Robot 6

Atlanta photographer reimagines DC heroes and villains in new exhibit

Golden Age Flash, by Philip Bonneau

The GA Voice profiles Atlanta artist Philip Bonneau, whose comic book-themed photography exhibit “Heroes + Villains #2″ opens April 7 at MISTER, the gay and bisexual men’s community center in Atlanta. While last year’s edition focused on Marvel characters, the new installment spotlights such DC Comics figures as Batman, Robin, Superman, The Joker, Wonder Woman, The Sandman, Lex Luthor, Catwoman and Alfred Pennyworth (with pulp heroes like Zorro and The Shadow thrown in).

“With comic books and superheroes, they all have secret identities, and there are so many gay connotations,” Bonneau tells the newspaper. “We can all understand trying to fit in.”

Check out some of the images from “Heroes + Villains #2″ below, or visit Bonneau’s Flickr account to see more of his work.



the flash one is cool. i checked out the flicker. overall, these kinda suck… nothing exciting about them at all… oooo… let’s take supercharacters and make them look weird or whatever… what a shocker…

These are terrible. I hate how everyone who plays with photoshop gets to call themselves a professional photographer today.

The Mona Lisa has a hot ass? How subversive! Please.

these are really dumb.

Let me guess whats next. The Justice League of Village People.

I don’t understand what you mean by the Village People comment. Could you break it down for me?

ElfLord, I believe MK was making a homophobic comment that would only be more offensive in breakdown. I’d rather they not explain :)

To be clear: I think these photographs are terrible partly because of what a lame display this is of homoeroticism in superhero culture. We used to have Mapplethorpe, and now this? Sad.

FYI, for those not familiar, the “she has a hot ass” thing is a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s Mona Lisa postcard, a famous Dada piece. In Duchamp’s version, the letters “LHOOQ” appear underneath. Phonetically, they sound like the French translation of the phrase “she has a hot ass”:

The Jay Garrick one was quite good

Fun photos. For everyone with their panties in a bunch, don’t worry – I don’t think they’re canon.

Captain Obvious

March 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm

This guy is a total hack.

Boring, cliched, uninspired, derivative.

I can’t even muster up the emotion to cringe.


Philip Bonneau

March 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm

As the artist I welcome any and all criticism of my work, good or bad. What was written in the article was not the whole concept of the show. While I do realize that the images depicted in this set of photos and others found in my collection the overall theme of the show is people reconnecting with their childhood imagination and pretending to be the heroes and villains they wanted to be growing up. Although the photoshopped flash effect is cool, the one in my show ultimately does not have that as I set my parameters of making these characters with basic props or everyday items. Each of these pieces derive from fine art and are to be taken more than face value. Thought went into these. Like them or not. They are mine, they were made and it is nothing more of an extension of my love for comics and being able to express myself in a way most cannot. Like it or not. It exists, it was created, and I challenge anyone else to do something differently or better that steps outside the scope of character portrayal for the sake of putting on a mask.

-Philip Bonneau

Gee, homophobic fanboys being snippy about these fantastic photos. What a surprise. I guess that every b@tchy fanboy is just an evil closet queen at heart.

Phillip, these are amazing. Thanks for sharing them!

Captain Obvious is describing his own post! I guess that’s where you get your name!

Batman says, “These are really dumb.” What an intelligent and thoughtful response! It must have taken you days to come up with it! You’re absolutely brilliant! I’m being sarcastic…thought it might be necessary to spell that out for you.

MK knows his disco! Creeeeek…is that the closet door I hear squeaking?

Loki Wolf-father

March 30, 2012 at 5:19 pm

These are pretty amazing. Anyone whining about the homoeroticsm that a project like this inevitably comes with, please, grow up. All of our favorite superheroes have dressed like they were going to a sex-party at some point, including the mighty Thor. Whether comics are a male fantasy or not, there is no escaping the latent homoerotica in comics, especially since mainstream comics are still pretty much a ‘no girls allowed’ club. Nice work, ‘specially on Aquaman and Robin.

Wow! What a narrow-minded bunch of first commenters, god job Philip!

Most of these are only good for a perv. Half naked (and naked) men posing. Thats all it is. And they could of put a younger guy to be Aquaman! :)

Not crazy about most of them.

Liked the Flash pic.

Also really liked The Shadow.

The Joker one was cool too because I could totally see the Joker doing something off the wall like that (and I was totally unaware of the Duchamp reference).

The Robin representation seemed a bit cliche and, as a “fanboy,” not crazy about the Aquaman portrayal.

I do have a problem with Truthie though. Why can’t someone criticize art, despite it’s origin, without being accused of homophobia or name calling? Sure some of the criticism seemed mean spirited but name calling and accusations of hate seem to be counterproductive. Just because someone doesn’t like a work does not necessarily mean they do not respect the artist as a fellow human being.

Just sayin’.

Flash and Sandman look the best overall.

Nice costume on Captain Marvel! haha… :)

These are indeed horrible.

I like The Shadow one…

Do these intentionally look like set photos from a superhero porno parody? I guess this is what happens when the same grossly exploitative impulses that produce the art of Ed Benes are applied to homoerotic “fine” art.

Thank you so much for the awesome write-up on my work. Figured that since the show has now opened that I would give the artist statement and a viewing of the final pieces so that you may see the whole scope of the show.

Artist statement on the work:
Growing up, my grandfather made a game out of everything. He was the
one that introduced me to comic and is the embodiment of the man who
never grew up and whom I strive to be.

This collection of images is based around adults reconnecting with
their childhood and remembering what it was like to pretend. As most
people age that imagination gets lost somewhere in the shuffle of
adult life. Stress takes over. The dreams shift from the fantastical
to, for some, just getting by and making ends meet. I strive to bring
that sense of wonder back to adults. I do so, taking into
consideration that not eery boy growing up wanted to be Batman or
Superman. Some wanted to be Wonder Woman.

With this work, I’ve give my subjects the change to rediscover their
childhood fantasies. In doing so, these people have become my heroes.
At some point I started to believe I could never become the heroes of
my childhood. I proved to myself with this series I was wrong to doubt

I encourage you to treat me as a hero or a villain based on my work.
This show is a social test on the iconic status of these characters.
These images do not ignore the past in social and art history but
often embraces it in the context of the world today. This is my
celebration of the idea the one can be anything or anyone they desire
to be. If you imagine it, it can come to life.

I HATE when no class plebes shred any artist’s work. Think you can do something better? Then by all means give it a shot! But to trash another person’s work is just obnoxious. Philip created something for us to enjoy so give him some decent respect.

I say very cool.

And the evolution continues on Philip Bonneau’s work through a new kickstarter project.

We caught up with Philip Bonneau as he gears up for Heroes and Villains 3. Check out the interview:

Seth J. Jones

July 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Great photo set.

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