This simple little test will avert endless future catastrophes
August 10, 2009 9:52 AM   Subscribe

The Adam Hughes Corollary to the Gene Siskel Movie Test - “Before making a movie based on a licensed property, ask yourself: is this movie going to be less entertaining than just Googling for Adam Hughes drawings of these same characters?”

Anatomy of a sketch 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Old Ben 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Adam Hughes' Donut
Just how hard is it to get an Adam Hughes sketch? 1, 2, 3, 4
posted by fearfulsymmetry (113 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Andy Ihnatko is one of my many Personal Saviors.
posted by SansPoint at 9:56 AM on August 10, 2009


You know, I often forget how many truly awful movies Roger Ebert has seen. I imagine being a critic of that caliber, with that level of fame, has its joys and all. But on the other hand, how horrible must it be to be however old he is, and to know that you don't want to see G.I. Joe, and to know that you've seen 3000+ other terrible action movie franchise reinventions, and to know that for 2 hours you're going to be unhappy for the millionth night of your life, and to know that you can't not go.

I imagine his many millions of dollars helps soothe the pain, but still.
posted by shmegegge at 10:16 AM on August 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


Wow, I'd forgotten about Andy Ihnatko. He was the only saving grace of whichever of those interchangeable Mac magazines it was that he used to write for.

Why isn't he on MeFi, anyway? Seems ripe for the joint.
posted by rokusan at 10:17 AM on August 10, 2009


Ebert's review of G.I. Joe is totally awesome!
posted by Mister_A at 10:17 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I mean, talk about your faint praise...
posted by Mister_A at 10:17 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


What Ebert describes is roughly all I want or expect out of a big, thunderous stupid summer superhero movie: Big, thunderous stupidity, superheroics, and the absence of Michael Bay.
posted by ardgedee at 10:24 AM on August 10, 2009


Wherever there is big, thunderous stupidity, there is Michael Bay.
posted by DU at 10:26 AM on August 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


I dunno, ardgedee. I might settle for that, but sometimes something like Iron Man comes along which makes me walk out with a big smile. They can be charming and lovely and make your imagination take off; they don't have to be so leaden.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:32 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


And, to this day I'll acknowledge that Electra was a very flawed movie, but still a much much better movie then it is given credit for. At its heart, it as a great movie; it just didn't always follow its heart.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:35 AM on August 10, 2009


I mentioned the lack of pyramids. We do, however, see the Eiffel Tower as it is eaten up by nano technology and topples over onto the Place la Condorde. Missiles also strike Mount Rushmore. No, wait! That was during one of the Coming Attractions!

Oh Roger, you're the greatest.
posted by shmegegge at 10:40 AM on August 10, 2009


"Ebert's review of G.I. Joe is totally awesome!"

Damn skippy! Here's a choice quote: "We thought ice floated in water but, no, you can see big falling ice chunks real good here."
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:41 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even within "big, thunderous stupidity, superheroics, and the absence of Michael Bay" there is good and bad. Michael Bay is proof of that. The problem isn't that he is named Michael Bay, the problem is that his movies are big, thunderous, stupid, heroic...and terrible.
posted by Bugbread at 10:43 AM on August 10, 2009


Has Adam Hughes ever seen an adult female? Because none of those drawings look like the adult females I've seen.
posted by DigDoug at 10:44 AM on August 10, 2009 [7 favorites]


From Ebert: "The two teams also each have a skilled Ninja fighter from Japan. Why is this, you might ask? Because Japan is a huge market for CGI animation and videogames, that's why. "

Wow. Ebert's old. I mean, not just old, but ancient wheezing dusty mummy old old. To old to comprehend what 80s nostalgia franchises are for, it seems like. The GI Joe movie has ninjas because there would be rioting in the streets if they left out the beloved Snake Eyes character, not because of Japanese market penetration. The Japanese have never heard of GI Joe and don't care about the franchise because they already had much better cartoons when the show was on.

The film is supposed to be full of tired 80s action tropes because that's what GI Joe was! No, that doesn't make it a good film, but not understanding that (or what the franchise is in the first place) leads to a poor understanding of the film and its intended value to the audience.

I generally like Ebert and he's rarely this clueless even about films that are clearly not intended for his consumption. But there are some things that he really needs to consult with someone younger than 50 on before writing in public.

Anyway, not to totally derail. Thanks for the link to Hughes' stuff. Good fun!
posted by majick at 10:45 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


So this is basically a very clever way of saying he likes the way Adam Hughes draws women. Got it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:48 AM on August 10, 2009


Has Adam Hughes ever seen an adult female? Because none of those drawings look like the adult females I've seen.

Yeah, I was trying to figure out if this post was supposed to be satire or what. The Ebert reviews are funny. The drawings are just...more superheroes. And I'm pretty sure there's a lot of high-school kids who could at least get the perspective right on their wank material.
posted by DU at 10:50 AM on August 10, 2009


So this is basically a very clever way of saying he likes the way Adam Hughes draws women. Got it.

Now if it were Art Adams...
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


What I'm getting from this is that Andy Ihnatko thinks bad action movies would be better if the actresses' breasts were even bigger.

Adam Hughes is the guy who designed that totally ridiculous Mary Jane maquette.
posted by painquale at 10:55 AM on August 10, 2009


Ebert's old. I mean, not just old, but ancient wheezing dusty mummy old old. To old to comprehend what 80s nostalgia franchises are for

In all fairness, I don't really think there is much nostalgia for ANYTHING in the G.I. Joe movie.
posted by hippybear at 10:57 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I confess: I enjoyed the bejesus out of GI Joe. It's the goofy, funny action movie that Transformers 2 wanted to be and failed miserably. It doesn't aim for grittiness or edginess... it's a live action Saturday morning cartoon.

