Monday, August 22, 2005

Surrender Dorothy

One of the things that I've noticed is that in the last 5 or so years mainstream comics have been sneaking in more sexually graphic images. Mostly of the female characters. Now, comics have always depicted women and men in unrealistic, even titillating ways. But I'm not writing about sexy art, nothing wrong with that. What I'm pointing out is the sleaze factor that has been creeping in. Before the artists give up pretending and just go All-Star World Watch with every future published comic book, I'll let them know right now I don't need to see door-knob sized nipples through Power-Girl's costume. I'm not at all interested in seeing Superman's mammal toe, either.

The most obvious of the cheapening images that has creeped in under the Parental Radar is female genetalia. It is particularly noticeable in the costume designs of the female characters because of the relatively recent addition of greater 'realistic' detail.

Ostensibly, a fabric seam or zipper, a line will run down the front of the costume and continue down over the crotch.

Let's face it, that line is there because of an artist pushing the envelope with what the company thinks they can get away with. Also it is so a fan boy/girl can pretend that a super-heroine's vagina is exposed through her skin-adhering costume. It's faux-porn.

The character of Emma Frost, the X-Men's White Queen is an early example of this.

It's become a common feature now. Heck, even Sue Storm of the Fantastic Four is drawn with a front seam. The seam is absent on the costumes of her male teammates who wear costumes of the same design. The men should at least have a zipper for the fly, right?

I believe it was my friend Marrionnette who pointed out to me that this trend in imagery has even negatively impacted sales of books, most notably the Emma Frost title. The soft-core porn covers attracted readers that were then dissapointed by the depth of interior story. Conversely, potential female and other readers that would have appreciated the writing were discouraged by the cover art.

More recently was this unneeded weird fetish scene from Avengers #71.


I prefer the sexuality in comics to be subtle, especially if it is in a genre that is marketed to kids, Mature Reader label or not. Everyone can guess that the Vision was literally a non-stop machine with Wanda, but Marvel didn't show it to the readers, did they? Maybe today they would. I usually say screening the entertainment is what Mom & Dad are for, but the industry has a little responsibility also to not sneak in the hanky-panky to a title not labeled for it. The Avengers is by no means a mature book.

I'm not calling for a clean-up or to purge the art styles, I'm submitting that it isn't necessary. Just because you can show three pages of Vicky Vale's ass in Victoria's Secret lingerie doesn't mean you should.

Case in point, while watching some old Bugs Bunny cartoons on DVD I had a notion about the character of Gossamer, the vagina monster that first appeared opposite Bugs Bunny in the 1946 Warner Bros. cartoon Hair-raising Hare.

What was the Freudian inspiration was for this particular character? Was Chuck Jones' wife a brunette or red-head? Did the drapes match the carpet?

See? Now there is an example of the kind of thing that can be left to the imagination. Unless you are Kevin Smith, that is.

As a contrast (and answer) to the sneaky sleaze was X-Men #118 aka the 'Subliminal Sex' issue by Morrison & Van Sciver. Well done.

1 comment:

  1. That Avengers page makes me think that there's great potential for a Superhero kinky sex comic, but it's not something I'd want to encounter in a regular comic any more than I'd be interested in sports commentary during a Godzilla movie.


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