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A rather lame defense of Michael Turner

All right, even though Ragnell may get grumpy with me, I’m still going to defend Michael Turner (rather lamely, though)!  Let’s go under the fold!

So Michael Turner and his abominable drawings have been the buzz of the comics blogaxy for a time, and let’s face it – whether you love them (which I guess a LOT of people do) or hate them (which I hope a lot of people do), there’s no denying that the man gets people talking.  Recently, of course, everyone was a-twitter over the cover of JLA #10:

justiceleague-10.jpg

Yes, it’s Power Girl.  Yes, Brad Meltzer actually made a joke about asking Turner to reduce them (God, I hope it was a joke) and said he calls them “the bottled cities of Kandor.”  Oh, the humor!  But let’s not get into the ramifications of this yet.  This is a fairly typical Michael Turner drawing – the ubiquitous “porn face,” the odd poses, and the impossible anatomy.  Turner has made a living with stuff like this, so the fact that he did it to Power Girl, whose sole defining characteristic throughout her entire existence (as a fictional character, that is) has been that she has big boobs, isn’t terribly surprising.  But let’s move on.

As I was wandering around cyberspace, I came across a link to an article about the “Top 20 Hot Female Athletes (That Actually Still Sorta Do Something Athleticy).”  Now, ignoring the fact that the authors of the article refer to the female athletes with the pronoun “that” instead of “who,” on the side of the article was an advertisement for the magazine that is published by the people who do the web site.  Let’s check it out, shall we?

img4625447a027ce.jpg

This is an actual female human.  Look at her!  (Her name is Jillian, by the way.)  I realize that it’s probably airbrushed, but check out Jillian’s midsection.  It is, if you’ll allow me to compare, almost freakishly comic bookey.  It just doesn’t look real, yet she is, as I mentioned, an actual female human.  Weird.

So what’s my point?  Well, let’s go back to Turner.  It seems the criticism of Turner boils down to a few points:

a) He draws women so that people buying his comics (mostly, let’s be honest, men between 20-40) will believe all women look like that and have unrealistic expectations for women they meet, therefore ruining their chances to have an actual relationship;

b) He draws women so that impressionable young ladies, say under the age of 20, will believe this is what men like so that they will diet until their ribs protrude from their bodies and they will get plastic surgery until their breasts cause them to fall forward;

c) The drawing really, really, really, really sucks.

Now, let’s be honest: does b) really apply?  Are girls who might be traumatized by Kara’s ungainly body really buying Justice League?  I’m not saying they’re not, but I do have a hard time believing it.  Maybe Meltzer’s epic is a huge hit among the tween set.  This doesn’t necessarily excuse Turner, but the fact that impressionable young girls probably don’t even see his drawings does mitigate his guilt a bit.  JUST A TINY BIT!  As for a), well, anyone who thinks that doesn’t deserve an actual woman anyway, and they should die alone.  As for Power Girl, it’s not really Turner’s fault that she has, as I mentioned, big boobs.  I have no idea who created Power Girl, but ever since I first saw her (in Justice League Europe, I think), she’s had big boobs.  Giffen and DeMatteis and any editors working at DC didn’t tell Bart Sears, “Hey, could you tone down the breasts a bit?”  So there’s that.

My point is that Michael Turner’s drawing seems far less egregious to me than the magazine cover.  This is a magazine for men, obviously, but it’s just an example of print advertising being far more widespread and noticeable than comic book covers.  If the insult of Turner’s drawing is to impressionable teens who get a skewed body image because of it, then there are far worse and far more mainstream examples.  Print ads and television commercials and music videos are everywhere, and girls can’t avoid them.  They can, however, avoid Turner’s awful drawings.  And the print ads and commercials and videos show actual humans.  Girls looking at a drawing of Power Girl would, presumably, know that she’s fake.  Girls looking at Pamela Anderson might think that she’s not fake.  Girls watching many music videos might think that all men treat women like, you know, hos (I just learned that word from Don Imus, by the way!).

And then there’s the Minx line.  First of all, this comic line that we’ve been told is marketed to teenaged girls is named “Minx,” which means “a pert, impudent, or flirtatious young girl,” implying that young girls should act that way, but let’s move beyond that.  For one of their new titles, Clubbing, they got Josh Howard for the art, who likes to draw girls like this:

goth_girl_pose_000.jpg

I’m certainly not saying Howard is going to draw the teens in Clubbing this way, but if girls read that and want to find out more about him, they will find dangerously skinny girls in a variety of slutty outfits.  Turner’s “superhero porn” isn’t adorning a flagship title of a line of comics aimed at girls, is all I’m saying.

As you can tell, I’m not really defending Michael Turner’s awful art as much as asking how awful it is.  We have:

a) A horrible drawing of a superhero on a book that is primarily targeted to male adults;

b) An artist who enjoys drawing women who look like teenagers dressed in revealing outfits on a title marketed to teenaged girls;

c) Mainstream advertising that teenaged girls really can’t avoid telling them that they have to live up to an impossible body image.

My question is, What are we really complaining about when we complain about Michael Turner?  Are we complaining about his detrimental effect on the psyches of young girls?  If so, that’s fine, but again, there are far bigger targets we should be going after.  Are we complaining about the shitty art?  That’s fine too, and he certainly deserves it.  There are a lot of shitty artists out there, but few are as high-profile as Turner, so he’s a good target.

Finally, the question becomes What can we do about it?  Mainstream advertising is difficult to contend with, because it’s so pervasive.  JLA, however, sells only a few hundred thousand copies each time it comes out.  It’s by far DC’s best-selling title, but it still doesn’t reach a lot of people.  The people who are angry about Turner’s portrayal of Power Girl need to put their money where their mouths are and boycott the book.  I don’t have much evidence, but it seems like a lot of people online who whine about the covers end up buying the book anyway.  Maybe they justify it by saying, “I hate the covers, but the story is good.”  Maybe they love DC comics in general.  Maybe they think Red Tornado is the greatest thing ever.  But guess what?  DC doesn’t care why you buy it.  As long as it’s the best-selling title, Michael Turner is going to be doing covers.  The only way that will change is if DC thinks his ridiculous women are hurting sales.

My point, ultimately, is I’m not sure if Michael Turner is the person everyone should be going after.  Maybe he is.  He’s certainly a crappy artist, but it seems like there are far worse examples marketed for the exact audience that would be influenced by this sort of thing.  Maybe I’m wrong.  I’d like to know: Are you offended by Turner’s representation of Power Girl, and if so, why?  Are you offended by commercials and print ads?  Are you offended by Josh Howard working on a book targeted to teenagers?  I don’t want to be snide, because I’m very interested in how we choose which things are worthy of our anger.  So chime in, and let’s be civil, shall we?

88 Comments

I’m not offended per se, but the cover sure doesn’t make me want to buy the book…

And I didn’t.

I guess it’s damaging to male readers because it sets up a false image of what a healthy woman looks like.

That’s assuming those readers are getting laid.

Call me sane, but in all the years I read comics faithfully, I never imagined that the women in comics were any sort of model of how women were s’posed to look. In fact, there was always as little connection for me between superhero women and real women as there was between superhero men and real men.

But then, maybe I was just too well-adjusted?

A picture like that really qualifies every over-generalization and negative stereotype about people that buy comic books.

Also, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard someone refer to eight issues of people standing around have fan-ficcy conversations with each other as ‘epic’.

No, I’m still with option c – the art really, REALLY sucks. The proportions are off – the bust is not where it should be, the arm is like something I would have drawn, the perspective can’t decide if her body’s facing at a 3/4 angle or a frontal view (pay attention to he belt placement, and her waist is about the width of her head. The Clubbing book is stylized, it’s MEANT to look cartoonish. Michael Turner’s artwork is not supposed to look this way.

Plus both Black Canary and Power Girl have the SAME FACE.

Not to mention the fact that two superheroines just kind of standing around doesn’t exactly make for a “BUY ME!!!” kind of cover. Show them actually DOING something, Turner!

As for a), well, anyone who thinks that doesn’t deserve an actual woman anyway, and they should die alone.

Wouldn’t it just be better to educate them about what a woman actually should and does look like?

It’s not like superhero comics give men good role models as to what healthy, normal men look like either. Yet we don’t go around decrying superhero comics for the fear they may cause men to diet excessively to get to 5% body fat while ingesting steroids in order to get big muscles like Superman, do we? So what’s the implication, that women are too stupid to tell fantasy from reality but guys aren’t?

In regards to Power Girl and her breastes-s-s-s-s

I remember reading the following fact in one of Scott Tipton’s Comics 101’s about Power Girl. Apprently her chest just became a running joke, and who ever it was that created her actually would increase her bust every issue just to see how long it was until the Powers that Be took notice.

