those with developing minds - depict a world where a woman's value is primarily defined by her sex appeal. That's what is meant by "I don't like the way women are drawn in comics."

By my reading, that is not the main complaint people in this thread have been making. At any rate, it's not the conversation I'm trying to have right now.

Because I think Wonder Woman is great, and I think that a world where her ability to stand alongside her superpowered counterparts doesn't require that she be depicted basically presenting to the reader is not the nightmare world that a lot of people defending these practices seem to think it is.

Is Wonder Woman so great that nobody could create a better character without all the sexist baggage?

If you honestly believe that comics would go under if they stopped trying to sell jerk material to people who already have the internet for that and started being actually worth the purchase price to people who aren't currently buying them, that's fine and all but I'd love to see data from the sources that led you to this conclusion.

I don't have any data of that sort. I'm just speculating based on the actions of people whose job is to have that kind of data.

I'm curious how you came to believe that mainstream comics are "jerk material" or that they're interchangeable with pornography.
posted by shponglespore at 1:27 PM on August 11, 2011


I see people insisting that comic book publishers have never tried to appeal to women. At the same time, I see people claiming that there are comics that appeal to women. How can both of these things be true?
posted by shponglespore at 1:29 PM on August 11, 2011


Presumably you believe the reason isn't just that they're a bunch of sexist assholes, because if that were the case, why would you want to buy their products at all?

I don't buy comics whose construction includes such a huge inequality in the presentation of male vs. female characters. As a result, I don't buy mainstream superhero comics. If the issues of sexism were addressed, I would buy more of them. Other people have made identical claims to this, both in this thread and elsewhere. The intent of the creators doesn't matter. What matters is what they do, and what they do is turning off a lot of potential customers.

I'm just asking you to consider the idea that there's room in the world for all art, even art you personally find offensive.

This is irrelevant to the discussion. Absolutely no one is saying that this stuff shouldn't exist. They're saying they're not interested in buying it, and that with some changes, they would.

Are you objecting to the mere existence of "jerk fodder"?

No. Please read what I wrote again.

Do you feel the same way about pornography?

No.

Do you believe that the existence of jerk fodder comes at the expense of the material you would rather see published?

I believe that there is currently an imbalance where women in mainstream superhero comics are almost universally depicted as jerk fodder in a way that men are not, I believe this is not necessary to the comics, and I believe that this imbalance is alienating to a lot of potential customers.

Are you sure they're not right? And are you sure that someone who enjoys the depictions of women in mainstream comics is necessarily an "idiot goon"?

Well, you're moving goalposts a little, so let me bring it back here: I believe that someone who falls under the strict definition I laid out (someone who not only enjoys the depiction of women in mainstream comics but would also stop buying mainstream comics if the irrelevant-to-the-story sexualization of female characters was brought to an end) - that is to say, someone who would cease to buy a form of non-pornographic media because it was no longer degrading to the women in it - is pretty much an idiot goon, yep.

By my reading, that is not the main complaint people in this thread have been making. At any rate, it's not the conversation I'm trying to have right now.

I don't know that your reading is an accurate one.

Is Wonder Woman so great that nobody could create a better character without all the sexist baggage?

Wonder Woman is so great that no one could invent a time machine and create a character with as much historical cache. All things considered I believe - and I am not alone in this - that she deserves better than to be the sole highly-sexualized character among others who are allowed to just be badasses.

I don't have any data of that sort. I'm just speculating based on the actions of people whose job is to have that kind of data.

The people whose job it is to have that kind of data have shown - and there are so, so many anecdotes out there from folks on the inside - that they either have grossly misread the information they have, or they just don't care, or, more likely, they aren't really aware of why what they're doing is a bad thing, as a lot of the rationales from comic creators echo those of fans defending their practices. I don't know. Here's what I do know, and here's what is at the crux of this for me:

How many more women have to say that they would buy comics with a less sexist presentation before you believe that they would buy comics with a less sexist presentation?

I'm curious how you came to believe that mainstream comics are "jerk material" or that they're interchangeable with pornography.

