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September 2, 2011 8:46 PM   Subscribe

"Pro tip for comic book artists: No human being alive sits like that as a way of relaxing. This is beyond ridiculous.".

via
posted by griphus (231 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
But she needs her arms positioned like that to support her massive boobs.
posted by troll at 8:53 PM on September 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


Why are her breasts so impossibly large? I don't understand.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:53 PM on September 2, 2011


Metawlfilter.
posted by nevercalm at 8:54 PM on September 2, 2011


Protip for whom it may concern: the overusage of 'protip' has gotten out of hand.
posted by item at 8:54 PM on September 2, 2011 [29 favorites]


Oh.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:55 PM on September 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why are her breasts so impossibly large? I don't understand.

Have you never met boys who claim to read "graphic novels". They aren't talking about an illustrated Hawthorne.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:55 PM on September 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


Actually, I sit like that all the time. My thorax is bigger than hers, though, and I have more legs. I'm usually biting the heads off my mates in the morning, but I guess I could try coffee.
posted by katillathehun at 8:56 PM on September 2, 2011 [133 favorites]


Well, she's drinking coffee so she's probably really constip...HOLY COW MID AIR COLLISION? CONTROL TOWER TO BLAME!?
posted by Smedleyman at 8:56 PM on September 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was going to say "this isn't as bad as some of the other comic art out there", but then I realized how sad a statement that was.
posted by HostBryan at 8:56 PM on September 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


The trick will be finding where the quote unquote artist traced the figure from, and then we will confirm that humans do, in fact, sit like this.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:58 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can sit like that as well, but I don't have disproportionately large breasts and hips, so the impact is kind of diminished.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:59 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Briefly skimef over comments via my phone, however i find it funny that a majority of respondents that replicated the pose are men.

Not sure what thay says
posted by zombieApoc at 8:59 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Question:

Where dies she keep her large intestine?
posted by The Whelk at 9:01 PM on September 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


Why is this a generic? Tell us who the artist is and complain to that guy directly! I mean it's not like there are thousands of examples of this pose across the industry. (I mean, aside from the chest thrusting)
posted by graventy at 9:01 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"what would a chair look like if people walked like storks?"...r belzer
posted by kitchenrat at 9:02 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Probably coiled up in either of her five foot-long legs.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:02 PM on September 2, 2011


Actually, I think she's emulating the women in Style and Fashion magazines. Just look at the cover model of Fashion; her torso is broken.
posted by troll at 9:02 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or is it Fasoon?
posted by troll at 9:04 PM on September 2, 2011


I'm just annoyed at her fashion choices here, MJ is a stylish actress/ model, right? Shouldn't she then be keeping up with modern looks? I haven't seen that deliberate ripped and worn look out in the wild in over a decade.
posted by The Whelk at 9:04 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of this
posted by infini at 9:05 PM on September 2, 2011 [31 favorites]


Also, based on the length of her legs, when she stands up she will be 13 feet tall which means that couch is the size of a large car.
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 PM on September 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Whelk, considering the style it is drawn in, this may have well fallen right out of 2002.
posted by griphus at 9:06 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


lol... anyone else see the unfortunate placement of Spiderman's left knee?
posted by troll at 9:08 PM on September 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


I was prepared to defend it but tested it first, and no, he's right. It's kind of interesting if you think of it as a yoga pose though. To get your arms that short related to your torso, you have to roll your shoulders way back and outward, but then your arms want to move outward as well, so your hands don't want to stay together unless you bend at the elbow. Long story short, she's either using a lot of arm muscle or gripping tightly to the coffee cup.
posted by salvia at 9:08 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well it's still annoyingly dated then but not as much. It's a jarring blend of styles I tell you, the quasi realistic coloring and the super stylized cartoony bodies in strange inhumane pose cliches like Egyptian archers in a row, abstracted out into a rigid formula that cannot be altered.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm more bothered by the fact that MJ is apparently so distraught by Peter's escapades as Spider-Man that she's forgotten that clamping both palms around the non-handle parts of a steaming-hot ceramic coffee mug is a great way TO BURN YOUR FUCKING HANDS, GENIUS. This artist has never seen an actual woman, nor an actual cup of coffee, for that matter.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:09 PM on September 2, 2011 [38 favorites]


My woman sits just like that.
posted by straight_razor at 9:10 PM on September 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


She's performing the dangerous and obscure " melon baller" yoga stance.
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 PM on September 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


OK, this is a terrible looking pose, but I don’t get the comments about impossibly large breasts. I see women with breasts proportionally this big pretty much every time I go shopping. Her waist, on the other hand, seems to be about as wide as one of her breasts. No one thinks that is weird?
posted by bongo_x at 9:11 PM on September 2, 2011 [20 favorites]


I am surprised that comics targeted at young boys tittifies female characters or relies on gender stereotypes. Surprised and disappointed. I remember back in the days when comics were at the forefront of gender equality. Simone de Beauvoir is planking in her grave.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:12 PM on September 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


Well, it's not as if anyone's ever going to complain, "You know what [artist] hates drawing? Breasts."

Also: stocking.
posted by maudlin at 9:14 PM on September 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


At this point it's not even the ridiculously stylized sexiness and impossiboob, it's how freaking unnatural that pose is. Go ahead, try to sit in it while clasping a coffee cup, it's about lazy art and daughsmanship.
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 PM on September 2, 2011


Wait, I just noticed the signature at the bottom. Ah, J. Scott Campbell, is there any part of the female anatomy you can't make awkward-looking and strange?
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:15 PM on September 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


(Though [artist] might have lingering issues about the GI tract. Who knows?)
posted by maudlin at 9:17 PM on September 2, 2011


HOLY SHIT? Is that seriously J. Scott Campbell?

I own almost every issue of Gen 13 and Danger Girl. He was my favorite artist between the ages of 12 and 15 and ha ha ha ha.
posted by griphus at 9:17 PM on September 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


What bongo_x said. Having just tried this, the only really weird thing is the position of her lower back (lots of comic-book women have that weird broken-back posture) and her apparent 5-inch waist. I might well sit like that for a while if I were younger and limberer; as it is, it'd make my knee hurt and my leg fall asleep.
posted by hattifattener at 9:19 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's also a few fanartists re-drawing the cover for giggles too: this is a lovely looking one.

this one may be my favourite.
posted by zennish at 9:20 PM on September 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


...wait, scratch that, I own every issue of Gen 13 -- at least before he left the series -- and Danger Girl. At least that explains why it looks like it fell out of a parallel universe where the late 90s never ended.
posted by griphus at 9:20 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Next you're going to tell me people can't really swing from building to building on a web.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:20 PM on September 2, 2011 [31 favorites]


Huh. The redraws zennish links to have a very different feel to me: MJ's actually relaxing in those. The original gives me an impression of a bit of underlying tension or worry.
posted by hattifattener at 9:22 PM on September 2, 2011


One of those girls looks *exactly* like a friend of mine, but she would never, ever use an Acer laptop ever, so it isn't her.
posted by davejay at 9:23 PM on September 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


To be fair I often find myself in contorted poses like that for relaxation, but I'm pretty sure I have something other than a coffee cup in my hands.
posted by loquacious at 9:26 PM on September 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


what is going on with that pillow

also yeah she looks like she's trying to fart really sexy
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:28 PM on September 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


... I actually sit like that all the time, with coffee. I also have huge boobs. I also have red hair.

If they'd drawn her as 8 months pregnant, I'd be really, really creeped out right now.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 9:31 PM on September 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm more bothered by the fact that MJ is apparently so distraught by Peter's escapades as Spider-Man that she's forgotten that clamping both palms around the non-handle parts of a steaming-hot ceramic coffee mug is a great way TO BURN YOUR FUCKING HANDS, GENIUS.

In TV and movies, that's also how recently-rescued victims of urban disasters hold the cup of coffee that the cops bring for them, as they sit on a stoop wrapped in a heavy blanket, looking distraught.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:32 PM on September 2, 2011 [33 favorites]


loquacious: To be fair I often find myself in contorted poses like that for relaxation, but I'm pretty sure I have something other than a coffee cup in my hands.

I see what you did there.
posted by troll at 9:34 PM on September 2, 2011


I didn't really know what that was getting at, and then I looked at the imitation photos, which were frickin' hilarious. I wish I were more into comic books sometimes.
posted by sweetkid at 9:36 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another redraw attempt. Linked with relevant attendant comments on the original, including "Apparently she relocated all her organs to her boobs" and "a rare picture of what Spiderman would look like if his face was an ass."
posted by rhymeswithaj at 9:36 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is wonderful.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:36 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


If they'd drawn her as 8 months pregnant, I'd be really, really creeped out right now.


My baby thinks he's my personal posture coach, any time I slouch he simultaneously whacks me in the ribs/stomach and the cervix. So I sorta sit like this as well, although not so much with the dorky cleavage-self-enhancement.

I guess she is invisible pregnant.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:38 PM on September 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Pro tip for comic book artists: Tits sell.
posted by Ardiril at 9:43 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


very different feel to me: MJ's actually relaxing in those. The original gives me an impression of a bit of underlying tension or worry.

Agree so much. While the original is unrealistic body wise, i can tell she's worried about him (and yes, his left knee, bad, bad placement, heh) while the redraws, while more 'realistic', just don't convey that. Like the people doing them either didn't get that or didn't bother. Thats as bad for an artist to do as the original i feel.
posted by usagizero at 9:44 PM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


she's not worried, she's frowning because it's hard to read upside down
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:54 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pro tip for people giving pro tips to pros in their profession; They're Making More Money Than You By Drawing That Way And Selling Hundreds Of Thousands Of Copies.

Also, these are stories about people who fly through the air, walk through walls, and shoot laser beams from their eyes. I think a chick with big boobs sitting kind of awkward on a couch is the least unbelievable aspect in that frame.
posted by LoudMusic at 9:57 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


So let me get this straight: we should look to comic books for accurate depictions of reality. Gotcha.
posted by docgonzo at 10:00 PM on September 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Foci For Analysis: I am surprised that comics targeted at young boys tittifies female characters or relies on gender stereotypes.

Tittify is my favorite spell from Harry Potter.
posted by dr_dank at 10:01 PM on September 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Maybe I should have read Harry Potter.
posted by bongo_x at 10:06 PM on September 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


I see what you did there.

God, I hope not.
posted by loquacious at 10:07 PM on September 2, 2011 [46 favorites]


he simultaneously whacks me in the ribs/stomach and the cervix

Wait. So you know what it feels like when someone touches your cervix from behind it? Stands to reason, I guess, but man does that blow my mind.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 10:11 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


So you know what it feels like when someone touches your cervix from behind it?

Dude, it feels real weird. Kinda hurts, too.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 10:13 PM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am so glad I outgrew comic books.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:13 PM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, these are stories about people who fly through the air, walk through walls, and shoot laser beams from their eyes. I think a chick with big boobs sitting kind of awkward on a couch is the least unbelievable aspect in that frame.