Also, you can tell what the hell is going on in the action scenes, which, sad to say, goes a long way these days.
posted by brundlefly at 10:58 AM on August 10, 2009



You know, I often forget how many truly awful movies Roger Ebert has seen. I imagine being a critic of that caliber, with that level of fame, has its joys and all. But on the other hand, how horrible must it be to be however old he is, and to know that you don't want to see G.I. Joe, and to know that you've seen 3000+ other terrible action movie franchise reinventions, and to know that for 2 hours you're going to be unhappy for the millionth night of your life, and to know that you can't not go.



Didn't one of the MST3K guys say something like this a while back? That the reason it was fun to do was because they loved movies so much and now they have to, as a job, watch the worst movies anyone has ever made *over and over and over again* like some god damned Tragic Greek Irony or something.
posted by The Whelk at 10:58 AM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wish people would riot in the streets every time someone makes a crappy-assed Gen-X cultural masturbation movie (yeah that applies to Boomer cultural masturbation as well).


and, I agree... just seems like the fellow likes Ebert and likes drawings of comic book soft-core, the article was an attempt to meld the two together.
posted by edgeways at 10:58 AM on August 10, 2009


I think you kind of missed the point there, majick. He in no way meant that seriously - he was snarkily illustrating that characters are there for reasons that have nothing to do with the plot, and he's right.

And GI Joe is for the X-er audience, not everyone under 50. My brother-in-law and his girlfriend are in their early 20's, and had no idea who the hell Snake Eyes is apart from being a character in a movie.

A bad movie is a bad movie, regardless of how old you are.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:00 AM on August 10, 2009


"Has Adam Hughes ever seen an adult female? Because none of those drawings look like the adult females I've seen."

I don't think photorealism is what he's going for. Mike Mignola's art is great, yet nothing he draws looks like anything I've seen. If you mean to say "he's reinforcing unrealistic body images and misogynist tropes", then go ahead and say it, because "that doesn't look realistic" is kind of a silly thing to say about art in general, and especially in comic books with completely unrealistic plots, dialogue, and subject matter.
posted by Bugbread at 11:01 AM on August 10, 2009 [22 favorites]


And to be fair to Ebert, the link in the FPP is a bit misleading by characterizing all these tiny snippets as being "Ebert's review of Movie X". Ebert is nothing if not verbose in his writing, and these are, at best, tiny excerpts of the actual reviews.
posted by hippybear at 11:02 AM on August 10, 2009


Yeah, I picked up on that after a bit, hippybear. At first, I was like, "wow, that is his entire review of the movie? AWESOME!" Then I saw the rest and understood that these were excerpts.

Still, now I want to go read the rest of the review for G.I. Joe, after that little taste.
posted by Mister_A at 11:05 AM on August 10, 2009


A few corrections of misconceptions re: Adam Hughes and comics in general:

Has Adam Hughes ever seen an adult female?


Based on my experiences with comics conventions, I would say, "most assuredly!" I think that what might be throwing you for a loop here is a misunderstanding of the dark art of cartooning, in which drawings of humans and humanoid types are transformed via the eldritch fulminations of the artist's imagination into a more or less idealized state. One plucky young Minnesotan managed to get away with depicting every child in his strip as a sort of hydrocephalic for an entire half-century, believe it or not!

Also, the infamous Mary Jane maquette was based on an Adam Hughes drawing, and managed to lose almost 100% of the charm of the original in the translation.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:07 AM on August 10, 2009 [11 favorites]


Also bugbread, of course.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:08 AM on August 10, 2009


If you mean to say "he's reinforcing unrealistic body images and misogynist tropes", then go ahead and say it

Okay, but that doesn't have nearly the same ring to it.

To be fair, if you look through Adam Hughes' gallery on his site, his drawings of the Serenity crew don't look at all like his comic book women. So, sorry Mr. Hughes. I unfairly denigrated your talents based upon an unfair subset.
posted by DigDoug at 11:09 AM on August 10, 2009


The film is supposed to be full of tired 80s action tropes because that's what GI Joe was!

Unless you're arguing that it's secretly a comedy, which I have heard no one else suggests, sucking on purpose is not okay.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:14 AM on August 10, 2009


sucking on purpose is not okay

O RLY?
posted by Mister_A at 11:17 AM on August 10, 2009


Wow. Ebert's old. I mean, not just old, but ancient wheezing dusty mummy old old. To old to comprehend what 80s nostalgia franchises are for, it seems like.

I'm only 45 and maybe you consider that wheezing dusty old but I barely even remember the '80 generation of GI Joe. To me Joe was a bearded outdoor adventure guy with Jeeps and inflatable rafts, not some international superhero.
posted by octothorpe at 11:19 AM on August 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think he's saying "Ebert's not just too old to comprehend 80's nostalgia, but way too old to comprehend 80's nostalgia".
posted by Bugbread at 11:36 AM on August 10, 2009


To me Joe was a bearded outdoor adventure guy with Jeeps and inflatable rafts, not some international superhero.

Kung-fu grip, amirite? (In fact, my favorite incarnation of Joe is the one with the Mercury capsule. Still my most favorite toy.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:42 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Unless you're arguing that it's secretly a comedy, which I have heard no one else suggests, sucking on purpose is not okay.