I don't believe this at all, which is precisely the problem: Since these works are not pornography and are not interchangeable with it, why are female characters presented as needing to be sexy above all else?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:54 PM on August 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


I see people insisting that comic book publishers have never tried to appeal to women. At the same time, I see people claiming that there are comics that appeal to women. How can both of these things be true?

Because people are conflating superhero comics with all comics and failing to take differences in personal taste among women (not monolithic!) and/or short runs of a specific series into account.
posted by immlass at 1:56 PM on August 11, 2011


I believe that someone who falls under the strict definition I laid out (someone who not only enjoys the depiction of women in mainstream comics but would also stop buying mainstream comics if the irrelevant-to-the-story sexualization of female characters was brought to an end) - that is to say, someone who would cease to buy a form of non-pornographic media because it was no longer degrading to the women in it - is pretty much an idiot goon, yep.

Not to keep building off points FAMOUS MONSTER makes first, but I wanted to add that there's actual proof-of-concept available on the Idiot Goon contingent of comics fandom - finding it is as simple as following Marvel comics on Facebook and reading the comment threads under the convention cosplay photos they post when the subject therein is a woman. The vast majority of the folks commenting in these threads are the worst people in the world - it's seriously fucking disgusting. If the woman in the photo is conventionally attractive, the comments are all some variant of "I would like to have sex with her" - if she's a little heavier than the fanboys expect a woman to be (that is, if she has the proportions of a normal human being) then the thread is a parade truly cruel and hateful comments about her figure. If the woman in the photo is posing powerfully rather than provocatively, the comment thread is swamped by assholes questioning her gender and posting their observations as self-appointed Adam's apple detectives. Any mention of the craftsmanship of the costume or enthusiasm in the posing/acting in the photo gets drowned out by these horrible trolls every single time.

Quite frankly, speaking as someone utterly exhausted by trying to enjoy nerdy things amidst a nerd culture made rather toxic by the participation of these basement dwellers, I would be in favor of just about anything the Big Two did to alienate them in favor of a more diverse and robust audience built from readers of both genders who want to read whipass adventure stories starring both men and women, depicted with the dignity and depth that their mythic traditions deserve. The pandering is beyond tedious, self-limiting and utterly unnecessary. Consider how little trouble Creators of the Fantastic have had in portraying strong, interesting and compelling female characters in other genres and formats - Buffy, Xena, Starbuck, for example - why does the superhero comics continuum continue to find this simple, rewarding task so goddamn fucking difficult in the 21st century?
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:56 PM on August 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


I believe that there is currently an imbalance where women in mainstream superhero comics are almost universally depicted as jerk fodder in a way that men are not, I believe this is not necessary to the comics, and I believe that this imbalance is alienating to a lot of potential customers.

<exec corp="disney"">What other customers? Superheros are for boys, it's the Princesses that are for girls. The whole market's covered.</exec>
posted by bonehead at 3:09 PM on August 11, 2011


The impossibly-proportioned men are designed to look big and strong and powerful and dangerous.

You mean the type of men that many people who are attracted to men want to have sex with?


Oh come on. Batman has like 4 square inches of flesh showing. Of the men, Supes is the most scantily clad because he's not wearing gloves. That's right he has nude hands! Hawt!

What heroes show much more skin than that? Wolverine with his hairy arms? Where's my Power Boy?
posted by Garm at 3:14 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's all about 'sexy' until Wonder Woman whips out the strap on on the Flash.
(Actually Alex Ross seems to do some straightforward heroic on Wonder Woman)
Nitpicking maybe but the argument re: female characters in general ok, why so sexy, but Wonder Woman, if I recall, her origins actually are in BDSM.

but fat neckbeards have no problem in relating to impossibly-proportioned men and that's the whole point. I think that boys and girls are impacted differently by the heroes, and the fact that, as I said before, hero comics are written by white male nerds for white male nerds doesn't help.

Yeah, fat-asses, why so defensive?

So, what, it's ok if well groomed athletic socially desirable males are objectifying women?