Here I thought the suspend-your-disbelief here premise of Marvel comics was IN A WORLD WHERE PEOPLE HAVE SUPERPOWERS. When in fact it was IN A WORLD WHERE PEOPLE HAVE SUPERPOWERS AND WOMEN HAVE NO LARGE INTESTINES.
posted by straight at 10:16 PM on September 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


My version
posted by joelf at 10:21 PM on September 2, 2011 [38 favorites]


So let me get this straight: we should look to comic books for accurate depictions of reality. Gotcha.

I can enjoy the escapist aspects of cinema and also hope for better than Michael Bay. There's lots of folks doing a bang up job of illustrating comics stories without pulling these kinds of silly softcore anatomical whammies.
posted by cortex at 10:24 PM on September 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Wait. So you know what it feels like when someone touches your cervix from behind it?

Oh, yeah. When my baby had the hiccups, and his head kept rhythmically pounding into my cervix, I was like "This is so familiar! But not from that side."

It is not the weirdest thing about pregnancy. Not by a country mile.
posted by KathrynT at 10:24 PM on September 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


Totally worth it for the imitations photos. Redhair fro guy: Call me!
posted by grapesaresour at 10:25 PM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, these are stories about people who fly through the air, walk through walls, and shoot laser beams from their eyes.

At the end of Sin City I almost yelled out, "Are you crazy? You can't use a cell phone in a hospital!"
posted by ODiV at 10:25 PM on September 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


As the page was loading, before it got styled, I saw all the added poses submitted by users. Came back to the page just now, and see the pretty background but after the original pic just a long list of stuff like "dooberman liked this", no pics, and no indication that said pics exist.

WTF?
posted by Meatbomb at 10:28 PM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Make Mine Marvel.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:33 PM on September 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Weird. I was at a figure drawing event with him tonight. We were pulling out some pretty absurd poses...
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 10:36 PM on September 2, 2011


We have to go derper
posted by joelf at 10:40 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


What makes me really angry is the newspaper uses a sans serif font.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A NEWSPAPER, MR HOT SHOT ARTIST?
posted by joelf at 10:47 PM on September 2, 2011 [19 favorites]


I think it's creepy the way the Spider Man T-shirt eyes seem like they're looking back at me when I'm staring at her boobs.
posted by mazola at 10:52 PM on September 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


The more I stare at the angles of the her legs and thorax, the more I think about this...
posted by ennui.bz at 10:53 PM on September 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


joelf, The Comics Curmudgeon just commented on related errors in the Spider-man newspaper comic. Now if the NEWSPAPER version can't get a newspaper right...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:58 PM on September 2, 2011


Wait. So you know what it feels like when someone touches your cervix from behind it? Stands to reason, I guess, but man does that blow my mind.

I think the closest comparison for getting kicked in the cervix by a smaller fetus (when they have room to really get some momentum going) is the ouchy part of the pap smear, whereas now that he's bigger it's more of a persistent uncomfortable "hey that doesn't go that direction" except soon it will :(

But as KathrynT says, it is nowhere near the weirdest part of pregnancy.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:03 PM on September 2, 2011


What on earth is going on with that strangely indented/stained pillow? Is it boob-indented? Given that prior to her morning contortionist exercises she'd been gazing longingly out the window at Dome-Boner-Spider-Man? Possible, but I'd prefer to think that she'd been farting into the pillow for the past hour or so, and is now gazing sexily at her handiwork, ready to hurl her coffee across the room in celebration. As one does.
posted by Hyperbolus at 11:09 PM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


The pillows are the weirdest part.

I do know women with waists that small, they're all uberkinkster corset-loving types. If one were into bondage Spiderman would be an excellent catch. Rope Budget: $0
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:14 PM on September 2, 2011 [30 favorites]


I love that this thread has both nitpicky comic art critique and weird pregnant feeling stories.

I was not expecting that. Real female bodies are amazing and pretend ones are funny.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:18 PM on September 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


* Ponders starting a new Metafilter account with the name "Domeboner Spiderman" *
posted by Hyperbolus at 11:18 PM on September 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I have constant back-pain and neck pain. I attempted the pose. Though it wasn't anywhere near "natural" or "restful" it wasn't painful or hyper-awkward either. And my back actually felt a lot better afterwards. FWIW

The image was clearly drawn for over-the-top eye-candy, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:35 PM on September 2, 2011


Waiting for the cheesy pic of Peter sitting on the couch like that, Mary Jane swinging away.
posted by maryr at 11:37 PM on September 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I just tried sitting like that and I have to tell you, it is really flattering to the manboobs.
posted by chemoboy at 11:42 PM on September 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Where does she keep her large intestine?"

She doesn't. She's female and therefore never poops.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:16 AM on September 3, 2011 [25 favorites]


The funniest thing about this pose is how stuck she is. She's looking around because she needs someone to take the scalding cup out of her hands. She can't lift one or the other hand off of it, because each hand is only wrapped around half. Her gigantic breasts prevent her arms from bending at the elbows around them, as well as her head from moving down to meet the cup. Her butt weight on her folded leg makes it so she can't lean forward to set the cup on the table and re-pick it up again by the handle (with one hand, if she's smart).

She really does need to be rescued from this dangerously impossible situation. I imagine eventually she could figure it out ... she may have even been in this wild predicament before ... but it's morning and she could probably use some coffee.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:34 AM on September 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


To add to the weirdness, this is the cover to an issue that came out after Peter and MJ had their marriage retconned because Joe Quesada felt that MJ gave Peter cooties er, broke up. But MJ still has a giant, artsy photo of the two of them on the wall? With that story context it seems more like she's pining for Peter (in the most fanservicey way possible), and it's creepy because the whole "seemingly unattainable woman pines for Our Protagonist, the man she can't have" trope fits right in to the retrogressive vision of Spidey as the wish fulfillment fantasy for nerdy, straight, white dudes that the character's been forced back into, despite having grown out of that role decades ago.
posted by bettafish at 12:40 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


(I love that the fabulous redraw by fornax linked above makes it clear just how muddled Campbell's piece is on top of being sexist. Fornax's version, even as rough as it is, is much more powerful because it conveys all the worry and regret MJ might be feeling for Peter in that moment, without derailing the message with gratuitious titillation. Amazing -- no pun intended -- how much better art can be when you treat a character as a fully-realized personality and not a masturbation fantasy, isn't it?)
posted by bettafish at 12:51 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Waiting for the cheesy pic of Peter sitting on the couch like that, Mary Jane swinging away.

What sort of swinging, exactly?
posted by rodgerd at 12:52 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Both my wife and my son sit like that just about every time they get on the couch. Though neither of them have a shirt with my picture on it.
posted by BurnChao at 1:23 AM on September 3, 2011


Yet.
posted by BurnChao at 1:23 AM on September 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


Her ridiculous pose reminds me of Kate Beaton's "Strong Female Characters" sketches.
posted by adso at 1:35 AM on September 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Playing devil's advocate here a bit I guess, but after looking at Campbell's deviantart page linked above, he is a really good artist, no question. Yes, the sitting pose is awkward-looking, but it is also suggestive of concern (which the alternate poses presented were not) and, like it or not, it is sexy inasmuch as it shows off MJ's figure.

I think what bothers me is the idea the artist is sexist because he's drawing women's bodies in an unrealistic fashion; by that logic, many artists recognised today as being great are also sexist, perhaps even more so. Bill Ward, for instance, drew Amazons with huge breasts and tiny feet - I'm pretty sure that was a stylistic decision, and it served his art well; his women were not supposed to be real, they were supposed to be an idealised, stylised version of a woman. Tom of Finland is another example that comes to mind.

It's like it says at the top of Campbell's deviantart page: "I like to draw girls". When I doodle, I like to draw old, balding men (I guess cause I like drawing wrinkles and don't like drawing hair). My drawings aren't anatomically correct either; exaggerated cheekbones can be fun to do, and I like the way they look, period.

I went to a comics convention in the 80s and recall John Byrne - who was like God to me at that point - discussing anatomy in comcs with another guy there. They had a medical book out, Gray's probably, and the gist of the conversation was that some artists take that realism very seriously (whoever did Conan was mentioned here, if I recall correctly) and some don't give a crap.

tl;dr - Anatomical realism is an aesthetic choice and artists can take it or leave it at their choosing.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:37 AM on September 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


No human being alive sits like that as a way of relaxing.

But I assumed the body language was intended to express that she was NOT relaxed. Waiting at home impatiently for her beloved webslinger to finish fighting crime. And holding that hot mug clutched in both hands...

Anatomical realism is an aesthetic choice and artists can take it or leave it at their choosing.

Totally true, but in the superhero comic book field, drawing exaggerated anatomy is always an asset. As this week's edition of the satirical NonAdventures of Wonderella demonstrate: "Mammoth mammaries, not just for you, for everyone."
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:12 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


A few random thoughts about this picture:

1. Looking at that drawing, I would bet money that it started as the image of Mary Jane sitting there looking exaggeratedly cute and sexy and worried, and the rest kinda got built around that: "Here's this drawing of MJ, I guess she's sitting on something, I dunno, a sofa? Sure, never mind that to fit around the leg pose I did it's gotta be a sofa built for someone nine feet tall, it makes for a nice diagonal composition... La de da, guess there's some kinda picture on the wall behind her, dum de tum, and a coffee table with some junk on it and a window, ooh, this could be some fun perspective to draw, building here, building here, and I guess I'll put Spidey in it to add some interest..."

2. Also there's probably some waist and hip hidden by her left arm. (Her left, not the picture's left.)

3. I've been taking dance lessons for the past few months; one of the side-effects has been a tendency to half-unconsciously twist myself into interesting poses when I'm sprawled lazily on the floor or the sofa or whatever.

4. I have perpetrated wilder distortions in my own art in the name of exaggerated perspective, emotion, and/or motion and gotten away with it easily. But my work is highly stylized. If the drawing hadn't been so obsessively inked and colored - some nice simple flat colors, some simple lines that only bothered with the really important details - nobody would be complaining, because it would clearly be a cartoon drawing. But the level of detail put into it - every brick is unique! - puts the image into the area of the uncanny valley, just like a 3D-rendered Smurf with the simple, expressive shapes of a drawing Peyo spent maybe ten minutes on but with pores on the skin, individual eyelashes, and cloth texture on the hat.

(Compare this with, say, a Bruce Timm drawing of Harley Quinn. Harley's figure is just as exaggerated but she's clearly a cartoon; the only time I ever hear anyone complaining about her is stuff like the fetish nurse costume in the last Batman video game. Timm can get away with murder because his work is so gorgeously simplified.)

So yeah, lots of agreement here with Stinkycheese.

(Interestingly, looking at the stuff on the artists' DA page linked above, he seems to draw most comic-book women more rigidly, but this drawing and the other drawing of MJ in there are both fairly loosely constructed, with a bit too much obsessive detail (IMHO) piled on here and there. Also holy shit this looks like something I'd expect to see on stage in a steampunk burlesque revue.)
posted by egypturnash at 2:29 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


The structure of that page pretty much makes no sense to me. stop sitting like that on my lawn
posted by gubo at 2:42 AM on September 3, 2011


In the "Awkward relaxing pose with bolt-on tits" category the winner is still Michelangelo Buonarroti. Let's be glad he didn't draw comics.
posted by elgilito at 2:42 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


...the winner is still Michelangelo Buonarroti. Let's be glad he didn't draw comics.

