Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chain, Chain, Chain

Here's a quick representation of the evolution of Red Sonja's chain-mail armor from her first appearance in a 1973 Marvel Comics issue of Conan the Barbarian to her look as Queen Sonja from Dynamite Publishing in 2009. Note that as awareness of feminine issues in comic books has steadily increased over the decades, inversely Red Sonja's attire has become ever more spare. In the beginning Sonja wore full upper-body armor. Shortly thereafter she ditched the heavy mail shirt for the famous steel bikini, sporting about thirty pieces of chain-mail per breast.

The chain bikini became quickly popular among creators and readers and was hilariously parodied by Dave Sim in several Cerebus story lines. She is now being portrayed as wearing about six pieces of mail on each breast and looking like some kind of Hyperborean stripper. Not much of an advantage in a fight, really, unless you buy into that 'distraction' meme that seems to be bouncing around the various comic book companies and forums of late. Credit to the artists in one aspect, though. Red Sonja is at least being drawn as less voluptuous and more fighting lean. Costuming aside her body type resembles more her early appearances than those made infamous by Moroto, Boris Vallejo, Buscema and Thorne.

It's 2009 and comic books are not for girls!


  1. Red Sonja is liable to catch a cold, if you ask me.

  2. It's coming to something when the Thorne outfit looks practical by comparison - it might not offer much protection, but at least it looks like it might stay on if she breathes.

  3. oh, she really needs an underwire. (relurking)

  4. I find these "omg, they're making women scantily claded" posts tiresome. If I didn't know better, I'd say you enjoy the T&A. However, I do know better. If you think this trend is bad, why not go the editors and readers and get their perspectives on the problem? I get the feeling the problem is bigger than comics.

  5. What I find tiresome is the seeming requirement to show T&A when the medium clearly doesn't need it to survive. Yet it seems to be the default setting for creators out of perhaps some sort of fear that what they do isn't good enough without luring in a niche market.

    Posts like these, which you don't seem to care for, are about education. Tell enough people who get involved then the editors might listen.

  6. As I understand it, the current rights holders of Red Sonja require that she always be depicted in the mail bikini whether it makes sense or not. They see it as her trademark. I suspect they also worry that without it, nobody would recognize her as Red Sonja. They might be right about that, too... she is not really a very solid character, more of an excuse to show the art. Great as a pinup, lousy as a character in a story.


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