web stats

CSBG Archive

She Has No Head! – Variety, The Spice of Life or: Let’s Talk About Boobs

Some people really misunderstood last week’s column. A column that was simply trying to point out what great progress we seem to have made when it comes to women in comics, compared to 1995 (a formative year for a young Kelly Thompson). Some people mistakenly misunderstood it, some didn’t bother to read the piece in the first place, but felt delighted to share their thoughts any way, and others tried really really hard to misunderstand it. But I’m willing to admit to some writing fail in getting my point across. So here I am to clear things up. Ready?

Let’s talk about boobs.

Jilted League Panel

A panel from my comic strip “The Jilted League” that I never work on. Yup, these ladies constantly get the shaft, and not the good kind. See? Jokes.

I have exactly ZERO problems with big boobs. In fact, I am an owner of “big boobs” so I certainly have no problem with them. I don’t think big boobs makes it difficult for people to take someone seriously, obviously, since I frequently expect and even demand people to take me seriously, and I have the aforementioned big boobs. I even frequently wear low-cut shirts, since my job in no way involves fighting crime and because I,  like most people, know that boobs look pretty awesome. I also have no problem with sexuality in any way. In my life or in my media. Hell, I am not only happy to read about characters with big boobs, but I CREATE them (as evidenced above – and below – in the “Jilted League” comic strip you see here). I have no problem with boobs, I have no problem with jokes,

thank you comic

Click to enlarge

I have no problem with sex.

What I DO have a problem with is everything being the same.

Boobs are awesome. They’re just not the ONLY thing that’s awesome. I like a little variety and so should we all.

Having only one type of thing, like only female characters with giant boobs (on tiny bodies) portrayed over and over again, almost to the exclusivity of everything else puts us in fetish territory. And while there’s nothing wrong with fetish, I think comics in general are better than that. Comics should be broader and more open to all people. It should never cater to one tiny super specific group, and it especially shouldn’t give that tiny super specific group only vanilla to eat, forever. If it does those things it has no room to grow.

And with no room to grow it fucking dies.

Fetish has its place, it even has its place in comics. But looking at a wall of new comics should not feel like taking a peek inside one person’s very specific fetish. It should feel like throwing the doors open to the whole world. It should feel like a place where we can all simultaneously be welcomed and understood while learning new things and experiencing that which we’ve not yet even managed to imagine.

Yes to giant boobs. But also yes to small boobs and no boobs. Yes to short and tall, thin and fat and everything in between, yes to black and white and all other colors, yes to all genders, and faiths, to all sexual orientations. Yes to EVERYTHING.

This is OUR world, this little corner of comics, let’s demand it be, and even better, MAKE it be, as interesting as goddamn possible.

And so let’s all move on to something more worthy of us than accusing people of hating boobs, yes?

64 Comments

Mummra the ever living

February 10, 2014 at 9:31 am

I agree- boobs are awesome!

And in every variety. (Well….except that time Mae Young (with all respect to the dead) flashed)

Although, I do fear, Kelly that by making this a personal point (almost a pun) you have opened yourself up for the….more immature to the possibly dangerous corners of the anonymous interweb making salacious requests of you. Resist you pervs.

Good text, and I totally agree; American mainstream comics should have room for more than one body type. (Here in Europe things are a bit better in that regard, though in the recent years I’ve noticed that more European artists have begun to imitate the American cheesecake style, which is not a good development.) If you’re interested, I wrote an article a few years ago where I tried to look into this phenomenon (everyone, particularly women, looking like clones of each other in comics), you can read it here: I’ve seen that face before

Mummra the ever living

February 10, 2014 at 9:46 am

This past weeks Mighty Avengers #6 illustrates this point pretty clearly as we have Valerio Schiti on art as opposed to Greg Land.

I would also point out though that this is not a gender-specific issue. How often do you see a male in comics who is not an one extreme of the body-image spectrum? The vast majority of all males in comic books are depicted as muscle-bound, ripped mega-Olympians. (I know that makes more sense than the boobs issue due to the athletic nature of the super-hero genre that dominates the industry but it is ubiquitous and that is ridiculous)

The others are uber-flabby stereotypes. Usually an IT tech or a disgusting villian.

Where are the regular guys?