He did.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:55 AM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Breasts come in all sizes, there are plenty of women with breasts that size, they are not impossibly large, let's not marginalize women that happen to have breasts that size.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:07 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


So let me get this straight: we should look to comic books for accurate depictions of reality. Gotcha.

Also, these are stories about people who fly through the air, walk through walls, and shoot laser beams from their eyes.


I see where you're coming from with this, but these kind of comments still really annoy me. One of the things that I really like about well-executed art/film/literature with fantastical elements is that their creators tend to set their ground rules and then stick to them.

The example that I always think of here is Pixar's Ratatouille - there's a scene near the beginning of that film where we see a couple of rats talking from the perspective of a human, and all we hear is squeaking. In the space of a couple of seconds, we've established that in this universe, rats can speak to each other and understand human speech, but humans can't understand rat speech. The film then sticks solidly to those rules throughout, and although it's a slightly cartoonish and larger-than-life world, the audience knows where it stands and can create a strong suspension of disbelief.

In the same way, Spider-Man stories are set in a universe where some things are over-the-top and fantastical, yes, but everything that isn't obviously fantastical is assumed to be the same as in our universe. The way people sit, for instance, has no reason to be different just because there's a dude in Lycra swinging from webs in the background, so we expect it to look right, and because it isn't that takes us out of our suspension of disbelief and it becomes jarring.

tl;dr: Explaining away weird poses or bad writing because "it's a comic book and things are ZANY" is a poor excuse and lets artists/writers get away with lower quality work.
posted by ZsigE at 3:32 AM on September 3, 2011 [60 favorites]


The first thing I thought when I saw the original is "she's clearly angry and disturbed because her boyfriend is outside humping a wall."
posted by taz at 3:34 AM on September 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


I don’t get the comments about impossibly large breasts. I see women with breasts proportionally this big pretty much every time I go shopping.

Yeah, so do I. But I'm shopping in Vegas. For blowjobs.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:03 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're watching Ocean's Fourteen. One member of the team is a magical unicorn. Nobody in the movie comments on this or finds it even slightly unusual when he carries off incredible heists with the power of his rainbow magic. You point out to a friend that you think the presence of the unicorn kind of detracted from the movie.

IT'S NOT REAL NONE OF THESE THINGS ACTUALLY HAPPENED THOSE ARE FICTIONAL PEOPLE ELABORATE SCHEMES OF THE KIND DEPICTED IN THESE MOVIES WOULD NEVER REALLY WORK WHY ARE YOU LOOKING TO FICTION FOR REALISTIC REPRESENTATIONS OF THINGS THE UNICORN IS FINE.
posted by emmtee at 4:46 AM on September 3, 2011 [23 favorites]


You're watching Ocean's Fourteen. One member of the team is a magical unicorn. Nobody in the movie comments on this or finds it even slightly unusual when he carries off incredible heists with the power of his rainbow magic.

I'd be okay with every single aspect of this, especially if the unicorn was voiced by David Mitchell, Sam Rockwell, or Maria Bamford.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:53 AM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I love that the fabulous redraw by fornax linked above makes it clear just how muddled Campbell's piece is on top of being sexist.

Wow, really? I have to disagree here. The original image is goofy for all the obvious reasons, but the redraw has even worse composition and body language. It's difficult to tell if sketchy MJ is just chillin' or just vaguely morose. She doesn't really look all that worried to me. Also, Tiny Spider-Man is sitting on her head. The only thing the redraw has on the original is the use of more realistic proportions and a lack of comically overt cleavage.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:58 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The minute I hit post I realised I'd forgotten to add, I would watch the hell out of that movie.
posted by emmtee at 4:59 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rusty: Magical Unicorn, you're the best there is. You're in Cooperstown. What do you want?
Magical Unicorn: Nothing. I've got a duplex now, wall-to-wall, goldfish. I'm seeing a nice virgin who works the "Unmentionables" counter at Macy's. I've changed.
Rusty: Guys like us don't change, Magical Unicorn. We either stay sharp or we get sloppy, we don't change.
posted by kyrademon at 5:07 AM on September 3, 2011 [26 favorites]


Meatbomb: As the page was loading, before it got styled, I saw all the added poses submitted by users. Came back to the page just now, and see the pretty background but after the original pic just a long list of stuff like "dooberman liked this", no pics, and no indication that said pics exist.

WTF?


Do you still not see them? I can see them. However, I've downloaded all the ones I can see, just in case... I could upload somewhere if they've been disappeared.
posted by taz at 5:09 AM on September 3, 2011


Well, I have breasts that size, but the rest of me certainly is not the size of Mary Jane right there. She must be something like a 26G there.
posted by mippy at 5:11 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


ZsigE: "The example that I always think of here is Pixar's Ratatouille - there's a scene near the beginning of that film where we see a couple of rats talking from the perspective of a human, and all we hear is squeaking. In the space of a couple of seconds, we've established that in this universe, rats can speak to each other and understand human speech, but humans can't understand rat speech."

Honestly I think it would have been a better film if that tiny chef guy had attacked Tim Rat (I, uh, forget the names of the characters) with a hammer, but the hammer just bounced off! Because rats are indestructible in this world; it just hadn't come up before. Or, as emmtee just suggested to me, if three quarters of the way through, the human cast all died because rats are extremely radioactive.

I am aware this would have spoiled the film.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:11 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


This type of thing is pretty common. I just tend to think of it in terms of being a transitory pose and move on.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:19 AM on September 3, 2011


LOL I used to sit like that (and worse) all the time. Come to find out it's because my joints are stupidly, self-sabotagingly stretchy, and I was actually just fucking myself up and over every single day. Physical therapy in half an hour. Watch out MJ :(
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 5:20 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man that is one hell of a thigh bone she's got there. At a really rough guestimate her thigh bone appears to be as long as the measurement from her waist to the top of her head, mine is more like from my waist to the top of my shoulder.

The problem with her position for me is that, yes, there is tension but it conveys the feeling that someone else is in the room with her-- someone she is trying to impress. Her posture, the arched back, squeezed breasts, is not one a woman would bother with if no one is watching. So while lounging on the arm of the sofa might be out, I can see her sitting tensely on the edge of the sofa hunched over in thought.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:29 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pro tip for people giving pro tips to pros in their profession; They're Making More Money Than You By Drawing That Way And Selling Hundreds Of Thousands Of Copies.

Hundreds Of Thousands?
July 2011 Comic Book Sales Figures
Estimated Comics Sold to North American Comics Shops
as Reported by Diamond Comic Distributors

Comic-book Title Issue Price Publisher Est. sales

1 Amazing Spider-Man 666 $3.99 Marvel 135,568
2 Captain America 1 $3.99 Marvel 96,926
3 Fear Itself 4 $3.99 Marvel 93,435
4 Flashpoint 3 $3.99 DC 86,007
5 Green Lantern 67 $2.99 DC 74,521
6 Daredevil 1 $3.99 Marvel 64,866
7 Batman The Dark Knight 3 $2.99 DC 62,792
8 Avengers 15 $3.99 Marvel 62,580
9 War of The Green Lanterns Aftermath 1 $3.99 DC 61,166
10 Green Lantern Corps 61 $2.99 DC 60,836

I'd say maybe the top 3 are selling "A Hundred Thousand" ( and TASM 666 is a Very Special Issue in July, so I don't think you can really count on > 100,000 sales most of the time... )

It's sorta sad that 5 of the 10 are selling 60,000 copies.

It's also sad that the level of skill as commercial illustrators seen in the industry is dwindling.

P.S. Get off my lawn...
posted by mikelieman at 5:35 AM on September 3, 2011


I'd say maybe the top 3 are selling "A Hundred Thousand"

To be fair, he didn't say in one month or for one comic.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:38 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


hal_c_on : Have you never met boys who claim to read "graphic novels". They aren't talking about an illustrated Hawthorne.

Yeah, I know, right? Sandman has nothing but a non-stop parade of malformed male fanservice prancing by, from Death with her enormous rack, to Rose Walker and her form-revealing latex body suits.

Some boys (ahem) use that term largely to distinguish the style of comics they read from the standard superheroes-and-bimbos crap.

Or to put it another way, Grant Morrison can serve as a bridge in either direction. Some of us don't start on the Metropolis/Gotham side of that bridge.
posted by pla at 5:41 AM on September 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'd be ok with the "Wev, ladies, it's a comic book," if men were ever drawn in pornoposes this way. EVER. But they're not. Because this isn't about comic books, but sexism.

Sure, make Mary Jane hot. Everyone except old people in comics is hot. But if she can't even sit around on her couch looking concerned, supposedly alone, without thrusting her tits at the viewer, then what we have is not a scent to further the story, but porn.

And if you want to draw porn, then at least give us lots of shots of Peter in tight briefs, thrusting his buttocks at us and arching his back while thinking about his next battle or whatever.
posted by emjaybee at 5:43 AM on September 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


scene, not scent. heh.
posted by emjaybee at 5:44 AM on September 3, 2011


He's fucking a whole building, is that not enough for you?
posted by Meatbomb at 5:46 AM on September 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


pla: "Or to put it another way, Grant Morrison can serve as a bridge in either direction. Some of us don't start on the Metropolis/Gotham side of that bridge."

Aye, Morrison was my bridge into superherodom. And I've read some great stuff over the years, but lately it seems like I'm back to only reading Morrison; Marvel and DC considered as a whole have lost me.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:48 AM on September 3, 2011


if men were ever drawn in pornoposes this way. EVER. But they're not.

You're not looking hard enough.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:49 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


"With great power comes a great need to fuck inanimate objects.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:51 AM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Magneto is old and he's still drawn ripped like a 20 year old at the gym.

The problem with her position for me is that, yes, there is tension but it conveys the feeling that someone else is in the room with her-- someone she is trying to impress.

The viewer?
posted by stinkycheese at 6:01 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


He ain't no John Romita Sr., that's for sure.
posted by Scoo at 6:04 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Compare this to this. It's not just that Ian McKellen is real, it's the fact that musculature can be fun to draw, a lot more fun than smooth fabrics.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:06 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Those of y'all who are saying "whatevs it's just a comic book it's not real" --

If any of you ever ask "you know, why don't women like comic books all that much?" I reserve the right to sneer.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:12 AM on September 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


Please do not contort "tl:dr" into your impossibly sexy posts.
posted by cashman at 6:27 AM on September 3, 2011


If you consider a single panel by one artist representative of an entire art form, I reserve the right to sneer. I mean, I take your point, but does this mean I could make a super-sexist painting and that would kill all painting? 'Cause I will. Don't think I don't mean it.
posted by yerfatma at 6:27 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with being sexy?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:32 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meatbomb : What's wrong with being sexy?

Hi! Welcome to MetaFilter!

Please collect your newbie handbook and androgynous body-suit on the left, and check your balls and non-socialist-political-ideals at the window. ;)
posted by pla at 6:39 AM on September 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


What's wrong with being sexy?

Nothing's wrong with sexy.

