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Last month on our sister blog Comics Should Be Good, columnist Kelly Thompson wrote a piece titled “6 Sublime Superheroine Redesigns” that profiled several recent costume makeovers she thought effective and true to the characters. In the post and the ensuing comments, talk abounded about the subject of superheroines often being saddled with revealing costumes that lean more toward fan service than suitable crime-fighting gear. Some posters argued there’s a current trend toward female characters having less-revealing costumes than in the past — Psylocke’s recent wardrobe redesign by Kris Anka was cited as an example — and that it’s an overreaction by publishers and designers that panders to feminists.
Anka took umbrage with some of the comments, and it opened the floor to an interesting debate about the look of superheroes. On the surface it questions the near-universal portrayal of female superheroes in more sexualized garb, but also attempts to draw a line between drawing a superhero as sexy without necessarily being sexist.
To see what Greg and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
Hello and welcome to a special birthday bash edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature. Typically the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently, but since it’s our anniversary, we thought we’d invite all our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources and Comics Should Be Good! to join in the fun.
To see what everyone has been reading, click below …
Hello and welcome to a special “birthday bash” edition of our weekly “What Are You Reading” feature, where the Robot 6 crew talks about what books we’ve read recently. Usually we invite a special guest to share what they’ve been reading, but since today isn’t just an ordinary day for us, we thought we’d invite a whole bunch of special guests to help us out — our friends and colleagues from Comic Book Resources, Spinoff and Comics Should Be Good!
To see what everyone has been reading, click below …
Hello and welcome to Send Us Your Shelf Porn, where fans can show off what they’ve got, so long as what they’ve got involves comic book collections. Would you like to show off your shelves? Drop me an email and let’s see what we can do.
Wait a minute — scratch that, reverse it. In an interview with Kelly Thompson of our CBR sister blog Comics Should Be Good, Ross Campbell, writer/artist of Water Baby, Wet Moon, and SLG’s upcoming superhero book Shadoweyes, says that when people complain that his work over-sexualizes his mostly female protagonists…they’re absolutely right:
Kelly: At the same time that you’ve been praised by many (both critics and fans) for your portrayals of women, you’ve also drawn some criticism from people that think you are fetishizing or over-sexualizing some of your female characters…what do you think about that?
Ross: I agree. Haha.
Kelly: You agree with the criticism?
Ross: Yeah. I think they’re right, and I look back on my older stuff and I cringe. Which is normal, I cringe regardless when I look at my work, but I think I definitely got out of control with the sexualization, particularly with Water Baby. And what made it worse was that it wasn’t even intentional, I wasn’t sitting down to try to make a specifically “sexy” or titillating book like you’d see Milo Manara do or whatever, and that I didn’t intend it makes it seem to worse to me.
Kelly: Yeah, that was my next question – intention vs. just natural evolution of art.
Ross: It just came out that way, like I didn’t even realize it until I started becoming more aware of it and what I was doing. I just regret that it took me so many years to “get” it.
Kelly: So you have deliberately changed your drawing process…I actually think that’s interesting and laudable. That you’re more interested in the message you’re perhaps sending then just, “this is fun to draw, and this is how my style looks right now”.
Ross:At first it was kind of like that, yeah. Like I reached a point actually while I was greytoning Water Baby, I think, that I started freaking out and almost tried to keep the book from being released and not wanting to finish it, and I was like “what am I doing, look at these characters’ boobs and everything, what is wrong with me?!” So after that I really had to train myself to draw how I wanted to draw, but I think it’s become more natural now that I’ve been moving in that direction for a few years, but it’s still a process.
Kelly: I find this fascinating…and admirable, I have to say. Few artists seem to have a vested interest in not contributing to exploitation. Especially to the degree that they’ll train themselves not to do it.
Ross: Yeah, I just don’t want to be part of that. And I think there’s a big difference between having characters just be attractive or sexy in a “natural” way (natural in quotes because they’re still drawn characters) than them being like…crazy sexpot male gaze characters for no reason. And I think there’s a place for those types of characters, it’s fine if an artist wants to do that, I still enjoy looking at some stuff like that, but not really in the types of stories I want to do.
For what it’s worth, I actually disagree with Campbell about whether his stuff is exploitative. Obviously, his style isn’t “natural” per se — on some level he’s choosing to draw attractive characters. But the range of the characters he’s rendered attractively — in terms of body type, weight, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, personal style, intelligence, personality, pretty much every variable — is so broad and impressive that, to me at least, it’s a million miles away from a Supergirl upskirt shot or your average brokeback-pose sexy amazon-woman superheroine. Never does he single out an unrealistic ideal and present that as the one and only acceptable form of sexiness. It may not be “natural,” but it feels like it comes naturally through Campbell’s view of the world, and the characters with which he’s chosen to populate it. Still, I’m happy to see a cartoonist considering this issue at all, you know?
Back in the mid-2000s, Brian Cronin and I worked together at the earlier version of this blog, The Great Curve. Currently, of course, Cronin is known for great work at Robot 6’s older sibling blog, Comics Should Be Good. Out of that, in mid-2005, Cronin launched his very popular Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed weekly feature. In fact, that particular feature became so popular in late April Plume released a book by Cronin, Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed, in which he “demystifies all of the interesting stories, unbelievable anecdotes, wacky rumors, and persistent myths that have piled up like priceless back issues in the seventy-plus years of the comic book industry”. I caught up with my fellow CBR-based writer to chat about his new book.
Tim O’Shea: What were some of the hardest questions to research?
Brian Cronin: Among the legends in the book, I would say that the one about George Lucas and the old Uncle Scrooge story would be the hardest, as Lucas is not exactly the easiest fellow to come into contact with, so after quite some time trying to find information about it, I luckily was able to come into contact with his friend (and the editor of the great Carl Barks’ tribute volume, Uncle Scrooge McDuck–His Life & Times), Edward Summer, who was invaluable in getting an answer to that question.
O’Shea: In terms of the questions that were sent in, were there one or two that just seemed completely implausible at first, but to your amazement turned out to be true?