TOTALLY agree, BUT (always with the buts), I’ve assumed that the (main) reasons for the homogeneity of body types (in super hero comics) are 1) idiomatic style (simplified, exagerrated forms) and 2) time (cranking out X pages monthly doesn’t leave time for subtlety). Am I being too generous here?

Mummra the ever living

February 10, 2014 at 10:04 am

@Hugueknot: I think style definitely has a lot to do with it. Humberto Ramka has an overtly stylised signature look to his art and often depicts women with huge boobs and tiny waists. However, when it’s part of the story, in the instance of Cloud 9 and her body-image issues he can draw a fairly plain/ average looking young woman.

I guess that’s also where time comes in- if it’s specifies in the story how someone (a new character) looks then the artist will spend time to design that look. However when they don’t have specifics, thy will likely revert to “generic hotty” mode.

Which touches on another point- the “traditional” look of established characters. No-one is looking to change She-Hulk to have a female body builders chest, cos that’s “not her look”.

Mummra the ever living

February 10, 2014 at 10:05 am

That was meant to be “Humberto Ramos”

Yeah, the mandatory “big boobs on every woman” trope is really annoying at times, especially when the the artist lacks basic knowledge of anatomy. Pencil-thin, runway model physiques rarely come with giant boobs , but that is what we constantly see in comics. It rather makes one appreciate Frank Cho, who at least couples his big bosoms with full thighs and hips.

[…] A New She Has No Head! is up, and it’s largely about boobs. Good times! […]

@ Mummra

“The vast majority of all males in comic books are depicted as muscle-bound, ripped mega-Olympians. (I know that makes more sense than the boobs issue due to the athletic nature of the super-hero genre that dominates the industry but it is ubiquitous and that is ridiculous)”

And, oddly, I can’t off the top of my head recall anywhere near as much muscle definition on the ladies, unless they’re being pushed as some sort of “uber-powerhouse” (usually a villain). Some of these ladies must certainly work out, and can probably bench a tank just as well as the boys!

When Juan Bobillo drew She-Hulk like a bodybuilder, people called his art ugly.

Clean cut article….don’t think anyone will get this wrong.

On the topic of body image, I hope many people will take notice of the Olympics. For the most part, that is where one will see what a real man or woman look like at the peak of human conditioning. Not suprising, they don’t exactly look like Wonder Woman or Batman of the olden days. Hmm, thinking on it, the one superheroine that comes to mind that does remind me of the typical Olympic female athlete right now is Supergirl. Ok..random rambling done..lol.

Great article, sorry that people took your last one the wrong way, but I don’t think you could be any more crystal clear with your validated point in this one.

I won’t lie…as a young boy growing up, big boobs were never seen as a bad thing in comics. It was almost…that forbidden fruit. In an age before Internet and where you are to young to purchase dirty magazines, women in comics were almost the accepted images for growing boys coming into their sexuality. Sadly though that idea comes with the consequences of alienating growing girls too…and honeslyt was not something I ever thought about until I got older.

I love your articles and your work, keep it up.

Kelly, I can’t believe you would write an article ranting about your hatred for boobs and sex and how all men are sexist pigs and how you only want women to write and draw comics and…heh. Sorry, I was trying to sound like one of your typical commenters and just couldn’t keep it going without laughing.

Nice article, Kelly.

You know, it’s not just girls that are put off by this stuff in comics. I am male. In the mid-1990s, I was right out of my teen years and entering my 20s. And I felt uncomfortable with the “bad girl crazy” in comics. I felt like the industry was excluding me, by becoming more and more geared to a horny 13-year old. I bought comics for the story, not for cheap and embarassing masturbating material.

Also, it was that the particular style of “sexy” was grating to me. I really didn’t like the plastic angry supermodel look of the 1990s. If I had to have cheesecake, I prefered guys like Alan Davis and Terry Dodson.

Great article that raises a question in my mind. What do big boobs “mean” from a character design perspective?

In real life, breast size is function of genetics and nutrition. They really don’t mean anything about the person. However, comics are different. The shape of the body of a character really should say something about what is inside. It is one of the ways that comics differ from other media.

The meaning of male physical types are pretty well-defined in superhero comics (even if lots of artists wander off-model). When Jack Kirby drew Reed Richards and Scott Summers as tall and thin, they were clearly both leaders and intellectuals. When Dave Cockrum drew Wolverine as short and hairy, he was meant to be aggressive. Jerry Siegel modeled Superman on the energetic athleticism of Douglas Fairbanks, it gave the character a personality.

