Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Gratuitous Insults

Posted by Don MacPherson on April 17th, 2007

I pass the time during lulls at work with a good novel. There are a few TV series that I follow religiously every week, never wanting to miss a new episode. And there’s nothing like going to the movies and taking in a flick on the big screen. But my favorite storytelling medium, obviously, is the comic book/graphic novel. Unfortunately, fans of the medium are saddled with an unfortunate stigma. You’ve seen it on The Simpsons in the form of the Comic Book Guy. You’ve seen the extreme fans at comics conventions as well, and those whose battle with unfortunate personal hygiene is a Never-Ending Battle in and of itself. The stereotype of the pathetic Comic Geek stems, sadly, from a certain fragment of reality. It’s really frustrating, though, when a major player in the medium and industry contributes to the preconception of the comics consumer as a horny, sexually frustrated basement dweller.

DC Comics, shame on you.

In the publisher’s recently release solicitations for the May 2007 Previews catalogue, two vinyl statues scheduled for release in specialty stores at the end of the year are featured. One is of Catwoman in her Darwyn Cooke-designed costume, zipped open to allow her impossible mammaries to dangle down and draw the viewer’s eye to the Cleavage of the Cat. The pose and how she’s dressed are so laughable that it’s a shame, because it seems as though the craftsmanship put into the statue is detailed and almost realistic.

The vamped up (even by Catwoman standards) statue is the work of a Japanese manufacturer, so there is that cultural tendency toward pop-culture sexualization in play. Also coming from the same manufacturer is a Supergirl statue, with a more obvious anime/manga influence being apparent in the design. Her impossibly elongated torso would make the vinyl figure seem ridiculous in appearance, but overpowering that silly look is the overtly sexual pose and look on a teenage character.

Look at this… She’s pulled up what little top she has to expose as much skin as allowable for a general audience. Supergirl seems to invite, seems to beg for something to be done. It’s like this blonde bimbo is offering a target for a perverse super-hero universe money shot. What casual consumer is going to walk into a comic shop, see this statue displayed (or its box, with the same image) and not wonder what kind of clientele is obsessed with fictional figures originally envisioned as characters in children’s reading material?

Obviously, these are drops in an ocean of sexual depictions of super-heroines in print, plaster and more. They’re so overt and blatant in their purpose as sexual totems for teen boys and young men, though, and it’s impossible to ignore or dismiss.

Is DC to blame for offering such material? One could argue the publisher is simply meeting a demand, fulfilling a certain niche in its marketplace. In order to meet that demand, though, DC is catering to a lower level, stooping to a lower level. Not only does it not need to stoop to that level, but if it still places an importance on its public image as a purveyor of kid-friendly material, it really shouldn’t release such a sexed-up vision of its decades-old super-hero characters.

Of course, DC isn’t the only offender in this regard, and it’s far from the worst. There’s a glut of similarly creepy or disconcerting comics and merchandise that are designed for that niche market.

One has to give DC Comics credit, though, for sexualizing characters of both genders in its newest solicitations. Just check out the Alex Ross-painted cover image for Justice Society of America #7, slated for release in July. It depicts the newest member of the title team, Citizen Steel, a young man carrying on his family’s heroic tradition after he was altered by liquid metal excreted by a Nazi super-villain.

That strange steel elixir has transformed him into an invulnerable super-hero, a man of steel. And if one looks closely, it’s not just his fists and flesh that are hard as a rock. Perhaps his red, white and blue costume has led him to believe he’s a postal carrier, because he’s looking down at a package… one he seems more than ready to deliver.

Groovy… it’s a special delivery… for the ladies. Or perhaps this is DC’s subtle attempt to test of the waters in the yaoi fanbase.

61 Responses to “Gratuitous Insults”

  1. Floyd The Barber Says:

    I’m sorry, but I think you’re overreacting to this just a tad. Personally I think those vinyl statues are beautiful. I may even shell out the money for the Supergirl one. I don’t think it’s very different from how she’s portrayed in the latest series. And the Catwoman statue isn’t that different from an average Adam Hughes cover. Let’s face it, and just be honest here, it’s been years since these characters have REALLY been marketed to children anyway and everyone knows it. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the average age of todays comic reader is much much older than it used to be. Also, It’s not like these specialty statues are gonna be on the shelves in Wal-mart next to the Barbies (who’s really no better). And I don’t see where comics are anymore sexed up than movies, music videos or any other current media. People just love sex and they always will. It’s natural. That’s why it sells. And I personally don’t see anything wrong with it. But I could write a lengthy thesis on that subject alone. I personally am a helluva lot more offended by unnecessary gratuitous violence in comics (like Grundy ripping off Red Tornado’s arm of and eating it in front of his wife!). I love reading your columns Don but I gotta firmly disagree with you here.

  2. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Apr. 18, 2007: Holiday in Dullsville Says:

    [...] Oh, I think DC Comics are pretty much beyond shame at this point. Related: Valerie Dorazio imagines what a sea change for the treatment of women in superhero comics might look like at the corporate level. (Above: I bet you’ve thought I’ve been kidding about that whole “Supergirl Fuckdoll” thing, haven’t you? A reminder that people should point and laugh at Paul Levitz en masse every time he sets foot outside, ©2007 DC Comics.) [...]

  3. Commdoc Says:

    Don,
    Thanks for your critiques of the oversexualization of comic book superheroes, particularly women. Although sexiness is an innate element of any musular and toned body in a skintight costume, turning heroes into porn stars is creepy. I already am concerned about taking my 13 year old into the porn, er, comic store where the “adult” material, though “shielded” by cardboard sheets, is still obvious since it’s not set off from the rest of the displays and at the eye level of a boy. I think yours is the only voice consistently objecting to this tendency in mainstream comics art. And Alex Ross, whom I admire for his realistic/heroic style also crossed the line with his recent JSA cover of the new wind-powered teen character in the most ugly and impractical costume ever guaranteed to do the Marilyn Seven Year Itch thing and show she isn’t wearing panties. Yeah, parents, take your kids to Free Comic Book Day, but leave them in the car.

  4. Comics Should Be Good! » Damn you, MacPherson!! Says:

    [...] So, just when I was about to expand DC Comic cover snark this month to include a discussion of two horrible horrible horrible horrible statues that DC solicited this week, Don MacPherson had to alert me to a piece he wrote on those two statues at his neat site, Eye On Comics. You can read his piece here. Don also made a catch that, admittedly, I do not think I would have noticed, regarding the JSA cover solicited for July. Click on read the rest to see the creepiness (or click on the link to Don’s column). [...]

  5. Blog@Newsarama » Citizen Steel’s own Battle of the Bulge Says:

    [...] At Eye on Comics, Don MacPherson joins in on the criticism of DC Comics’ new “vamped-up” Catwoman and Supergirl vinyl statues, charging the publisher with contributing “to the preconception of the comics consumer as a horny, sexually frustrated basement dweller.” [...]

  6. Don MacPherson Says:

    Floyd wrote:
    I’m sorry, but I think you’re overreacting to this just a tad. Personally I think those vinyl statues are beautiful. I may even shell out the money for the Supergirl one. I don’t think it’s very different from how she’s portrayed in the latest series.