What about that picture IS sexy, though?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:41 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yay, at last my ballessness is having an effect!
posted by h00py at 6:44 AM on September 3, 2011


FFS people please don't make me spell it out for you?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:47 AM on September 3, 2011


I believe this exact spot may just be the event horizon for this discussion.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:54 AM on September 3, 2011


My partner wears size 0 jeans and is top-heavy and limber and will do dumb things like holding scalding hot coffee cups with her hands and can be quite pensive at times BUT that has nothing to do with the image which was drawn solely to tickle the targeted marketing sector's cingulate gyrus in order to sell a comic book. Viewers aren't supposed to think about what they are seeing, they are supposed to experience a momentary slight increase of penile turgidity, anticipate further similar visual stimulation within the pages of the book, plop down four bucks and take the thing home and get more of the same.

It's marketing, yes? Honest marketing, too. What's on the cover is what they are selling. HIPS, TITS and HAIR, clear skin, flexible joints, taut yet sprawled, sometimes jiggling, certainly in-your-face, with some words (who cares!) there to justify turning pages and a cliffhanger to remind you to buy the next one in this series. I don't have a problem with this.

What I do have a problem with is that there's also some really good storytelling going on in many of these series that is sometimes almost impossible to really process because of the excess visual stimulation. In many ways, older comics are better because they're less sexed up: more focused on story rather than selling issues. New books have just as much story (and sometimes even more) but the evolutionary pressures of SELLING have necessitated this absurd trend.

It is like peacocks, yes? (And big tits on human females; completely unnecessary.) There is no need for peacocks to have huge tails except to attract peahens. Comic books don't need HIPSTITSHAIR except to attract sales. But now the marketing driven visual style is totally getting in the way of the original point of the comic and turning it into something else. Like huge tits on human females get in the way of typical common activities,

What to do? Since marketing is driven by how well it affects sales, stop buying comics with objectionable visuals. It's evolution in action, right? Buy comics with reasonable art. That's the only approach that will work. Bitching about it does nothing, refusing to purchase does nothing -- if you want comics with good art, you have to actually buy them so that they have an ecologically successful niche.

And also recognize that there will also always be 16 year old guys who buy comics mostly to look at absurdly proportioned female figures in O poses, because that is a successful niche too.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:56 AM on September 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


You're looking at the pose? I still haven't figured out whether MJ is four feet tall or if their couch is a leftover prop from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
posted by Ndwright at 7:11 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spider-man is a mess of a series ever since Quesada took over as EiC. That this scene is post OMD is just another example of how far the Spider-man character has gone off the tracks in recent years. Quesada wants the 616 Spider-man to harken back to the 70s-80s era single Spider-man where he's not encumbered by MJ and is free to mix it up with whatever attractive female comes his way, whether it's Black Cat or a Gwen Stacy Clone or whatever.

Never mind that Spider-man hasn't been that character in ages and he still remembers his past as not that character but Spider-man is the gateway drug of Super-hero comics and a thirty-something Peter with an established career in science and a wife is tres uncool.

As to the actual composition of the art I'm kinda meh. J. Scott Campbell's style was "perfected" in the 90s and yes it's cheesecake as all hell but he's been really successful with cheesecake and for the most part comic book artists don't really change their style in the middle of a career. Jim Lee's art is still boobilicious, Liefeld's is still grossly distorted, Deodato and Benes are basically full-time pin-up art, etc. Considering their 90s style still sells well there really isn't a lot of reason to abandon it if they want to keep working in the industry.

I'm not saying that people should forgive these poses or that most superhero comicbooks aren't sexist as hell it's just that it's hard to imagine these companies looking to re-invent themselves when they are basically duking it out over a market whose top sellers do well to have over 100,000 copies sold per issue. Comic books despite their outsized merchandising and licensing revenues are even more of a niche product than they have ever been and as a result they target their audience pretty much exclusively with the same types of products they've been selling for decades. It seems like they try to chase new customers for a while and then their core audience quits buying the comic and then everything goes back to the stasis which has dominated mainstream comic book universes for ages.
posted by vuron at 7:25 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is basically the "realistic armor on women in fantasy art" argument again, right?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:29 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm totally ok with comics using exaggerated sexuality, male or female, in the art. But it seems out of place and kind of alienating to some significant proportion of people to have that kind of depiction front and center in a comic that is not particularly about sex and desire. It's the kind of pose that implies that a page or two later she is going to have Spiderman bent over the back of the couch getting pegged, say.
posted by Forktine at 7:29 AM on September 3, 2011


joelf: "My version"

Wait - MJ is really Sue Storm?
posted by symbioid at 7:38 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


YES!
I demand more realistic naturalistic depictions of men and women in comic books about a human spider and I will take this all the way to the top and dye my makeshift costume in the blood of exagerrators and fabulists.
Hoe dare someone draw tits that big on the bugeyed city tarzan insect man's girlfriend, they shall taste my blade.
Kill all those who call comics a violent religion or exaggerate the proportions of fantasy men and women.
posted by Enigmark at 7:41 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's exactly what Quesada seems to want with Spider-man these days Forktine.

He wants a return to the lonely, dorky, white, science guy that feels marginalized at his job (J.Jonah is an asshole who hates his costumed identity), isn't appreciated for what he does (despite being a hero for ages the public and government still distrust Spider-man), is essentially a loner (despite being in umpteen million team books currently for the sake of sales Spider-man has always been more of a solo hero who teams up periodically) but who can still date and sleep with unbelievably attractive girls (MJ, Gwen Stacy, Black Cat, Silver Sable, etc). Hell some of them (Black Cat) are basically magical pixie dream girls.

It doesn't really seem to matter that you could do that all in the pages of Ultimate Spider-man (where Peter is still basically 16-18 years old) but Marvel has to do it in the pages of 616 Spider-man. This is basically throwing out 30+ years of character development in order to increase sales. And guess what it works. Amazing is still one of the top sellers despite the fact it's covering ancient plot arcs.

The House of Ideas has had some decent ideas in recent years but the way Spider-man has been handled has been rubbish forever.
posted by vuron at 7:42 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


LOL DISTORTED BODY PROPORTIONS
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:45 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Hamms Bear: "Make Mine Marvel."

HOLY LOL.... I was going to say "impossible boobs? You've never seen Minka!" And now... You have just shown the mefi world the amazing powers of the silly string boob enlargement technique. (No, not literally silly string, but it is a technique certain models have used called the string technique (as opposed to silicone implants) and... IT NEVER STOPS GROWING)

wikipedia article

And, no I never said anything about the aforementioned. Never.

But yeah - I think it's a combo of the pose and the waspy waist that's the real issue, not the breasts themselves. ;P
posted by symbioid at 7:45 AM on September 3, 2011


I demand more realistic naturalistic depictions of men and women in comic books about a human spider and I will take this all the way to the top and dye my makeshift costume in the blood of exagerrators and fabulists.

Also, how come you're complaining about chainmail bikinis when there are DRAGONS! Why not complain about how DRAGONS aren't realistic?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:48 AM on September 3, 2011


oneswellfoop: "joelf, The Comics Curmudgeon just commented on related errors in the Spider-man newspaper comic. Now if the NEWSPAPER version can't get a newspaper right..."

Wait - someone pegged Spiderman? I never knew Peter Parker was into that.
posted by symbioid at 7:48 AM on September 3, 2011


Man, you guys must hate Mannerism.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 7:52 AM on September 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Wow! I always thought Peter Parker was a nerd, but I never knew he was actually Sam Winchester in a Nehru jacket.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:58 AM on September 3, 2011


(Compare this with, say, a Bruce Timm drawing of Harley Quinn. Harley's figure is just as exaggerated but she's clearly a cartoon; the only time I ever hear anyone complaining about her is stuff like the fetish nurse costume in the last Batman video game. Timm can get away with murder because his work is so gorgeously simplified.)

This is basically the entire reason I'm annoyed at this picture. It's got a super simplified, cartoony pose and affect but with realistic coloring and crap composition. You want realism, do realism. You want cartoony cheesecake, do cartoony cheesecake, don't meet me halfway through with your uncanny valley bots. It's lazy.

And to the person above thinking commercial illustrators for comic books make money? Allow me to place a gasping, hoary laugh in your general direction.
posted by The Whelk at 8:01 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh god I want a comic cook with all the Marvel heroes as mannerist figures in 15th century Florence RIGHT NOW.
posted by The Whelk at 8:03 AM on September 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Er, book.

That's how excited I am.
posted by The Whelk at 8:03 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a huge difference between intentionally exaggerated cartoons and uber serious dramatic artwork that's rendered laughable.
posted by merveilleux at 8:11 AM on September 3, 2011


So let me get this straight: we should look to comic books for accurate depictions of reality. Gotcha.

Also, these are stories about people who fly through the air, walk through walls, and shoot laser beams from their eyes.


I demand more realistic naturalistic depictions of men and women in comic books about a human spider and I will take this all the way to the top and dye my makeshift costume in the blood of exagerrators and fabulists.

Okay I've seen this comment like five or six times now and I guess my question here is- really? Like, do you really believe this? Because what you're saying is that you truly, honestly, do not understand the difference between "unrealistic" in terms of the millenias-old concept of fantasy and fiction narrative and "unrealistic" in the terms of neglecting the constructs of plane perspective and basic human anatomy.

I would surmise that you don't actually think this, as doing so makes you dumb, and merely propose you just want to feel like you "won" at Internet Argument Hero, which merely makes you an unhelpful prat. Feel free to choose which compliment you'd prefer.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:25 AM on September 3, 2011 [25 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with cartooning or with cartoons intended to inspire boners, but I do have a problem with this sort of ostensibly boner-inspiring cartooning as the cover of a comic that's one of its publisher's flagship titles -- a book that should serve as an exemplar of the house's output and a gateway to its universe of titles. (I said titles.) It seems to basically presuppose a rather narrow stereotype vis a vis its readership. And I don't just mean that because lol boobs, but rather: MJ really doesn't look alone on this cover. She seems to be posing for someone, and that someone is, of course, YOU, tiger! "You" being a wood-sporting heterosexual gentleman between the ages of 16 and 50...the only people who might read this. My whole life I've known women and girls to read comics -- to be very honest with you, as a man who knows where his bread is buttered, I would likely have not remained a comics fan into adolescence if I had thought that comics were somehow kryptonite for anyone with a vagina, a la the lameass Kevin Smith paradigm -- and while this kind of thing might be of interest to some women, surely it's more off-putting to most. It's also something I would seriously be embarrassed to be seen reading in public.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Oh god I want a comic cook

I can't help you with a Marvel Renaissance, but I could wear an apron and tell jokes about the newspaper Spirder-Man strips....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:51 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ms. Windphone sez "I don't even see what's so bad about this picture. I've seen comic book poses where both tits and both ass cheeks are visible at the same time."
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:55 AM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


The Whelk nailed it; the problem isn't that it's cartoony, it's that it's a cartoony sketch that's been inked in a more realistic style--imagine if you saw a car at a car show that looked like one of the cartoon cars in the Pixar movie. Bruce Timm and Darwyn Cooke get this.