Female superheroes are less well-defined. Artists tend to shift their depictions of female body types radically based on industry trends and personal preference. By the rules of the medium, these characters have different personalities. There can be pretty substantial variation between different types of athletes. Swimmers and marathon runners have different builds. (Non-WWE) Wrestlers don’t look anything like volleyball players.

So, that comes back to my question: what do big boobs on a superhero “mean”? It seems like they should say something, but I really am not sure what that would be.

boobs boobs boobing boobs boober.
boob boobs in the boobed boob.
boob the boob boobs boober boobing boob
boobs’ boobs boob boobs
BOOOBS

Big boobs mean the artist likes drawing big boobs.

Emma Frost should be drawn with large boobs, Kitty Pryde should not. I hate it when artists make everyone look the same.

Where’s the heck is T.P.? This is HIS kind of thing.

Yes, variety is great. In my science-fiction superhero novel ONLY SUPERHUMAN, I featured a range of diverse body types and ethnicities, both since I was trying for a plausible/naturalistic approach to superheroics and just because I like diversity. The lead character, Emerald Blair, is busty, but in the context of a fairly full-figured and quite muscular physique (inspired by tennis pro Serena Williams) that I wanted to be both plausibly athletic and unconventionally sexy (at least by today’s narrow standards of femininity). And the other women — and men — in the book have plenty of variety in body type; indeed, the only other character in the book specifically described as ample-chested is Emerald’s grandmother!

And yet despite that, one reviewer online still claimed that every woman in the book has abnormally huge breasts. I guess that stereotype is so ingrained in comics that some people see it even when it isn’t there.

That’s one other thing I like about George Perez’s art. He draws women characters of various shapes and sizes…

>> what do big boobs on a superhero “mean”?>>

I think a superhero’s appearance signifies what others (the readers, and the other characters) are supposed to see in that character.

So, though Superman would in real life be fat (because few challenges force him to exert himself), we instead make him trim and muscular, because we’re meant to see him as capable and heroic. She Hulk and Wonder Woman, as “alpha females,” have large breasts, because our society deems that physique glamorous, even intimidating. Shadowcat and Supergirl are adolescents and therefore warrant flatter chests — despite the fact that adolescent girls may have large breasts — because we typically equate smaller breasts with youth. Sandman’s sister, Death, has a flat chest, because breasts represent life and motherhood — her opposites. And so forth.

this column is embarassing.

@mckracken: Yeah, What I’d argue is embarrassing is that I have to write a column like this because the level of discourse (especially in commenting) continues to be so low when it comes to comics.

If that didn’t exist there’d be no reason for this “embarrassing” column.

There was an astonishing lack of reading comprehension surrounding last week’s column (I thought it was pretty flipping obvious).

But… there certainly was also a lot of HIDEOUS art in 1995. :)

How is this column embarrassing? Explain please. Please provide some basis for discussion.

I have no problem with big boobs either, but the problem with them in fiction is that most heroines have them and are at least partly defined by them. Even the so called “female empowerment” characters like Wonder Woman suffer from this problem. It’s total sexualisation of women in fiction. No one ever talks about dick size when it comes to male superheroes because sex does not define them; they’re actions do. Its well past time that the ACTIONS and not the bust size or body shape become our female heroes most defining trait.

….I miss how a boob referred to someone being an idiot. Example: Phil, you clumsy boob. Or what about Jeremy the Boob from Yellow Submarine….?

@ Mary Warner, Jesse Hamm:

Building off your comments, here is my two cents on various notables and their design as it relates to their body types:
Emma Frost: To me, Emma is the archetypal “Hitchcock Blonde”. (As an aside, Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Eve Marie Saint, Tippi Hedren and Kim Novak would make a fascinating facial averaging project.) Hitchcock was such a masterful film-maker that his kinks are deeply embedded in popular culture. Women with that physical look are basically assumed to be with-holding and manipulative. They are almost never portrayed any other way. In terms of body type, Hitchcock tended to cast women who were less curvy than the fashion at the time. The Hitchcock blonde was a marked contrast to the “Playboy Bunny” as exemplified by Marilyn Monroe, Jane Mansfield and the rest of the forties-fifties “bombshells”. Emma Frost’s costuming is so sexualized that she could easily cross types and so I tend to think that less is more with her when it comes to breasts and curves.