I'm just asking you to consider the idea that there's room in the world for all art, even art you personally find offensive.

Y'know, maybe that's the problem. There seems to be more emphasis on commercial production than storytelling. Even when profitable (ooh, awesome story, generates tons of attention - let's put together a load of bullshit we can pawn off before the heat cools off!)

So you get this formula which appeals to the lowest common denominator of the target demographic most likely to part with expendable cash over what you produce.
Alienating some other demographic is just written off. Why take the risk women might not buy what you have to sell? (Not endorsing it, it seems to be how publishing companies think en masse)

I read something (justice league) by Dwayne McDuffie a bit back and some sexist writing that's inappropriate and also out of character (Green Lantern making sexist remarks about Black Canary - wha? Also apparently no one can refer to Dr. Light without bringing up rape)
It's just jobbing. And it winds up being a pure response to whatever barbarism pulls money out of wallets.
Hey, Green Lantern is Joe Social Consciousness but he likes pointing out how hot Black Canary's ass is. And there's no contradiction there!
Just surreal.

I'll defend graphic storytelling as legitimate art (in opposition to the nerd power fantasy, blah blah), but the industry does produce a great deal of what is just dross.
There's no real excuse for it.
But I'd have to say (against those charges) that it's not done because it's by design, but that it's easy to produce.

Saw something the other day too with Wonder Woman drawn with this flat rear end and a waifish look. Ridiculous.
You can't say that's a sexist perversion of the character because it's not the character at all. She's a freaking Amazon. If you want to sexually appeal to guys who are into big dominant women - Wonder Woman. If you want to sexually appeal to guys who are into Kate Moss you draw someone else.
But if you just want to peddle crap, you don't care about the character or if you're correctly exploiting the sexuality of the character, you draw Kate Moss, put her in a vaguely Wonder Womanish costume and ship it out. Could be anyone there.

Nothing I hate worse than soft core porn, but some stuff isn't even comprehensible enough to achieve that. It's not meaningful enough sexism to be passionate about. Not even in a funny way. Posing other superheroes as Wonder Woman is cute - but what's the difference? They regularly ignore basic storytelling to do the equivalent of putting Batman in a leotard anyway.
Not that it shouldn't be opposed, but arguing from a sexist standpoint on this is like trying to reason with a machine. Certainly it should be changed.
But at the root it's too apathetic and materialist a motive to even achieve being interesting enough to be genuine sexism. It's just sad.

Also I would totally nail Alan Moore here.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:16 PM on August 11, 2011


Also the irony is a bit thick denouncing sexism by attacking the body image and sex appeal of the males involved.
Hey, you're poorly groomed, overweight and socially inept, therefore your vicarious fantasy of an attractive woman desiring you through your own vicarious proxy is offensive to us!

So, what they're misogynists because of their introversion or they're introverts because they're misogynists?

Same logic used in writing off female comic book fans. Women don't buy comics because they're for troglodytic neckbeards, they can't be changed though because women won't buy them and then neither will the nerds who can't get women.

Pfft. Too much bad money always drives good money out of circulation. But there's plenty of market for quality writing whoever the target is.
Change the routine/system/machine and you change the output.
It's not driven by the maladjusted. Creeps will always find something to creep out over. That's why they're creepy.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:31 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Newsflash: Comic book dorks/aficionados are drawn (get it?) to attractive female forms.

Newsflash: a large number of comic book 'aficionados' are female.


So, being female means you're not drawn to attractive female forms? Yikes - they forgot to tell me that.
posted by pecanpies at 3:34 PM on August 11, 2011


I don't buy mainstream superhero comics. If the issues of sexism were addressed, I would buy more of them.

Maybe I've been misunderstanding what you mean by "mainstream". I thought you meant the stuff that sells the most, but maybe you mean comics that feature the most familiar characters? Are you asking for more female-friendly superhero comics in general, or better depictions of specific characters, or both?