And I don't begrudge the Yoof uv 2day their fanservice; as a teen, I was much struck with Ms. Marvel, who supposedly embodied comic book feminism by wearing a one-piece bathing suit with thigh-high boots, opera gloves, and a sash tied around her waist. But I don't want to frequent stores where fan service is the norm and I feel like I'm edging into dirty-old-man territory just by walking in.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:14 AM on September 3, 2011


But also
Man, you guys must hate Mannerism.
Yeah, I sort of do. That giraffe lady with the macrocephalic 8-year-old is prolly my least favorite of the Art History Textbook Greatest Hits. I know there was some stuff those guys did that was less jarringly distorted, but the really extreme examples give me the heebie-jeebies.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:21 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


pla: Sandman has nothing but a non-stop parade of malformed male fanservice prancing by, from Death with her enormous rack,

I don't know what Sandman you're reading, but one of the nicest things about the women in that series is that many of them, including Death and Delirium, are not large-breasted comic-book women. At all.
posted by tzikeh at 9:22 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


@tzikeh - he was being sarcastic
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 9:27 AM on September 3, 2011


tzikeh: "I don't know what Sandman you're reading, but one of the nicest things about the women in that series is that many of them, including Death and Delirium, are not large-breasted comic-book women. At all."

I think your sarcasm dector is defective.
posted by Bonzai at 9:28 AM on September 3, 2011


XQUZYPHYR : Okay I've seen this comment like five or six times now and I guess my question here is- really? Like, do you really believe this?

Yes. Because consider the flip side of that argument - Do you really think 16YO boys buy comics as a stand-in for actual pornography (or going further, for actual sex)?

Anyone born in the past century has had access to "real" porn, to some degree; anyone born in the past 30 years has had access to effectively infinite free porn, catering to any possible niche fetish you can imagine.

So - What makes you seriously suspect that any 16-50YOs would choose to "clean the pipes" to a grotesquely proportioned bit of eye candy printed in grainy halftones? Yeah, at first glance, she looks nice and clearly intends to show off her assets for the viewer; and as egypturnash points out above, more than a few seconds' viewing puts that image safely into Uncanny Valley territory.

That said, I have no doubt you could find some people who would prefer that to the real thing; I don't, however, think you can claim them as more than a tiny minority, and certainly not a large enough demographic to bother targeting the cover art toward.


Because what you're saying is that you truly, honestly, do not understand the difference between "unrealistic" in terms of the millenias-old concept of fantasy and fiction narrative and "unrealistic" in the terms of neglecting the constructs of plane perspective and basic human anatomy.

Would you make the same objections to classic Looney Tunes?
posted by pla at 9:28 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


tzikeh: I don't know what Sandman you're reading, but one of the nicest things about the women in that series is that many of them, including Death and Delirium, are not large-breasted comic-book women. At all.

He was being sarcastic. In context, he was combating the idea that "graphic novels" is what nerds call superhero comic books so they can feel respectable while jerking it to cartoon pin-up girls, or something. Whereas in real nerd culture, I think the differentiation between graphic novels and just, well, comics is actually pretty well respected. Sandman, Watchmen, that sort of transcend-the-genre work are graphic novels. Nothing wrong with just comics, but tarring "graphic novel" as a weasel word to add respect to pulp is badly mistaken.
posted by gilrain at 9:30 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there something about this thread that is preventing anyone from being able to understand sarcasm? So far we've got pla welcoming Meatbomb - the oldest surviving paid member - to MetaFilter, and now this.

Dude, pla is saying that his taste in graphic novels (the Sandman) is more sophisticated than these kind of comic books - bimbos and superheroes.

Now, personally I think there's a lot of fanservice in the Sandman, but aimed at making readers feel smart rather than horny. There's nothing wrong with playing to your audience, though. There's nothing really wrong with artists writing spankathon fuel, either - it only gets tricky when it's put on the front of quote-unquote mainstream comics.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:30 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


What's wrong with being sexy?

Smell the glove.
posted by Elmore at 9:30 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Whereas in real nerd culture, I think the differentiation between graphic novels and just, well, comics is actually pretty well respected. Sandman, Watchmen, that sort of transcend-the-genre work are graphic novels. Nothing wrong with just comics, but tarring "graphic novel" as a weasel word to add respect to pulp is badly mistaken.

That distinction coexists with an orthogonal definition based on form factor, however. Sandman and Watchmen were serialized in stapled, soft-spined comic books. Sandman in particular is built around an ongoing, monthly narrative. You might own these stories in the graphic novel form factor, but their original form is comic books - whereas Alan Moore's The 49ers, say, was written and published as a graphic novel.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:36 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


nebulawindphone: "Ms. Windphone sez "I don't even see what's so bad about this picture. I've seen comic book poses where both tits and both ass cheeks are visible at the same time.""

That's called Cubism. It's a grand artistic style that has a pedigree reaching back to the great artists like Picaso.
posted by symbioid at 9:37 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might own these stories in the graphic novel form factor, but their original form is comic books - whereas Alan Moore's The 49ers, say, was written and published as a graphic novel.

I'm not trying to be pedantic, but if you look closely, I think you'll find that The 49ers was very much written for serialization. It was published as a single volume, but its four chapters, each of uniform length, are kind of a giveaway.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:39 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


to get back to the original picture: not only does MJ look awkard and deformed, but there's something odd about Spidey too.....

perhaps I'm sick, but his left knee looks like one massive hard-on.....
posted by easily confused at 9:44 AM on September 3, 2011


Why can't any mainstream comics artist draw Spider-man without giving him straight up dog's legs?
posted by The Whelk at 9:53 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, the first thing I noticed there was that if you take Spiderman out of that picture, if it's only MJ and you the viewer, then the expression on her face becomes one of deep shame that her life has brought her to a point that she's being made to dress and pose like that for somebody as vile as you.

That picture is actually really sad, but not for any of the reasons intended.
posted by mhoye at 9:55 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's not just the female characters. I've seen plenty of comics art with male characters in equally contorted poses and poorly rendered anatomy. I mean, come on, just look at this guy.
posted by webmutant at 10:07 AM on September 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Anyone born in the past century has had access to "real" porn, to some degree; anyone born in the past 30 years has had access to effectively infinite free porn, catering to any possible niche fetish you can imagine.

So - What makes you seriously suspect that any 16-50YOs would choose to "clean the pipes" to a grotesquely proportioned bit of eye candy printed in grainy halftones?


When I was 16 I had access to plenty of hardcore porn, albeit at low bandwidth mutter mutter kids these days. I also read sci-fi books with occasional dirty bits. Trust me: the dirty bits were all bookmarked.

Would I call those books "porn"? Well, yes if "porn" means "something you wank to." If you reserve the word for the shit that's only good for wanking to — then no, okay, they weren't porn in that sense of the word. But they were fantasy fodder. And with some of the lazier authors, the fantasy-fodder aspect was all that kept me reading.

Readers will overlook a lot of bad writing and lazy plotting if they feel "a connection to the characters." Well, it was a pretty sure thing that I'd feel intimately connected ifyouknowwhatimean to any female character (no matter how dull or two-dimensional) who was portrayed as sexually available. Unsurprisingly, the straight girls and gay boys I knew found some of those books less compelling than I did.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:12 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok, so I'm not saying I like this cover, but I want to play the devil's advocate a little bit here and point out what I think is actually defensible about this cover.

First of all, the composition is not bad. Compare it to this train wreck randomly pulled from a google image search of "comic book covers." This is what most covers look like: a writhing orgy of technicolor limbs with no focal point, emotion, or narrative. So lets look at the Spiderman cover. There is a scene set for us, a girl alone in a high-rise apartment. But something is not right. She is not relaxed. She is tense, her arms are drawn close to her body, her legs folded close to her. She is alone and vulnerable. To either side of her head are representations of what troubles her, the desire to be with the man she loves, and the knowledge that he is out there risking his life fighting crime. From the newspaper on the table we learn that the city doesn't even appreciate what Spiderman is doing. They are frightened of him. It's Mary Jane who loves him. She's been looking through fashion magazines, she wears a low-cut top with Spiderman's face on it, she desperately wants to change herself to catch the attention of this guy who would rather be out saving people who don't want to be saved. She feels insignificant, represented as being almost child-size in relationship to the couch. Is she a sex object to the audience, or is she a sex object to Spiderman? Spiderman's eyes appear on her breasts, symbolizing her feeling that she has to put herself on display just to register to him anymore. The colors in the scene are more subtle and realistic than the neon/primary colors used in most superhero comics. We are not seeing black and white, good vs. evil here. Spiderman is not shown clobbering his foes, in fact, he has turned his back on the viewer. We are seeing the nuanced gradations and complexity of real human emotion as filtered through the mind of Mary Jane. We feel her discomfort, her worry, her sadness. This is not a BANG! POW! comic. This is a story about real human emotion.

Or at least I hope so. I never read this crap.
posted by buriednexttoyou at 10:35 AM on September 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


The funniest thing about this pose is how stuck she is. She's looking around because she needs someone to take the scalding cup out of her hands. She can't lift one or the other hand off of it, because each hand is only wrapped around half. Her gigantic breasts prevent her arms from bending at the elbows around them, as well as her head from moving down to meet the cup. Her butt weight on her folded leg makes it so she can't lean forward to set the cup on the table and re-pick it up again by the handle (with one hand, if she's smart)...The really does need to be rescued from this dangerously impossible situation.

But of course! She's not pining for Peter, she's been captured by -- The Twisterer -- an evil villain who uses his magic spinner to trap innocent victims in crazy contortionist poses! Will Peter's Spider-Sense lead him to her aid in time?!?
posted by straight at 10:38 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spiderman's eyes appear on her breasts

That would probably kill my spank momentum stone dead.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:43 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Comics are a medium. Graphic novels are a subset of that, just like monthly superhero pamphlets, webcomics, newspaper strips and minicomics.

Saying that superhero comics — which, globally, are in the minority when it comes to readership — represent the entire medium as so many people seem to be willing to do is like saying that Inland Empire represents film in its entirety.

DISCLAIMER: I write the several of the damn things for the web and have been paid to do it in print. One of them has been about superheroes.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:49 AM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Compare it to this train wreck randomly pulled from a google image search of "comic book covers." This is what most covers look like: a writhing orgy of technicolor limbs with no focal point, emotion, or narrative.

Actually, it's really not what most comics covers look like, or at least not now -- that comic is almost thirty years old -- but I would argue against its being a trainwreck. The whole point of the series (as indicated via its blurb, which is a weak design element that is, to be fair, probably not the fault of the artist) is that Marvel's superheroes will join forces to fight some kind of battle. The selling points are the action (implied by the fighting/running poses) and the presence of a much larger cast of heroes than is typical for a single title (indicated by the presence of several of the company's most popular characters). This cover may be sort of generic, but it does do an adequate job of advertising the contents of the comic itself; by contrast, I'm guessing that the issue of Spider-Man in question has little or nothing to do with how emo/horny the world is making Mary Jane Watson this sad afternoon.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:53 AM on September 3, 2011


She's depressed about her deformed right foot and stunted rib bones. She has the rib cage of Chihuahua, a Cavus Foot deformity, and no nerve endings in either hand. You would be sad, too.
posted by taz at 10:57 AM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


beaucoupkevin - Your definition is sufficient but not complete. "Graphic novel" is a muddy term describing both a format and a method of creation - both collected pamphlets and unitary works (like each Scott Pilgrim book, or Grant Morrison's Earth-2, which will hopefully pass Kittens for breakfast's muster) can be described as graphic novels. One way to get around that is to call the form factor "trade paperback" and the method of creation "graphic novel", but it's by no means universal - pla, above, uses "graphic novel' to mean "quality comic collected in book form", even though he is talking about stories published in monthly pamphlets.