    Yes, one could easily argue the teenage Supergirl is often portrayed in a sexual manner in her own series.

    And the Catwoman statue isn’t that different from an average Adam Hughes cover.

    That’s true as well. Doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.

    Let’s face it, and just be honest here, it’s been years since these characters have REALLY been marketed to children anyway and everyone knows it.

    “Everyone”? I wouldn’t say that. Everyone who enters a comic shop every week knows it, yes. But do you think the average parent, for example, who hasn’t looked at a comic book in a couple of decades knows it?

    Also, It’s not like these specialty statues are gonna be on the shelves in Wal-mart next to the Barbies (who’s really no better).

    Just because these statues won’t be as visible as merchandise in Wal-Mart doesn’t invalidate my point. And you don’t see Barbie’s tits dangling or the doll inviting someone to spooge on her belly.

  7. Don MacPherson Says:

    Commdoc wrote:
    I think yours is the only voice consistently objecting to this tendency in mainstream comics art.

    Oh, that’s far from true. There are many others discussing the same topic. Just check out Johanna Draper Carlson’s comicsworthreading.com for just one example.

  8. John Seavey Says:

    Just wanted to say you’re absolutely right on every count in this column, and it’s kind of a shame that the first comment was from someone who offered not one, not two, but ten rationalizations for why he shouldn’t have to feel guilty for wanting one of these.

    Which, of course, all boil down to “If the problem is you, then I don’t need to feel bad about my actions.” :)

  9. Matt Says:

    Spot on, Don. I have a feature at my blog, Tits Up, where I try to document these very things–instances of extreme objectification of women and chauvinism in comics and fandom.

    Ultimately, this has NOTHING to do with the statues being appropriate for kids–as mature, adult people, we should ALL be taken aback and offended by the ways in which women are depicted in comics. It should be about respecting women, not about keeping smut from kids.

  10. bitch Says:

    don,

    basically you’re saying:

    ‘…industry contributes to the preconception of the comics consumer as a horny, sexually frustrated basement dweller.’

    by

    ‘…sexualizing characters of both genders in its newest solicitations.’

    i can’t see a connection here. if any ‘insulting’ is going on it’s probably not targeted at the ‘basement dwellers’ but at all comic fans. actually the fact that you somehow connect the sexed up versions of comic characters to a certain chliched group of comic readers tells a bit a about your own preconception of comic readers in general. which is kinda insulting. ;)

    -b

  11. Don MacPherson Says:

    The anonymous Bitch wrote:
    actually the fact that you somehow connect the sexed up versions of comic characters to a certain cliched group of comic readers tells a bit a about your own preconception of comic readers in general. which is kinda insulting.

    Actually, it’s not a preconception on my part. I’ve seen these people at conventions. I’ve met them.

    Mind you, it’s still a stereotype. The majority of comics fans are not “basement dwellers,” but the public perception of comics readers/collectors as a group is that stereotype, though perhaps not to as great a degree today.

  12. Ryan Day Says:

    Yeah, even by the standards of gross sexualization in superhero comics, these statues are pretty bad. I honestly have to wonder who buys this sort of thing – why not just save some cash and buy real porn? (That’s “wonder” as in “I don’t actually want to know”, by the way)

    I would quibble, though, that these are far, far worse than any Adam Hughes cover I’ve ever seen. He certainly has his cheesecake tendencies, but his women aren’t usually sexed up the point where you can put a speech balloon above them saying “**** me right now, big boy.” His Catwoman covers are often fairly silhouetted and Selina remains well in control of her zipper, while the Legion cover he did a while back is definitely the best rendition of the modern Supergirl.

    Oh, and of course you can take your kids to Free Comic Book Day – they can get new Owly! All the T&A in the world can’t take that away.

  13. Don MacPherson Says:

    Ryan wrote:
    I would quibble, though, that these are far, far worse than any Adam Hughes cover I’ve ever seen. He certainly has his cheesecake tendencies, but his women aren’t usually sexed up the point where you can put a speech balloon above them saying “**** me right now, big boy.”

    I’m not saying this is a new development in comics, just the latest evidence of a larger problem.

    And as for Adam Hughes’s cheesecake artwork, click here to read a column I wrote last fall about his work and his upcoming Wonder Woman project.

  14. preston hayes Says:

    although i agree that comics have a problem of oversexualization, especially of teenage characters, this is hardly the only medium to do so. it always creeps me out when i see a website with pictures of Hayden Panettiere( the cheerleader from Heroes.) i can’t believe how much she is portreyed sexually even though she is not yet eighteen. just look at her imdb photo and you will know what i mean. and i don’t think it is a coincidence that the tv show she is on is a comic on tv. i am not saying she is the first or will be the last teenager to be presented as a sexual object even before becoming an adult, but it sure stands out right now to me. i think this is a general trend in our culture that comics can get away with easier because they are just drawings.

  15. Don MacPherson Says:

    Preston Hayes wrote:
    although i agree that comics have a problem of oversexualization, especially of teenage characters, this is hardly the only medium to do so.

    True, but there’s no creepy stereotype of a TV geek in the social consciousness, is there?

  16. Ryan Day Says:

    Oh, I undertand your point about Hughes’ work, particularly as it applies to All-Star Wonder Woman. I just think that whatever problems his work signifies about the industry, these statues are much, much worse. Not quite “Michael Turner Power Girl” bad, but close.

    There should be more lame stereotypes – I’d love to see an article about TV referring to brain-dead couch potatoes, or a football game that off-handedly described all the fans as violent, loudmouth drunks. That would be fun.

  17. Vert Says:

    I’m in a quandry…

    I’d love to buy a Supergirl statue. But my wife and I have this rule about porn lying around where my daughter can find it… I already will have to hide the cover to JLofA #10… hmmm… maybe I can start a DC Porn Box to hide in the closet…

    sure wish I could buy a Supergirl statue…

  18. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Don : Your’e certainly right about the word “everyone” in my statement not being quite the right word to use. I imagine a conservative parent who hasn’t seen comics in decades would all but faint or call the cops if they were to browse most comic shops. To that I say Thank God they don’t do that very often. We sure as hell don’t need another witch-hunt “Seduction Of The Innocent” trial. But by “everyone” I did (as you figured) mean everyone who’s been a recent fan of modern comics.
    And no, them not being on department store shelves does not mean to invalidate your point. But it does mean that very more than likely it would be hard to come across (no pun intended) one of these statues if you didn’t want to. You’d have to A: have access to a Diamond Previews, B: know to order one before the deadline, which is only a few weeks, C: know a comic shop that would be willing to order it for you. It says right in the solicit that these will be “manufactured to order” which means they are just NOT going to be laying around on shelves even in comic shops for people to even see. For a “child” to get one of these on his own would be a highly unlikely and pretty amazing feat. Considering this, I’d really have a hard time having a problem with these even if they were blatantly pornographic. I don’t think anyone old enough or smart enough to get a hold of one of these would be negatively affected by it anyway.
    And to be really honest here, it takes a pretty adult imagination to think Supergirl is “inviting you to spooge on her stomach”. I’m 32, not conservative at ALL, have a pretty nice collection of adult movies, and a pretty filthy mind and I didn’t think that far into it when I saw it.