I wouldn't say it's secretly a comedy. I would say it's very aware of what type of movie it is, and it has fun with it.
posted by brundlefly at 11:43 AM on August 10, 2009


I'm not going to go see GI Joe, cuz it looks god-awful, but I don't feel like beating up on it too badly, either. This film's creators had the unenviable, nigh-impossible task of translating a cartoon that throbbed with far more relentless eighties radness than live-action could contain. Nothing in the trailers suggests to me that the film managed to brings across the FUCKYEAHJETPACKS vibe of the eighties version, but I'm not sure it could have been done in the first place.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:45 AM on August 10, 2009


you know, Kennedy's famous speech about going to the moon is funnier than I recalled it being. Although it makes sense within the context of his Mt. Everest reference, it cracks me up to hear him say "well space is there, and we're going to climb it."
posted by shmegegge at 11:47 AM on August 10, 2009


Adam Hughes is several flavors of awesome. He's taken some Maxfield Parrish lessons, too, I see. Even better.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:53 AM on August 10, 2009


Wow, Norman Rockwell is back from the dead and is a tremendous nerd. Awesome!
posted by CaseyB at 11:59 AM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Weird how the post is very Adam Hughes-centric but all the comments, mostly from people not into comics, are Roger Ebert-centric. Except for the people bad-mouthing Adam Hughes for not being photo-realistic. The guy is very good at capturing the spirit of licensed material. And drawing extremely curvy superwomen.

Hughes sketches are in high demand and because the guy works so slow they're hard to come by. Me, I got mine back in '92 back before he was "AH!" It's of Indiana Jones smugly holding on to the Rocketeer's rocket pack, showing the world who's really the king of Nazi-punching summer blockbusters.
posted by thecjm at 12:00 PM on August 10, 2009


MetaFilter: Extremely Curvy Superwomen.
posted by Mister_A at 12:07 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure nobody expects art in general or comic books in particular to be photo-realistic. The point is that comic books (at least superhero comic books) present a uniform and unrealistic portrait. The fact that one defender here calls it an "idealized" form of women is pretty revealing.

If he's mocking or stylizing the form, it's subtly enough that I'm not sensing any tongue in the cheek (TWSS).
posted by DU at 12:12 PM on August 10, 2009


Me, I got mine back in '92 back before he was "AH!" It's of Indiana Jones smugly holding on to the Rocketeer's rocket pack, showing the world who's really the king of Nazi-punching summer blockbusters.

Oh those happy days before the fridge...
posted by Artw at 12:29 PM on August 10, 2009


I wish people would riot in the streets every time someone makes a crappy-assed Gen-X cultural masturbation movie

The 80s GI Joe cartoon is *not* part of the Gen-X cultural DNA - it's Gen Y. I watched it after school (along with He Man and Transformers) in junior high, mainly because my best friend's little brother watched it.

As others have said above, my GI Joe had kung-fu grip and flew a Capture Copter. I also had these Viewmaster GI Joe reels.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:38 PM on August 10, 2009


The guy is very good at capturing the spirit of licensed material. And drawing extremely curvy superwomen.

They're not curvy - they just have big boobs. They've got no hips! That's what I don't like. I prefer my unrealistic superwomen to have some junk in the trunk.

Adam Hughes is the guy who designed that totally ridiculous Mary Jane maquette.

Don't all women stick their asses out when hand-washing their boyfriend's superhero costumes? I know I do. Yeah, I've permanently damaged my spine, but it's totally worth it for the hot.
posted by Evangeline at 12:39 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


You go out with Aquaman, right?
posted by Mister_A at 12:41 PM on August 10, 2009


You go out with Aquaman, right?

Why, have you seen him? If you see him you tell him to get the hell home. I'm not buying that "working late at the office" shit anymore.
posted by Evangeline at 12:45 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I'm pretty sure nobody expects art in general or comic books in particular to be photo-realistic. The point is that comic books (at least superhero comic books) present a uniform and unrealistic portrait."

That's why the whole "I don't know anyone who looks like that" argument is silly. Say what you mean, or sarcastically say the inverse, but don't make a random unrelated complaint. What's the thought process there? "I dislike A, so instead of saying I dislike A, or sarcastically saying I love A, instead I'll say I dislike B, and trust that since people often complain about A, folks will realize I don't really have a problem with B, but with A". That way lies madness.

I mean, it's not like we don't understand it. Sure, it communicates. Btu so does riting misspeled stuff w lots uv abbreviations and l33t speek, but we try 2 avoid that, becuz it's annoying to put the burden of deciphering on the reader instead of the writer just being clear in the first place.
posted by Bugbread at 12:48 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well I thought it was him, but it was someone else in an orange suit talking to this whale. Pretty sure it was Nauticus or Littoron.
posted by Mister_A at 12:54 PM on August 10, 2009


I don't know, dude. It seems to me like you're maybe getting in a big huff here over something kind of reasonable. I mean, sure it would be more direct to say "I think his portraits of these ficitonal women are unreasonably proportioned and present a negative body image of women," but language is mutable and varied for a reason. She wasn't exactly hiding her meaning or advancing the cause of obfuscation and/or ignorance, you know? As you said, her meaning was perfectly clear, and her phrasing was nowhere near as obnoxious as the misspellings of l33t speak tend to be. what's the big deal?
posted by shmegegge at 12:58 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


The GI Joe movie has ninjas because there would be rioting in the streets if they left out the beloved Snake Eyes character, not because of Japanese market penetration.

When I was a kid collecting GI Joe action figures, it took me years to track down Snake Eyes. I would hunt for him in every toy store like twice a month at least, going through all the Joes and tediously looking behind each figure, all the way to the back of the display. I never understood why he was so hard to find considering he was like the most badass, sought-after Joe there was. Maybe that was Hasbro's M.O. -- scarcity to drive up his mystique and demand. Did anyone else have this experience? I finally found him one day in a KB Toys store and I couldn't believe it. I was like finding the Grail. He looked like this and he came with a wolf.
posted by That takes balls. at 1:00 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Evangeline - go easy on the poor fella. Dude's dead and a Black Lantern zombie right now, so he probably won't be making it home in time for dinner anytime soon.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:01 PM on August 10, 2009


Aw, hell.
posted by Evangeline at 1:03 PM on August 10, 2009


Man, am I the only one who can't wait for the My Two Dads movie?
posted by heathkit at 1:05 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't feel bad - he's just caught up in a summer crossover. It happens to a lot of guys.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:06 PM on August 10, 2009


The Japanese have never heard of GI Joe and don't care about the franchise because they already had much better cartoons when the show was on.