Power Girl: By contrast, she is the Playboy archetype. More is more when it comes to her curves and breasts. The basic concept of the character is putting a second wave feminist brain into THAT body. That is what makes her costuming so tricky. You want the reader to see the body type, but she isn’t the type of person who invites the male gaze. So, in addition to her hourglass figure, it might make sense foe her to have the more common large omega shaped breasts.

Huntress: It is sort of interesting how many female superheroes have counter-part, or partner. Huntress and Power Girl have always been a matched set in my mind. The core concept of the character is really Batman + Catwoman, which persisted into her Helena Bertinelli years. That is why I think the body type Bruce Timm favored during BATMAN: TAS is the way to go with her, sort of an apple shape frame with smaller conical breasts.

Wonder Woman: If only one female superhero looked like an athlete, then it should be her. After all, the defining moment of her origin is an athletic contest and sports was a huge part of Hellenic culture. That means lower body fat and that is why I have never been a fan of WW with big boobs. I like a taller WW, so her curves would be distributed across a longer body anyway. Larger breasts on that body shape become strange looking very quickly.

Sue Storm: She is difficult. Kirby designed her with a thicker frame than would be considered “sexy” now. He also drew her bottom heavy and with a bullet bra to almost balance her. Almost no one has drawn her that way since. Her frame has become progressively thinner and is now in the Gwenyth Paltrow/January Jones range, while her breasts have become rounder. I am not sure that she could revert to anything close to her original design now. The problem is compounded by the fat guy-hot wife trend on TV. Sue Storm should be just a little out of Reed Richards league, but what does that mean in a media universe where Jim Belushi is married to Courtney Thorne-Smith? It might be a good idea to go all the way and make Sue a very delicate looking woman and have her FF uniform hang off her slight frame a bit.

One of the things I subconsciously loved about Elfquest was the variety of body types. Women had big boobs…and next to none. Some males were stocky, some lithe, and so were the women.

(I say subconscious because I wasn’t thinking ‘boobs’ when I first started reading. I just recognized that all the characters looked…different.)

One response to the ‘men are mega-olympians’. One thing I look at on the ‘boob’ issue is the non-heroes. A lot of the women still end up top heavy, while the males can be seen as ‘normal’.

I I’d rather see everyone with huge boobs than for Emma Frost to have huge boobs and for Kitty to have small ones. That would kind of symbolize that big boobs=slutty and small boobs=good girl. You can be a “good girl” with huge boobs. You can be “slutty” with small boobs. I don’t like the idea of correlating the size of a character’s boobs with her character (to say nothing of correlating her character with the amount of her sexual activity).

YES! Awesome post, Kelly. I agree — variety is the problem. It’s not muscles, big boobs, goofy tights, or whatever else is repeated over and over in superhero comics that makes them feel stagnant and narrow-minded sometimes. It’s the fact that other representations are lacking, and in some cases, never there at all. HUZZAH TO VARIETY!

I agree with Grant Morrison on this that in fact there is and always has been a great variety of female body types in comics and that some people, the author included, are over-exaggerating (heh) this issue. Compare the depiction of male anatomy. Male heroes are almost always depicted as muscle bound Charles Atlas types with 8 pack abs. The muscles are so defined and powerful that the clothing they wear actually follows the musculature precisely, as though gravity does not exist to push any looseness straight down. End the double standard!!!

@jeff_14: Oh goody. Another opportunity to just do this:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/02/21/she-has-no-head-no-its-not-equal/

The whole reason I wrote that post in the first place.

First of all, I think columns like this deceptively narrow their focus to obvious targets. Sort of like someone picking up a Victoria Secret catalog and complaining about how women are depicted in it versus the myriad of other sources one could look in. Same with comics: you have comics that strive for some semblance of reality and others that do not. If the gripe is confined to those that aim to not replicate that which is real, then it’s hard to really feign surprise that this is what they’re doing.

Second, the men are hardly treated different. As a gym rat who worked bodybuilding shows backstage, I can tell you superheroes are very popular in that community and drove many of those men to take steroids. Because those body types simply are not possible without them. So right there, people adopted dangerous habits because of a comic book pandering to an ideal.