  19. Floyd The Barber Says:

    John Seavey-
    No I don’t believe I should feel guilty about wanting one of these statues. I don’t proscribe to any conservative beliefs or religions or whatever that a grown 30-something should feel guilty about any recreation that doesn’t harm anyone else. Of course I’m sure you’ll come up with some way that me having that statue in my curio will cause countless sufferings around the world. What people enjoy is their business and I’ll believe that and fight for that belief till the day I die. The idea that I should feel guilty about wanting one of those is utterly and completely ridiculous to me. I actually had a really good laugh after I read your post. But of course I know there are plenty of people in this world who love nothing more than to push their beliefs on other people, which history has shown is a helluva lot more damaging to society than scantily clad women.

  20. Don MacPherson Says:

    Floyd wrote:
    It says right in the solicit that these will be “manufactured to order” which means they are just NOT going to be laying around on shelves even in comic shops for people to even see.

    That’s manufactured to retailers’ orders, not customers’.

  21. Randy Lander Says:

    Y’know, while I think Don is right about these statues in terms of taking sexy and cheesecake right over the line into borderline porn star posing, there’s a bigger issue here:

    This tendency to draw Catwoman with her boobs hanging out of her unzipped shirt totally fucks up a perfectly good costume design. And makes it look like she can’t dress herself. ;)

  22. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Don- true, but that really doesn’t change much of anything about the availability. Can you honestly tell me you know of many (if any) shops that are doing well enough financially to be willing to order an overstock of $80.00 statues? Hell, most shops don’t even stock lower tier Marvel or DC comics titles these days unless you subcribe to them for fear they might get stuck with them. Of course I know there are rare exceptions to this rule, as their is to any. Nevermind the fact that if you’re sending a pre-teen child on an unsupervised $80.00 shopping spree then you’re the type of parent who’s going to have to worry about a helluva lot more than your child coming home with a suggestive Supergirl statue. Agreeing with me or not, I think it’d be pretty hard to dispute that the statements I’ve made are truth.

  23. Floyd The Barber Says:

    “This tendency to draw Catwoman with her boobs hanging out of her unzipped shirt totally fucks up a perfectly good costume design. And makes it look like she can’t dress herself. ;)”

    Now that’s something even I can’t argue with. And the reason I’d much rather have the Supergirl statue. To me the Catwoman statue really doesn’t look quite right, not just because of her danglin’ milkbags but the mask/goggles don’t look right to me either.

  24. Don MacPherson Says:

    Floyd wrote:
    Can you honestly tell me you know of many (if any) shops that are doing well enough financially to be willing to order an overstock of $80.00 statues?

    I’ve been to several stores that stock statues without a customer pre-ordering them. Do most? I don’t know, but I’d guess probably not. But I doubt it’s hardly any either.

    Nevermind the fact that if you’re sending a pre-teen child on an unsupervised $80.00 shopping spree then you’re the type of parent who’s going to have to worry about a helluva lot more than your child coming home with a suggestive Supergirl statue.

    I can imagine a parent unfamiliar with the state of comics today thinking it would be safe for his or her child to visit a comic-book shop without caution. And $80 ain’t what it used to be. When we were growing up, it was a fortune. Today, it’s one new video game and a CD.

    Agreeing with me or not, I think it’d be pretty hard to dispute that the statements I’ve made are truth.

    I think you’re confusing the concepts of belief and truth. You make statements you present to be facts but they’re actually opinions and preconceptions. Example: you can’t imagine a shop that would stock comics statues on spec, so you believe none to exist. You’re wrong. They exist. I’ve seen them.

  25. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Don-
    Between Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. there are about 10 or so shops I frequent. One has quite a few of the small Marvel and DC busts on the shelf, out of the others one or two have a couple here and there mostly for there own decoration. So the truth here is it is hardly any. In NY or CA I’m sure the shops make a little more money and it is probably more the norm I guess. Like I said earlier I am aware that there are exceptions. I make/made no claim there were none in existence. You agreed it isn’t the standard of most shops to do so. That was pretty much all I was trying to convey. I don’t delve into extremes on anything, I know there are exceptions to everything. If I conveyed the opposite, It certainly wasn’t my intention.
    Also I wouldn’t send my pre-teen child anywhere to buy anything with $80.00 unsupervised. Game, CD, comics, anything. It’s just a bad idea. 80 bucks may not be what it used to be, but it’s plenty enough to get into trouble. It might only be 1 new game and a CD but it could just as easily be 10 $2 Forty-Ouncers of Steel Reserve, $20 for the bum outside to buy ‘em for you and 4 dime-bags. Wow, now that I think about it it’s actually a lot cheaper to get into trouble.
    I believe that things of this nature should come down to parent responsibilty and individual choice. If you don’t like these statues, don’t buy ‘em, and don’t be careless enough to let your kids do it either. The idea a lot of people have they shouldn’t EVEN BE MADE because they don’t like them, when there are people like me who do, is what burns me up. That’s trying to make my choice for me. I don’t like that and never will. This is a topic I’ve debated many many times at length and people never seem to get the point. Oh well, I’m sure we could go back and forth for days without really agreeing. Anyway, let me just end by saying thanks for giving a place to discuss this and taking the time to do so.

  26. Don MacPherson Says:

    Floyd wrote:
    Between Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. there are about 10 or so shops I frequent. One has quite a few of the small Marvel and DC busts on the shelf, out of the others one or two have a couple here and there mostly for there own decoration. So the truth here is it is hardly any.

    Well, that certainly sounds like an exhaustive survey.

    Also I wouldn’t send my pre-teen child anywhere to buy anything with $80.00 unsupervised… I believe that things of this nature should come down to parent responsibilty and individual choice.

    We’re straying from the original point. My point about those unfamiliar with the current state of the industry is that these sort of statues and super-hero images contribute to the perception that comics fans are all the afore-mentioned “basement dweller” types.

  27. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Don-

    I said:
    “So the truth here is it is hardly any.”

    Sorry, that sentence of mine is a little misleading. Let me clarify. The “here” in that sentence is meant to mean “here within about a 100 mile radius of where I live. And no it’s not an exhaustive survey, I haven’t been to every comic shop in America by far. Maybe you have, I don’t know, I’m not you and I don’t pretend to know what kind of resources you’re dealing with. But even then you still agreed that the ones who carry a stock of statues is definitely not the majority.

    As far as the perception of comic readers goes I’ve never known for the general public to see them as anything but nerds and geeks. But then again I grew out of trying to impress the general public at a very early age. I used to sport my Daredevil, Batman, and X-Men T-Shirts proudly in high school and boy did I catch hell for it. It didn’t stop me though. I love what I love and am very unapologetic for it and always have been.
    Personally I think just the fact that it’s reading, and the “bookworm” aspect of it, along with the fact that most comic fans are very passionate about their hobby, is what keeps that “basement-dweller” stereotype up more-so than the sexualization of characters.