Well, you're moving goalposts a little, so let me bring it back here: I believe that someone who falls under the strict definition I laid out (someone who not only enjoys the depiction of women in mainstream comics but would also stop buying mainstream comics if the irrelevant-to-the-story sexualization of female characters was brought to an end) - that is to say, someone who would cease to buy a form of non-pornographic media because it was no longer degrading to the women in it - is pretty much an idiot goon, yep.

I think that's an unfair way to characterize someone who enjoys a work of art differently than you do. Strictly speaking, all the drawings are irrelevant to the story; they could be replaced with descriptions and the story would work just fine. The pictures are there because people like looking at pictures. Some people just enjoy looking at different pictures than you do.

The people whose job it is to have that kind of data have shown - and there are so, so many anecdotes out there from folks on the inside - that they either have grossly misread the information they have, or they just don't care, or, more likely, they aren't really aware of why what they're doing is a bad thing, as a lot of the rationales from comic creators echo those of fans defending their practices. I don't know. Here's what I do know, and here's what is at the crux of this for me:

Perhaps those people just suck at their jobs? But all the moral outrage must be about more than people just not being good at their jobs.

How many more women have to say that they would buy comics with a less sexist presentation before you believe that they would buy comics with a less sexist presentation?

There seems to be a big disconnect between what women (and men!) say they would buy and what they actually buy. If I were in the publishing business, I would make some efforts to publish what people say they want, but I would put most of my effort into the kinds of things people actually buy. From my outside perspective, that's exactly what seems to be happening. Am I wrong?

As I said above, I don't have any statistics, but why would publishers keep putting out sexist comics if they don't sell better? If so many people want to buy non-objectifying comics, why don't those comics sell at least as well as the typical mainstream stuff?
posted by shponglespore at 4:03 PM on August 11, 2011


Tangent: What do the women here think of male characters like Conan or Kratos, who are rarely seen wearing much clothing and embody all sorts of negative stereotypes about men?
posted by shponglespore at 4:15 PM on August 11, 2011


If I were in the publishing business, I would make some efforts to publish what people say they want, but I would put most of my effort into the kinds of things people actually buy. From my outside perspective, that's exactly what seems to be happening. Am I wrong?

I think the general consensus is that they are not that good at their jobs, no.
posted by Adventurer at 4:35 PM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tangent: What do the women here think of male characters like Conan or Kratos, who are rarely seen wearing much clothing and embody all sorts of negative stereotypes about men?

They are not being turned into sex objects that exist so that they can be in relation to men.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:43 PM on August 11, 2011


Maybe I've been misunderstanding what you mean by "mainstream". I thought you meant the stuff that sells the most, but maybe you mean comics that feature the most familiar characters? Are you asking for more female-friendly superhero comics in general, or better depictions of specific characters, or both?

There is not a single question you've asked here which couldn't be answered by reading either this thread or the links in it. The stuff that sells the most is the stuff that features the most familiar characters. It contains sexist depictions of female characters. It doesn't need to.

Perhaps those people just suck at their jobs? But all the moral outrage must be about more than people just not being good at their jobs.

What do you think all the moral outrage is about? Not a rhetorical question. What do you think is the complaint here? What do you think that complaint stems from?

And if your gut reaction is "Well, I don't know, and I'm trying to understand," then why not just try listening and stop trying to poke holes in arguments you don't understand?

There seems to be a big disconnect between what women (and men!) say they would buy and what they actually buy. If I were in the publishing business, I would make some efforts to publish what people say they want, but I would put most of my effort into the kinds of things people actually buy. From my outside perspective, that's exactly what seems to be happening. Am I wrong?

Yes, you are wrong. How many more times does it need to be stated that the non-sexist mainstream superhero comics that the women (and men) say they would buy are not there to be bought in the same numbers? You're saying you can't believe companies would ignore that contingent since there's money to be made there. Here's the difference between you and me on this one: I can't believe they'd do something so stupid so I'm adding my voice to those who are saying they'd like to see it change, and you can't believe they'd do something so stupid so you're arguing against absolutely all evidence and in the face of a mounting chorus of people trying to point you in the direction of it that it's not actually happening.