Third, I think you have to understand that to a degree these are modern myths and like many myths they’re focus is on idealized forms. To undercut this and say “well, they should be real”, well, then maybe Spider-Man should’ve gotten cancer instead of cool spider powers.

I was always more confused by female characters fighting crime in high heels. Heels are hard enough to walk in, never mind trying to leap between rooftops. I’ve never tried having big boobs, though. I’m betting the combination of the two would make the crime-fighting role more challenging. Maybe that’s why they’re ‘super’. Hell, I know I’m impressed!

@Winchester- have you seen the teen and early 20-something women of today? They wear heels everywhere to the point that makes my ankles hurt. Thank goodness my teen years were in the 90’s. Give me sandals or tennis shoes any day of the week :)

@Dean- though not a WW expert, wouldn’t you say that the current version of Diana is probably the most realistically healthy looking version of her yet? The more I think about it, from my limited knowledge I would say that WW has the most realistic superheroine body for an adult while in the teen world you have the current Supergirl, Harper Row (Batman), Stargirl and Stephanie Brown (Pre-New 52).

Kelly, your first article could not have been more clearly stated. The responses you spoke of are from people who read something into your remarks that wasn’t there.

I agree variety in appearance (boobs and otherwise) is always welcome, but I really have a problem with supposed alien or invulnerable heroines who are drawn with that fake antigravity bubble look of silicone implant breasts. Fake boobs look (oddly) more unnatural when there is no reason to believe augmentation surgery could have or would have been performed.

Almost all superheroines have realistic bodies. I’ve met women with Power Girl’s figure, for instance. The issue isn’t whether a real person could have those proportions, but whether all the possible types of bodies are out there. The only characters who represented body shape/size diversity are Gert from Runaways (who’s dead) and Amanda Waller (who was nu52ed into a more stereotypical figure).

@Mike: Yeah, that link right above your comment? That’s for you too.

@Greg: I get what you’re saying and agree with the general sentiment, but this:

“Almost all superheroines have realistic bodies”

is a baaaad sentence to start with. Please don’t make me start compiling images. It’s just not true. At all. And sometimes deliberately. Cartoon figures certainly don’t always have to be realistic.

@Ben: Thanks.

And I agree – it also really ticks me off when a character clearly has unnatural boobs but would not either be unlikely to be in a position to have such a procedure done, or it would be really out of character for them to have made that choice. That said, I think in MANY cases this is less a conscious choice and a symptom of artists simply not knowing how to draw natural breasts. Still not good though.

Also…I mean, I know I wrote about boobs…and they are relevant…but you guys know this column is not ACTUALLY about boobs…right?

*crickets*

Comments haven’t been closed yet?

I like boobs, but Kitty Pryde is still my ideal comic book female. I mean, I really love chesty females, but I can’t buy any Greg Land or even Frank Cho just for the drawings. It took me forever to even try the latest iteration of Power Girl since I figured it was all just titty jokes. Boobs do not a good comic make. There were some good stories there because of and in spite of Power Girl’s proportions.

So, If I am reading you right, you want to see more varied fanservice?

This is one of those things where I see where you are coming from, know what youre complaining about exists, but also can fairly easily point out a dozen or two prominent counterexamples.

I think mostly youre reacting to what is the stereotypical norm and not the norm of the industry right now.

That said, as a fan of small and big boobs and nice butts on some womanly looking bodies, I won’t complain about more attention being paid to say wonder womans derriere.

Kelly Thompson
February 11, 2014 at 5:39 pm

Also…I mean, I know I wrote about boobs…and they are relevant…but you guys know this column is not ACTUALLY about boobs…right?

*crickets

There’s almost no way to read this article in a way where its NOT about boobs. You only used the word about 2 dozen times.

@Eddie Vee:

So when someone draws your attention to something to say that this thing is great but it’s not the only thing that’s great and then writes three hundred relatively passionate words about how we should be embracing things beyond that one thing…you can’t get beyond the four letter word initially used to draw the comparison?

Seriously?

I weep for comics sometimes. WEEP.

Also, 2 dozen is a bit extreme. By my count it’s no more than a baker’s dozen. But whatevs.

@Kelly
I know what you really meant by this column–I just think most of the commentors here are being a bunch of boobs. (Baddum-tish!….Seriously, I miss that old connotation, it was a perfectly clean insult! Even Ned Flanders would tolerate it.)

