Where the girls are

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Various notes and comments on various aspects of women in comics over the past few days.

§ Reminder: It’s always someone’s first convention panel!. Huffington Post’s Michelle Kung:

I began the fest with a DC Comics cocktail event at the Park Bar, where I was introduced to a slew of writers and more importantly, was given a kick-ass Watchmen movie poster. On Friday, I walked the booths, paid $5 for a small cup of gelato, and wandered in and out of various panels, many of which I found surprisingly lackluster. Sessions such as the Women In Comics panel featured writers already overly familiar with their co-panelists and audience questions, which resulted in relatively rote answers. (Said one female cartoonist: “I’m just waiting for a day when I’ll be recognized as just a comics writer, and not a female comics writer.” Yawn.) My friend and fellow Comic Con virgin Georgia had a more exciting day — when she bought her first ever comic book, she was “forced” to take a shot of vodka by the vendors.


§ At Comixology, Shaenon K. Garrity looks at The Girls of Shonen Manga:

THE DITZ: A childlike woman (often with a very adult body) who leaps all over the hero like a puppy and routinely forgets key articles of clothing. Often the Ditz is a foreigner, to explain her ignorance of concepts like “modesty” and “personal space.” Other times, she’s just stupid. The Ditz is seldom a serious contender for the hero, with occasional exceptions like Ranma 1/2, where Shampoo (an unusually aggressive Ditz) puts up a good fight. Her primary function is to provide random, unmotivated fanservice, and therefore she is essential to harem manga


§ Also at Comixology, Kristy Valenti interviews Aimie Major Steinberger:

This exploit perfectly encapsulates the flavor of Steinberger’s experiences, most of which were mediated by her (and her friends’) fangirlness[1]; but what’s refreshing about the way that Steinberger presents her geekiness is that she’s confidently un-neurotic about it: she’s aware of others’ reactions, but she never lets that stop her from playfully having her fun. There was no sense of oxymoron when she described herself to me in a personal interview as “just a normal geek girl, you know?”

DC Babes Where the girls are
§ At NYCC, DC was giving away this very cool poster by Adam Hughes of the various ladies of the DCU with the headline, “The Real Power of the DC Universe.” Online response that we’ve seen has been positive, and it’s definitely a smart take-off on the Annie Leibovitz Vanity Fair-style covers of the past year. But it still seems so…homogenous. Adam Hughes draws the way he does, so it’s no surprise that all the women of the DCU have giant boobs, identical frames and all appear to be about 5’9″. Not like, say, this:

love n rockets Where the girls are

Or even this:
 Where the girls are
§ It turns out that large boobs are such an important factor to the superhero life that their absence is cause for a breaking news item in itself:
supergirl%20yellow%20bg Where the girls are

DC is also launching several titles with an eye toward capturing a younger audience. Editor Jann Jones announced the upcoming Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, with art that features a flat-chested, prepubescent Supergirl. The upcoming kid-friendly line also includes Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam. DC is excited about recreating the entry-level comic experience, no doubt anticipating the the kids who will grow up to fill future Con audiences. As for Supergirl, the first to be released, it’ll have “all the fun of life in Junior High,” Jones promised, which to me sounds menacing. DiDio added, for the benefit of the room: “And no boobs.”


The new Supergirl will be by Landry Walker and Eric Jones, apparently.

§ Finally, Elayne Riggs deals with the occasional waves of low self-esteem that convention going regularly creates:

That’s when this odd feeling came over me that, after having been involved with the comic convention scene for over 20 years now, I didn’t really fit in any more. As far as Team Comics was concerned, I was the nobody I’d always suspected myself to be. Out of work, out of practice, out of favor, I succumbed to the enemy of every fanboy and fangirl, the overblown sense of entitlement. Everything I experienced was suddenly All About Me, which precipitated a dangerous downward spiral. On some level I knew it didn’t correlate with reality, but I’d managed to make a complete disconnect between “wasn’t that nice finding the pros-only curtained-off area with its own friggin’ oxygen bar on Saturday so we could catch up with Bryan Hitch during his one free half-hour” and “poor poor pitiful me nobody loves me pass the worms.”

Comments

  1. Mark Coale says:

    While young Supergirl seems like a good idea, it will be even creepier when the feitshistic/dirty old man portion of the comics universe start getting creepy sketched done of the character.