Doesn’t help her case that it’s a fairly obvious joke all the time as well. I can think of Geoff Johns on JSA Classified and Jeph Loeb on the first arc of Superman/Batman doing it, and that’s just from the last 3 years or so.

It was Wally Wood. He was the artist who kept increasing Kara’s bust size.

Yeah. Her boobs are supposed to be big. I’ve got no complaint there. But on that cover, they don’t, to my eye, seem to be illplaced on the chest somehow, reducing my ability to view or ogle them as breasts.

But my real problem with Turner is his faces. All men have the same face as all other men and all women have the same face as all other women. He can manage a decent cover and/or pinup image occasionally, although I don’t think that there is one of them, but only when you’re not thinking of his larger body of work and how identical it is to all of the other ones.

People are clearly not objecting to Turners art because it stops nerdy, heterosexual fanboys from having successful relationships with the opposite sex. Frankly, nobody cares if nerdy fanboys get girlfriends or not, you wrote that yourself. Rather, the problem is how Turners` entire “artistic” expression in drawing women is the same that we find in, well, porn.

Bodies, poses, facial expressions, everything in a Michael Turner woman is intended to make her an object of mens sexual desire. Looking at Turners drawings of Power Girl (and even more so: Supergirl! eew!), is like looking at a porn picture, only Power Girl has clothes. There is already a suprisingly broad sentiment in society that this is indeed how women should be viewed, and Turners art strenghtens this sentiment. That is inexcusable, and unbeliveably sexist.

Of course you find this “porn esthetic” in other media as well, music videos being a far greater source of it than comic books, but that is the poorest excuse I ever heard.

Sadly, a lot of comic book artist draw women in the same way as Turner. Perhaps not so unrealistic, but just as sexist non the less (Greg “I Trace Sports Illustrated” Land being the most obvious example). When you look at it that way, Turner only really stands out because his art sucks so hard, and because he gets so much money for it. That`s sad.

I agree with Michael above: my main complain about drawings like that is that they’re porn. Now I don’t have anything against porn – I just don’t think that being a female superhero has to equal being a porn star.

“Wouldn’t it just be better to educate them about what a woman actually should and does look like?”

The notion that graphic storytelling should fulfill some sort of role in teaching adult men what women look like is the strangest one I’ve heard in quite a while.

You forgot the obvious reason this drawing is so laughable: It’s anatomically incorrect. Notice the way that Power Girl’s breasts are anchored to the bottom of her ribcage. Now, compare that to the lovely young model whose photo you’ve posted. Also: As another commentator noted, he only seems capable of drawing one woman’s face. Granted, this puts him in the company of artists as diverse as Auguste Renoir and John Byrne, but then I don’t take them seriously as illustrators, either.

Seriously, has Michael Turner ever seen a real, live woman naked?

I used to enjoy Fathom in high school.
Then I grew out of it.
Word.

The Mad Monkey

April 29, 2007 at 5:42 am

Michael Turner is this comic generation’s Rob Liefeld.
And, Liefeld still hasn’t gotten the hint that he’s not particularly wanted anymore. Perhaps, Michael will take the hint and improve or leave.
I couldn’t care any less about a woman’s bust size or if she’s a porn star super-hero. Even as a child, a comic book, to me, has always been about well-written stories and well-drawn art.
In that respect, I’m very proud to say that I’ve never purchased a Michael Turner book and I never will.
But, let me make myself clear…
I have no problem with the man himself. I’ve read enough interviews with him and read enough about what other professionals have said about him to know that he’s a good guy. And, of course, I think we all should give him due credit for being a cancer survivor. My problem (as with many others) lies within his inability to draw a decent looking picture.
So, Michael, please…take a course a the Kubert School and learn how to really use a pencil, okay?

This is very possibly the stupidest article ever written, on so many levels.

1. It’s a horrible drawing. His drawings always are.

2. Comparing sketches and art from an artist and not the work actually intended for the teenage girls is completely off-base and unfair. Daniel Handler’s novels should NOT be read by children . . .unless he’s writing as Lemony Snicket. People can alter their style to suit the subject. Also, Howard presents his work as cartoony, not representational. Turner’s supposed appeal is how it is “rooted” in “realism.” I cannot not quote those words in that context.

3. Perhaps one of the reasons JLA is NOT a hit with the tween set, and that it sells only a few tens of thousands (I really doubt “a few hundred thousand”) is that it is so singularly unappealing to anyone other than ignorant, fantasy-deprived middle-aged fanboys.

You do realize that if people were complaining so much about Josh Howard and not Michael Turner, this post would be “A Lame Defense of Josh Howard” and it would be asking why people complain so much about Howard and not Turner, right?

People pick on Turner because he’s a particularly egregious and high-visibility (in the super-hero comics world, at any rate) example of a pervasive problem, not because he’s the only person in the world who ever drew Power Girl to look like a sexbot.

What about all the male superheroes who are totally ripped and have more muscles than you could count? Even characters like the Green Lanterns who don’t even need to be fit are super muscular with six packs.

Nobody cares about the image being put forward my male superheroes.

Superheroes are supposed to be…Super…more that normal people…you know.

I don’t want by superheroes to have beerguts, stretch-marks and zits.

This cover keeps getting brought up because it’s the easiest one to make fun of; but ALL Turner’s covers are pretty bad. For my money, the cover to the first Titans trade, A Kid’s Game, is worse; it looks like the Titans are inviting the reader into a Bangkok sex club. The TEEN Titans.

But really the porn poses are the least of it. The guy needs a basic life-drawing class. Turner is just the latest in a long line of comics artists who — judging from the work! — don’t ever look at real people and try to draw them. (If he IS using models for this stuff, then he ought to give up.)

Here’s the part that puzzles me, though. Once upon a time, comics had EDITORS who had enough art savvy to look at a crappy cover and say, “You need to fix this. That woman’s pelvis is broken, if she’s bending that way. Do it again.” Every so often as a filler piece you’d see a text feature illustrated with sketches showing how the editor would guide the artist to the final cover image that was used. Is that process no longer happening? It’s really difficult to believe that covers like this are the FINAL DRAFT version. Why isn’t an editor kicking this back to the artist for another try?

Do comics objectify men as well as women? Sure.

Why do women have higher rates of anorexia and other body dysmorphic disorders than do men?

And whether or not you think it’s “fair” in some Platonic world where there are no demonstrably gendered cultural-psychological outcomes, should comics creators in our unfair, non-ideal world where women do in fact have more prevalent problems related to body image consider that realiy when they create?

Joe – according to the latest sales figures, JLA sells about 200K. It’s DC’s top seller.

And you make a good point about Howard’s art changing for the style of the book he’s illustrating. My point is that if teenaged girls read Clubbing and like his art (which they may, and the few pages I’ve seen are good), will they seek out other stuff that is more like the pin-up I posted? I understand that he’s “cartoony” and Turner is supposed to be more “realistic” (which is ridiculous), but that’s all I was wondering.

Thanks for the words of encouragement, Alex!

“Bodies, poses, facial expressions, everything in a Michael Turner woman is intended to make her an object of mens sexual desire. Looking at Turners drawings of Power Girl (and even more so: Supergirl! eew!), is like looking at a porn picture, only Power Girl has clothes. There is already a suprisingly broad sentiment in society that this is indeed how women should be viewed, and Turners art strenghtens this sentiment. That is inexcusable, and unbeliveably sexist.”

Every time I hear this, I have to wonder what exactly it is I ahould consider a sexual object – women happen to work for me, most I’ve known were quite capable of letting me know where this begins and ends.

Anyway, my objection is that this sort of stylization isn’t a fluke, the examples in other media indicate this, but tantamount to a requirement.

Whenever I try to draw a woman with normal proportions, average facial features, etc., I get “too fat”, “boobs not big enough”, “ass too big”, “ugly”, etc., etc. – it’s utterly predictable, adn one begins to suspect that if one doesn’t draw them this way, one will have a very short career in comics.

I don’t know if this is that so many are adolescents and base their abstract ideals of beauty on girls who haven’t reached full physical maturity, and often display the tiny waists and little apple asses – though not commonly the chest development – of this particular morphological archtype.

To me however, this sort of anatomy screams “adolescent”, and I actually find it hard to find them sexually attractive – I was attracted to teenagers at one time, I happened to be a teenager myself at that phase of development. Now, when I look at them, I see somebodies kid, I respond more favorably to a hip to waist ratio indicitive of fertility, around 0.7, which is more or less the evolutionary norm, I can go higher if she’s proportionate, lower if she has really big hips, I don’t even care if she has breasts, nipples are all you really need.

Still, all of the bias here – I’ll have re-read “The Evolution of Allure” to get a handle on it, means I can’t draw women in way I find attractive, and also enjoy commercial success – though Frazetta managed somehow.