If they haven't heard of GI Joe, it wasn't from a lack of effort by Hasbro or Marvel. In 1986, Hasbro released 24 G.I.Joe action figures in Japan. It was released in Japan by Sunbow as "Chijô Saikyô No Expert Team G.I. Joe" and dubbed into Japanese.

Random trivia: Here's a profile page of the various voice-over actors who did the American version.
posted by zarq at 1:06 PM on August 10, 2009


If we're going to be posting links to unrealisitic images, I'm going to put on my gander hat and suggest that someone link to Tom of Finland.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:07 PM on August 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm only 45 and maybe you consider that wheezing dusty old but I barely even remember the '80 generation of GI Joe. To me Joe was a bearded outdoor adventure guy with Jeeps and inflatable rafts, not some international superhero.

And why that era of GI Joe hasn't been "revived" seems really shortsighted, but also is a blessing of sorts. Back in the 80's when the little tiny GI Joe's that the new movie is based on came out, I was just old enough to scoff at it for not being the real thing.

Has there ever been a bettter toy marketing gimmick than "kung fu grip"?

A bit of an aside...For those who would get their jabs in at Michael Bay, according to his blog over at Michaelbay.com,Transformers 2 has cracked the top ten all time domestic gross, therefore proving that all the "haters" (his words, notmine) were wrong after all. He also has some dubious polling numbers that prove that his movie was better than Star Trek. Which hurts my theory that he knows his movies are dumb.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:29 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"When I was a kid collecting GI Joe action figures, it took me years to track down Snake Eyes...I never understood why he was so hard to find considering he was like the most badass, sought-after Joe there was. Maybe that was Hasbro's M.O. -- scarcity to drive up his mystique and demand. Did anyone else have this experience?"

I did too, but you're missing the obvious explanation: unlike other figures, he was the most sought-out Joe there was. That's why he was the hardest to find. I don't think it was scarcity to drive up mystique and demand as much as them manufacturing the same number of each Joe, and thus useless Joes sitting on the shelf easy to find while the valued Joes sold out fast.

"It seems to me like you're maybe getting in a big huff here over something kind of reasonable... As you said, her meaning was perfectly clear, and her phrasing was nowhere near as obnoxious as the misspellings of l33t speak tend to be. what's the big deal?"

Yeah, I was thinking after I wrote that "Does this sound huffier than I really feel?" but decided I was worrying about nothing. Turns out my first instinct was right, I really did sound huffier than I am. Dunno about the obnoxiousness compared to the leet speak. They both hit me as equally annoying. But not enough to be actually angry about; that was just me not expressing myself well.
posted by Bugbread at 1:44 PM on August 10, 2009


I thought that GI Joe movie was ok, but not great. It wasn't any good (clearly) but it was miles from being so-bad-it's-good. Please understand that this was in the context of having spent the three prior hours drinking extremely good beer at the Goose Island brew pub. In addition, I had a bottle of Gentleman Jack in the theatre with me. My friend on my right had a bottle of twelve-year-old Macallan (I don't know why he thought that was an appropriate place to drink good scotch).

My point is that we were prepared for a silly, explody movie. I was very drunk, and I still thought it was a bit meh. It really seemed like a generic action movie script into which someone had cut-and-pasted the names of some GI Joe characters. There were no red lasers, no blue lasers, no B.A.T.s, no planes exploding as COBRA operatives parachute out at the last minute, nothing.

We all stayed until the tail end, hoping for at least a funny after-credits scene--myself, I think that if after the movie was done and the credits had finished they had a scene with Duke instructing some kids about the dangers of crossing the street or something, "And knowing is half the battle. GI JOE!", it would almost have salvaged the movie. But no, nothing.

Although the first time that Joseph Gordon-Levitt appeared with his mask+monocle thingie, my girlfriend leaned over and snarled "I've got all five senses and I slept last night, that puts me six up against the lot of you." So that was fun...
posted by Squid Voltaire at 1:46 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


this is the problem with Michael Bay. He only trusts ticket sales. He doesn't care what anyone could possibly say about his movies, or any facet of his movies. If you met him in person and tried to talk to him about the glaring plot holes, or the obfuscatory special fx, or the sexism or the racism, he wouldn't care. He'd go "$60 million dollar opening weekend," and consider the argument over. That his movies are successful because they pander to the ignorant and stupid (namely: tweens and teens) doesn't matter.

This is, by the way, also why some people consider buying a ticket to a Michael Bay movie a kind of mortal sin. The idea that, by purchasing a movie ticket, you're contributing to these insanely high sales figures that he uses to prop himself up as a movie maker is difficult to bear if you hate his movies and attitude that much. I don't personally care if people go see his movies. but it does bother the shit out of me that he makes the kind of money he does when I hear people saying "yeah, I know it'll be stupid. but you gotta see the spectacle, you know?" or "yeah, but sometimes you want to see a stupid movie." I mean, I get that people feel that way, and I'd never tell them they're wrong to see the movie, but jesus do I wish that fucker didn't have the ticket sales to lean on when confronted with how terrible his movies are. I wish that the stupidity weren't a selling point and that ticket sales really did reflect movie quality so that he'd be a pauper.
posted by shmegegge at 1:47 PM on August 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's funny, you never hear anyone complain that men are drawn in a completely unrealistic manner in comics and it's just as true. Most comic book males have no apparent genitalia, their heads are way too small and their hands also tend to be larger than average (at least). But, I'm not really interested in the idea of see Captain America with a beer gut and a bulging crotch, although I could see where certain market segments might find that more attractive than others.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:55 PM on August 10, 2009


It's funny, you never hear anyone complain that men are drawn in a completely unrealistic manner in comics and it's just as true.

you don't? god, I hear it all the time. hell, I say it myself.
posted by shmegegge at 2:06 PM on August 10, 2009


It's funny, you never hear anyone complain that men are drawn in a completely unrealistic manner in comics

... cough cough Rob Liefeld cough
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:10 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Doc_Neg:
"men are drawn in a completely unrealistic manner ..."