It's happening. At this point I sincerely don't know what would convince you, since a whole lot of evidence doesn't seem to be doing it.

Check it out. I don't know you. I don't think you're dumb and I don't think you're a bad guy. I know that examining the status quo can be a painful and terrifying experience. I think this is especially true in cases where the status quo favors you, and does so in most instances.

So I really think this might not be a bad time to take a step back from the discussion and think about why you need to believe that either sexist depictions of women aren't happening in mainstream comics or, if they are happening, they're endemic to the form and not a big deal.

This thread - and the internet in general - contain so, so many insightful and cogent arguments which explain exactly why it's true that this is happening and exactly why it matters, and you're acting like you either haven't read any of them or are in a rush to disagree with them before you've digested them. You know what, if you just want to put some feminists in their place, okay fine, you're not the first person who bristles at the idea of feminism and you're certainly not going to be the last.

But if you actually want to understand what is actually being said here, then please, please, check out some of the links posted. Here's one I like. Here's another. Please - spend a while with them. Have an actual open mind and hear what's being said.

And if you give these people a listen and you still think they're wrong, then can you please answer these questions:

1. An overwhelming number of women and men have said that the thing stopping them from buying mainstream superhero comics is the sexist depiction of women. Why would they say that if it's not true?
2. A lot of creators of comic genres outside the superhero mainstream have increased their sales tremendously by creating stories whose depiction of women are neither sexist nor objectifying. Why do you think this wouldn't happen if superhero comics followed suit?
3. Again: Why do you believe that it makes more economic sense to cater to people who can't differentiate between "a good story" and "stuff that makes my dick hard" than to make comics that don't demean or objectify women and thus turn off a good half of the world's population? When answering this, please bear in mind that with very few exceptions, mainstream, non-sexist superhero comics pretty much don't exist at all so there is no actual way to measure how well they are or aren't selling.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:57 PM on August 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, please note that mainstream superhero comics sell like crap and have lost something like 50-75% of their audience since the crash of the 1990s. Gee, I wonder why?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:44 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, please note that mainstream superhero comics sell like crap and have lost something like 50-75% of their audience since the crash of the 1990s. Gee, I wonder why?

Because they've gone from being 75 cents to being, like, $4.50 in the span of like, 20 years? And also, the writing is awful.

Is that the answer?
posted by kbanas at 5:46 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Strictly speaking, all the drawings are irrelevant to the story; they could be replaced with descriptions and the story would work just fine.

This is 100% untrue when we're talking about comics. Change the artist or the art and you immediately change the reader's experience. If they're reading descriptions, they're no longer reading a comic.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:54 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


FAMOUS MONSTER, could there be like a superhero version of The Murderer? Like, he kills people, but it's okay for some reason?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:49 PM on August 11, 2011


What, like his murdering is morally justified as some sort of extreme type of punishment? Like some walking force of nature that punishes those who have done wrong? With a big scary skull on his chest maybe, to let you know that he was going to punish you even before the punishing began in earnest?

He could call himself The Good Murderer.
posted by cortex at 7:00 PM on August 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


WHUT. Superman IS a fucking alien...FROM SPACE!

I wasn't clear enough in my distinction. Let me clarify wrt Supes:

Superman's powers derive entirely from the fact that he is in an alien environment that is unbelievably favorable to him. If Krypton hadn't been destroyed, he probably would have been a lawyer. He would have schlepped to work like everyone else. No heat vision, no flying, no impenetrability. He would have been, in the best case scenario, Atticus Finch.

Diana was, again, CREATED BY GODS TO BE SERIOUSLY KICK-ASS.

So yeah, Clark's not biologically human, but neither is he what she is, not at his core. His powers are an accident, really. Diana's strength is by design and should reflect that.

