Not the shirtless She-Hulk you were expecting
April 24, 2013 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Little Girls R Better at Designing Superheroes Than You is a (sparsely populated) Tumblr with illustrations based on little girls in superhero costumes, by Eyeburst. posted by camcgee (45 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
"Power Girl's tit window" LMFAO

Sparsely populated is too true, though. :(
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:51 PM on April 24, 2013

My daughter (6, loves superheroes), thought this was great. Especially Lil' Green Lantern's dog.

It is actually hard to find good superhero shows with admirable female stars for her to watch as an occasional treat/bad parenting moment (Wordgirl excepted). So far the best one is Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, from the early 1980s, which features Firestar. It is kind of amazing realizing how much superheroes are supposed to be a boy thing, even though they are now pretty ubiquitous in pop culture.

At a recent superhero-themed birthday party, the boys were given superhero themed gift bags, and the girls Barbie-themed ones. Leaving aside the potentially upsetting gendering issues, why are the no superheroes that are branded for girls? It's either princesses/fairies (and some of the princess stuff works for her, some doesn't) or nothing....
posted by blahblahblah at 4:03 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah -- I've heard Power Girl is actually supposed to be pretty good, but I find it really hard to get past the whole design that seems to be Pure Objectification. (The thing I saw about the meaning of the Tit Window being that that's where a symbol goes to represent what she is/she's fighting for, but she hasn't found her Cause/Meaning/Whatever yet and thus it represents Nothing... just seems... like, I don't know, nice try for covering up? Wouldn't just not having a symbol on the spandex do/mean the same thing? Otherwise it looks like her Cause/Meaning/Whatever is extreeeeem cleavage.)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 4:03 PM on April 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

(or, the "0" that was on Otra's shirt in Josh Lesnick's comic Girly. That was given roughtly the same explanation, and is way less... uncomfortable.)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 4:06 PM on April 24, 2013

Love it. Now if the artist could just draw more that weren't super-skinny and/or huge-titted. Ballerina Hulk is a great start.
posted by cairdeas at 4:09 PM on April 24, 2013

More bodies based on bodies of world-class athletes, like male superhero bodies are, rather than on bodies of supermodels.
posted by cairdeas at 4:14 PM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

To me it looks like she based the bodies of her drawings on the bodies of the girls in the photos.
posted by sciurus at 4:23 PM on April 24, 2013

blah, what do you mean by good, entertaining or something else?

Powerpuff Girls is absolutely great.
Teen Titans had 2 (out of 6) young women main-characters and was a top-quality show. (Young Justice, using the "next generation" of young supers was good in its own way, but much less funny.)
Justice League and Justice League Unlimited also had strong women (Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl, mostly).
Aeon Flux (granted probably not great for a six year old, but keep it in your back pocket.)

Anything with Wonder Woman for the last few years.
Birds of Prey.
Suicide Squad (before the reboot) had very good female characters.
posted by oddman at 4:24 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's on PBS Kids and has an educational subtext, but Word Girl is quite fun (and educational!). Reminds me of The Tick in a few ways.
posted by mogget at 4:29 PM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Aw, this is awesome. I love how closely some of them are based on the photos, like Green Lantern and her Lantern-Dog.
posted by Myca at 4:36 PM on April 24, 2013

It is actually hard to find good superhero shows with admirable female stars

Avatar: the Last Airbender

Katara. Sukie. The glory that is Toph.

It's a cheerful upbeat kung-fu adventure cartoon about a Whedonesque gang of teenagers on the on the run from a genocidal army modeled on Imperial Japan, trying to learn enough magic to start fighting back. It's a very smart show under its fluffy exterior. There's a lot going on there for an adult parent watching along to enjoy.

I haven't mentioned the lightning bolt throwing Princess Azula, the main villain of the show from season 2 onward. Azula's not admirable, not unless your notion of admirable includes Machiavellian deceit and terrifying sociopathy.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:45 PM on April 24, 2013 [13 favorites]

I think my faves are the two little girls leaned up against the arcade cabinet and the batman at the computer. I wanted to type batman and not batgirl because my little niece is batman and not batgirl so I thought maybe that girl is thinking the same thing.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 4:48 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
Sang "Window, tit-window, tit-window."
And I said to him, "Dicky-bird, why do you sit
Singing 'window, tit-window, tit-window?'"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:52 PM on April 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

Word Girl is the best. It features pretty much everyone who has ever been awesome and is also awesome itself regardless of that.