Girls Read Comics has a pretty good rebuttal to that. What's more, that phrase is the center square of their Anti-Comics-Feminist Bingo board.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 2:11 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ooh, a bingo card! That's sure to have good points!

Yes! You are right! Nowhere but in comics or other carefully controlled media does one find such stunning physical specimens of manhood. Comic book guys often have symmetrical features, are well- (often over-) muscled and are generally good looking.

However, you don’t find many of them striding along in bathing suits and high-heeled boots, wrenching their backs out as they hurl their hips around and thrust their tumescent, massive penises and firmly rounded butts at the reader.

Why? Because that would look ridiculous. So why isn’t it ridiculous when it’s done to female characters?


I'm guessing that "because sometimes it looks good" is not an answer they are looking for?
posted by Artw at 2:25 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


(of course no one can really accuse Liefeld of giving his characters massively endowed pants areas, since they all seem to suffer from some kind of weird flat-crotch disease)
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on August 10, 2009


When I was a kid collecting GI Joe action figures, it took me years to track down Snake Eyes. I would hunt for him in every toy store like twice a month at least, going through all the Joes and tediously looking behind each figure, all the way to the back of the display. I never understood why he was so hard to find

*cough* arashikage training *cough*
posted by juv3nal at 2:33 PM on August 10, 2009 [8 favorites]


So why isn’t it ridiculous when it’s done to female characters?

dunno!
posted by @troy at 2:41 PM on August 10, 2009


I'm not totally sure how to take your comment, ArtW. Are you saying that the women being good looking and erotically posed is ok because they're good looking? or are you saying it's okay because the art is aesthetically pleasing outside of its objectification? are you saying it's not objectification? are you not really disagreeing with what they're saying? i'm not sure what you're getting at.
posted by shmegegge at 2:44 PM on August 10, 2009


I can think of about a hundred different comic artists who are straight-up bad at drawing women, but Adam Hughes isn't one of them. A lot of the ladies on the first link are eye-candy sex-objects, but they're also differentiated, which is, I think, the worst thing superhero comic artists' depictions of women -- that they have one basic "woman" shape, and just change the colors of the outfits. Women, in the hands of a truly shitty superhero-artist (like Liefeld), are simply interchangeable things with boobs and maybe feet if the artist doesn't get all bored by the time he's finished drawing the boobs part.

But looking at these, I don't think it's the drawing part that's at fault; it's the writing (and underlying patriarchal consumerism that sees a profit in wish-fulfillment) that asks for the art to be that way. Catwoman's whole schtick is that she's a Sexy Thief. The Baroness is a Femme Fatale. Mary Jane is a Useless Love Interest. Hughes sexes them up accordingly. Where Hughes is given a different type, though (like Scarlet as Militaristic Tech-Hero, or Mina as Victim of Dracula, or Elektra as Muscled Killer), he gives them very different looks. There are a lot of awful gender issues underlying those characters, but I hesitate to say that they're the fault of Adam Hughes; dude is working with what he's been given. It's just that what he's been given is a bunch of easily-sellable pubescent male fantasies.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:48 PM on August 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Yes! You are right! Nowhere but in comics or other carefully controlled media does one find such stunning physical specimens of manhood. Comic book guys often have symmetrical features, are well- (often over-) muscled and are generally good looking.

This has been covered adequately before, but "bricks" in comic books are often so grotesquely masculinized, they're inhuman. Nowhere does the feminization and sexualization of female characters approach it. But hey, I don't have a bingo card, so what do I know.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:49 PM on August 10, 2009


Women, in the hands of a truly shitty superhero-artist (like Liefeld), are simply interchangeable things with boobs and maybe feet if the artist doesn't get all bored by the time he's finished drawing the boobs part.

For Liefeld, boobs and feets are oftentimes interchangeable. And pouches.
posted by juv3nal at 2:51 PM on August 10, 2009


Oh, wow. I made the comment about female superheroes being interchangeable things-with-boobs before I even clicked on the YouTube link, in which Hughes is asked by a fan to draw "any female character". Goodness.

And to Hughes's credit, his finished Supergirl is at least in a position that suggests flight and power -- attributes of the character rather than a lump of sexy flesh for us to Mulvey at. I ain't saying the dude is like the number one champion of feminism, but he's worlds better than a bunch of other superhero artists I can think of.

And pouches.

ALWAYS UNLIMITED POUCHES
posted by Greg Nog at 2:56 PM on August 10, 2009


This GI Joe movie made me deeply nostalgic for the 80s, and also the 90s, and actually the entire epoch during which this movie did not exist
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:57 PM on August 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm not totally sure how to take your comment, ArtW. Are you saying that the women being good looking and erotically posed is ok because they're good looking? or are you saying it's okay because the art is aesthetically pleasing outside of its objectification? are you saying it's not objectification? are you not really disagreeing with what they're saying? i'm not sure what you're getting at.

I dunno, I mean, is this art that to you looks as inherently ridiculous as it's supposed equivalent (a man in high heels with a huge wang) does? Because to me it doesn't. It looks kind of cool in fact. Now, apply that to the weird looking Mary Jane by the same artist and it may indeed start looking as ridiculous. What have we learned from this? I have no idea, except possibly that bingo cards are not helpful to conversations in the slightest.
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on August 10, 2009


Also, that's... a really unusual style those Serenity characters are done in.
I'm not sure what to make of it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:00 PM on August 10, 2009


I have no idea, except possibly that bingo cards are not helpful to conversations in the slightest.