Incidentally, I'd defend that Mike Zeck cover. Sure, it doesn't tell a complex emotional story, but what it does communicate - that members of all the major hero communities in the Marvel Universe are all up in your grill simultaneously - is communicated functionally.

There's a sloping diagonal in the composition that creates likeness without total symmetry. The angle of the Hulk and Spider-Man's left arms follows and echos the flight of the Human Torch, Captain Marvel and Storm. Captain Marvel's pose echoes the Hulk's - arms raised in a Y-shape - but with her arms thrust forward for flight while his are thrust back to represent the forward thrust of his jump. Meanwhile, the other bar of the dynamic X-form runs through Spider-Man's right arm through Nightcrawler's limbs, the stripe in Rogue's hair and Cyclops' optic blast, which is balance by the angle of Captain America's shield and Hawkeye's arrow.

It's a busy composition, and it looks like much of the reference may have been taken from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, but the decision in response to its business to make the background totally abstract is probably a good one, and it communicates the core proposition of the Secret Wars franchise - that all the heroes are going to be coming at all the villains, all at once.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:03 AM on September 3, 2011


This is clearly no big deal, just like that other ridiculously sexist MJ depiction was no big deal, amirite guys?

Relatedly: WTF Bioware. I know you didn't design this yourselves, but it is officially licensed. Samara's design in ME2 was bad enough but this is like the worst of Samara + Miranda + anime stereotype. Ugh.
posted by kmz at 11:03 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dated a freakishly flexible girl who sleeps in the lotus position, with her knees folded up to her chest.
posted by LordSludge at 11:07 AM on September 3, 2011


kmz, I might stand up to defend this cover, but I agree that figurine is utter garbage. There is no story in there besides, "I'm a sexy woman who sexily does laundry like a woman should and I'm happy about it!"

The Mary Jane cover is successful because it shows insight into the emotional conflict within the character's mind, and in this way I think that although it's definitely not ideal, it's at least a step in the right direction. We should care about Mary Jane as a character, not as an object.

I would be much happier raging against the Mary Jane laundry figurine or any other similar bit of comic book paraphernalia because it is indicative of a real problem of sexism in the industry, and not just, "LOL that guy can't draw! Where do her organs go?!?!?! Nobody sits like that!"
posted by buriednexttoyou at 11:18 AM on September 3, 2011


I'm so glad I grew out of comic books.

I'm posting this here because I tried saying it out loud and all that happened was I made a noise and belched up methane and then my remarkably average-to-unattractive friends took photos of themselves doing the same and arranged it in a visually incoherent way.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:20 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's talk about something the artist did right. It is absolutely impossible to tell if Spidey is outside the building swinging from building to building by some odd coincidence at just that precise moment when his ladyfriend is the most crucially, boob-thrustingly concerned for him, or if he is just a tiny figment of spandex-wrapped, butt-thrusting, psychopathical bother in the mind of the mannerist couch freak. That, dear oglers of young, is Magic.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 11:54 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


All I noticed is that my eyes are drawn by steam that has some very interesting shapes to the image showing that she takes cream in her coffee. Although I should probably write that as "cream" in her "coffee".
posted by peagood at 12:05 PM on September 3, 2011


The 40 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings
posted by vidur at 12:56 PM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


that comic is almost thirty years old

NO IT'S NOT SHUT UP SHUT UP AND GET OFF MY LAWN
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:00 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd be okay with every single aspect of this, especially if the unicorn was voiced by David Mitchell, Sam Rockwell, or Maria Bamford.

A vote for Maria Bamford. What else could a unicorn sound like?
posted by krinklyfig at 1:45 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're watching Ocean's Fourteen. One member of the team is a magical unicorn. Nobody in the movie comments on this or finds it even slightly unusual when he carries off incredible heists with the power of his rainbow magic. You point out to a friend that you think the presence of the unicorn kind of detracted from the movie.

I wanted to link to the part of "Last Action Hero" where the kid points out Whiskers The Cat is a member of the police force, and Arnold's like "so?" and the chief is all "That cat is one of the finest men we have on the force!" but I couldn't find it, and then I felt lame for thinking of "Last Action Hero" so everyone shut up.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:49 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I can't find anything in the rules that says cats can't be police officers, so I guess we'll have to allow it.
posted by ODiV at 2:18 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I finally got a look at this after Tumblr's downtime yesterday, I was immediately reminded of the Men-Up staged photos of men in pin-up positions that have been going around Tumblr at the same time. The orange Men-Up has his legs posed differently, but he's got that whole hands-together boob-squashing thing going on.

(As someone who has enough boobage to actually do that cleavage trick, it's not exactly painful but while my boobs may work that way if carefully squashed, it's kind of a soreness-inducing position for me.)
posted by immlass at 3:47 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't even handle the number of people who are trotting out the old saw about how IF YOU'RE WILLING TO ACCEPT THAT SPIDERMAN EXISTS AT ALL, YOU CAN NEVER EVER CRITICIZE ANY ASPECT OF ANY OF THE REST OF THE STORY, ART, OR COMIC BOOK IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM! I hate that argument so goddamn much. SO much. It's disingenuous and illogical and it comes up all the time.

Look, all that argument does is show that either you have no understanding of how suspension of disbelief actually works - or, more likely, that you are wilfully setting aside your understanding of how suspension of disbelief works so you can rabidly defend your sexy tit pictures from those who might try to take them away.

People get so damn defensive whenever anyone DARES to criticize comic books. Same with video games. What's the deal with that? Just accept that things you like aren't 100% amazing and perfect about everything! Nothing in the world is 100% amazing and perfect about everything, and pointing out the flaws in things you enjoy is a way to make them improve, not a personal attack on you for liking the things in the first place.
posted by titus n. owl at 4:44 PM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thor's strategically placed metalbuttons.

Look, I don't care if you ARE the god of Thunder, you run like that, you're gonna fall down.
posted by misha at 5:36 PM on September 3, 2011


Buncha deltoids, and a bicep, a hot groin and a tricep...

What? Yes, of COURSE we're straight, why do you ask?

How are you not falling down?!

It's not just the women in the comic art, is my point here. It's more often women than men, because the reader demographic skews higher to males, but I used to love to read Thor, The Incredible Hulk and The Thing when I was a girl, and the musculature on those guys was outrageous, and a lot of the poses as well.
posted by misha at 5:52 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are any of those musculatures or poses equivalent to this (possibly NSFW, definitely NSFPeople), though? I'd say that with the exception of the Thing (whose musculature is by definition inhuman, because made of orange rocks), Thor and the Hulk look recognisably like (ludicrously overmuscled) human beings. The poses you identify are of them running - that is, they aren't supposed to be balancing on one foot, but frozen in the middle of a motion.

I agree that there's a lot of fantasy going on with male identification with male heroes, but I think something different may be happening within the parameters of that fantasy.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:23 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was much struck with Ms. Marvel, who supposedly embodied comic book feminism by wearing a one-piece bathing suit with thigh-high boots, opera gloves, and a sash tied around her waist.

FEMINIST HULK WOULD SMASH PUNY DANVERS AND HER BATHING SUIT!
posted by homunculus at 6:41 PM on September 3, 2011


LordSludge: I dated a freakishly flexible girl who sleeps in the lotus position, with her knees folded up to her chest.

Is she also an insect?
posted by troll at 6:59 PM on September 3, 2011


That is completely sexist and she is so anatomically impossible it's disgusting.

I will say though, that Spidey (who's ass is very prominent in this portrait) appears to be fucking a wall. So perhaps that provides some semblance of balance here.
posted by serazin at 7:21 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did someone in this thread already revisit What if Male Superheroes Posed Like Wonder Woman? I couldn't find it.
posted by serazin at 7:28 PM on September 3, 2011


The Making Of A Wonder Woman Cover
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


retrogressive vision of Spidey as the wish fulfillment fantasy for nerdy, straight, white dudes that the character's been forced back into, despite having grown out of that role decades ago.

Sorry, but as a nerdy, straight white dude Spidey was pretty much my first wish-fullfillment fantasy...
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:53 PM on September 3, 2011


Okay, so, just for the hell of it, I fired up Photoshop, took the image, and tried to render it a little less ridiculous. I think it's an improvement (although there are minor details that still look a little wonky.) http://webmutant.com/pub/mj.jpg
posted by webmutant at 8:22 PM on September 3, 2011 [21 favorites]


Webmutant, dude, I love that!
posted by sweetkid at 8:23 PM on September 3, 2011


There is valid criticism to be made about sexist portrayals of women (and men) in comics, but the /posture/ of young women is not one of them.

Seriously. Just spend some time with tweens or young ladies. They contort themselves in hundreds of different ways when perching in impossible locations. This parrticular example is not really very odd at all.

The artists often adopt a sexist style of art, but many ave taken hours of figure drawing classes, and they are often the sort of folks who watch people very closely, so the figures themselves are often merely exaggerations of real people.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:26 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but as a nerdy, straight white dude Spidey was pretty much my first wish-fullfillment fantasy...

Well, the thing is that there are ways to write Spidey as someone everyone can relate to as a wish fulfillment fantasy, and ways to write Spidey as someone only nerdy, straight white dudes can relate to because everybody else wants to punch the guy in the face for being a privileged faux-liberal dbag. I found Spidey far more relatable when he was a married white dude in his late twenties living in Manhattan and I was a single, sexuality-undecided mixed race teenage girl in Switzerland than now, when we're roughly the same age and both single. One More Day and the distortions in both character history and characterization that followed were a giant "You can borrow him but you'll never get to own him the way we white guys do" sign on the Marvel clubhouse. My one consolation is that superhero comics' greatest weakness is also its greatest defense, and assuming the market doesn't collapse entirely the wheel will turn so that the folks in charge will be the ones whose take on Spidey meshes better with mine.

That, and Ultimate Spider-Man. It's never going to be my Spidey the way main universe Spidey was mine in my teens and early twenties. But damn, I'm so glad it exists and that Brian Bendis is more interested in doing new and fresh things with the mythos than trying to turn the clock back and retell old stories in less interesting ways.

clrmnky: Seriously. Just spend some time with tweens or young ladies. They contort themselves in hundreds of different ways when perching in impossible locations. This parrticular example is not really very odd at all.

And yet most of the photo and art rebuttals to the cover are by tweens and young adults, though not always ladies.

Speaking of rebuttals, webmutant, I think your take is my favorite one yet!
posted by bettafish at 8:38 PM on September 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is odd to try and assume that this cover (or any cover) is somehow not at all in the same field and part of the same industry as that figurine. As if a comic cover exists on it's own, not as part of the wider body of work where all women look somewhat like this, all women sit in sexy ways, all women wear sexy clothes all the time and all women are also, magically, average. and are always decoration - men may be drawn in equally stylized and idealized ways, but they are at least effective and active. MJ isn't drawn ike that because she's a noncom character with no skills - she's drawn like that because she's a woman and all other women are drawn like that too.