  28. comics212 » Blog Archive » Afraid Of Cock. Says:

    [...] It all started with Don MacPherson, talking about the images below: [...]

  29. Hellhound Says:

    While I don’t think these statues are anything to be proud of, I generally agree with Floyd’s last point. I tend to doubt that items like these are even a blip on the radar for most non-comic readers. Even with the positive PR being generated by recent successful comic book movies, our hobby remains marginalized for the most part.

    Many non-comic readers will always have a preconceived notion that comics are for kids or “dorks” regardless of what kind of porntastic products DC decides to put out. Obviously these products don’t help matters any, but I think they’re a relatively small part of the negative perception most people have.

  30. Don MacPherson Says:

    Hellhound wrote:
    Many non-comic readers will always have a preconceived notion that comics are for kids or “dorks” regardless of what kind of porntastic products DC decides to put out. Obviously these products don’t help matters any, but I think they’re a relatively small part of the negative perception most people have.

    Actually, I’d argue that the stereotype isn’t as prevalent as it once was. It persists, but I see the situation as improving. Films such as 300 and V for Vendetta open people’s eyes to the potential for maturity in the medium.

  31. Hellhound Says:

    Don Wrote:
    Actually, I’d argue that the stereotype isn’t as prevalent as it once was. It persists, but I see the situation as improving. Films such as 300 and V for Vendetta open people’s eyes to the potential for maturity in the medium.

    I think the public’s memories of these types of movies tends to be short lived. While people may have been clamoring about 300 a month ago, most of the general public has already moved on to the next thing.

    Having said that, I do agree that the attitude towards comics readers is improving on a generational basis. Generation X and Y is probably more open-minded towards comics than the Baby Boomers are and the current manga loving generation may be more open-minded still.

  32. Blog@Newsarama » More on Citizen Steel’s conversation piece Says:

    [...] for this thing.)   Posted by Kevin Melrose in DC Comics, Internet, Fandom, Art and Design [ Permalink ] [] [...]

  33. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Don wrote:
    “Films such as 300 and V for Vendetta open people’s eyes to the potential for maturity in the medium.”

    V for Vendetta had a scene with Natalie Portman in a little girl get-up with a priest that nearly made even me blush. And just HOW much ice was used in 300 to get the exposed nipples in that movie to jut to those “Frank Miller drawn” proportions. So are you saying rated R comic-based movies with extremely sexual scenes/and or nudity can “open people eye’s to the potential for maturity in the medium” as long as it’s not superhero related? But a superhero can’t even dress rated PG-13 scantily without furthering the horny basement dweller stereotype? It sounds very much to me like you are downright supporting the notion that superhero comics should only EVER be for children.
    But nowhere near as many children are reading superhero comics now. If you took away everyone age 15 and over reading superhero comics today, do you honestly think it would be financially worthwhile for Marvel or DC (or anyone) to publish them? Hasn’t it been this way for quite some time now? When this happened it became necessary to market to an older group of readers in order to survive financially. It’s just good business sense to recognize your audience. Superheroes still make up a HUGE portion of comic sales even to the older teens and adults who still buy them. Should Marvel and DC have scrapped all their old established superheroes for new ones, simply because they had previously been marketed to a much younger audience back when the much younger audience WAS the majority? Comic fans have shown their fickleness towards new superheroes time and time again and Marvel and DC knew this would have been a very very risky endeavor. Even if the newly created adult-oriented heroes had took, they still would have lost all of the nostalgia sales factor that the old heroes bring.
    So Marvel and DC took their established characters and marketed them to an older audience. And one of the ways you do that is to make them as sexy as you can get away with. NOT BECAUSE IT’S COMICS, BUT SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY. REGARDLESS of what medium it is. That’s why Halle Berry, Jessica Alba and Scarlet Johannsen bring in millions at the box office, that’s why the Pussy-Cat dolls, Jessica Simpson, and Britney Spears have sold millions of records, that’s why Maxim, Stuff, and Playboy sell millions of Magazines. Because PEOPLE LIKE SEX. So I ask you all : Is it comics readers who are the horny basement dwellers, or is it ALL OF US? Please someone tell me why should we ALONE be stuck with this stereotype? Just because once upon a time comics were “for kids”? Are you telling me our Supergirl should have to be a very average, slightly overweight girl wearing over-alls; just to fight this out-dated “old way of thinking” stereotype? Puh-LEAZE…

  34. Don MacPherson Says:

    The ever-anonymous Floyd wrote:
    V for Vendetta had a scene with Natalie Portman in a little girl get-up with a priest that nearly made even me blush.

    Wow, did you miss the point of that scene. It’s meant to demonstrate what a loathsome creep the clergyman was. The viewer was supposed to be creeped out by the juxtaposition of innocence and sexuality. That scene denounces it; the statues condone it by implication.

    It sounds very much to me like you are downright supporting the notion that superhero comics should only EVER be for children.

    Then you’re not paying attention closely enough.

    But nowhere near as many children are reading superhero comics now. If you took away everyone age 15 and over reading superhero comics today, do you honestly think it would be financially worthwhile for Marvel or DC (or anyone) to publish them?

    Those publishers do take steps to appeal and draw in the younger readership today, with mixed results.

    You can have super-hero titles aimed at adults and for kids. You can even have PG-13 statues. I’m saying that characters that the mass market still perceives as children’s fare need not be depicted in that way, and certainly not so overtly.

    When this happened it became necessary to market to an older group of readers in order to survive financially. It’s just good business sense to recognize your audience.

    Actually, it’s bad business to appeal to just a limited, niche market. DC’s lowest selling titles used to sell in six-figure numbers. Now it’s four figures.

    Should Marvel and DC have scrapped all their old established superheroes for new ones, simply because they had previously been marketed to a much younger audience back when the much younger audience WAS the majority? Comic fans have shown their fickleness towards new superheroes time and time again and Marvel and DC knew this would have been a very very risky endeavor. Even if the newly created adult-oriented heroes had took, they still would have lost all of the nostalgia sales factor that the old heroes bring.

    So are the readers looking for these classic characters to be in adult situations, or are they looking to fulfill that yen for nostalgia? How is does a statue of Supergirl in heat fulfill any kind of nostalgic factor?

    Because PEOPLE LIKE SEX. So I ask you all : Is it comics readers who are the horny basement dwellers, or is it ALL OF US? Please someone tell me why should we ALONE be stuck with this stereotype? Just because once upon a time comics were “for kids”?

    I’m not saying comics fans should be stuck with the stereotype. I’m saying it’s a reality that we are. And these statues don’t help matters.

    Are you telling me our Supergirl should have to be a very average, slightly overweight girl wearing over-alls; just to fight this out-dated “old way of thinking” stereotype? Puh-LEAZE…

    That’s inane. I suggested no such thing.

  35. roguespirit Says:

    OK let me start this by saying I’m fucking pissed

    I find the statue sexy……lets be real..its arousing imagery

    Here’s why I’m pissed

    I work with young people and I don’t think people that don’t work with young people realise how bad certain things are because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have a clue but because I do I have this to say…and I’m not a swearing man

    STOP FUCKING SEXUALISING YOUNG GIRLS

    I got too many fucking fucked up young girls on my case load that are fucked up because people have acted on the sexualisation they are presented with. Yea there is something to say about personal choice but you know what if we grow up and have some kind of social conscience as adults we would at least be doing our bit.