Anyway, I can deal with power girl, she was Bimbified right off the mark, out of the box you might say – what I find more offensive is taking a character like supergirl and turning her into a porn cheerleader – in other words, the process is out of control, does every character need to be sexualized? Seems a bit limiting to me.

Very good points, Scott.

Sorry, Joe – I checked the numbers, and JLA sells about 130K, which still makes it the best title DC has. So, less than I thought, and more than you thought.

And yes, my tongue was firmly in cheek when I referred to JLA as Meltzer’s “epic.”

“What about all the male superheroes who are totally ripped and have more muscles than you could count? Even characters like the Green Lanterns who don’t even need to be fit are super muscular with six packs.

Nobody cares about the image being put forward my male superheroes.

Superheroes are supposed to be…Super…more that normal people…you know.

I don’t want by superheroes to have beerguts, stretch-marks and zits.”

It’s amazing how people don’t understand. Yeah, that’s objectifying men, but how many artists are drawing six packs on men and thinking, “Wow some girl is going to find this TOTALLY HAWT!”?

The problem is not that they’re drawing an unrealistic or idealized human form. The problem is that a lot of artists draw women with the intent to titillate the male reader or that their idealized female form is a porno star.

Linkara said:

“The problem is not that they’re drawing an unrealistic or idealized human form. The problem is that a lot of artists draw women with the intent to titillate the male reader or that their idealized female form is a porno star.”

Word!

Greg Hatcher said:

“The guy needs a basic life-drawing class. Turner is just the latest in a long line of comics artists who — judging from the work! — don’t ever look at real people and try to draw them.”

Also word. But in Turner`s case his art would still suck, only not as much as it does now. It would just be more like Jim Lee`s and less like Rob Liefeldt`s:D What is it with these people and crosshatching?

Thing is, I’m a bit of a porn art afficionado, and I opine that the most erroneous observation here is the comparison to porn art – you’ll almost never find these sort of proportions in porn comix except the most extreme fetishistic examples and Manga – by and large, the women – and the men – in pornographic and erotic sequential art are fairly realistic and of generally average proportions, degree of muscularity, etc.

This may have to do with the fact that most of this sort of art tends to be European in origin, and the artists perhaps more likely to be classically trained, whereas American comix artists tend to be largely self taught, and usually, I think, influenced mainly by other comic art – hence an incestuous tendency to take stylization and abstraction to extremes, it’s the only direction that seems to be available.

“The problem is not that they’re drawing an unrealistic or idealized human form. The problem is that a lot of artists draw women with the intent to titillate the male reader or that their idealized female form is a porno star.”

Haven’t figured out how to quote yet – I don’t even think this is true, I reference a lot of porn, it’s a fantastic resource, you can’t find quite the selection of body types, poses and angles anywhere else, though I take care to avoid the typical cliches, like women fondling their nippes, etc., but women in porn don’t look like this because women don’t look like this – women in porn run the gamut, because they’re real women – there are fat ones, skinny ones, short ones, tall ones – there is no single body type one could single out as typical.

True, there is a more athletic body type one will always find, the large breasted mesomorph, though these women are more likely to be from an erotic dance background – they tend to have muscular legs, and strong hips, and the breasts are often… enhanced.

Here’s my take on Powergirl, done a while back – I gave her that dancers physique, kinda messed up Supergirl though, ankles and breasts, got in a rush, and never went back to fix it…

http://img19.imageshack.us/img19/5350/pgvssg0606001gw2.jpg

I did get mostly positive comments on it, although I think I did get a few about her large (for comix) hips.

Uh oh, comic book art critique by mostly non-artists on the internets is serious bizness!

Geez people, lighten the fuck up. Stop pretending to be offended on behalf of your non-existent girlfriends.

Not all comic art has to be realistic; I mean we’re talking about COMIC BOOKS people! You know, stories about dudes that fly around and throw cars at mad scientists. Exaggeration makes comic book art fun and dynamic.

I understand the criticism that is thrown Liefeld’s way, mainly because he can only draw one face, and is incapable of drawing buildings, technology, or hands. And sometimes he exaggerates way too much (his heroes reborn, barrel chested Captain America comes to mind)

And by the way, a lot of artists draw only one or two types of faces but only Turner and Liefeld get shit for it; Frank Quitely for example (an incredible artist in his own right) draws like two faces (a long one and a round one) for ALL his characters and never gets criticism for it, how hypocritical is that?

For those defending Turner, I point you to:

http://girl-wonder.org/girlsreadcomics/index.php?m=04&y=07&entry=entry070415-071159&PHPSESSID=54c6138b68028630ce048e753fee46a8

I didn’t quite get bingo off this discussion, but it’s still early days yet.

This isn’t the most disturbing image of Power Girl there has ever been:

http://comicsamstoopid.blogspot.com/

“Uh oh, comic book art critique by mostly non-artists on the internets is serious bizness!

Geez people, lighten the fuck up. Stop pretending to be offended on behalf of your non-existent girlfriends.”

I have an art degree and a girlfriend. I win the internets.

Also, this drawing sucks. I had a long, drawn out “debate” (if you could call it that) with an endless stream of people on brad meltzers blog regarding this cover. I’m pretty much done stabbing this shambles of a cover in the face, but when I hear “lighten up, its only a comic cover etc” (usually accompanied by “don’t buy it if you don’t like it”, which thankfully you never said) I’m immediately reminded of something I posted to a similar comment made on his blog:

Some guy: “It’s a fricking comic book, for crying out loud.”

Me: “….with bad art and a demeaning portrayal of a character thats supposed to be a strong willed, independant woman on the front reduced to……mindless (and very badly drawn) eye candy.

now tell me how this sits with DC making endless noises about how “diverse” they’ve become, and how everything is a lot more grown up now and characters are treated with equal amounts of respect. Would you see Superman drawn with his Supernuts hanging out? Of course not. So how come, when picking up any random comic I care to mention at the moment from DC, I’m either going to see Power Girl becoming more of a cariacature with every appearance – great way to treat a character that’s now supposedly back to being one of the “most important” characters in terms of heritage and history, by the way – or Supergirl looking like more of a trampy mc trampalot, or Wonder Woman showing us just how far up her behind she can stick her lycra shorts?

some dude: “No one is going to force you to buy it if you don’t want to.”

Me: “It’s not about whether I’m going to buy it, it’s about whether what DC is telling us about their increased and totally awesome levels of diversity and equality matches up with what they’re telling us with their covers and interior artwork. The gulf is colossal.”

I’m sure Superman’s testicles gets all the ladies off, BIGTIME.

Turner draws women as big breasted by default. Power Girl’s gimmick is that she has big breasts. What did you THINK was going to happen??

Here’s some more tidbits:

Men are the majority of comic book creators
Men are the majority of comic book buyers
Most men like big boobs (for the record i don’t)

Stop acting so surprised

The thing I’ve never been able to understand about Turner’s art is how is having him draw a cover supposed to make me want to buy it. What is supposed to be the appeal of him? How is seeing Turner’s name supposed to make me more likely to buy a comic than the actual interior artist?

Basically I’m asking why this guy gets work.

Stop acting so surprised

Nobody’s acting surprised, doofus. You don’t even know what you’re arguing about.

Turner’s a shitty artist, and most of his fans DON’T think his art is exaggerated. THAT’S what’s so distressing and pathetic. I’ve seen people call him a “master of the female form”.

And anyone who’s actually seen the female form knows that Turner has no grasp of it.

You know, it occurs to me I didn’t answer Greg’s actual questions. I know that always gravels me a bit when *I* write something and people go off on some rabbit trail instead of addressing my actual point, so I’ll rectify it.

Are you offended by Turner’s representation of Power Girl, and if so, why?

Offended? Not really. Mostly I was amused. I’d just told the story of Power Girl’s constantly-enlarging chest to a couple of folks, remember, when we saw the lady in the Power Girl costume at ECCC. My first thought on seeing it was, “Wally Wood would be laughing his ass off at that.” My second thought was to wonder if this was Michael Turner’s attempt to carry that torch forward.

Are you offended by commercials and print ads?

Often. That cell phone commercial about the five is incessant and I’m so sick of…. Oh, you mean the hot-girl thing? No, not really. I’m moderately annoyed at these guys getting so much work when they’re so BAD at it. You can draw enticing ladies on your book covers without distorting their anatomy to the point of grotesquerie. Look at Robert McGinnis, or Alberto Vargas.

Are you offended by Josh Howard working on a book targeted to teenagers?

Not in the least. Dan DeCarlo did both Archie comics and naughty men’s magazine cartoons simultaneously for years and that didn’t make anybody’s head explode. Of course, that was before the internet, but if I were a parent I’d already be monitoring my kid’s internet use to the best of my ability, anyway… but truthfully, the Josh Howard example up above wouldn’t slow any of my students down at all. It’s too cartoony for them to see it as sexualized, except maybe the heart on the crotch might make them laugh. That shot of Power Girl, on the other hand, would make the same young-teenage-girl demographic giggle nervously and whisper ewwww. And a couple would ask me if Wally Wood drew it, which would make me both sad at them mistaking Turner for Wood and weirdly proud of them for knowing Wood’s name, at the same time.