  2. “And no boobs” may just be the most asinine quote I’ve ever heard come out of a con report. I’m not one of those “ZOMG! Dan DiDio must die for ruining the DCU!!!!11one” types, but I went into the DC Nation panel at WizWorld Chicago last year with an open mind and walked out wanting to smack him for the litany condescending, smart-ass comments like that one. Sheesh, Dan. Sheesh.

  3. Oh gosh yes, Mark. I know where you’re coming from but in fairness, the kind of people who apply sexualized elements to child characters in cartoons will do so regardless of character design. I can see girls liking the new Supergirl character as long as she stays smart and cool (that is to say, provided she has more of a personality beyond existing sans-mamms).

  4. Regarding the allegedly uniform monster boobage in the Hughes poster, Supergirl is not “bustin’ out all over.”

    And what the hell are Harley and Ivy doing among the good guys when Hawkgirl is notably absent? And I’m sorry but Ivy, now that she’s green, looks like the goddess of marijuana, so I suggest that she just get it over with and change her name to Potwoman. Seriously, have Hughes redraw her gown into something a bit more Stevie Nicks and you’ll see what I mean.

  5. The fact that he actually said, “No boobs” indicates that, at one point or another, boobs were a “marketing strategy” when putting together a book about a female character.

    How…sad.

    As we all know there are hot women of all shapes and sizes. One size does not fit all.

  6. Lee Boone says:

    I have to defend Adam Hughes here. While the women of DC are certainly not as varied in body type as the women of Love and Rockets, they are certainly depicted here with a lot more variety than one typically sees in superhero comics. There seems to be a baseline represented by Catwoman, Zatanna, Barbara, Carary and Ivy. Batwoman is more slender, Vixen is more athletic (and less busty than I’ve seen her anywhere else). Wonder Woman is tall, almost to the point of being willowy, harley has a more compact frame. Supergirl actually LOOKS younger than the rest and Power Girl is… well… Power Girl. (Aren’t these two supposed to be the same person? That makes my brain hurt a little.)

    My first thought when I saw this was “I’m so glad Michael Turner didn’t draw this.”

    Yes, they are all beautiful and it seems silly that looks should be a job requirement for super-heroing. But that’s a different post.

  7. when she bought her first ever comic book, she was “forced” to take a shot of vodka by the vendors.

    Ah… I sense the presence of Ken Knudtsen!

    When Landry and Eric announced their Supergirl miniseries, I immediately said, “She’s so age-appropriate!” and Landry told me that people were already complaining, insisting that an eighth-grader should have boobs. So, so CREEPY!

  8. I, too, must rush to Mr. Hughes’ defense. None of those women look identical. Not all of them have large breasts. Qyite frankly, Power Girl is more covered up here than she is most of the time.

    These are sensual images, yes. But not one of them, not one, is exploitative.

  9. michael says:

    Good for Walker and Jones, those two have really pulled themselves up by their bootstraps from a few years ago.

    And I gotta agree. I always give a wayward look when one tries to describe the variety of women in comics, but it ends up being a man making the drawing. It is a little odd. Are there no women artists that could really make that same statement?

  10. Michael, a few years ago Eric and Landry were doing regular comics for Disney Adventures and their own series was being published by us. This is great news, but they were hardly out of work then — though the demise of DA last year definitely was not good for them.

  11. Lee Boone:
    Supergirl actually LOOKS younger than the rest and Power Girl is… well… Power Girl. (Aren’t these two supposed to be the same person? That makes my brain hurt a little.)

    I think Power Girl is supposed to be Supergirl from one of the alternate earths, so there’s room for a bit of variety. Maybe she’s from Earth Busty? =^p

    Michael:
    I always give a wayward look when one tries to describe the variety of women in comics, but it ends up being a man making the drawing. It is a little odd. Are there no women artists that could really make that same statement?

    I would have loved to have seen Amanda Conner do a drawing like this…

  12. I wonder just how mutant-y and weird the wide variety of body shapes present in real women must look to people who don’t see a certain homogeneity in the women’s bodies in the Hughes drawing.

    OK, no more commenting for me. My file has finished processing finally.

