Oct 10 2013

Hold that pose, now pout

As Bjarte mentioned – the Hawkeye initiative is pretty funny.

About THI and FAQ

About The Hawkeye Initiative

Created on December 2nd 2012, The Hawkeye Initiative uses Hawkeye and other male comic characters to illustrate how deformed, hyper-sexualized, and impossibly contorted women are commonly illustrated in comics, books, and video games.

Like so:

themenarchbutterfly: From Red Hood and the Outlaws, Issue 14. Art by Pascal Alixe.


From Red Hood and the Outlaws, Issue 14. Art by Pascal Alixe.

John Holbo has a great post on Mannerism and the Hawkeye Initiative.

I’m reading a book on Mannerism [amazon] and stumbled on a pair of amusing quotes. The first, from Alberti’s On Painting (1435) really ought to be some kind of epigraph for The Hawkeye Initiative. (What? You didn’t know about it. Go ahead and waste a few happy minutes there. It’s hilarious. Now you’re back. Good!)

As I was saying, here’s Alberti, warning us that, even though good istoria painting should exhibit variety and seem alive with motion, you shouldn’t go all Escher Girl boobs + butt Full-Monty-and-then-some:

There are those who express too animated movements, making the chest and the small of the back visible at once in the same figure, an impossible and inappropriate thing; they think themselves deserving of praise because they hear that those images seem alive that violently move each member; and for this reason they make figures that seem to be fencers and actors, with none of the dignity of painting, whence not only are they without grace and sweetness, but even more they show the ingegno of the artist to be too fervent and furious [troppo fervente et furioso].

The chest and the small of the back at the same time – yeah that would be a tricky pose.


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  1. 1

    I can think of only one animal that can show simultaneously both its upper chest and lower spine: snakes. Throughout history, women have been portrayed as “serpents and temptresses” (e.g. Medusa, succubi), as being dangerous to men, in both “western” religion and “eastern” (e.g. the naga in Indian mythology).

    Are artists, comics, video games and hollyweird posters any different? From the looks of it, they’re borrowing it directly. Michaelangelo did it, seen in the fresco on the link below.




  2. 2

    You’ve seen the poses fantasy author Jim Hines has done, attempting to recreate fantasy and SF covers, right? And the Escher Girls tumblr?

  3. 3

    I bet Rob Liefeld could draw it.

  4. 4
    Bjarte Foshaug

    I might as well go ahead and plug Megan Rosalarian Gedris immortal classic Dressed to Kill while I’m at it. As she points out the problem is not just the poses, but the cloths of most female superheros would be completely non-functional in an actual combat situation.

    The chest and the small of the back at the same time – yeah that would be a tricky pose.

    They’re all over the place. Here‘s just one example. It’s so common that I probably wouldn’t even notice how gross the picture is if it hadn’t been specifically pointed out.

  5. 5
    Lou Doench

    Considering her history, that portrayal of Starfire is actually progress.

  6. 6
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    I bet Rob Liefeld could draw it.

    As long as no feet were involved…

  7. 7

    I love the Hawkeye Initiative. It allows me to go to comic cons wearing barely more than a g-string*.
    Though I never get asked if I know the entire history of the character’s back storyfor some reason…

    *and boots. ’cause that’s totally what a female hero/villain would wear when brawling in the streets, right?

  1. 8
    Rootle rootle » Butterflies and Wheels

    […] picture is of a quoted passage on my post Hold that pose, now pout from the day before that tweet. I quoted John Holbo and included a bit that he […]

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