Turner’s art is entertaining to me. I enjoyed his run on Superman/Batman. A lot of artists draw anatomically incorrect figures, but only Turner gets crap about it. Why he’s singled out, I don’t know, as there are plenty of acclaimed artists out there who can be criticized the same way.

And likening him to Liefeld is totally off-base. Liefeld still can’t draw hands or machinery, at least Turner can do that.

As a human female with a freakishly skinny midsection, allow me to say, no. Power Girl is badly drawn. Her forearms are like Popeye’s, her neck is not centred on her shoulders, her boobs seem to be sliding down her ribcage, and while I will give him a pass on her facial features themselves on the grounds of style, she looks like a soulless creature who wants to drink my blood.

I find it insulting that all of this can be overlooked since Turner is capable of drawing two circles.

By the way? Those two circles don’t really resemble breasts. I’m not talking size, I’m talking shape. Boobs ain’t spherical. Those look like about-to-hatch alien eggs incubating in her chest.

That cover is no more good pornography than it is good superhero art. I continue to be offended by the presumption that, as a straight male, that cover is all it takes to arouse me. That isn’t sexy. It isn’t even clinical. That cover is just plain bad.

“I’m sure Superman’s testicles gets all the ladies off, BIGTIME.”

Either you’re being stupid for the sake of it, or you really have no clue. Please point to any drawing of Superman in a DC comic where his testicles are indeed spilling out of his trunks in a way that the “ladies can get off to it”.

“Turner draws women as big breasted by default.”

That’s really turners problem, not mine. Especially as they don’t particularly resemble breasts in any case.

“Power Girl’s gimmick is that she has big breasts.”

No, Power Girls “gimmick” is that she’s the sole survivor of the original DC Universe – or at least, it should be. When she first hit the scene, her body was actually pretty realistically proportioned and the age old tale that “the breasts got bigger with every issue” is a complete nonsense. He “gimmick” became big breasts when comic creators lost the power of their brains and ran out of ideas for the character.

“What did you THINK was going to happen??”

amazingly, nothing, because for me to have expected “something to happen”, I’d have had to have had pre-warned knowledge of power girl appearing on an upcoming JLA cover, instead of seeing it in the store one day and laughing at how bad it was.

But hey, feel free to have turner send me previews of his covers in future so I can set him straight and do the job of a DC editor for them. i hope your “reply” improves…

“Men are the majority of comic book creators
Men are the majority of comic book buyers
Most men like big boobs (for the record i don’t)”

….oh dear.

This has what to do with “it’s about whether what DC is telling us about their increased and totally awesome levels of diversity and equality matches up with what they’re telling us with their covers and interior artwork. The gulf is colossal”, exactly?

Adam Jones — Regarding this:

I remember reading the following fact in one of Scott Tipton’s Comics 101’s about Power Girl. Apprently her chest just became a running joke, and who ever it was that created her actually would increase her bust every issue just to see how long it was until the Powers that Be took notice.

That rumor has been tested and found lacking.

We are losing the focus on this discussion. Namely, where can we find more photos of the beautiful model on that magazine cover?

Oh, Michael Turner? He draws EVERYTHING badly, not just women. Why are you all wasting time with him instead of better artists?

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

“I guess it’s damaging to male readers because it sets up a false image of what a healthy woman looks like.”

That seems pretty specious. You’re actually saying that male readers are likely to look at a comic book drawing and say, “Well, I know I see actual many many real-life women every day, but, damn, this *is* a comic book, so obviously this is what a healthy woman is supposed to look like.”

I semi-understand this argument when applied to models and magazine covers, but not drawings.

Next you’ll be telling me that not everybody has disproportionately large noses the way that Jim Mahfood draws them.

That said, it’s a pretty bad drawing, not really worth any attention at all.

“Uh oh, comic book art critique by mostly non-artists on the internets is serious bizness!”

I am an artist, and I think fans opinions are perfectly valid, they are the ones that buy the things after all.

In fact basically, i see htis particular trend in terms of stylization being primarily fan driven, probobly the younger demographic, 14 to 24 or so, so I don’t expect any quick and easy resolution on the issue, in comics that appeal to a wide age demographic.

It causes some very weird things to happen in terms of art crit on sites I frequent, there is a constant battle bewteen “her tits are too small”, and “her tit’s are bigger than her head” – apparently while we all admire the human form, some people have a more abstract notion of what it actually looks like – semi-realistic stuff gets criticized for not looking comic-booky enough, i.e., unrealistic, and it’s like wow, you gotta wonder if some of these guys have ever looked at an actual woman outside a comic book – it sounds cliche, but really.

I’v eexperimented wuite a bit, including a long struggle with drawing muscular women that don’t “look like men”, not an easy task, unless you make them look like men, as Turner does here – she has a classic male v-shaped build, wide shoulders, narrow hips, muscular arms – but she has huge lungs, and this alone is apparently enough to make her look “feminine”.

It’s true female athletes often have fairly narrow hips, Zola Budd, Jackie Joyner Kersey, and swimmers often display this V-shaped anatomy – not too many with large chests though.

I dunno, I don’t really expect comics to be realistic, they’re symbolic, but I think there is some real confusion over where the symbolism ends and life begins – I feel sorry for these guys girlfriends, if they in fact, have them.

To me, it’s all about suspension of disbelief and storytelling, so I opt for the more plausibly realistic approach, in fact I can’t even draw a woman like this, it just seems unnatural to me.

Most of which has led me to conclude there probobly isn’t any future for me in Superhero comix, I’ll probobly end up doing porn, where the fans are less opinionated.

Oh yeah, I think this trend largely gathered steam after J.Scott Campbells Danger Girl, whose streamlined technique for drawing women was widely admired and emulated – maybe a little Joe Mad in there too.

I wanted to be the first to go for the bingo, but got beat to it.

So, my four cents or so:

a) and b) are not good explanations for the reasons I think a cover like this (and there are many covers like this, this is just the latest handy example) is more than just an example of poor drawing.

First thing: when it comes to illustrations of women superheros vs. those of men, its not just about the body types: the women are frequently drawn in suggestive poses when they’re IN THE MIDDLE OF A COSMIC BATTLE, whereas you seldom see the Flash bending over and spreading his ass cheeks for a microsecond while zipping by Grodd. In other words, when the male superheros regularly strike poses taken from, say, a Honcho centrespread, then the “male characters are treated just the same” argument will stick. Superman with male cameltoe as a little something for the ladies is a poor example.

Second thing: poses part 2: The thing about your typical cheesecake pose–in actual cheesecake photography, like the example–is that they are really bizarre and difficult to maintain and are chosen to super amplify butt and boobs and tiny waist. There are better figure references available for superheros.

Third thing: I think superhero comics have become loaded with cheesecake in part to allay heterosexual panic in the adolescent mind of the reader.

Fourth thing: this is the most boring cover ever. Nothing is happening. Who gave it the green light? The only thing it has going for it is comically huge gazongas.

Fifth thing: this cover is particularly unfortunate because had the illustration been better, we might now be talking about how awesome it is that DC’s flagship title has two awesome women characters on the cover, without excuse or explanation for why there are no male team mates pictured.

Sixth thing: at least we can all agree that the current JLA sucks completely inside and out, and only sells because so many of us are conditioned to follow characters instead of creators.

Seventh thing: If you start with Black Canary looking like she does on this cover, then in a way, Turner left himself nowhere else to go when it came to Powergirl.

Eighth thing: Speaking of relative chest size between female characters, I can’t remember if it was Frank Cho or someone else on New Avengers, but there was this awesome panel with, I think, chesty ol’ Marvel Girl in the foreground, and in the background was hugely pregnant Jessica Jones in street clothes, and she would have sent Powergirl looking for a training bra. That’s at least clever illustration.

Great, Greg! The debate is over and you won!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

A lot of artists draw anatomically incorrect figures, but only Turner gets crap about it. Why he’s singled out, I don’t know, as there are plenty of acclaimed artists out there who can be criticized the same way.

Time for me to call bullshit. Turner’s nowhere near the only artist to be criticized for this sort of thing. It’s just that he happens to be popular at the moment, so he’s getting focused on at the moment.

But no, sorry, the victim tactic isn’t gonna work.

Greg – the thing about your real life example, Jillian, is that she obviously has synthetic breasts. I think she would look perfectly normal with her small mid-section if she was as flat chested as she was the day before she had her surgery. Not that she isn’t attractive anyway.

Turner is terrible for the most part, but Powergirl is all about out-doing the last person to draw her.