Also bear in mind that Wolverine is pretty much immortal, unbelievably strong and badass and whathaveyou and is arguably the most popular Marvel character next to Spider-Man and yet is known for being short.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:54 PM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


A lot of drag queens ARE superheroes. If you say otherwise, you haven't met enough drag queens. They fucking rock. Ever heard of Stonewall? That was drag queens throwing rocks and pennies at the police, and look what it led to. (Pennies because what else do you throw at the coppers when they come to harass you?) And they did it all in high heels.

Drag queens = superheroes. If they don't, get your reality adjusted.

...

There's a drag queen superhero in Simon R Green's Nightside books (think the Dresden Files, only also like The Dresden Files).


And of course if we are talking about awesome drag queens in comics (and connected to the original post by being related to Grant Morrison) we have to mention Lord Fanny, one of my favorite characters in possibly my favorite comic ever, The Invisibles. Incidentally, in my opinion, the Lord Fanny drawn on The Invisibles covers bears little resemblance to the character as drawn in the comic itself, even though the artists changed a number of times.

but drag queens perpetuate feminine stereotypes? i don't know

Interestingly, Grant Morrison has a throwaway line later in the series directly addressing this, when Lord Fanny (and the rest of the Invisibles crew) is being taken control of by some sort of language manipulation mind-control thingy (typical Grant Morrison awesome weirdness).
posted by dubitable at 1:52 AM on August 12, 2011


I'm envisioning a Gotham City where everyone who gets murdered has a background check run on them so the cops can figure out whether this was the work of that dastardly Murderer or if it was the Good Murderer keeping the world safe for democracy.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:11 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


That cover doesn't even look like ww, and it has nothing to do with the pose, or even the clothes. It just looks like a completely different character. It looks like it is supposed to be some other character from some other comic universe, playing dress up as ww. A well-drawn Superman you could recognize out of uniform (and you often do see and recognize him that way), but this Wonder Woman I would never recognize out of uniform.

That being said, pretty much every character in every form of media is made to look as attractive as can be. All the other characters on the cover also are posed attractively, and as the main link demonstrates, if the other characters (like batman or superman) weren't posed attractively, you'd find it either silly or icky.

There should be something near-alien about her, because that's precisely what she is.

I've always been offended by superman because of this. He's SuperMAN, but it takes being an alien (being not a man) to achieve Super-man Stature. I've felt a strong message of "this is what it takes to be a super man, you can never measure up" So I don't think trying to make wonder woman more alien would be a good thing. I think the problem already exists that many woman get the message that "this is what it takes to be a wonder woman, you can never measure up". If you emphasize the hand-crafted by gods thing, that just makes being a wonder woman more out of reach.

I mean, its okay (awesome, even) for main characters to be something that you aren't supposed to identify with, but it sucks when the main character is someone you "should" identify with but you can't because you aren't good enough.
posted by BurnChao at 3:43 PM on August 12, 2011


Wonder Woman ... She's also the only character on the cover who shows any bare skin below the neck.

While I love seeing comic books get called out for this kind of thing, in their defense, they didn't exactly invent this dichotomy.

If you go to a wedding or any other formal event (in the USA at least), the men will be mostly covered from head to toe and the women will be showing lots more skin.

Similarly, if you go outdoors in the summertime, in a situation where men and women are both wearing a top, women will typically be wearing more form-fitting outfits and showing a lot more skin. (Swimsuits are a bit of an exception, but if you just look at the bottom half, men's suits are typically more modest than women's.)
posted by straight at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2011


The Good Murderer exists, his name is the Spectre. He sometimes goes a little overboard.
posted by lilnemo at 1:15 PM on August 13, 2011


Superman's powers derive entirely from the fact that he is in an alien environment that is unbelievably favorable to him. If Krypton hadn't been destroyed, he probably would have been a lawyer. He would have schlepped to work like everyone else. No heat vision, no flying, no impenetrability. He would have been, in the best case scenario, Atticus Finch.

There's a pretty excellent comic that you should check out, an old Superman annual titled "For the Man Who Has Everything"[spoilers behind the link], probably the best-known Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons collaboration besides Watchmen. It's been reprinted in collections of Moore's DC Comics stories.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:40 AM on August 14, 2011


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