(I can't tell you how many times I've said something like "If you like Archer, fellow thirty-something, you'll love this educational programme for nine-to-twelve-year-olds!")
posted by Sys Rq at 4:54 PM on April 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

Seconding Avatar:TLA. You should of course totally disregard the live-action M. Night Shyamalan film, which takes the great first season and turns it into unwatchable sub-Star Wars prequel junk.

Although the DC's New 52 proved to be the trainwreck that finally drove me away from buying monthly comics, I am heartened to know that the new mainstream-continuity Robin is going to be Carrie Kelley, who we first met in The Dark Knight Returns almost 30 years ago.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:07 PM on April 24, 2013

... what is a tit-window.
posted by RollingGreens at 5:10 PM on April 24, 2013

It's on PBS Kids and has an educational subtext, but Word Girl is quite fun (and educational!). Reminds me of The Tick in a few ways.

Sys Rq kind of mentions it too, but I love trying to guess the famous comedian that is doing the voice of random supporting Word Girl character.
posted by drezdn at 5:17 PM on April 24, 2013

... what is a tit-window.

It's the unnecessary cut-out on the front of Power Girl's costume. It has never made sense, either from a costuming or character standpoint. IIRC, Power Girl is an alternate-universe version of Supergirl, so why wouldn't she just wear the Supergirl costume?
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:19 PM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Eyeburst's Dandy Girls sketch series is great! I was trying to do a western comic featuring a female lead but I could never get the right look, unlike the style in this whole set.
posted by Therapeutic Amputations at 5:46 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

what is a tit-window...

It's the weird costuming choice that conveys the visual cue that Power Girl's power comes not from her superhero abilities but from her prodigious rack.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:07 PM on April 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Now if the artist could just draw more that weren't super-skinny and/or huge-titted. Ballerina Hulk is a great start.

Aside from Thor, I'm not seeing big breasted here.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:14 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

implying that little girls use "r" in place of "are" like brooklyn hipsters is virulent and hateful misogyny
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:13 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ohmygosh I love WordGirl so hard. I wish it so much that it had existed when I was a little girl. My 8-year-old son loves WordGirl, too. Like, won't-miss-an-episode, has-entire-scenes-memorized loves it. Basically he wants to unseat TJ as President of the WordGirl Fan Club.

I don't think it has ever occurred to my son that it's odd for a superhero show to have a girl protagonist, and that, fellow humans, is progress.

This tumblr is awesome and I hope Alex finds more pics. We can help her with that, right? MeFites with geek girl daughters: Your mission is clear.
posted by BlueJae at 7:13 PM on April 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

No discussion of Power Girl can proceed without a discussion of her breasts.
And, really, breasts are easy to discuss.
And they make sense.
Unlike Power Girl's history.
That does not.

I believe the "tit-window" has made it back into the comics after a year off.

It's that important.
posted by Mezentian at 7:41 PM on April 24, 2013

why are the no superheroes that are branded for girls?

Power Pack, for kids in general. It's interesting to read the history of publication; it started out in the eighties being about, and for, kids, and after several years someone came along and tried to make it "edgier", with the result that it was cancelled six months later. After a few attempts in the aughts to revive it, it was more successfully revived in a series of miniseries once again aimed at younger readers.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:55 PM on April 24, 2013

Now if the artist could just draw more that weren't super-skinny and/or huge-titted.

The skinniness of the sketches works well for me when compared to how skinny the girls themselves are. They look like kids! Why would they want adult fat deposits on them?

(Not that there aren't plenty of kids with a more diverse body shape than the young lasses shown. They just haven't submitted their shots yet, I suppose. ROLY POLY CUDDLESOME TODDLER DEADPOOL PLEASE.)
posted by Jilder at 9:12 PM on April 24, 2013

All the girls look like average sized little girls of average height and weight, while all the superheroes except the hulk range from tall and skinny to tall and super skinny.

Why would they want adult fat deposits on them?

Well, the drawn versions of the superheroes aren't showing the the superhero as a little girl but rather as an idealized adult. So, I suppose you would want adult fat deposits on them for the same reason you would want adult height on them or adult musculature on them or adult breasts on them, because powerful adult bodies have adult fat deposits and all those other things? Nobody is usually asking why the hulk has those adult muscle deposits.