So, I skimmed the comments, but I don’t think that anyone has pointed out that Power Girl’s chest looks like a butt, and I demand to know why.

Evolution, baby.

Funny that people “credit” Wally Wood with giving her increasingly ridiculous sized breasts, when Wood was actually the one who drew her most realistically (a C-cup size with curves actually befitting her build). Old-school guys like Wood, Buscema, Swan, and Perez seemed to have a better grasp on this than some more modern comic artists. Granted, there are a lot of modern artists who do it right but get lumped in with the bad ones in the eyes of critics (that “guilt by association” generalization that male-dominated professions in particular tend to get saddled with). But Turner and those like him need to learn that “Grey’s Anatomy” means something other than “that doctor show with McDreamy on it”.

Mobelius Rodelius

May 1, 2007 at 8:12 am

Forget about whether or not it’s offensive, or detrimental to somebody’s conception of female body image, or whatever. The cover is ugly.

Funny, I remember wandering past this blog a few weeks ago and looking at your post about the “creepiness” of Alex Ross’s crotch-shot for an upcoming JSA cover. As I did, I wondered why you chose “creepy” to describe it – innapropriate, unneccessarily sexualized – yes. But “creepy”?

I wondered what you would say about Turner’s Powergirl cover and whether or not you would find the overt, innappropriate sexualization of a female character “creepy” as well.

Guess not. Congrats for living up to my worst expectations.

Brian Cronin

May 1, 2007 at 3:16 pm

Seriously, Kate, you have to at least read the byline before you get too caught up in your righteous indignation.

“Seriously, Kate, you have to at least read the byline before you get too caught up in your righteous indignation.”

Now, Brian, you know that isn’t a fair request.

After all, if people online started doing that, 90% of the posts and conversations would dry up overnight. Can’t have that, now can we? :)

Actually I’m going to go back a little bit since most people have covered the points I’ve already addressed and respond to those about my porno stars remark:

What I was actually trying say was that they were being drawn in a sultry, suggestive, or generally “how can we turn you on” kind of manner. It actually amazes me sometimes how many fantastic artists are doing erotic drawings when they could be doing professional comic work. Maybe it’s just more fun to have no limits, I suppose…

Marketing Linkara, sex sells. Oddly though, sex in comics seems to have pretty much alwasy been segregated, with story oriented comix on one hand, erotica/pornography an entirely seperate body of work.

Even cheescake is fairly rare in pre 1990’s comics, Golden age herines tended to be pretty well endowed, but they were ladies (except maybe P’gell…). There was Red Sonja, and usually a few other scantily clad women in Conan titles, but even they were for the most part not drawn or written in overtly or covertly sexual contexts.

I think it was probobly Chaos comics in the 90’s that raised the bar, they had a whole universe of scantily clad women heros – not sure who started it, but everybody started doing it – Dark Horse had Ghost, one of the few mainstream comics whose storyline dealt directly with sexual issues, although of course in a typically dualistic manner, and it’s titular heroine was a Nunnish character in White Spandex, sort of a fetish Nun with guns.

Anyway, I hate to tell you this, but we live in a world where people write erotic fan fiction about Harry Potter, and fanboys argue about whether Wilma or Betty is hotter.

Me, I’d like to see sexuality dealt with more openly and less furtively as opposed to the “who us”? Cheescake characters, that one suspects however serious they may appear, they are basically excuses to draw women in leather lingerie.

And by openly, I don’t mean they should all be orgying between fights, I mean that they ought to suffer from the same laws of attraction for each other that ordinary mortals are prone to, and all the attendent complexities. i.e., there are more ways to make a character sympathetic and attractive than to put her in a revealing costume, you just have to work at it a little harder.

In trying to produce decent quality erotia/porn comix, I find myself spending way more time on subtlties of expression and body language in order to develop the characters to a plausible level of emotional believability than I do tweaking anatomy or inventing revealing costumes.

I’m really talking about trying to get the reader emotionally involved in the characters, as opposed to throwaway cheesecake and sweaty palmed symbolism, that’s the easy way, it’s marketing, not art.

I do think the cheese is here to stay however, superhero comix are an essentially cheesy medium to varying degrees – it just isn’t contextualized to the point that it actually adds anything to the story other than keeping people turning the pages in hopes of a more revealing angle – tease, basically, look but don’t touch – as American as Apple Pie.

I meant to add that two ethics arose simultaneously in 90’s comix, cheescake and the “Grim and Gritty” ethic, which I think combined in an unfortunate way: the latter preventing sexuality themes from evolving into more adult forms – love can get pretty grim and gritty too.

Interestingly, in the X-men *movie*, the sexual tension between Wolverine and Rogue was established pretty much right of the bat, Wolvies discomfort with Rogues mild crushing displaced to the Wolverine/Jean Grey/Cyclops triangle, which was a lot more emotionally contextualized and involving in many ways than the story itself – and nobody had to run around in a thong to do it.

i.e., the tension between Wolvie and Rogue is allowed to grow into a genuine affection and friendship before it get’s too weird – this wouldn’t have been easy to accomplish in a comic I think, it would take some real artistic subtlety.

“but men are objectified too!”
Yep, yep, yep… just in a different way. For power/aggression. And, Unlike what Mr. T said up there, that no men decry this, I have it on authority that my boyfriend dislikes comics for that very reason! Because they picture all men as super aggressive/muscular/dominant, and that’s not what he identifies with or wants to be, and is tired of society saying he should be like that!
Funnily, I’d love to have super muscular/dominant/aggressive models, and it DOESN’T COUNT IF THEY’RE ALSO CHEESCAKE. O-o I just can’t relate to that, I I don’t wnat to look “sexy” to anyone but my boyfriend. Powerful, cool, styling, yes, but not sexy.
Now, name me a comic book muscular/powerful/dominant woman who’s features aren’t a running joke, and who doesn’t show her thighs, belly, or cleavage?
(golden-age xmen, yeah, right on! That’s when I used to read mainstream comics)

Second, it’s not just Michal Turner’s art that gives women low self-esteem, it’s the prevalance of that kind of body being presented as ideal *everywhere* that does it. Will Michal Turner not drawin stop it? No. But is it wrong to ask him, or ANYONE doing it, not to? No. I dont’ care if there are “worse things out there”, that doesn’t exactly make it “okay”.

“Now, name me a comic book muscular/powerful/dominant woman who’s features aren’t a running joke, and who doesn’t show her thighs, belly, or cleavage?”

Spider-Girl. Next! ;)

Spider girl has pretty substantial drool factor if fan art is any indication – her new costume is a study in crotch vectors.

I’m all for cheescake, got nothing against it, it’s sort of the middle of the continuum: younger fans will tend to go for the action, the cheese and emotitional stuff will simply go over their heads, i.e., transparent: the cheescake starts to add interest for adolescent readers, while the more complicated emotional undercurrents are probobly more appealing to older readers – ideally, you probobly want to include something on each of these levels to varying degrees, depending on who your target demographic is.

As Adie mentioned, the proliferation and sexualization of adolescent body types is pretty much a culture wide phenomona, in an already youth obsessed culture – countered to some extent by the hip-hop/ghetto booty ethic (Jennifer Lopez) and I don’t happen to think comix have led it, they’re just reflecting it.

“Spider girl has pretty substantial drool factor if fan art is any indication – her new costume is a study in crotch vectors.”

So, are we now going to hold creators, publisher and characters responsible for the actions taken by the fans?

See, I was under the impression folks here were taking issue with the choices made by those creating the comic, not what fans themselves might do which could go against their own intentions.

Spider-Girl, the comic, character and creators of her, produce work that is not overtly sexualized and demeans the female protagonist, which is what “Adie” was asking for.

Your attempts to hold the character and creators responsible for the “drool factor” created by “fan art” just serves to prove my feeling that online fans really don’t give a damn about the real issues, but only look for something to bother themselves over and rant about.

Maybe fans ought to take a look at their own lack of responsiblity, before they go blasting someone else for their own perceived transgressions. Of course, if that happen, whatever would fans online talk about?

Not sure what you’re getting at here, It seemed to me that you were suggesting that Spidergirl/woman doesn’t have any cheescake factor, she does, it’s just a little subtler.

Nor am I blaming any creators for what fans do, and I’m not even sure what I’d be accusing them of exactly – The cheescake in general is a seperate issue: the vast majority of superheros are depictions of very fit individuals in very tight and/or revealing costumes, i.e., the cheescake factor is pretty much built in, inherent inthe medium itself, and this includes Spidergirl.

I’m not at all certain I agree with Adie that cheescake is even demeaning, it’s hard to say where pruriant interest and simple admiration for the human form intersect: we have evolved to find certain shapes and attributes visually appealing, there is no help for it.

Don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody draw Aunt May palying with her own nipples, just saying.