  13. Bill Cunningham said:

    “The fact that he actually said, “No boobs” indicates that, at one point or another, boobs were a “marketing strategy” when putting together a book about a female character.

    How…sad.”

    Philosophical Question:

    If you were absolutely convinced that the main biological purpose of women’s breasts was that of “advertising” sexuality–

    What morality would be outraged by using breasts to sell cheap fiction?

  14. Hey, I’ve another file processing. That philosophical question is moot because the main biological function of women’s breast is NOT to advertise sexuality. If we’re talking biology, breasts are to feed infants. That anyone would base an argument on the premise that breasts are primarily for men to ogle just shows me the thinking going on here. I agree that boobs are nice and are secondary sex characteristics that indicate that a woman is sexually mature, but jeezus, talk about the invasion of the male gaze! I really can’t believe that you would use that as a premise for an argument. Its invalidity makes your “philosophical” question completely moot.

    Also, one thing about breasts is that they are attached to a woman.

    I am seeing so many examples lately for never venturing among men ever again. Makes a girl wish a burqa were a voluntary option sometimes. Seriously.

  15. Okay, sure, boobsboobsbad boobsboobsgood, but in the meantime, getta load’a how cool it is the Hughes gives these characters fittingly diverse facial features. I can’t help but smile at Babs’ little grin, as if she’s rolling her eyes at Selina’s pretensiousness as much as she is at Diana’s propensity for cleavage.

    The poses, monchrome palate, and sly fun of the piece suggest to me that Hughes may have been inspired by promo campaign photos for The L Word, another piece of pop cultural ephemera that effectively utilizes female diveristy.

  16. Torsten Adair says:

    Hmmm… interesting file name on the AH! jpg…

    Adam Hughes draws beautiful women (and men). While I am not a diehard fan of DC (I wouldn’t have guessed Batwoman and Raven), I think he did an admirable job of delineating each character via the dress and pose.

    Two things I would like to see: the equivalent AH! poster with male characters (not necessarily in tuxedos, as that might be boring); and a “couples” poster by Colleen Doran, drawn in her “Distant Soil” glamour style.

    Wow. Just thinking about the CA Supergirl… is she gonna use the wig from the silver age, or has that be co-opted by Hannah Montana?

  17. I’m sponsoring a contest to draw a male equivalent poster, with a cash prize. No one’s entered yet, but it’s still early.

  18. Oh God, please tell me the OMG BOOBS thing hasn’t infiltrated over here, too…

    ::weary look::

  19. michael says:

    Jennifer, yeah, I know. But I meant before that even, when they were self publishing, doing their x-ray comics and all. :)

  20. Steve Taylor says:

    Waitafugginminnit!!!!
    Who draws anybody in corporate superhero comics realistically???!!!!
    Real guys don’t look like the men drawn by these artist’s anymore than real women do. Who’s a sexist?
    It’s all sexist,…and age-ist and anti fat,…and not enough black people,…who aren’t criminal,…and all that crap that everyone has been railing against for a decade and a half.
    It’s all stereotype.
    Idealized stereotype.
    It’s dreamland.
    BOOBS!!???!!!
    I’ve never seen men in real life with boobs as big as the ones in Superhero comics. And then when an artist draws a quasi realistic representation of a guy’s actual crotch,…you know,…that doesn’t look like a Ken doll,…you see it reproduced all over the internet as if a penis were some sort of anomaly. A unicorn horn.
    Boobs!
    Indeed!

  21. The Supergirl art: time for a remix.

  22. “The Real Power of the DC Universe.”

    Women standing around in white gowns?

  23. Jennifer said,

    “Hey, I’ve another file processing. That philosophical question is moot because the main biological function of women’s breast is NOT to advertise sexuality. If we’re talking biology, breasts are to feed infants.”

    To my knowledge every other mammal that suckles has teats that go (technical term here) “sessile” when not in use. Breasts that are just permanent bags of fat with glands running through them would seem to be counter-intuitive from a survival point of view. But if they enhance survival in other ways, as with sexual signalling, then the short-term disadvantage could become a long-term advantage.

    It may be that the question of “why boobs” is one that will never be definitively answered, being that it deals with evolutionary events to which none of us were witness. But a “moot question” it isn’t.