    This is why Brave & the Bold 2 disturbed me when they kept going on about her being 17 and then put her in a little girl outfit in which you could see her panties and had her holding a teddy bear, In whose twisted universe is that a good idea.

    Appealing imagery..hell yea I’ll be the first to stick my hand up and that in itself is why there is a problem and we as responsable adults need to stop presenting these images.

  36. roguespirit Says:

    I just need to add to that as people seem to think this is about children reading reading comics. Its not. Its about adults finding the over sexualisation of a 17 yr old attractive. That should worry anyone who has brains, awareness or a conscience

  37. Don MacPherson Says:

    Roguespirit wrote:
    I just need to add to that as people seem to think this is about children reading reading comics. Its not. Its about adults finding the over sexualisation of a 17 yr old attractive.

    Well put.

  38. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Don wrote:
    “Wow, did you miss the point of that scene. It’s meant to demonstrate what a loathsome creep the clergyman was. The viewer was supposed to be creeped out by the juxtaposition of innocence and sexuality. That scene denounces it; the statues condone it by implication.”

    And you missed my point. It’s context (which I fully understood I assure you), be it creepy or sexy doesn’t change the fact that it IS a sexual situation in a comic based movie. Loathsome as it is, It is still Natalie very scantily clad in a scene where a priest thinks he’s about to have his way with her. Even if they made a Miracleman movie, the famous rape scene from that would still be a sexual situation. It’s creepiness or loathsomeness doesn’t change that. If anything, TO ME, the fact that it’s awful, makes it worse, not better. That’s like saying it’s ok to show violent acts or molestation for the purpose of condemnation, but not OK to show consentual sex for enjoyment? How’s that healthy for anyone?

    “You can have super-hero titles aimed at adults and for kids.”

    But the real question is : Can they be the same character? Can you have BOTH a kiddy version of Supergirl AND the Supergirl who tongue wrestles Powerboy while he’s grabbin’ her ass? That’s a question I’m not gonna claim to know the answer to. Do you?

    “Actually, it’s bad business to appeal to just a limited, niche market. DC’s lowest selling titles used to sell in six-figure numbers. Now it’s four figures.”

    Who is this “limited, niche market” that you refer to? If it’s us older crowd, I thought we were the majority now. And DC does still market a few things to kids, but how successful are they in comparison to the ones they don’t? I think the huge change in sales has more to do with the way comics are distributed. In just a few decades we’ve went from the birth of the direct market to the direct market being ALMOST THE ONLY MARKET. If comics weren’t in grocery stores and gas stations in the early 80′s when I started reading then who know’s when/if I’d have even gotten into comics? The nearest comic shop was 75 miles away from where I grew up and I didn’t get to go there untill I had already been reading comics for 6 years. But I’m sure that this topic could be an entirely different lengthy discussion in itself.

    “So are the readers looking for these classic characters to be in adult situations, or are they looking to fulfill that yen for nostalgia? How is does a statue of Supergirl in heat fulfill any kind of nostalgic factor?”

    This one’s easy. Both. The “heat” fulfills the adult situation aspect, and the fact that she’s Supergirl (a character that’s been around for generations) fulfills the nostagia aspect.

    “I’m not saying comics fans should be stuck with the stereotype. I’m saying it’s a reality that we are. And these statues don’t help matters.”

    Well Thank God! I was beginning to think you thought we DESERVED that stereotype. And I agree completely that these statues don’t help with the stereotypes. They’re not meant to. They’re simply meant for the people who enjoy such things, like me.

    “That’s inane. I suggested no such thing.”

    No. No you didn’t. But you did say “Shame on DC” for making the statues. So if throwing some overalls on Supergirl and having her go on a McDonalds diet isn’t the solution, and intervention to stop DC from making them altogether isn’t the solution, then what is? It’s easy to just point out something and say “This is wrong.” So I’m asking you now: What do you suggest they do instead?

    And as far as my anonymity goes : I’m not about to post my name, address, phone #, etc. on the internet but maybe this will help. I’m a 32 year-old male who’s been happily married for 12 years with no children (by choice). I work a 40-hour week (not in comics, unfortunately), I pay my taxes, I DON’T live in my Mom’s basement, I have my own apartment (no basement at all) and my own car. I’ve never comitted a crime over traffic violations, my political views lean towards liberal, I’m a brother a husband and a oldest son. And oh yeah… I LOVE COMICS! I’ve read comics for 24 years. My first comic was Marvel’s G.I. Joe # 11. I asked my Mom to buy it for me from a spinner rack in a local grocery store when I was 8. From there I went on to Spider-Man. Marvel Tales #153 to be exact, which featured an early Ditko Kraven story. I still have it. You should see it, it’s got frickin’ duct tape on it! I must have read that thing 100′s of times. From there it was on to Hulk, Daredevil, and Secret Wars, Avengers, then X-Men in that order. My first experience with DC was Aparo’s Batman. I was a Marvel Zombie first. My first Indy’s were Tick, Flaming Carrot and TMNT. Those were the early years. From there I’ve read a pretty good mixture of everything. I spend about $125 a month on comics, and try to make sure I get a good mix of quality stuff within that budget. What else you wanna know? Anything too deep and I’m sorry you’d just have to meet me in person. Attending the Baltimore Comi-Con in September?
    Don, let me make myself clear. My intention is not to “flame”, discredit, or piss you off. I just simply have a differing view from you and wish to give you an insight to the other side. When anyone points out something and says “That’s gratuitous”, or obscene it’s just waaay too easy for people to fall in line, jump on a bandwagon, say “shame, shame” and cry for censorship of some form without ever giving much thought to why said gratuity or obscenity was made in the first place, or who it was truly made for. I AM NOT by any means saying that this is what you are/were trying to do. But I have found that it can lead to this, especially when no one gives thought to the other side. I wouldn’t be a damn bit surprised if DC changes the JSA cover now before it sees print just to avoid further controversy. I personally don’t wanna see Alex Ross’s cover changed and I’d wager he doesn’t either. It’s a subject I’ve always felt very passionate about. We may have differing opinions on this subject, but I do have a lot of respect for you (I’ve been reading your reviews since a couple of years before you and Randy ended Fourth Rail) and I do sincerely Thank You for giving a place to discuss this, and taking the time to do so.

  39. Floyd The Barber Says:

    “I just need to add to that as people seem to think this is about children reading reading comics. Its not. Its about adults finding the over sexualisation of a 17 yr old attractive. That should worry anyone who has brains, awareness or a conscience”

    It is true that underage girls being sexualized is a problem not just in comics but America in general. But this column is clearly not JUST about that. As Don mentions Catwoman (who has ALWAYS to my knowledge been portrayed as an adult) AND Citizen Steel who is male. So the column is clearly about sexualization in general. If it were not it would have been about Supergirl and probably X-23 or one of the many other underage girls who wear sexy outfits in comics. Make no mistake I am IN NO WAY condoning sex with actual underage girls. And to suggest I am is pretty much proving the point I made in my last post.