Nor am I familiar with Spidergirl, so I could not say if I agree or disagree with your assessment that it isn’t demeaning, whatever that means to you and Adie, I’ll take your word for it, you clearly feel very strongly about it.

And in fact my own personal attraction insofar as I have any, to the New Spidergirl is the fact that she does look like an adult woman, not an adolescent, more aerobic than anorexic. In fact I’m not even entirely sure I’d ever even heard of Spidergirl until her makeover, it definitely caused a small ripple in the artistic community: tweaked something in the collective unconscious there, it only seems to happen with certain characters.

Maybe something to do with the recent interest in gender bending: female versions of male characters which has been gaining strength for a while now.

Then again, it may be that the current generation of fans is growing up, and now they want a real woman, I dunno, I’m pretty much trying to quit second guessing “what fans want” – for every opinion, there is an equal and opposite opinion.

And by “fan art”, I’m basically referring to people who either work in the industry or hope to, drawing characters they like but whose books they are not actually working on – creators are fans too: even to a man – or a woman – you might say. And there are detectable generational influences.

My contention has pretty much been all along that if the cheese is getting riper, as it were, it’s essentially supply and demand: the artists are giving the fans what they want, and I’ve heard plenty of anecdotes to that effect.

So what? Creators want to move their comics? Do tell – the opening blog made the point to begin with.

The title of this blog is “Comics Should be Good”, I’m just throwing my two cents in on what makes a good comic from my POV – I do find the whole sexualization of adolescence slightly disturbing, the pressures on kids these days are already enormous – but that has as much to do with “Bratz”, and the whole fashion/style thing as it does to do with Michael Turners pulchritudinous pubescents.

In fact, if it’s going to be a chicken or egg thing, I say follow the money, and I suspect that more money changes hands every day in the fashion/cosmetics, etc. industries, than there is ever going to be in the comics industry.

My opinion is that mass media is all pretty much exploitive by nature, it’s the rule rather than the exception, morphological sterotyping is only one facet, so it goes.

So, again, I’m forced to reiterate the question: what exactly you are trying to assert: fans are irresponsible pervs? I have no idea what you’re saying, spell it out for me.

“Not sure what you’re getting at here, It seemed to me that you were suggesting that Spidergirl/woman doesn’t have any cheescake factor, she does, it’s just a little subtler.”

What I was simply getting at, is that Spider-Girl fits the criteria that Adie was looking for. She is a strong and capable female hero, who’s “features aren’t a running joke, and who doesn’t show her thighs, belly, or cleavage.” Spider-Girl’s costume might be form fitting, but then, so is her father’s. Yet I doubt you’ll find many folks who will say Spider-Man is sexually exploited by that.

When you came in with your view of “fan art”, it felt as though you were trying to make it seem that I failed to meet her criteria. Perhaps I misread you. Perhaps you phrased your point poorly. Whatever the case, for any misunderstandings I might have made on my part, I apologize.

As to the rest of what I said, it’s pretty much become my opinion that most fans online don’t truly care about the issues they rail on about. Many just want something to rant about or want to look for something “wrong” to complain about, when the reality of the matter is, if they really stopped to think about things, they are way luckier than they ever take notice of. Online communication, specifically by blogging (and commenting on blogs), has become little more than a game of one-uppmanship, with everyone trying to show how much more clever, funny or knowlegdable they are to everyone else. And that if that was to be done away with, you’d hardly hear a peep out of anyone anymore.

Sort of puts all this “sound and fury, signifying nothing” into perspective.

Anyway, that’s the point(s) I was making.

Am opininated lot, no question, unlike any other medium really, except maybe… art.

I do agree it gets old, and I got of the bandwagon of villifying artists a while back, whether I liked their stuff or not, when found myself perusing the upteenth thread on how much Liefeld sucks – it’s almost to the point of religion, with heretics and messiahs – really, it’s just comics books fer gods sake.

I think the fact that they’re a genuine nexus between capital “A” Art, commercialism, pop culture and straight up folk art, makes for some weird tangents: an “all things to all people” sort of thing.

Everybody has their little corner staked out, and defends it against all comers – people form emotional attachments to these things.

Anyway, it’s all good to me, I only question it when it seems that any one aspect of it is being pushed like it’s the only thing that works – lotta “indies suck” CW talk at moment – seems that downloaders aren’t stealing the indies in the same volume they steal Marvel, etc. Production values and Spandex aren’t everything IMO.

Ah:

http://www.maximonline.com/slideshows/index.aspx?slideId=3422&imgCollectId=180

Re: the Spider-Man/Spider-Girl thing…

I’ve seen a lot of drawings (published by Marvel Comics) where Mayday’s inexplicably being drawn such that her butt is being forcibly hurled at the camera.

With Spider-Man? Not so much.

The result of this is that Spider-Man is inevitably drawn in more forceful, aggressive positions that emphasize his speed, grace, or power. Drawings of Spider-Girl I’ve seen (just on scans of the comics, which I don’t care for enough to read regularly) include a lot of in-costume depictions of total vulnerability and awkwardness.

Not saying Spider-Man is never drawn in a vulnerable way (he is more than most other male heroes). Not saying Spider-Girl is never drawn in a powerful way, although the entire character seems built around how funny and difficult it is for a little girl to act like her daddy did. Just, at the end of the day, neither Spider-book really violates the law of averages when it comes to the superhero comic art status quo. At best, they merely offer a few more exceptions than is standard.

I think the real anger isn’t that superheroines are sexualized in art when men aren’t, or at least aren’t to the same degree. It’s that they’re sexualized at the expense of allowing them to be powerful. You know, the difference between art of Superman and art of Wonder Woman.

This is an awkward example to extend with, but: I can think of plenty of fights between male heroes that degenerated into blood-on-knuckles ugly brutality. Jaws busted up, masks torn, unglamorous and nasty. Big fights that define the end of a long plotline with a massive crescendo.

I can’t think of any fights between heroines that are allowed to reach this level of intensity. Heroines in big superhero fights are either spewing energy and knocked aside with single blows, or get cleanly tossed aside or knocked around while trying to tussle. If they take “battle damage”, it’s never anything ugly like visible wounds, just some artistic blood spatters and revealing clothing rips. Nothing like, say, a knock-down, drag-out Spider-Man fight.

For some reason, at all times, the heroine must remain appealing to look upon. The male hero is not so obligated. It’s as if only the male heroes have a right to the ugliness of a real fight. Shots of a female heroine’s fist forcefully punching a major foe in the jaw and doing damage are rare, and a female heroine tussling with a female villainess in a way not presented as a titillating catfight are exceptionally rare. Two female heroes beating each other the way, say, Wolverine and Sabertooth do? I can’t recall ever reading that. The stories just aren’t written.

So I think that general, very general, state of the affairs is the real problem. Michael Turner needs to be neither defended or castigated, because he provides little more than what is asked of him. The real targets of fan anger need to be marketing and editorial, which avoid change by accustoming readers to them, and then justify not changing by pointing to sales of the current status quo. If fans are ever to make any difference in this arena, it will be by making it clear we’d like editorial and marketing to do something different. But these forces are invisible, and so more difficult for fans to see, and even more difficult for fans to manipulate. And these forces control the status quo, and these forces have decided that the female dollar is undesirable so long as young men keep bringing their money into shops.

And what’s great? Is that a lot of the fanbase and industry accept this status quo, and angrily attack people who point out its insanity and lobby for change. They become enemies of a community that can be shockingly brutal and ugly.

So change can’t happen, because fans refuse to let the dialog happen with any sort of dignity. And until it does, marketing and editorial can accept the status quo as profitable enough and need not campaign to win the female dollar. See? The fans don’t want girls in their comics shops, anyway. So the heroines will remain largely pretty to look at, and the heroes will continue to have the most dramatic and meaningful battles in a genre where conflict resolution largely comes in the form of fight choreography.

“Just, at the end of the day, neither Spider-book really violates the law of averages when it comes to the superhero comic art status quo. At best, they merely offer a few more exceptions than is standard.”

Except, that wasn’t the point. Adie put out a “challenge” with very specific creitria. I suspect she did so, thinking no one could name a series or character that fit the request. Then, of course, I upset the apple cart by doing just that. After which others (whether intentionally or otherwise) come out to try and debunk my example, with such silliness as “fan art” or a limited amount of scans they’ve seen (and little or no knowledge of the character).

In the end, however, I did exactly what Adie asked. Spider-Girl is a character that’s a powerful/capabile female hero “who’s features aren’t a running joke, and who doesn’t show her thighs, belly, or cleavage.” Despite the best efforts of others to try and make it seem otherwise, the example still stands. And she isn’t the only example I can name (just one of the most recent).

“I can think of plenty of fights between male heroes that degenerated into blood-on-knuckles ugly brutality. Jaws busted up, masks torn, unglamorous and nasty. Big fights that define the end of a long plotline with a massive crescendo.