Sure I can sit like that. I've got giant boobs too. But smooshing them up and out like that is pretty damn uncomfortable. And gets in the way of actually drinking coffee. I sit like that a fair bit, at least the leg thing, except my legs aren't nine feet long, my feet aren't shaped like I'm constantly wearing heels, and even if I am not slouching, I'm usually not also thrusting my boobs out. Even with giant boobs, that is a thrust out position, not a natural state of being.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:38 PM on September 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


A vote for Maria Bamford. What else could a unicorn sound like?

Kristen Schaal.
posted by rifflesby at 12:27 AM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, let's not forget Barbie.
posted by h00py at 4:37 AM on September 4, 2011


Here's a real life example of a similar thrust-out pose (more or less NSFW) with an impossibly narrow waist. I don't know where Zahia Dehar hides her intestines but it's her real body AFAIK.
posted by elgilito at 5:15 AM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd really like to see Zahia Dehar standing up straight.

Great job, webmutant. MJ looks drop-dead gorgeous with 1-sigma human proportions, far more attractive than the original.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:37 AM on September 4, 2011


I'd really like to see Zahia Dehar standing up straight
Scroll down the page. Of course even when standing up she's still thrusting out something, it's some sort of trademark.
posted by elgilito at 5:51 AM on September 4, 2011


A vote for Maria Bamford. What else could a unicorn sound like?

Henry Kissinger.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:55 AM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Alex" from the website is (I assume deliberately) missing the point.

His premise is that no woman looks/sits/postures like this; nevermind there is a guy in a skin tight suit swinging one handed by the strength of his deltoid muscle only, SUSPENDED in a posture difficult even on a yoga mat. And defying angular momentum.

Ok, so Alex is selective in his criticism, that's fine. "Let's examine the context of the image," he writes. Yes, let's.

The comic isn't called Mary Jane, it's called Spiderman. The reader identifies with him; all other characters are there specifically to drive his story forward. They don't act like 3D characters because they aren't, they are all there to signify things about Spiderman. A woman doesn't sit like that, but the girlfriend of the kind of person Spiderman is does. (The reader expects that) Every moment of her existence is not for, but about, Spiderman.

The staging of that drawing is a code or a rebus. She didn't quickly grab a hot cup of coffee just as he jumped out the window, and then casually glance over her shoulder as he swung away. It's to be interpreted: casual, natural MJ is imagining what her mysterious BF is up to. Spidey makes her "hot" (coffee on vagina) but also scared ("Spiderman Frightens Citizens" says the newspaper, and note that that is facing us, not her). She may be postured for oral but he's postured for some from-behind action.

Notice she's not blonde. She's not in a skirt, heels, jewelry. "Just jeans and a t-shirt." This is "casual" MJ, not trying to be sexy, just "being herself," comfortable; and yet she's super hot and super sexy and super posed, she can't help herself, that's who she is. Well, no, that's who Spiderman expects her to be.

That's the Spiderman (reader) illusion: the done up, stuck up bimbos at the club would never be interested in them/him, that wouldn't be realistic, but a simple girl, with a brain and a heart and nothing "fake", who would rather read Bronte then shop for Louboutins-- that's the kind of girl (who might like me and is thus) for me! She still has to have the bimbo's body, of course. Or at least sit like she does.

The drawing isn't a screenshot, it's an actively moving part of the story. The events depicted didn't "happen" like that, but you can get plot, theme, mood, motivation in a way a vidcap couldn't give you.

If you're criticizing the drawing, you should be criticizing the story, and if you're criticizing the story, you're wasting your time-- it's not for you.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 7:54 AM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


(coffee on vagina)

I just...needed to repeat that
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:05 AM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The comic isn't called Mary Jane, it's called Spiderman. The reader identifies with him; all other characters are there specifically to drive his story forward.

Mruh? Spidey is the central but far from the only significant continuity character in his little chunk of the universe—as the classic neurotic-young-hero title he's more actively co-dependent on and involved with the other people in his life than a lot of your stoic war hero templates, and that's a constant part of the non-punching portions of the stories—and Mary Jane has been one of the key members of that cast for a very long time.

The name of the superhero goes on the front of the superhero book because it's a superhero book, not because the superhero is the only important character in the story. It's brand recognition, not a declaration of inequality of character worth.

In any case, the idea that people don't identify heavily with non-title characters in superhero books is silly on the face of it. You can be sure I'm identifying much of the time a lot more with Jim Gordon, Good But Imperfect Man In A Morally Compromised City, than with Batman, Incredibly Wealthy Urban Ninja. Year One is one of the best Batman stories ever written and it's as much about Gordon as it is about Wayne, and Gordon's problems are a lot more relateable to boot.

Notice she's not blonde.

Yes. Mary Jane, who is a redhead, is not blonde. ? Only blonds qualify as being in absurdly overt poses? Everybody else is just pining over coffee? The actual lines of the drawing doesn't matter, just the coloring in the hair bits?

People don't find the cover laughable because they don't understand the implication that Mary Jane is sitting at home bummed and thinking of her absent (or just-departed) Friendly Neighborhood Spiderpants; they find it laughable because the posture and figure and arrangement of this otherwise sympathetic, familiar character is executed in a laughable fashion.

and yet she's super hot and super sexy and super posed, she can't help herself, that's who she is.

Except that a lot of the time what she is as a character in these stories, as (depending on what continuity we're dealing with) either Spidey's life partner or his romantic foil and non-superhero analogue in the "inchoate, unselfassured people trying to make it through life" narrative, is a willful, ambitious, self-directed character who has a life above and beyond being wank material for readers. She Can't Help Herself does not explain away a ridiculous drawing; mostly it's an insult to MJ as a character who goddam well can help herself when she's inclined.

Yes, it's an attempt to synthesize several ideas about Spidey, MJ, their relationship, and MJ's state of mind into a static image. No, that does not make the actual MJ drawn less stupid. The Mona Lisa's wry smile-or-is it still the Mona Lisa smile-or-is-it if you draw big tits on her and make her arch her back, but one of those versions is also stupid for no good reason. It's manifestly possible for artists to take good premises and fuck them up with dumb decisions, and no pile of after-the-fact ratiocinating about the image's composition changes that. A less-stupid drawing of the scene with the same ideas would communicate those ideas without the spittakes and the mockery.

(I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that "she has coffee on her vagina because Spidey makes her wet" is not actually one of the key things being communicated here, but I guess we can agree to disagree there, maybe there's a whole hot-beverage-applied-to-genitals subtext running through pop art that I have to date missed out on and Campbell was brilliantly incorporating that into this masterwork of semiotics. Get Dan Brown on the phone, we can try and get this code cracked once and for all.)
posted by cortex at 8:43 AM on September 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


tl;dr: Explaining away weird poses or bad writing because "it's a comic book and things are ZANY" is a poor excuse and lets artists/writers get away with lower quality work.

I'd argue that this isn't what is being argued but is pointing out that this sort of thing is common across the board and part of the art itself, thus making it higher quality work.

Look, all that argument does is show that either you have no understanding of how suspension of disbelief actually works - or, more likely, that you are wilfully setting aside your understanding of how suspension of disbelief works so you can rabidly defend your sexy tit pictures from those who might try to take them away.

Horseshit. She's in a twisted situation so she herself is twisted. Style trumps realism in fictional stylistic mediums (which this belongs to). If only Spiderman had a gut after all these years, man alive that would be so like, like, well, like these supposed guys with guts looking for any excuse (or they're just plain stupid and don't get suspension of disbelief) to see tits feel they could get tits, ala the "philosophy" of Ron Jeremy.

The flood of these arguments against the Decay of Lying is making me sick, not to mention the lazy stereotyping and holier than thou dismissive "arguments".
posted by juiceCake at 9:02 AM on September 4, 2011


We feel her discomfort, her worry, her sadness. This is not a BANG! POW! comic. This is a story about real human emotion.

I'd like to take a moment to commend buriednexttoyou for that comment, which does this piece of work far more justice than it really deserves.
posted by mhoye at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2011


Cortex-- if Campbell was putting that subtext in on purpose he'd probably not be in comics for very long. The point of the "coffee on vagina," other than to be funny, is just to point out that the image isn't supposed to be taken literally as, "this is exactly what she is doing."

"they find it laughable because the posture and figure and arrangement of this otherwise sympathetic, familiar character is executed in a laughable fashion." So your point is that MJ is here depicted unusually posed and sexy? That's not true, and anyway, is Spiderman unusually ripped in this comic?

And your point about Gordon is a good one, but it's mine: you don't identify with all Jim Gordons, just the ones that are like those depicted in Year One. But Frank Miller went out of his way to give Jim Gordon his own story and depth, so that comic wasn't like this one, or like most other Batman titles. Gordon did not exist simply to be about Batman, he was his own main character. That's great, that's what made Year One great, but you can't compare Year One to this Spiderman comic because they are telling different stories to different audiences. Sure, Year One is better. Sure it's a better comic. But there are few "Year Ones" and lots of these Spidermans because that's what the comic market wants. The readers who prefer Year One (e.g. me and you) look for that in books, so our vote/dollars count less.

"Music was better when X." "Wrestling was better back when it was X." Maybe, maybe not, you've moved on, so even if Wrestling returned to the Rock/Roddy Piper days, you still wouldn't come back to it. It's not for you anymore, which is why it looks the way it does and you don't like it and yet it still makes bazillions of dollars.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 12:08 PM on September 4, 2011


Gordon has been his own character with his own life and family and struggles in a lot more than just Year One. He may not get as much page count and internal monologue in the average Batman arc, but he's very much a presence as a sympathetic, relateable character over the general arch of the Batman story. Alfred, too. Robin (take your pick). Joker. Harvey Dent, pre- and post-tragedy. Leslie Thompkins, Barbara Gordon, Selina Kyle.

Batman's the headliner, no question, but he exists in a universe of other people who (whether affectionately or psychotically) care about him and about whom he cares, and about whom, critically, the reader base cares. Anybody trying to argue that they all exist just as background material, to advance his plot and get out of the way except for the occasional stoic or sexy pose, is not paying much attention to how these stories are told.

you don't identify with all Jim Gordons, just the ones that are like those depicted in Year One.

Don't I? Which ones do and don't I identify with, then? You have a list?

I identify with characters. In comics where the supporting cast aren't characters but props, sure, I don't identify, but those are largely going to be shitty comics I don't bother to read.

It doesn't take an exceptional work to make non-title characters interesting. Year One is a great example of someone really spotlighting a non-title character in serious detail over the short term, but it's not what made Jim Gordon into a character; it's something that worked as well as it did because Gordon already was a character, because the idea of Batman is defined in significant part by his relationship to others. The complicated truce/partnership/friendship between avatars of opposite sides of the law is part of why Batman isn't just some guy beating dudes up because it's awesome. (That's what The Punisher is for.)