  40. Don MacPherson Says:

    Floyd wrote:
    Who is this “limited, niche market” that you refer to? If it’s us older crowd, I thought we were the majority now.

    The majority in comic shops, yes, but we still represent a small limited niche market. Comics were once mass media. Now they’re a specialty product.

    This one’s easy. Both. The “heat” fulfills the adult situation aspect, and the fact that she’s Supergirl (a character that’s been around for generations) fulfills the nostagia aspect.

    One could argue those notions are mutually exclusive. Why can’t your adult entertainment/fantasy come from something other than a representation of a teenage girl?

    I was beginning to think you thought we DESERVED that stereotype.

    Then you haven’t been paying attention.

    And I agree completely that these statues don’t help with the stereotypes. They’re not meant to. They’re simply meant for the people who enjoy such things, like me.

    So you feel we don’t deserve the stereotype, but you enjoy something that perpetuates it. Don’t you see a problem with that?

    So I’m asking you now: What do you suggest they do instead?

    I suggest they stop presenting a teenage character that’s a pop-culture icon as a fuckdoll.

    And as far as my anonymity goes : I’m not about to post my name, address, phone #, etc. on the internet

    No one asked for your address or phone number; don’t make it sound as though I’ve asked you to compromise the security of your personal information.

    I wouldn’t be a damn bit surprised if DC changes the JSA cover now before it sees print just to avoid further controversy.

    I’d be shocked.

    And in Floyd’s response to Roguespirit, he wrote:
    Make no mistake I am IN NO WAY condoning sex with actual underage girls.

    One could argue that by purchasing such an overt representation of a teen in a clearly sexual circumstance, you are condoning it. Before you launch into a tirade about how it happens in other media, let me say this: the same can be said, for example, of men who drooled over the Olsen twins a few years ago, making crass comments about anticipating their 18th birthday.

  41. seba Says:

    i think the root of the problem here is this: adult men reading superhero comics.
    come on guys, superheros?
    there are so many other great stories out there. check out the vertigo imprints!

  42. Aaron Says:

    I’ve got to agree with Don on the issue of oversexualizing characters, in particular the teen girls. What we’re seeing here is a symptom of a systemic issue within North American society, specifically that our culture is teaching to view women, specifically young girls, as things and not people of value and substance.

    Essentially because we’ve been so overexposed to various sexual imagery over the last 20 years (the time in which pornography essentially became acceptable mainstream entertainment), we (I’m using a generic “we” here) need more taboo, more risque, subject matter to excite us because what was titillating before is boring now.

    The question now is how do we correct this, as a society?

  43. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Don wrote:
    “The majority in comic shops, yes, but we still represent a small limited niche market. Comics were once mass media. Now they’re a specialty product.”

    Yes. That’s why I think it’s really useless for Marvel or DC to make things such as the Adventures line unless they start printing them really cheaply (on newsprint) and getting them back into the sight of the average consumer (in check-out aisles etc.)and make them cheap enough (less than $2) to be a rather easy impulse buy for anyone. Having the bulk of them sit in the corner of a comic shop overshadowed by things like Civil War and 52 seems to be totally missing the point of making those comics to start with to me. Even if Marvel or DC didn’t make any, or made very little money off of the comics themselves, they would still serve as that much needed “gateway” IMO.

    “So you feel we don’t deserve the stereotype, but you enjoy something that perpetuates it.”

    I did NOT say it perpetuated it, I said it didn’t HELP it. There’s a big difference there.

    And me saying “I’m not about to post my name, address, phone #, etc. on the internet.” is just that. A statement that I’m not going to do that, not a statement that you asked for it. You know, you really read a lot of things into my statements that just aren’t there. Just as I feel you are reading a lot of things in those statues that just aren’t there.

    “I suggest they stop presenting a teenage character that’s a pop-culture icon as a fuckdoll.”

    Damn. That’s a pretty harsh statement. I am beginning to fully understand now why we will never agree on this and I will always think you and many others are overreacting to this. Because when I look at that statue I see a very well sculpted statue of a young lady in very good shape who’s pretty proud of her body wearing a short skirt and a belly shirt and striking a playfully flirty pose. And when you look at it you apparently see a statue of a 17-year old girl “fuckdoll” “inviting someone to spooge on her belly” and that she “seems to invite, seems to beg for something to be done. It’s like this blonde bimbo is offering a target for a perverse super-hero universe money shot.” I mean jumpin Jesus on a pogostick! You make it sound like it’s a diorama of her buck naked on her knees in the middle of a gangbang. And it’s just not. That’s why I don’t think I’m condoning sex with underage girls because I don’t see ANY of that. It’s just NOT THERE. I can’t speak for anyone else but it sure as hell doesn’t make ME start salivating and wanna run out and grab the nearest underage girl and have sex with her. I know better. And if I didn’t know better, then they SHOULD lock me (or anyone else) up and throw away the key. If I can appreciate that statue for the piece of art that it is, and you get all of that stuff you said from it, then YOU TELL ME which one of us is more living up to the “horny, sexually frustrated basement dweller” stereotype???

  44. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Don wrote:
    “One could argue that by purchasing such an overt representation of a teen in a clearly sexual circumstance, you are condoning it.”

    So anyone who purchases Supergirl statues or comics (which are just as overt… and much easier to get) is condoning sex with underage girls? Have you never bought or read Supergirl?

    “Before you launch into a tirade about how it happens in other media, let me say this: the same can be said, for example, of men who drooled over the Olsen twins a few years ago, making crass comments about anticipating their 18th birthday.”

    Comparing buying a statue of a fictional character in a belly shirt and short skirt striking a playful pose to making comments about wanting to have sex with real life under-age girls is utterly and completely ridiculous to me. It represents a very extreme way of thinking and is a perfect example of what I am speaking out against. I sincerely believe you need to give this a little more thought.

  45. Don MacPherson Says:

    Seba wrote:
    i think the root of the problem here is this: adult men reading superhero comics. come on guys, superheros?

    I don’t think that’s a fair criticism. Millions of adults read J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, which are aimed at children.

    there are so many other great stories out there. check out the vertigo imprints!

    On this point, we agree. There’s no need to limit one’s reading to a single genre in comics.

  46. Don MacPherson Says:

    Aaron wrote:
    Essentially because we’ve been so overexposed to various sexual imagery over the last 20 years (the time in which pornography essentially became acceptable mainstream entertainment), we (I’m using a generic “we” here) need more taboo, more risque, subject matter to excite us because what was titillating before is boring now. The question now is how do we correct this, as a society?

    You seem to be suggesting that society ought to scale back on adult entertainment in general, and I don’t agree with that. We don’t need “more taboos.” Sex is natural. One of my points is that the suggestion of sex with teens is not.

  47. Don MacPherson Says:

    Floyd wrote:
    I did NOT say it perpetuated it, I said it didn’t HELP it. There’s a big difference there.

    No, there’s not, but clearly, you cannot be convinced. And that’s fine.