I can’t think of any fights between heroines that are allowed to reach this level of intensity. Heroines in big superhero fights are either spewing energy and knocked aside with single blows, or get cleanly tossed aside or knocked around while trying to tussle.”

And is this something women find lacking in their own reading? They want to see women pulped and bloodied in fights? Wouldn’t that be misogynistic towards the gender, to show them being beaten so viciously? Hasn’t female characters being maimed and assulted in such vicious ways, been one of the things that’s been crusaded against with such vigor for a while now?

You know, I could probably do here, exactly what I did with Adie’s “challenge” and cite an example, but then, I’d only end up with the same result. People coming out to try and debunk my example, even though it completely meets the criteria cited.

And that, in my opinion, is why you see “a lot of the fanbase and industry accept this status quo, and angrily attack people who point out its insanity and lobby for change.” Because, despite how so many pundits of this need for change make it seem, things aren’t as bad as they’d have us believe. Oh, it’s not exactly a level playing field or perfect, but to hear the complainers, nothing has changed since the 1950’s. And whenever someone, like myself for example, comes in with an example or can cite an instant that shows that isn’t true, they immediately move in to debunk it, either with personal insults towards that person, or changing the criteria of the question until the example given no longer fits it, thereby showing how “wrong” that person is.

Like with so many other “radicals”, it’s all about the cause. The PEOPLE mean very little. Who cares if you villify someone publicly, because they didn’t fall into lock-step with your views? As long as the CAUSE is catered to, little else matters. It’s funny how the very unacceptable attitudes and behavior you cite as being done TO your “side’s” viewpoint, are also the very same tactics that are employed BY them, when it suits the purpose. In the end, you prove yourselves no better than those you claim are the problem.

Maybe instead of everyone telling everyone else what’s “wrong” with all of them, they should cast that light inwards and find what’s “wrong” in themselves. It’s much easier to improve yourself, than to control and change someone else. I have a father who’s an alcoholic, so I know how fruitless an exrecise that is. And this isn’t to say that no one should ever speak up, if they think something isn’t quite right. But once your point is made, there’s little else to be done. Blasting the people who don’t agree with you isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. Altering the point, to disprove another’s example that refutes your claim, doesn’t make your view any more “right.” Some people won’t listen to you. Some people will always choose ignorance over knowledge. That’s just a fact of life. Constantly screaming your views at everyone isn’t going to change that. It will only make YOU seem like the jerk. Again, this is another fact with which I’ve had much personal experience.

Life is way too short to waste it fighting crusades (especially ones like how an artist draws a comic book cover). All it will end up doing is making you into a bitter, angry, resentful, dismissive individual, whom most people won’t want to deal with. This stuff is supposed to be FUN. If you aren’t having it, then maybe the problem isn’t others. Because I see plenty of folks who are having fun (of BOTH genders).

Honestly, there’s a huge world of material out there. You want to see super-heroines who get into bloddied fist-fights? There’s books out there that will have it. You want strong female heroes, who aren’t just cheesecake images? There are those out there that fit that. Granted, you might not find them at Marvel or DC. You might have to look into the scarey back part of the Previews catalog, but they are out there. You can find almost ANYTHING you want in the world of comics. You just have to be willing to look for it. Sometimes the search will be easy. Sometimes it won’t. And if it isn’t, that doesn’t mean that the stuff that IS easy to find is “wrong.” It just means it popular. If you want the materials you like to be popular, you need to seek it out and them help to promote it to others. Talk it up to people. Point it out to the masses. See, if more folks did that, not only would it be easier for tohers to find certain types of materials, but you’d be so busy pointing out this “good stuff”, that you probably wouldn’t have time to complain about the stuff you don’t like. There’s the way to effect a positive change.

“The fans don’t want girls in their comics shops, anyway.”

No, that isn’t true for most. They don’t mind (or really care) if girls come into their comic shop. They just don’t want them telling everyone on their blogs that they are “wrong” or “evil” or “misogynists” for their choice of fictional entertainment, after they DO come in. Wouldn’t seem like much to ask, would it?

“So change can’t happen, because fans refuse to let the dialog happen with any sort of dignity.”

Dignity is a two-way street. Just like respect. You have to give it, to get it. I don’t see much giving of it from EITHER side. Maybe that’s why I have such a hard time seeing anyone involved in this stuff (outside of possibly the creators) as a “victim.”

Change can and does happen. The industry today is not the same as the industry of 50-60 years ago. Things are better. They still have a way to go, but there has been forward momentum of change. And I’m sure there will continue to be. But I somehow doubt that the changes that have come, as well as those that will come later, will be due to the “radical crusaders” of either side. Personally, I think they do more to hold back any meaningful change than anyone else ever could. Blurring the issues with their own petty nonsense and personal demons. They should work on fixing their own ills, before they go trying to fix the world’s.

I doubt anything I’ve said here will register with most (except the parts that can be twisted and taken out of context to villify me), but for the few of you who will actually read my words and seriously contemplate them, the real change that needs to come will only come from within, not without. Work on making a better YOU and leave everyone else to do the same. Quit looking for things to upset yourself over and look for the things that bring you joy (and promote them to others, so you might spread that brand of joy). Things aren’t as bad as anyone else tries to make them look.

I can’t seem to stay away form this topic, in part because it’s subject i’ve been wrestling with in my own attempts at finding the balance between commercially viable visuals and characters that people can identify and empathize with.

I’m finding myself sympathizing with Linkara here, the question being not so much are many, many female superheros cheescake, but are they anything *but* cheescake? Sure you can look elsewhere, except that it dowsn’t really work that way – one tends to like certain titles and characters, and it seems a little specious to deal with creeping banality in a title you like by saying go like something else – it’s damn sure nobody is going to know what you think if you don’t complain.

I dunno if I want to see female superheros all beaten up either, but presumably, they are superheros, they get in fights, they probobly get beat up now and again – they definitely get their clothes ripped up, that much is fer sure.

Thing is, Powergirl is just the sort of character that does like to brawl, and I really can’t see her taking all the shit she does – the character actually sort of presents an opportunity to deal with issues like sexual harrasment – in a comic-booky way of maybe – but since no one seems able to resist harrasing her, why can’t she she do anything but make aidle threats? How does she feel about it? Take it in stride? Feel contempt for the juvenile behavior of her co-heros? She has damn near the potential of Wonderwoman, she’s just got big tits – get over it.

I’ve come to suspect that underlying the criticism of Turners artwork is a suspicion that her bosoms are really the only reason she exists at all – I’ll repeat a post I made over in the CSBG forum, ‘casue I dunno how many of you have followed the (desultory) dicussion over there:

“I think a lot of the bugaboo about Turners depiction of Powergirl is that a lot of people really want to like the character but apparently she can’t seem to escape from the Bimbo dimension, and she’s Bimbifying everything she touches – Turner had the misfortune to become a lightning rod for a certain undercurrent of discontent by taking her to new levels of Bimbification”.

It all good fun for male readers, but the message to women readers is that you can’t take a character seriously if they have a vagina when there’s really no reason she/they can’t be more dimensional characters and *still* look good.

Result: steadily increasing sales of Manga to female readers – Manga characters are often sexualized to degrees far beyond that of American comics, but they are much more likely to be humanized, they can express feelings (and fight and get bloody noses too!) and they can be taken seriously as something more than an excuse for titty jokes.

It would be just as easy to argue: “write her as a serious character – you don’t have to actually read the damn thing, you can just look at the pictures”.

Ok,one more:

“Life is way too short to waste it fighting crusades (especially ones like how an artist draws a comic book cover). All it will end up doing is making you into a bitter, angry, resentful, dismissive individual, whom most people won’t want to deal with. This stuff is supposed to be FUN. If you aren’t having it, then maybe the problem isn’t others. Because I see plenty of folks who are having fun (of BOTH genders.”

A good point, but I’m not sure I agree – what I do know is that you aren’t addressing Turners drawing, but bitching about all the bitching, the whole critical nature of the comix fan community – but I think you’re pissing up a rope here, as I say, people form emotional attachments to these things, and tend to be sensitive about things they don’t like.

I’ll repeat my analysis of Turners drawing made in the CSBG forum, because I think it illustrates the point I’m trying to make, so bear with me:

The target demographic of the entire medium has changed dramatically as the adolescents of the baby boom generation who originally enabled the expansion of the industry to begin with age, and their tastes change – at the same time, there is a need to appeal to new readers, adolescents, and heavy competition from other forms of media that didn’t exist in the Silver Age.

I was very attracted to this adolescent body type at one point in my life – when I was an adolescent – now it looks like somebodies kid to me, so it goes.