And, critically, Batman is in this sense hardly unique as a comics character. If anything, he's more of a loner and less accessible as part of a sympathetic whole of characters than someone like Spidey, who is all about his relationships with his Aunt and MJ and so on. MJ as prop no one really cares about would undermine the story fundamentally.

Sure, Year One is better. Sure it's a better comic. But there are few "Year Ones" and lots of these Spidermans because that's what the comic market wants.

If your argument is that because the specific issue or story arc this was a cover for is shitty, it's therefore fine and appropriate that the cover itself is also shitty, fine. I think it's a weird argument but I'll grant that it's got its own internal consistency, even if it feels a bit out-of-nowhere: folks are mostly not complaining about the cover in that context, they're talking about the cover itself as a piece of poorly realized art in the more general context of these characters we're all to greater or lesser extent familiar with.

If your argument is that this cover being shitty is fine because the Spiderman narrative is fundamentally shitty and MJ is in fact just a useless fluff of fanwank, I'm left feeling like you don't really read comics and are just typing for the sake of typing, because that doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense. Aside from the cover being an anatomical and kinesthetic trainwreck (even in context of the problematic nature of a lot of but certainly not remotely all comics art on that front), there's not a hell of a lot of MJ, who is very much a Jim Gordon as characters go, that comes through.
posted by cortex at 1:11 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you're making some pretty broad character strokes with MJ, there cortex. MJ was always the care-free ditzy bombshell. That's how she was introduced and was played up for at least a good thirty some years, up until the movies came out where they added a bit of depth to her character. So I think we can drop the idea that this drawing somehow defaces the sanctity of her character. We can also skip over the fact that Spiderman has had two other love interests that have driven his storyline just as much as MJ has, and really take a look at the original criticism.

1)Ridiculous awkward pose
2)It's Sexist

Number one is a ridiculous criticism. Yes, I have seen people sit like that, it really isn't that awkward. BUT I will say you probably do need to be on the smaller side, a bit supple and a little bit flexible to sit like that. I don't think I need to point out that even if anyone is vaguely familiar with comics can attest to the awkward poses throughout them. Or I don't think we need to point out that most comics rely on capturing mid-action shots to convey movement, emotion, and such. Personally I could do with less boob squeeze and more shoulder shrug, but ya' know her eyes are also six inches apart so i don't think you can do much to fix the picture. webmutant's fix goes a long way but that leads us into talking about divorcing stylistic choice from aesthetic, which is part and parcel of what this conversation is about and yet really hasn't been touched on.
Number two - yep. Not much else to say but I think the points would've made more sense if they were expanded a little bit. The picture itself is kind of weird place to start with this when there are much larger points of departure to talk about what's wrong in a much larger sense. Like:

1)Comics have an inherit sexism throughout
2)The artist(s) is(are) sexist
posted by P.o.B. at 2:20 PM on September 4, 2011


coffee on vagina

You know, I genuinely didn't think anything was going to top "Spider-Man's eyes appear on her breasts" for body horror.

I was wrong.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:57 PM on September 4, 2011


I don't know where Zahia Dehar hides her intestines but it's her real body AFAIK.

Her real body after Photoshop. Maybe you should spend some time here to see what happens to real bodies that end up on magazine covers. These are just the ones we notice, of course, because they're all fucked up.

Oh hey, here's a whole Google image search for "photoshopped magazine covers." Very educational.
posted by emjaybee at 7:03 PM on September 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think you're making some pretty broad character strokes with MJ, there cortex. MJ was always the care-free ditzy bombshell. That's how she was introduced and was played up for at least a good thirty some years, up until the movies came out where they added a bit of depth to her character. So I think we can drop the idea that this drawing somehow defaces the sanctity of her character. We can also skip over the fact that Spiderman has had two other love interests that have driven his storyline just as much as MJ has, and really take a look at the original criticism.

(First of all, I wasn't sure whether or if it was appropriately transparent or baldly narcissistic to mention this earlier in the thread, but at this juncture I'd better state for the record I run a fuckyeah tumblr dedicated to Mary Jane Watson. It's sort of on halfway-hiatus right now, but the current second most recent post is a signal boost of werockthisshit's original commentary about 27,650 notes ago, before the photo parodies and fan edits started showing up. Insert disclaimer of obvious bias and extreme nerdity here, etc etc.)

Anyway, it's probably not surprising that coming from that perspective I categorically disagree with your assessment. MJ was introduced as the "beautiful but dangerous" party girl to contrast with "good girls" Betty Brant and Gwen Stacy, it's true, and for the first six years of her existence she was an entertaining but shallow supporting character who rolled comic relief and sex appeal into one. Her character development really began in the immediate aftermath of The Death Of Gwen Stacy, in 1973. After Peter's engaged-to-be-enaged girlfriend is murdered and his roommate Harry Osborn has a nervous breakdown, the ditzy party girl finds herself the only one who can be there for Peter in his grief, and she steps up to the plate.

From there she becomes Peter's friend and confidante, then lover, and for the next decade and a half or thereabouts they have an on and off again romance subject to the vagaries of soap opera storytelling. (It's during one of the off periods that Spider-Man first dates the Black Cat, which was certainly a serious relationship in its own right -- she's still a major part of his supporting cast.) In the mid-80s, MJ catches Peter unmasked and reveals to him that she's known that he was Spider-Man for years but been in denial about the whole thing. Her backstory is fleshed out, and we learn that her devil-may-care persona stems from having isolated herself emotionally to cope with an neglectful and emotionally abusive upbringing. With Peter's support, she works through her issues with her family, and in 1987 they get married. They stayed that way until 2007, when their marriage was retconned out by editorial contrivance. In the current Spidey status quo Peter's dating Carlie Cooper, a relatively new character, but MJ is Peter's best friend and former lover who knows him just a little too well for the relationship to be entirely comfortable.

All of which is to say that not only is it incorrect that MJ was nothing but a ditzy bombshell for the thirty years before the first Raimi film came out, she actually hadn't been a carefree, ditzy bombshell for most of those same thirty years. She was also Peter's one-and-only from when I was a toddler up through the beginning of my grad school career.

On another note, I'm a little confused about the claim that it's silly to talk about this single cover when there are Grand Discussions about the nature of sexism in comics to be had. Werockthisshit wasn't trying to write a thesis encompassing all of their thoughts on the topic; they made an off-the-cuff post to their Tumblr, which other people found both apt enough and funny enough to respond to in equally off-the-cuff fashion. It's 28,000 strangers on the internet shooting the shit. Of course there are holes in the argument (insofar as there is a single argument being made, which is debatable), but that doesn't make the conversation unworthy of note. If nothing else, there's plenty to be said about why this particular impromptu critique of a sexist moment in comics went viral when there are hundreds of impromptu critiques of sexist moments in comics posted on Tumblr every day.

Going off-the-cuff myself, I'd say it's a combination of the humor involved, the ease with which one can look at that single piece of art and say, "Wow, that's pathetic," and MJ's recognizeability. I don't think it's a coincidence that the last "sexism in comics" discussion to go viral was the debate over the Adam Hughes-designed MJ statuette back in 2007. It's not that Mary Jane Watson is treated any more egregiously than any other female character in American superhero comics, but she's one of a very few who have pop culture cachet outside of comics fandom. Most of us feminist comics fans are more inured than we'd like to be to the kind of everyday sexism on display on this cover, but every once in a while a casual but non-comics-reading Spidey fan stumbles across something like this on their friendslist/feed/dash and goes, "Hey, that's Mary Jane Watson from Spider-Man, isn't it? Aweso -- wait, what the heck?!" Then they blog about it where other casual fans pick up on it, so on and so forth.

Sadly, the reaction of industry professionals to this sort of furor tends to be more, "Heh, these mundanes just don't understand what we're all about," instead of, "Yeesh, is this really what people who don't read comics think of our work? Maybe we should try to fix this."
posted by bettafish at 7:57 PM on September 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


bettafish is better qualified to speak on this—like I said, I'm not that big on Spidey as a regular reader—and better spoken in any case, but, yeah, while MJ is certainly not the Athenian ideal of a (non-Beatonian) strong female character, she's definitely on a far more meritorious point on the spectrum than the notional Ditzy Disposable Love Interest, at least in the last twenty years or so. You don't need to be the ultimate single-minded badass to not be a blowup doll, and the problem with this cover is that a blowup doll is pretty much precisely what it sets its sights on.

Mainstream superhero comics, Big Two comics in particular, have an endemic problem with casual sexism in both their narrative and artistic momentum, but it's far from universal and it has a totally reasonable chance of improving over time. Part of that process is fans—casual and hardcore—acknowledging that they're okay with character, not tits and ass, selling, and part of it is the creators breaking out of the middle school Trapper Keeper stupor long enough to actually believe that and strive for something other than this silly bullshit as a baseline standard for artistic achievement.
posted by cortex at 8:36 PM on September 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


"A vote for Maria Bamford. What else could a unicorn sound like?"

Kristen Schaal.

I stand corrected.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:02 AM on September 5, 2011


I'm saddened that it needs saying, but Kristen Schaal is not a unicorn. Kristen Schaal is a horse.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:59 AM on September 5, 2011


I guess MY broadstrokes don't serve me to well. I don't necessarily think MJ is to Spidey as Gordon is to Batman, but that's nitpicky stuff. The thing is, does this picture somehow disservice MJ? I say meh, but then again I don't run a TumblrBlog devoted specifically to a that character.
It certainly isn't my place to tell someone whether they can take umbrage over something or not but certainly none of us here have the ability to give an equation on what makes something go viral. Or we'd all be high-fiving over recreations of this picture with cats. If someone basically writes "hey, she sits weird, that's sexist" kind of makes me go "?" NOT because of the latter, but because of the former. When the Wonder Woman thing came around I first found it a bit silly, but it definitely managed to make me ponder the subject matter. So I guess it's just my nitpicky thing about the usefulness of the tact, but I suppose if it gets eyes then it's a good thing.
Although I wouldn't say that it's a universal problem cortex, just a heckuva lot more endemic than people seem to realize.

On a side note, can someone please bring back the powerless mohawked punk Storm?
posted by P.o.B. at 9:27 AM on September 5, 2011


thing came around I first found it a bit silly

To clarify, posing the men as Wonder Woman was what I thought was silly. Wonder Woman as a waif phallicly holding her lasso was god-awfully ridiculous.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:32 AM on September 5, 2011


as far as I can tell, webmutant made 3 major changes ( leg position, adding a more realistic waist, and modifying the arm so it's not squeezing her boobs) and it makes a world of difference. It's still an immensely attractive MJ thinking about Spidey, but the drawing itself isn't distracting you thinking about what the hell the artist was thinking. webmutant's changes make her more realistic, and less crazy comic art, and it's great.
posted by garlic at 2:41 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't call Spiderman caught gleefully introducing himself precoital to a building as less crazy or great, but the fix to the 10 inch Jessica Rabbit waist does hope a bit. I mean as long as we're still not talking about a stereotypical female construct created and maintained to solely revolve around the male lead, yes it hopes a lot.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:26 PM on September 7, 2011


An as yet unknown artist created this version, which may be my favorite yet.
posted by bettafish at 6:37 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


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