Your bingo card criticism just happens to be on my collateral attack keno ticket which contributes the final digit to my 6/49 evasive debating Powerball asshat white elephant draw.

Bully for me.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:05 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


"*cough* arashikage training *cough*"

Matt needs to implement some sort of parallel "Superfavorite" system, where you only flag one comment per day as "Superfavorite", for the really great favorites.

"It's funny, you never hear anyone complain that men are drawn in a completely unrealistic manner in comics

... cough cough Rob Liefeld cough"


Well, to be fair, I think the argument is that "you never hear anyone complain that men are drawn in a completely unrealistic manner in comics by folks with drawing ability". After all, nobody on either side here is saying that Adam Hughes draws women badly because he's a bad artist. That's what Liefeld complaints consist of.

The Girls Read Comments rebuttal is a mixed bag. You do see guys in bathing suits. Or, rather, you see them in full body spandex which shows every curve and ripple of muscle. On the other hand, they're right, you don't see them doing the sexual poses that the female characters do. And it argues that women are shown as looking sexy more than looking strong (when generally they're meant to be depicting very strong people). That's true (er, well, except maybe She-hulk and a few others). So that's a good point. But, on the other hand, it says that men are depicted as strong, not sexy. Really? I'm straight, but I have to say that most mainstream comic book male characters seem depicted as strong and sexy to me (with, again, exceptions like the Hulk, the Thing, etc.) So that's a bad point.

The thing is, they have a good point. Strong female characters aren't drawn as strong, even if they are. Strong male characters are always drawn as strong. Definitely unequal. And female characters are shown in sexy poses, while men aren't. Definitely unequal. It's a shame they had to mix those other items in, because it just makes the people to whom they're trying to make their point ignore them.
posted by Bugbread at 3:09 PM on August 10, 2009


"This has been covered adequately before, but "bricks" in comic books are often so grotesquely masculinized, they're inhuman."

Actually, this kind of edge case is also informative. When men in comics are depicted as incredibly strong, they're generally depicted as monstrous (with exceptions like Superman). It's not important, at that point, for the male character to remain sexy. With women, though, even when they're supposed to be incredibly strong, they Must. Remain. Sexy. (I'm specifically thinking of the "sexy bodybuilder" look of She-Hulk, as opposed to the lumbering mountain of muscle look of He-Hulk).
posted by Bugbread at 3:12 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I mean, is this art that to you looks as inherently ridiculous as it's supposed equivalent (a man in high heels with a huge wang) does?

it's a fair point. the way I've come to think of it, though, is that I've been raised to see these depictions as normal. If some character goes running around in a glorified bikini sticking her ass and breasts out in every pose she adopts, I've grown up seeing that in comics. by the time someone pointed out to me that it was an objectified depiction of these women, the idea that this was how comic women looked was already pretty deeply ingrained in my expectations, you know? but of course this is a pose rogue would be making! but when I really look at the art I grew up thinking of as normal, I have to admit that even artists I still respect have put women in unnecessarily skimpy clothes and unrealistic but erotic poses. I mean, I don't think you have to say "artist x is sexist" every time you see the art taking on these characteristics, but on the other hand you can't deny the objectification just because artist x isn't a sexist.

but the truth is, I think that site could have explained their point a little better, too. I don't think they're wrong, per se, but I find their focus curious. To my mind, sexism and objectification isn't necessarily about compare/contrast. it doesn't have to be different treatment from men to be sexism or objectification. it is perfectly logical to say "you're right, men are drawn in unrealistic and problematically 'idealized' ways, too. but that doesn't make either okay." the objectification of women isn't a problem because you wouldn't look at men that way. it's a problem no matter how you look at men. it's a problem because it makes women objects for the lust of their viewer instead of people. this is true no matter how comics also portray men.
posted by shmegegge at 3:20 PM on August 10, 2009


but of course this is a pose rogue would be making!

Call me weird, but to me the nipples there seem like a bit of a tip off that things have gone a bit too far.
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on August 10, 2009


When men in comics are depicted as incredibly strong, they're generally depicted as monstrous (with exceptions like Superman). It's not important, at that point, for the male character to remain sexy.

Yet it used to be standard fare to hear argued that any emphasis on a given attribute is "reducing" a woman to that attribute. Comics tend to require sexiness in female characters, yes. So in most cases it needs to be sexiness + whatever other attributes they want the character to have. Bricks, on the other hand, truly reduce the character to the attribute. Monstrous, as you say. Strength at the expense of recognizable humanity. Nothing else required. Well, we haven't seen the advent of the walking vagina with breasts quite yet.

The thing is, they have a good point. Strong female characters aren't drawn as strong, even if they are.

I personally would like to see some female heroes/superheroes that look like bodybuilders. There is absolutely no reason why not. I can't be the only male who thinks scrawny girls kicking ass is worth nothing better than an eye roll.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:26 PM on August 10, 2009


Here. This woman should be a fricking superhero.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:28 PM on August 10, 2009


It's funny, you never hear anyone complain that men are drawn in a completely unrealistic manner in comics.

I think every eight-year old boy had body issues thanks to comics, actually.

(And those ads with that asshole kicking sand in the poor nerd's face didn't help either!)
posted by rokusan at 3:40 PM on August 10, 2009


Durn:

This will seem like a big ole tangent, BUT:

The husband of a famous actress in Japan, last week, got arrested for meth possession. The woman disappeared with her son, presumably to avoid getting urine tested until her body had flushed out the meth. The internet was all over her for getting her son involved in her crime by taking him as she fled the police. Then her son was found to be in the safe care of one of the actresses friends. At which point the internet was all over her for ditching her son. That seems like a frustrating contradiction, but then you realize what was probably happening: it was different people complaining about the first item than the second.

In this case, too, I think the folks who are arguing about attribute reductionism are probably not the same folks arguing about sexyposin'. Well, they'd probably overlap if all the women were being reduced to walking vaginas with breasts, but otherwise the groups are probably separate. I, for one, would think it was cool if less women were sexualized in comics (it isn't that I don't think there should be sexy characters, but that shouldn't be the de facto depiction. Two or three sexpots and two or three hunks per comic universe would be sufficient). But I wouldn't really care if men and women were drawn as mountains of muscles when strong, or with giant heads if smart, or the like.
posted by Bugbread at 3:41 PM on August 10, 2009


I'm down with that, bugbread. It's just that the standard criticism I hear about female comic characters is their "lack of realism", not sexyposin, per se. And that criticism just doesn't hold any water when compared to their male counterparts, because of that reductionist aspect. That someone wanting to criticize sexyposing doesn't want to go there because it's a losing argument, well, that's not my problem.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:48 PM on August 10, 2009


I did too, but you're missing the obvious explanation: unlike other figures, he was the most sought-out Joe there was. That's why he was the hardest to find. I don't think it was scarcity to drive up mystique and demand as much as them manufacturing the same number of each Joe, and thus useless Joes sitting on the shelf easy to find while the valued Joes sold out fast.

I've considered that explanation and it just didn't add up to me. I lived two blocks away from a toy store so I used to walk there like every week checking to see if they had Snakes Eyes and they never did for years. That's pretty diligent searching and I seriously doubt that as soon as a batch came in, every kid in town immediately knew and went to the store and bought one (this was before the days of the internets or cell phones). I grew up in a mid-sized town. That's why I'm suspicious that maybe Hasbro just didn't ship them out as often as your Destros or Dukes or other useless Joes. It took years of constant searching through several toy stores to finally get one. He was the only one that was impossible to find. I just can't imagine that demand for him was that high. But I'm glad to know that he was scarce everywhere and that others shared the same experience searching for him that I had. I always wondered about that.

*cough* arashikage training *cough*

I knew someone was gonna make a joke like that, that it's because he's a ninja or something that he was so hard to find. :)
posted by That takes balls. at 3:49 PM on August 10, 2009


Metafilter: comic relief, says black stuff.
posted by spicynuts at 4:00 PM on August 10, 2009


One of my fond childhood memories is memorizing the opening song to the G.I. Joe movie and singing it--in harmony--with my older brother. True story.
posted by schroedinger at 4:00 PM on August 10, 2009


That takes balls, hear my tale and weep with me:

I looked for that Snake Eyes forever (the same one, with the wolf). Couldn't find it anywhere. Then, one day, in a little run-down supermarket, I find it. The holy grail. One Snake Eyes. I ask my mom, "Please, can you buy this for me??" and, surprisingly, she says yes. I am ecstatic. I put Snake Eyes in the cart and wander around the store while my mom finishes her shopping. We go out, get into the car, and drive away. When we get home, we take the groceries out of the trunk and I immediately start looking for Snake Eyes...but I can't find him anywhere.

Me: "Mom, where's the action figure we bought? I can't find it."

Mom: "Oh, I thought that was just a momentary impulse, and that you would just forget about it in a few minutes. I didn't buy it, I left it at the store."

She couldn't understand why I was so upset after that. A few weeks later, I had a chance to go to that store again, but, needless to say, Snake Eyes was gone.
posted by Bugbread at 4:07 PM on August 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


The funny thing about Ebert is that he will always review a movie on its own terms.... so if a movie is a summer action movie, he won't criticize it for using unsophisticated language or not having a complicated plot. He'll review it in terms of whether it did a good job of being a summer action movie. This does, at times, lead him astray (eg, his positive reviews of Episode I and Brick). What it does mean is that if he doesn't like a summer blockbuster action movie, then it needs to be really bad.
posted by deanc at 4:09 PM on August 10, 2009


Eh? what's wrong with Brick?
posted by Artw at 4:11 PM on August 10, 2009


My favorite Adam Hughes cover, which--boobs aside--I find to be a really stunning portrait of defiance and frustration.

I wish I were joking about this: I liked it so much that I saved a copy to my hard drive, but I was so irritated by Hughes' juvenile pop culture reference--those are the Lost numbers on the placard--that I opened it up in Photoshop and moved some of the numbers around because I knew it was going to distract me forever. I hope those five minutes don't come back to haunt me on my deathbed.
posted by Ian A.T. at 4:34 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Eh? what's wrong with Brick?

Absolutely Nothing.
posted by The Whelk at 4:38 PM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I used to buy my GI Joe figures at Consumers Distributing. You'd get all excited by the selection in the catalogue, fill out a form, and the guy at the counter would go in the back for 5 minutes before coming out and telling you they didn't have the one you wanted. Sigh.

I ended up having quite an extensive collection of figures by the time I was 13 or so. Recently I was at the Silver Snail comic store in Toronto and they had a little display, featuring many of the "vintage" figures that I had assiduously collected -- priced at about $20 each. Sadly, the last time I saw my collection it looked like it had been savaged by wolves... my little cousins were not so careful as I was. (Although I confess many of the broken thumbs were my fault... crazy glue never quite worked to fix them).

I also collected the Marvel comics for several years and from what I've heard about this movie, I think they should have had Larry Hama write it.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:55 PM on August 10, 2009


sevenyearlurk - as I understand it, they at least had Hama available as a consultant. We have him to thank for the fact that Snake Eyes never spoke, not even giving some grim/snappy one-liner towards the end. So be thankful for small miracles, I guess.

I think you're dead right, though. Larry Hama should have written the entire script. Likewise, Simon Furman should have been the sole screenwriter for Transformers. And Michael Bay should get hit by a bus. Or, better yet, a big red semi with absolutely no flames painted on it.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:31 PM on August 10, 2009


Kung Fu Grip? No way - that was Action Man...

/googles

OMG - It was the same damn thing! I never knew that until today. Although Kung Fu Grip technology was british - just for the record.
posted by Sparx at 6:44 PM on August 10, 2009


Also from what I can tell the 80s GI Joes are actually Action Force.
posted by Artw at 6:48 PM on August 10, 2009


Blood for the Baron!
posted by Artw at 6:52 PM on August 10, 2009


Hey guys, I really need to critique some more pictures of Rogue and Catwoman. Help a brotha out.
posted by Mister_A at 7:49 PM on August 10, 2009


Mister_A - Rogue, by Chris Bachalo and Catwoman by Darwyn Cooke. Critique away!
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:25 PM on August 10, 2009


Okay, I hate to bust up this GI Joe funfest with links, but even if you're not a Homestar Runner fan, you might appreciate the Cheat Commandos...BUY ALL OUR PLAYSETS AND TOYS! One of my favorite parodies on the internet, and that's sayin' somethin'!
posted by antonymous at 9:57 PM on August 10, 2009


I mean, I don't think you have to say "artist x is sexist" every time you see the art taking on these characteristics

Yes you do.
posted by tzikeh at 11:01 PM on August 10, 2009


I hope you Americans realise that your Ebert is a god damn national treasure? Being Norwegian, I first discovered him a couple of years ago, and have been reading his reviews and articles ever since.
posted by Harald74 at 1:26 AM on August 11, 2009


Does anyone have a counter-example of what women or men "should" be drawn like in comics? It makes me think of one of the mini-comic in Johnny the Homocidal Maniac where extradimensional aliens examine the overly muscled men and top-heavy women of superherodom. Of course, all of Mr. Vasquez's characters look like square heads attached to pipe cleaners.
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:58 AM on August 11, 2009


runcibleshaw - I think Bryan Hitch does a good job of drawing fit, athletic characters without turning them into hypersexualized embarrassments.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:37 AM on August 11, 2009


Uck ... Vasquez ... the definition of an overrated cartoonist.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:38 AM on August 11, 2009


"Mister_A - Rogue, by Chris Bachalo"

Omg! When I first met my boyfriend he had that a a poster on his wall, and I still love it! Rogue's costume, her pose, the solid look and feel of the chain links, all so cool.

Man!

Where'd that poster go, I wonder?

Also, fun thread to read, y'all.
posted by kavasa at 2:52 AM on August 11, 2009


runcibleshaw: "Does anyone have a counter-example of what women or men "should" be drawn like in comics?"

I don't know if I'd say men and women in comics "should" look like this, but I'm much happier with the people drawn in Love and Rockets. as a ferinstance.
posted by shmegegge at 7:30 AM on August 11, 2009


Also answering runcibleshaw's question: In an ideal universe, the only artist to ever have drawn Generation X should have been Jim Mahfood. That said, the art that works for the confused-teenager superhero group isn't really appropriate for Kirbyesque Space God Fantasies, so I can't say there's any one "should" for all superhero comics.

But man, look at those images. In the first one (the official cover to Generation X #1), Skin is a monstrous creature, cursed by deformity, like EVERY OTHER fucking Marvel character with a penchant for introverted brow-furrowing. In Mahfood's edition, he's just some dude from the barrio, dealing with his life. In the official cover, Husk is a sexy shiny-clad glossy-lipped boobmaiden, her head tilted at a MySpacey angle; in Mahfood's version, she just looks like a high-school-aged girl. In the original cover, Chamber looks all squinty and determined and Omega-level, Blessed Yet Cursed With A Power That Is Beyond Reckoning; in the other, he looks like a nineteen-year-old who is just sick and tired of being literally unable to speak.

The Skin portrayal is the one that I'm most interested in, I think, 'cause I thought the character had the potential to be just fantastic. Like with Cipher in the New Mutants, I dig the idea that some mutant powers are simply going to be kind of a letdown. For as much angsty mileage as X-Men writers get from the fact that Rogue can never feel the kiss of another person, at the end of the day, she's still able to fly and rip cars in half. But Skin? He can't even do that; dude just... has a lot of skin. That's a rough fucking "power".

It sucks that the Marvel writers never figured out what to do with him, so he ended up becoming merely a boring secondary token-ethnicity character that got killed off to ennoble the main characters. It seems like all they had was a broad stereotype of a latino gangbanger who was Rejcted By The Very World He Was Trying To Save. At least Mahfood gave the guy some interests, and acknowledged that he might actually be emotionally-functional enough to be happy on occasion.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:41 AM on August 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have a counter-example of what women or men "should" be drawn like in comics?

Moore, Ha & Cannon's original Top 10 series, which was set in a city where everyone was a superhero, had an interesting variety of body types, some in costumes that their physiques were completely unsuited for. The closest to the superheroine cheesecake type was Girl 1, who was genetically engineered by a couple of superannuated fanboy types; at her funeral, they pestered her colleagues on the police force as to what they thought of her body--"Seriously, her boobs, too big? Too small?"
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:44 AM on August 11, 2009


Oh, fuck, and yeah, actually: Zander Cannon in general. I remember there was a little discussion in one of his Replacement God letter-columns about how his main female protagonist had hairy armpits. He was basically like, "Dude, it's a medieval fantasy world, no one shaves their pits"

And in a lot of his Top 10 art (the Smax miniseries in particular), Cannon's really good at stressing the ridiculousness of the hyper-muscled straining-tendoned superhero body by putting them next to pretty ordinary people. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any images of Rexa and Toybox next to each other from the Smax miniseries, but that's the clearest example I can come up with of an artist who's able to make things heroic-and-sexy or completely humdrum, depending on what the situation requires.

God damn, I love Zander Cannon. Why that man is not lauded like Frank Miller or Garth Ennis is completely beyond me.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:59 AM on August 11, 2009


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