Not this particular image of powergirl, necessarily, which is a pastiche of styles and symbolism, and what happens when you try to please everybody – she is actually unusually muscular for a woman, her arms are quite impressive, and her upper body in general is the classically masculine V shape, she looks like a juicer to me, in fact – modified only by the exaggeration of her secondary sexual characteristics, her breasts.

Below the waist, she seems to have a very adolescent body, very slender hips – again, a masculine/adolescent characteristic, which is modified by making her waist impossibly thin in order to indicate that she has any hips at all.

Such is the challenge of the comtemporary comic book artist: she has to look powerful for the female readers, sexy for the male ones who tend to be uncomfortable with overly muscular women – even the thin ones cannot be “cut” ’cause they “look like guys”, while the younger adolescent demographic is a lot picker about weight – if turners drawing had more average, classical proportions, i.e., her hip approxomately the same width as her shoulders, people would be complaining that she has has “breeder hips”, or calling her fat.

Same with faces, to a large extent, comic book women are supposed to have very smooth faces – in the silver age, many female characters had normal nasolabial folds, noses and nostrils – now the faces are mostly lips and eyes, the nose minimized to the point of nonexistence in some cases, and you’ll never see a nasolabial fold.

Of course, all of these features add to the artists ability to draw expressions, the nasolabial fold tends to appear prominantly when a person smiles for example, and so the lack of these characteristics tends to result in female faces that look botoxed – Powergirl has that blank expression because her facial muscles are frozen, beacause any lines in her face would run the risk of alienating fans who would complain that she looks “old”.

End of excerpt.

The point here is, this particualr drawing is in fact, a woman designed by a commitee – her particular attributes are specifically designed to appeal the often contradictory demands of a diverse fan community – young male readers are probobly the fattest demographic, so their demands are going to carry mroe weight, the rest is is an attempt to appeal to the amall, but still important fringe demographics, the result, an image disturbing to many people on many levels, even if they are unable to articulate what it is exactly that is so disturbing.

So it’s inescapable: the drawing itself is the result of of a lot of bitching, which in turn set off a new round of bitching – I actually see it as healthy, it means comics are no longer an onanistic, solitary art form best enjoyed with a flashlight in a darkened closet, but genuinely popular artform.

As for “the answer” that’s less easy – currently, fans seem to follow artists, for the most part, and writers, to some extent, while some still remain loyal to particular titles – unless some standardization is imposed editorially, people are gonna bitch when certain arists are going to be percieved as not be doing their favorite characters justice.

I’d like to mention my latest thoughts on Powergirls characterization – the way I see it there are at least four “types” of women, those who for resons of their own do not like to be ogled, and tend to wear the fashion equivilent of the burlap sack – there are thos who are more or less oblivious to the entire quesiton, and dress according to the latest style, what ever it is, and don’t worry about whether it gets them ogled or not – then there are those women who dress because they want to be ogled, and in fact may take it as an insult if you fail to ogle them (I don’t go to the gym three times a week so you’ll ignore me!!!) – and finally, women who squeeze themselves into their tightest jeans and sweaters, spend hours doing their makeup and hair, and then act outraged and insulted when you check them out.

I’m not going to go too deeply into the various motivations for this last, somewhat passive aggressive mode of behavior: could be they do it because that’s “what everybody else is doing”, and the attraction effect is simply not taken into account, could be they enjoy humiliating men, could be some other deep seated psychological issues, I dunno, but it seems to me that Powergirl falls somewhat into this last catagory, although she has some aspects of the previous one as well.

This in itself sort of suggests hidden complexities in the character that could be explored a bit, and a lot of ways to go with that – i.e., there is a whole range of feminist and counterfeminist critiques that could be worked in by a clever writer here without a great deal of effort.

You could eat your cheescake and have it too.

I challenge the blogosphere to answer me this:
Name a flat-chested heroine.
http://captionbox.net/loosepages/?p=312

yah okay this all sucks.

Its comicbooks….what a waste of breath for everyone here…including me…

Mike T is an awesome artist. The drawings don’t hafta be exactly like a real person, as long as its pleasing to the eye. Anyone ever heard of “Manga”?

Get this: I like big boobs and hot girls!!! *gasp* So does every other guy on the planet. Get used to it ladies. Guys actually do want you to look like that!!! That asian chick is friggin hot as hell!! Anyone complaining about this art is either a fat woman who’s past her experation date or some religious whacko who probably just molests little boys instead. This article is a running joke, not her figure.

I didn’t know that women were so stupid that they all thought that this is how a person needs to be. I dont’ look a damn thing like batman or night crawler but the chicks seem to love them. This whole article assumes that women are so stupid and immpressionable that they will ruin there lives to look this good and that men are sooo stupid that this image will ruin there ideal of women and they’ll never have a relationship again. Is the author three years old? What kind of retarded logic is this? Where did he get his armchair psychology degree? Sack up you idiot.

I feel a bit strange commenting on something a year old, but my original post was lousy and I figure whatever I’m posting is more intelligent than the mental diarrhea spewed in the resurrecting posts.

Actually, I would really like to see a female superhero in a knock-down, drag-out fight with an enemy where broken noses and black eyes and maybe even broken fingers are an option. I would like to see a female superhero who could be depicted taking the sort of horrid damage Wolverine does. I would like to see this not because I enjoy hideous violence, but because it would be a sign that finally, truly, male and female heroes could be depicted doing the same things to the same dramatic effect. It would also indicate that squeamishness at the idea of “frail” women experiencing physical damage would be dead or at least in remission.

More to the point, most of the ‘power moments” in superhero comics inevitably end up involving knock-down, drag-out fights where the hero gets busted up while struggling to beat the villain. It’s the nature of the genre. If the industry wishes to write about super-heroines, don’t make them second class citizens. Let them fight, battle, and be bloodied like the male heroes. Let them have real victories, instead of being meaningless “field leaders” or energy burst dispensors who step demurely aside when Superman shows up.

man… you guys are kinda vicious don’t you think? Honestly i enjoy Turners style, he does a great job with the eyes and noses. and BTW! its a comic book, do honestly think that 90% of comic heroes are Anatomically correct?

Also i would like to add that Turner is quite the artist, i honestly doubt that any of you so called “critics” can even come close to comparing. This does not go without saying that everyone has different taste but to say that the mans drawing horrible is obviously not true.

o yeah, and ITS A COMIC BOOK! THEY ARE FICTIONAL AND NOT SUPPOSED TO REFLECT THE ACTUALITY OF REAL LIFE.

No man, in their right mind anyway, believes that all women look like that. Give me a break please.

Really late here, but to the dude who says yes girls should look like this and are fat for complaining they don’t, then goes right around to say girls are stupid to think they have to look like this–stop being a fucking hypocrite. Either view is bullshit. I’m a thin, attractive woman with a geeky side, who has never had trouble w/guys and I have NEVER looked like that–duh it’s a comic. Oh yeah, and I’m an illustrator and study anatomy.
And M.T’s art is very good. It’s not proportionate (as it shouldn’t be for this type of comic) but he knows fucking anatomy and can draw ANYTHING well (eg, not just people). I agree with Aspiring–I doubt even 5% here can even TOUCH him in talent. Not saying that people can’t be critical of work, but it’s very obvious MT has a lot of talent, if you’ve looked at more than 3 of his drawings in your life. That’s why he was hired on the SPOT. So stfu as you have not even a leg to stand on.

Oh yeah, and any guy who really DOES want his woman to look like that—soon as you look like Batman, then maybe I’ll work on that.

Thought so

(that would require effort and getting your ass off the couch–we can’t have that, certainly)

[[[[[a) He draws women so that people buying his comics (mostly, let’s be honest, men between 20-40) will believe all women look like that and have unrealistic expectations for women they meet, therefore ruining their chances to have an actual relationship;

b) He draws women so that impressionable young ladies, say under the age of 20, will believe this is what men like so that they will diet until their ribs protrude from their bodies and they will get plastic surgery until their breasts cause them to fall forward]]]]]

WHAT THE F$$K is wrong with you people
this is just his style he is Not CHOOSING to draw in a insulting or damaging way, there is No god damn conspiracy to influence young womens minds.
mabye you havent been paying atention but his males are just as prefectly fit as his females, thats just HOW HE DRAWS HIS CHARACTERS

Turner did nearly everything right from a comic book perspective. These kinda articles usually come from people that will never be able to draw as good as Turner. And it drives them crazy. I draw comics, and the level turner and some of the colorist he worked with over the years, put his art at such a high level that it is a stranded to live by. Numbers don’t lie, his hales were through the roof from first issue of witch blade. If he sucked so bad he wouldn’t have been able to make comics sell when DC and Marvel were on the verge of going under. Plus, his proportions are not that far off, and if that is some kind of argument then you can pretty much say the same of nearly all comic artist. If your art has no dynamics then it will look boring. Mike made a plain pose seem awesome, because he was that good at ultra realistic detail and great at using the less is more way drawing.

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