    And me saying “I’m not about to post my name, address, phone #, etc. on the internet.” is just that. A statement that I’m not going to do that, not a statement that you asked for it. You know, you really read a lot of things into my statements that just aren’t there. Just as I feel you are reading a lot of things in those statues that just aren’t there.

    It’s not just “a statement that you’re not going to do that.” It’s a response to a criticism about your anonymity, and therefore, it suggests you were asked to provide all of that information. It’s designed to make it seem as though I made an outlandish demand of you, a demand that was never made. And that recurring tactic in your effort to participate in the debate takes me closer and closer to a point at which I am not inclined to approve your posts. Consider this a fair warning.

    And I’m not “reading” things into the statues that aren’t there. You’ve agreed they’re designed to titillate adults. We disagree on whether or not it’s appropriate.

    If I can appreciate that statue for the piece of art that it is, and you get all of that stuff you said from it, then YOU TELL ME which one of us is more living up to the “horny, sexually frustrated basement dweller” stereotype???

    Here’s the problem… you’re on the defensive because you’ve interpreted my column so as to suggest that you have been deemed to fit into the creepy stereotype of the comic fan. No one has said that; I certainly haven’t. I’m saying the stereotype persists in society. I also said that there are those fans out there — a tiny minority — who fit the stereotype.

    Apparently, your defence is to suggest that I fit the stereotype, that I’m sexually frustrated, for no other reason, it seems, than because I dare to express an opinion that’s takes issue with something you enjoy.

    Before you try to post another response, review your words carefully and see if they’re designed to (a) contribute to the discussion or (b) to sling mud.

    So anyone who purchases Supergirl statues or comics (which are just as overt… and much easier to get) is condoning sex with underage girls? Have you never bought or read Supergirl?

    You know I didn’t make such an argument. We’re talking about the statue specifically in this case and its hyper-sexualization of the character. Yes, there are similar images that make their way into the Supergirl comic, and I feel those aren’t necessary either. But I didn’t paint the entire series with that brush, as you’ve suggested. Again, cut it out with the tactic of misrepresenting my words.

  48. Ovid Says:

    I’m basically with Don on this topic.

    But, quite apart from Supergirl’s youth, it’s not so much the sexualisation as such – it’s the objectification, the fact that the characters are passively sexual. Supergirl essentially offering herself up to be looked at and doing nothing else. Catwoman is more active, but in that context her cleavage is completely nonsensical – again it’s only there to be leered at. It’s not about selling sex. It’s about how sex is sold – that sex equates with female passivity and availability. The fact that these images are profitable is irrelevant. You can’t confuse profitable dealing and ethical dealing. It is unethical to promote these images of women even if you make money from it, IMO.

    As for Roguespirit’s observation about Brave and the Bold #2, I have to disagree for a similar reason. The point of the conversation between GL and SG was that she was coming on to him in a crush-like way (he’s a handsome hero, after all), and he, the adult, was reminding himself not to misinterpret it and take advantage of a beautiful young woman. Later, SG dresses as a little girl precisely to disguise her actual power which she’s going to reveal. She’s intelligently using ‘vulnerable girl’ tropes to fool the audience. Maybe it’s because I’m from a country where 16 is the age of consent, but none of that bothered me.

  49. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Don wrote:
    “It’s not just “a statement that you’re not going to do that.” It’s a response to a criticism about your anonymity, and therefore, it suggests you were asked to provide all of that information. It’s designed to make it seem as though I made an outlandish demand of you, a demand that was never made. And that recurring tactic in your effort to participate in the debate takes me closer and closer to a point at which I am not inclined to approve your posts. Consider this a fair warning.”

    None of this was my intention. If you really feel like it was, I invite you to please remove the “I’m not about to…” line from the post. It would have absolutely no effect on the points I was actually trying to make.

  50. sojourner Says:

    One thing that people often seem to forget in this discussion, or just don’t want to talk about, is the effect it has not only on children, but on women coming into stores. When I started to try to get comics, I HATED going into those stores that have the cheesecake covers at the front,and overly sexualised, child-like, passive or just “fuckdoll”-like statues (some of the manga, witchblade, or Red Sonja ones…) It just feels like a male space in which women are sexually available fantasy figures. Yes I know that male characters are also idealised, but it isn’t (usually – the above notwithstanding!) in a sexualised way. There are some fabulous portrayals of women in superhero comics – Manhunter ; Fallen Angel ; Rucka’s Wonder Woman, anything written by Joss Whedon or BKV, for example, but there’s way to much that assumes that unnaturally big breasts are an essential of any superheroine powers. And before someone says it – I’m not in favour of censorship, and people can indulge whatever desires they want, but I think retailers should think about how they will build the strongest base for the industry – by catering to their biggest spenders, or by building a space that is welcoming to a much broader demographic.

  51. Willow Says:

    Floyd The Barber Says:
    April 18th, 2007 at 1:39 am
    I’m sorry, but I think you’re overreacting to this just a tad. Personally I think those vinyl statues are beautiful…o Let’s face it, and just be honest here, it’s been years since these characters have REALLY been marketed to children anyway and everyone knows it.

    So if it’s not for children, it’s alright if it’s over sexualized. Never mind that people find the same movies and magazines and everything you’re quoting as ‘just the same’ as also being over sexualized.

    And I can’t believe you had the gall to bring up Barbie. Women have been complaining about Barbie and her lack of representation of real women for years.

    Violence in comics is one thing. And if you want to ring that bell, then by all means, ring that bell. But just because you don’t find something gratuitous insensitive, demeaning and unnecessary doesn’t mean it isn’t.

    People just love sex and they always will. It’s natural. That’s why it sells.

    Not People – Men. Men like a certain type of sex. And that representation sells. And men often don’t see anything wrong with it.

    Ugh…

  52. Don MacPherson Says:

    Willow, we agree on several points, but I have to point out something about your final comment…

    You wrote:
    Men like a certain type of sex. And that representation sells. And men often don’t see anything wrong with it.

    I don’t think it’s completely fair to paint the entire gender with that brush. There was a time when it would have been an accurate statement, and had you said “most men,” I think we’d be on the same page. But I think things have improved somewhat, that we have people of both genders recognizing there are problems.

  53. Willow Says:

    Maybe I’m bitter?

    I should say most men. I thought I had said most men. But I guess I’ve had too many experience saying most, and thinking of exceptions, only to find out that the men in particular were looking at things from a completely different pov, that only seemed similar to what my point was.

    But for fairness sake, yes, most would be correct. My apologies.

  54. 1 Says:

    Don wrote:
    Groovy… it’s a special delivery… for the ladies. Or perhaps this is DC’s subtle attempt to test of the waters in the yaoi fanbase.

    Not only is most of the yaoi fanbase female, it is also actually a genre that was started by women for women despite what many Westerners often think. The proportion of gay fans in Western countries is much higher than in Japan. Also, in Japanese bookstores, there are separate shelves for manga for men and for women, and yaoi is in the ones for women. Thus no confusion is possible about the target audience. Many Japanese gay men despise Yaoi because of its lack of realism, and because they feel it objectifies them. Manga made by gay men for gay men are very different from yaoi and they feature overly hairy and muscular men, complete opposites of the ones in yaoi.