If the drawing is supposed to echo the body of the little girl, that's great. To my eyes, that's not happening really, but reasonable people can differ about that and I still like the project. If the drawing is supposed to echo the body of the little girl and the artist sees all these little girls as being tall and skinny, it would be even more awesome if she could include other types of little girls.

My bigger point, though, is that one of the things we idealize about superheroes is that their bodies can perform astonishing that most other bodies can't. We have, in real life, many women whose bodies can perform astonishing feats that most other humans on this planet can't do. Those abilities can get really specialized, and people with those specialized abilities, at the top world class levels, tend to have bodies that look a certain way. And the way their bodies look is very very often not valued, for women. Do little girls aspire - aspire - to have a body like Kayla Harrison? I do know that there are a whole lot of preteen/teenage girls and young women who shy away from many kinds of physical activity because of the changes they fear it will make to their bodies. When the only thing we hold up as an impressive, admirable, enviable, ideal, and perfect body is tall and skinny, we contribute to that.
posted by cairdeas at 9:37 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Power Pack was a title I bought on a whim in high school, and I'm still impressed with how deftly the original storylines were handled for kids being kids. I'd love to see something similar started again for the tween market.
posted by xingcat at 9:40 PM on April 24, 2013

I just want little girls to feel like it can be a good thing to have a powerful body that has weight and bulk and takes up space, rather than a shameful and awkward and unattractive thing. I want them to feel like a body like that is something they can be admired for, just like a boy could.
posted by cairdeas at 9:41 PM on April 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Whedonesque gang of teenagers

Oh goddamn you like I needed to start watching another show with a ton of extant episodes.
posted by flaterik at 2:47 AM on April 25, 2013

These are so good. The Green Lantern is my favorite by far.

Young Justice's first few episodes infuriated me with their lack of girls but as the series goes on it accumulates a great diverse cast of characters.
posted by Gordafarin at 3:18 AM on April 25, 2013

She would be a better Green Lantern than Kyle Raynor was. There, I said it.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:30 AM on April 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

The only time in childhood that I ever threw a fit about a well intentioned but cruel gift was the year my uncle gave all the kids character themed sleeping bags. My boy cousins got Spider-man and Superman. My other girl cousin got Barbie. And the only kid in the family that read and loved comic books and had gone as Batman for Halloween three years in a row, I got Holly Fucking Hobby.

I lost my shit and didn't stop crying until my parents took me home.

My uncle went and got me a Batman sleeping bag the next day. From that Christmas on, I got the same toys that the boys got.
posted by teleri025 at 4:57 AM on April 25, 2013 [10 favorites]

posted by Sophie1 at 6:57 AM on April 25, 2013


I'm no feminist (being a boy thing and all), but I doubt this is actually an issue.
Since the 80s there has been a steady stream of female characters.

Most recently is seems like it doesn't matter if they can carry a book, but if it fits into what is good for marvel movies. I was three Superior Spiderman titles announced today. It's dumb.
posted by Mezentian at 7:38 AM on April 25, 2013

The issue is that since the vast majority of superhero women are highly sexualized, it's rare for girls to feel 100% comfortable identifying with them-- and because their bodies are all tits and slim waists and no bulk, it doesn't even really make sense to identify with them in an escapist way, unless your escapist fantasy is to have a very exaggerated lingerie model figure and attract men with it. (Which can be a fantasy, but it's such a omnipresent and ambivalent fantasy about women that little girls would be served by a different one.)

The fact that the powers that be don't think that a female superhero can carry her own movie is part and parcel imo. The way so many female heroes are designed is just dissonance. They're super strong and powerful but ALSO totally hot, watch them bend over!!! (Oh and they like flirting defensively and fielding gross come-ons and almost get raped and murdered, all in a day's work for women. Not the stuff of escapist fantasy though!)

With regard to the (rhetorical) Kayla Harrison question above, it's interesting-- I am and always have been terrified of not having a feminine-conforming body. But when I look at Kayla Harrison, I'm afraid to have her body, but it's also completely fucking magnificent and makes me feel empowered in a way that looking at a Victoria's Secret ad (however beautiful those women are) does not. There are different kinds of beauty, but saying "female power is sexual power" and ignoring the actual athleticism of women is actually fucking disgusting. And ignorant.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:01 AM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't call Avatar a superhero thing, but I would call it something fucking amazing that everyone with an interest in fantasy should watch. Or anyone who wants better female main characters. As a bonus, it's set in Fantasy Asia and is pretty much all Asian characters, which is a damn nice change.