@Acer

Well, I’m also not easily offended (despite what I’m sure many here believe) but if we want to get technical, I don’t think calling someone a boob as an insult really is that clean. I mean, the implications are obvious right?

But again, I’m not easily offended with this sort of thing. I do have trouble picturing Ned Flanders saying the word boob though…in any circumstances.

@Nicole – the college girls and older in England all seem to be going for the whole ‘leggings and trainers” vibe. Perfect for crime fighting! Of course, the leggings thing just taps into the superhero fetish for comic geeks.
I prefer to wear heels, myself. Even though I struggle to carry off the whole look as they don’t go with my beard…

The title of the article made me think of Uncanny X-Men #268. Jubilee checking out the ample chests of Psylocke and Black Widow before glancing at her own with a frown. Its always bothered me that in four years (Marvel time, not ours) Jubilee went from being almost flat-chested to a solid “C” in her appearance. Of course, as near as I can tell part of being a mutant female is that you get the exact same size/shape breasts as every other female (and possibly The Blob). So while the situation at Image is a little better I think it’s time to start seeing more variety in our comics.

I would like to judge the validity of your claim of having awesome big boobs.;)

I own a nice, huge, print of Harley & Ivy from the old Warners store, and love it, but there’s a large part of me that wishes, when DC remade their line a few years back, they’d have redesigned those two as an overweight couple in their mid-fifties.

(Poison Ivy was originally designed as a va-va-voom girl, in the hopes that somebody like Tina Louise might have played her on the TV show in 1967, and her shtick was “like poison ivy, you can’t quit thinking about her.” The whole obsessed-with-plants thing came later.)

If it’s an : alternative comic: any and all body shapes are great. Death in the sandman is a great example of a small chested character .

But if it’s :superhero: it should be big boobs on gels just like it should be big muscles on guys.

There is no discussion to be had,

I collected ( and worked in a comic shop through the 90/s)yes I was the comic snob that mocked what people bought as I read Big Numbers, or told you to put that down and buy Cerebus instead,

However , superheroes should be super , be magic , be something you can’t be. They should be muscle bound men and big breasted perfect women.

There is no room for PC every person shape and size is a special little snowflake .

I think I’ll go did out some Tim Vigil classics and laugh at the pc police

@ Old school 1988

You read Tim Vigil “classics” and you mocked what OTHER people bought?

Oh I recognize you now, gosh, I think you’ve worked at just about every comic book
or record shop I’ve ever been to.

“There is no room for PC every person shape and size is a special little snowflake . ”

Heh, strange. Why is it that the standards of the 1990s are so often taken as “the way superhero comics have always been”? Ditko’s Spider-Man didn’t have big muscles, for instance. The heroines of Teen Titans in the 1980s, as drawn by George Perez, all had different body types, they weren’t all Starfire clones.

Don’t try to pass the aberrations of a single decade as THE GOSPEL. That is either disingenious or short-sighted.

I really liked your article.

My hypothesis as to why this is in Comics and in other mediums to a certain extent is this.

Artists get caught in trying to convey power or control in a 2D world. Drawing from social aspects they get stuck with the paradigms that relate to personal “fetish” or power fantasy.

For instance: The Incredible Hulk. Pure male power fantasy, muscles where the human body has no muscles and then more muscles on top of those. But why exactly? Well in my view how do you draw a character that could say, crack a planet in half and physically look like they could do it? You’ exaggerate a form and then exaggerate it some more. To the point where the static 2D image looks like something could happen. That the figure really is a manifestation of something that could do just that to an entire planet.

Now add into this She-Hulk. Why doesn’t She-Hulk bear the same silhouette that Bruce Banner’s Hulk does? I think in all honesty if she did have the same body as the Hulk she wouldn’t just be “unattractive” to many readers of the comic that are male but she would also be unrelatable to many female readers or potential readers.

I think it all boils down to a fear and then to a safety net. You could create a 500lb female bruiser that looks like The Thing and smashes buildings and for some odd reason still has to cover her rock nipples or you can just make it a male character and ignore dress codes and not worry about the character not finding an audience as easily as it might have.