  24. Hmm, I know I saw “sessile” in a bio book used that way but now I don’t find it with that definition in Onelook. Must have been a specialized usage.

    For “sessile” substitute “flat,” then.

  25. Oops. And did I write “mammals?”

    I meant “anthropoid mammals.”

  26. Heidi, thank you so much for reminding me that I love “Love & Rockets”, WHY i love “Love & Rockets”, and HOW MUCH i love “Love & Rockets”.

  27. Lee Boone says:

    Of course there is a lot of sameness to the women that Hughes draws. Just 90% less than you’ll find in most superhero art. 10% of a trillion is a hundred billion – which is still a pretty big number. Anyone who looks to real women with expectations based on superhero comics probably has serious coping difficulties.
    So Kudos to Hughes for trying, perhaps others will be encouraged to try harder.

  28. Unpopular says:

    “Adam Hughes draws the way he does, so it’s no surprise that all the women of the DCU have giant boobs, identical frames and all appear to be about 5′9″.”

    They don’t all have giant boobs. They don’t show the wide range of types that a Love and Rockets will exhibit, but Love and Rockets is more grounded in reality. Plus, Adam Hughes can only draw from the established statistics of these characters. While I don’t know what their stats are, I would assume they’re all basically taller than average with anatomically idealized frames. It’s a beautiful piece of art. Why can’t that be enough?

    “When Landry and Eric announced their Supergirl miniseries, I immediately said, “She’s so age-appropriate!” and Landry told me that people were already complaining, insisting that an eighth-grader should have boobs. So, so CREEPY! ”

    Technically, an eighth-grader COULD have boobs. Stating that one SHOULD have boobs is silly. Not all women develop breasts at the same time, and sometimes they don’t develop any large enough to really stick out. However when I saw that picture of the new Supergirl, aside from thinking it looked great and that the book could be a great all ages read, I didn’t think eighth-grader. I thought maybe fifth or sixth-grader. I do think it’s unrealistic for eighth grade level, but it’s a comic book. It should just be appreciated for what it is, and it’s a great design with great potential. Buy it for your daughters. Maybe they’ll turn their attention away from Paris Hilton and Britney Spears for a minute or two, and we can all be thankful for that.

    “That philosophical question is moot because the main biological function of women’s breast is NOT to advertise sexuality. If we’re talking biology, breasts are to feed infants. ”

    That’s simplifying it a bit. Breasts serve multiple purposes. If they were just there to feed infants, there are more effecient designs for that sort of thing…. like the way a baby bottle looks, for example. The main biological function of a nipple and lobules is to feed infants. The rest of the breast isn’t exactly necessary. So one could conclude that the main function of the breast is to advertise sexuality, but it isn’t the main biological function of which there really isn’t one except to provide a comfy place to locate the nipples.

    Johanna, if I could draw, I would enter… and make them all look like Fabio on a romance novel cover.

    Steve Taylor is correct as well. It is often ignored how the men in comics are idealized representations as well. However, since men don’t really bother with worrying incessantly about how they are viewed as a result of this, it is rarely brought up. Plus, men aren’t allowed–due to how they are viewed by society–to whine and moan about stuff like that even if it did bother them they way women are. Which is why men often get tired of hearing women complain about this stuff all the time and have largely adopted a “get over it” viewpoint towards women on these types of things.

    “I am seeing so many examples lately for never venturing among men ever again. Makes a girl wish a burqa were a voluntary option sometimes. Seriously. ”

    A burqa is a voluntary option in places women aren’t forced into wearing them. So, feel free to wear one in the future. I’m sorry you are seeing so many examples for never venturing among men again, but if one of those examples is viewing the breast a more than just a biological baby bottle, then it has more to do with your personal attitude toward men than men themselves and their supposed bad behavior. Also, there are plenty of examples for men not wanting to venture out among women ever again, as a certain comic book creator has found which also has more to do with his personal views than women themselves. So, take what you will from that. There are plenty of worthwhile and worthless individuals on both sides of the fence, and I’m sorry things aren’t more in the positive for you in that area.

    Back to the topics at hand, the Adam Hughes piece is beautiful and a great piece of art, and the Supergirl design and future comic looks to be a positive and refreshing take on that particular character so hopefully it turns out to be a good book that lasts a long time.

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