Oh and it has a pretty good cast too!
posted by NoraReed at 8:21 AM on April 25, 2013

I'm no feminist (being a boy thing and all), but I doubt this is actually an issue.
Since the 80s there has been a steady stream of female characters.

Many women in the comic books (though I'd argue not enough) but fewer and fewer of them make it to blockbuster movies featuring them. If it's not an issue to you, that's totally AOK, but it's absolutely an issue from where I sit.
posted by jessamyn at 8:26 AM on April 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

She would be a better Green Lantern than Kyle Raynor was. There, I said it.

I really shouldn't be surprised or upset at just about anything that DC Comics in general, or Geoff Johns in particular, does any more, but I was flabbergasted that they went around patting themselves on the back for making the latest Green Lantern an Arab-American, but didn't think to themselves, "Gee, how about making the new human GL someone besides an American male, just like, you know, the last four?"
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:30 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Marvel has actually impressed me with how they are representing She-Hulk lately. Here's a few examples from FF. Here she is in a different book. She's drawn like a real muscular lady!

This is a giant step forward from when she was carrying her own book in 2005ish. The content isn't bad--Dan Slott is a great writer--but the covers portray her as cheesecakey and skinny. It's a bit demoralizing when THAT passes for a bulky, superhuman-strong woman.
posted by almostmanda at 5:45 PM on April 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wait, how is that woman Hulked? Unless "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry" means "now I can kill you with the volume of my breasts," she looks like she's just turned greener.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:07 PM on April 25, 2013

almostmanda, the more recent examples that you post are all by Mike Allred, who's consistently excellent. Also, yeah, she hasn't been consistently portrayed as muscular throughout her career; even John Byrne, the artist probably most associated with the character, hasn't been that consistent. One of the ideas that Slott put forth in his run is that She-Hulk's strength (and musculature) is proportionate to her muscle tone in her human form; when she had to fight the Champion of the Universe, she went through a crash weight-lifting program and was shown as much bulkier from then on. (It doesn't work that way for Bruce Banner, who always goes from being a skinny guy to a green monolith, but then all gamma mutations are different.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:18 PM on April 25, 2013

I'm now curious what the gender split would be at the majors. Marvel, lately, seems to have been doing some interesting stuff with its female characters. I mean Captain Marvel has a book, and she's become a top-tier hero suddenly. The FF is three women to one (Ant) man. Fearless Defender is all-girls all the time. There's a team of all-female X-men. And I'd guess that about half the X-characters are women.

Maybe it's just my take, but it seems like Marvel has realised there's a market out there and it's actually trying to build a fanbase among young women. Unlike DC which: Starfire.

So its less an issue of a lack of female superheroes (or even those who can carry their own books since Marvel Now is light on for solo titles overall and almost all of them are legacy characters) but women writers and artists, so seem to be still cutting their teeth in the independents.

But Kelly Sue DeConnick and Kathryn Immonen are doing some really good stuff (they're the only two female writers at Marvel I think) and there's presumably no reason they can't tackle the tentpole books. I'm going to argue they're more interesting, too. Bendis bores me and Hickman is way to scattered and cosmic. Always with the cosmic.

The issue of female fronted movies is a little different, but, really, until recently most superhero movies were awful anyway. And I say that as someone who liked the Supergirl movie as a kid.

It seems like it's been a hard slog to get even male superheroes to the silver screen (remember when people laughed at the idea of an Iron Man film?), much less female ones. But I think it's just a process of evolution that we're going through. Of course I am over-joyed by the news that Scarlet Witch is going to be in Avengers 2 (apparently). But where's my Wasp?

but fewer and fewer of them make it to blockbuster movies featuring them.

In a world where Rocket Raccoon and Groot are in a movie... I can see no reason why we won't see a Captain Marvel, She-Hulk or Lady Sif movie. I'd love to see one. But we like what we like. I'm still annoyed at the treatment of Captain Marvel (the other one, who led the Avengers in the late 1980s).

Of course I'm still annoyed we never got to see a Joss Wonder Woman film.

I have run out of words now.
posted by Mezentian at 1:39 AM on April 26, 2013

Wait, how is that woman Hulked?

Is this your first time meeting Greg Land's "art"?
posted by Mezentian at 3:48 AM on April 26, 2013

I just remembered Kim Possible (I never saw it), she's basically a super-spy.
posted by oddman at 6:13 AM on April 28, 2013

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