  55. Don MacPherson Says:

    Yes, I realized after publishing the editorial that my offhand comment about yaoi was off the mark. Rather than edit the piece to make myself look better, I opted to let my mistake stand (as one would have to in print).

  56. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Willow wrote:
    “And I can’t believe you had the gall to bring up Barbie. Women have been complaining about Barbie and her lack of representation of real women for years.”

    That’s WHY I brought her up. Jesus Christ people, I know I’ve been accused of misrepresenting others here, but how much of what I said has been misrepresented? Did you not read the (who’s no better) part afterwards?

    “So if it’s not for children, it’s alright if it’s over sexualized.”

    YES! Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes! If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. You HAVE that choice. When I have a problem is when people suggest things like this shouldn’t be made. That takes away the choice of the people who want it.

    “Not People – Men. Men like a certain type of sex. And that representation sells. And men often don’t see anything wrong with it.”

    The truth is not all women think this way. I’ve known quite a few women (my wife included) who can enjoy super-hero comics (and sex for that matter) without it making them feel demeaned in any way. I’m sure you would probably argue that they’re not intelligent enough to worry about such things. I would argue that they know better than to turn to comics and entertainment to fix deeper social problems.

  57. Willow Says:

    Floyd The Barber Says:
    April 26th, 2007 at 12:30 am

    If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. You HAVE that choice. When I have a problem is when people suggest things like this shouldn’t be made.

    I don’t buy it. My problem is with it being presented as the only way the genre can be. And with it saying ‘I represent the current taste /trend in Super Hero Comics’

    When it’s being promoted as General Audience I don’t have the same ability to ignore it when I go shopping for comics, because it’s right. there.

    That’s not the same as erotic comics, made for adults that you can get behind the counter or where-ever.

    The truth is not all women think this way.

    But not all women don’t. I don’t appreciate being told that my pov is wrong or worthless simply because the women in your life have never said anything along my lines.

    Not all women think this way means not ALL WOMEN think this way. Therefore there are some women who feel demeaned and devalued and as if they’re being shut out of something they used to enjoy as children or teenagers or want to enjoy now as adults.

    There. Is. A. Problem.

    I don’t understand why it is, when people say ‘There is a problem. I’m bringing it to your attention. I’m not the only one with this problem. If you could fix this problem there would be a greater enjoyment to be had by more people’ – And the response is ‘But not all people feel the way you do’.

    Since when has the majority ever done anything for the betterment of the minority?

    That’s why the minority speaks up. But as loud as we speak, everyone else keeps shouting louder to the point where it’s easier to become involved in something else and comic fandom loses out.

    Moreover, personally, I am sick and tired of saying ‘There is a problem Comics Fandom. There is a problem, men in Comics’ and being told that I’m actually saying ‘CENSORSHIP. OMG THE BOOBIES. OH GOD THE SEX!!! IT BURRRRNNNNNS! BELLYBUTTONS OH NO! OH MY THROBBING PRUDES’

    Cause I’m not.

  58. Floyd The Barber Says:

    Willow wrote:
    “I don’t appreciate being told that my pov is wrong or worthless”

    I would never ever say anyone’s pov was worthless. And if I thought so I surely wouldn’t take the time to even respond to it. Please realize that to disagree isn’t always to attack.

    “My problem is with it being presented as the only way the genre can be.”

    But it’s not. There are definitely more realistic portrayals of women in comics out there. Most of which have been really high quality nicely done comics. Marvel’s Spider-girl is a fine example. As was Marvel’s Alias series. David Mack’s Kabuki continues to be one of the most original comics out there. DC’s Manhunter is a good example. On the Indy side I recommend the long running Strangers In Paradise. Queen and Country is another good one. If you can find any Valiant’s short-lived Harbinger was an excellent example of portraying realistic girls as super-heroes. The one sad sad thing all these great series have in common is that they have all had very little financial success when compared to “the standard”. They are all either cancelled (Harbinger, Alias, Manhunter), have faced cancellation (Spider-girl) or are far under the radar of a lot of comics fans (Strangers, Kabuki). All of these amount to sales. I’m sure there are other fine examples, these are just the ones that come to mind that I have personally enjoyed. Maybe you have supported some of these series, maybe you haven’t. It just seems to me that there are A lot of people willing to complain, point fingers and cry “shame, shame” about gratuitous portrayals WITHOUT actually getting out there and supporting comics made in attempt to balance things out. And to me that just reeks of hypocrisy.

    I FREELY ADMIT AND (believe it or not) AGREE with you guys that there certainly could be more of a variety of the way women are portrayed in comics. But do you really believe pointing to Supergirl and Catwoman and saying “Shame on DC” is going to turn that tide? The only way that tide is ever going to turn is if people actually start buying and supporting what they do want to see.

  59. Toon Brew » Blog Archive » Mary Jane Washwoman Says:

    [...] Women and comics will likely be a volatile combination for years yet. The tight costumes, big breasts, and stereotypical behavior are not going anywhere, and neither is the legion of nerdlings defending them as “no big deal.” The worst part is that I agree with both camps, to a certain extent. Big boobs and tight costumes don’t really bother me (besides, now we have bulges to counteract them!). Portrayals of helpless, stupid, overly-domesticated women do. [...]

  60. Aaron James Says:

    The American public is obsessed with sexuality in an unhealthy way. When Janet’s breast is a bigger scandal for many than the Iraq war and a kid seeing a naked body causes more fear and panic than kids seeing people getting their heads cut off (notice that Tales from the Crypt was played in TV in prime-time), that’s demonstrative of a collective neurosis.

    America is a country that suffers from sexual neurosis, period. Sometimes it’s almost like there will be a return to sex with holes in a sheet. Look at how men won’t even take a group shower now and get dressed inside a towel. Why? They’re worried someone might see them naked and even post a photo on the Internet. Big deal. Everyone has a penis or breasts and a small number have both. Get over it, people.

    Kids are playing Grand Theft Auto and FPS games because killing is good and breasts/dicks are evil. Sorry, but that’s fucked up.

  61. Aaron James Says:

    As for the issue of sexism… I agree that it’s not a good thing for sexist portrayals of women to be commonplace without similarly provocative portrayals of men being seen. If the objectification is done equally, then it’s no big deal. People fantasize and objectify bodies. In fact, the superhero physique itself is a form of objectification. We don’t see fat or skinny super heros very much, and if we do, they usually morph into idealized (objectified) bodies. But, there are examples of arguably demeaning depictions of females and bordering perverted depictions (like that Supergirl). The reality is, though, that people aren’t fully mature until around age 24. That’s right, folks. That’s what the scientific evidence now shows about brain maturity. So, are we going to extend childhood to that point? Personally, I think people need to remember that there’s a big difference between a sexually functional adolescent and a pre-pubescent. Cries of pedophilia in reaction to something like that Supergirl statue are unwarranted. It may be uncomfortable for many adults to recognize the fact that adolescent bodies are sexually attractive, but that discomfort itself says we have to deal with sexuality more frankly, instead of trying to censor it away.

    If people would stop treating the human body as if it’s evil, our culture would be in lot better shape. That’s the bottom line.