I think this also applies to more “regular” sized heroes, such as Batman and Catwoman. The societal “norm” is that if a man is in control of his surroundings he is physically imposing, stoically devoid or in complete control of emotions which are seen as “feminine”. That leaves the idea that women when they’re in control is sexually alluring, she’s confident and able to seduce someone for her own personal gains. She isn’t one to avoid emotions and isn’t one to look physically strong enough to say punch down a door or throw a car at someone.

I think the “fetish” thing as far as why the vast majority of super heroines have large breasts is just the law of averages working and maybe not just a personal fetish on the part of the artists perhaps? I find large breasts to be a bit like seeing a very tall person walk into a room that was filled with people that are 5″5 at best. Everyone will notice the tall person right away, whether or not they personally like people based on height or not. It’s just something you don’t typically see in your day to day life and for that it’s worth catching a glimpse. And maybe, as far as comics creators are concerned, perhaps worth a purchase.

@ Nicole:

Cliff Chiang is amazing, but I’ve punched out on the whole nu52.

@ Rene:

Heh, strange. Why is it that the standards of the 1990s are so often taken as “the way superhero comics have always been”? Ditko’s Spider-Man didn’t have big muscles, for instance. The heroines of Teen Titans in the 1980s, as drawn by George Perez, all had different body types, they weren’t all Starfire clones.

Great point.

George Perez gave each of his female leads a distinct body type. You could tell the difference between Raven, Starfire, Donna Troy and Terra from their silhouettes. The same was true for his males from the most part.

John Byrne had almost a hierarchy. His female leads tend to be the same type: hourglass frame with larger breasts. Ms. Marvel, Jean Grey, Aurora and early Sue Storm were all pretty much the same. However, his supporting females deviated from the main female in a variety of ways. Storm was a bit bigger breasted than Jean. Kitty was smaller and thinner than both. Moira McTaggert and Snowbird were thin with a bit more weight in the lower half of their bodies. She-Hulk was much more muscular. Byrne was plainly giving things some thought and he used the same method with his men. The main males had similar body types and the supporting cast was designed away from a more proportional type.

On the idea that it’s all cool, male superheroes are shown as ripped….

So, what’s interesting about the male heroes is how they’re shown as completely flat around the groin – they definitely have no genitalia. To get an idea of what it’s like for women reading superhero comics where *every* *single* heroine has huge boobs – not to mention the classic Jim Lee/Rob Liefeld pose where women can point boobs, arse and crotch at the “eye” all at the same time – just have a look at an average superhero comics page and imagine you can see their genitals though the lycra. Like when the cyclists I follow in the Tour de France stand on the podium, and you can see every detail. If that’s on every page, and you have covers and panels designed around that – you happy with that? I mean, there’s nothing wrong with well-hung guys being completely comfortable with their well-developed bodies, is there?

(And now I am grinning, imagining superhero comics as drawn by Tom of Finland…. We already have the equivalent with all those 90s comics Kelly pointed out, what’s wrong with that? It’s just an exaggerated art style, only people who hate men and masculinity could object to it!)

Dean –

Nice eye!

When I read “JLA: The Nail” for the first time what impressed me was how Alan Davis could give each superhero his/her own body type and body language. And that was one more reason for me to dislike the 1990s Image style guys, besides poor anatomy and cluttered storytelling.

Crotchety –

I don’t remember now, but there was a amusing discussion about an artist (I don’t remember if it was Alex Ross?), with people complaining because he drew male superheroes with the appropriate bulges and a few male fans were bothered. I suppose that’s part of the male gaze: other guy’s dicks are invisible.

Boobs are nice and all, but I prefer a good legs akimbo shot for no apparent reason.

A sad reality of the internet (along with sexism and homophobia) is that there will always be people who read the heading, look at pictures (if any) and guess the rest.
Once, on a forum I read a thread of only 3 or 4 posts where the last poster was trying to guess what the original post said and admitted he couldn’t be bothered to actually read it to find out. The thread read a bit like a game of Chinese Whispers ….

Atone talk I was at, Alan Davis spoke of the trouble he caused at DC for trying to give Katana small breasts. I believe he was claiming DC was focussed on giving women standardised figures (though I got the impression they were trying to enforce standardisation with Jim Aparo’s version)

[…] na coluna da artista Kelly Thompson no site especializado CBR com o sugestivo título de: She Has No Head! Ou “ela não tem cabeça”, criticando exatamente a forma extremamente repetitiva e sexual com […]

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives