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Jan 31 2012

Posin’

The latest edition of Randy Milholland’s Super Stupor mocks the ridiculous poses comic book artists contort their heroines into — you know the ones I’m talking about, the strange postures in which they simultanously thrust their breasts upwards and forwards, while thrusting their buttocks backwards and upwards, with their impossibly slender waists slung spinelessly between them (he also summarizes Liefeld Syndrome, a very scary disease).

But I questioned his accuracy. Panel 8 is freakishly bizarre; no one could possibly actually draw a woman in that pose, could they? And then, coincidentally, I was also sent a link to The 5 Most Ridiculously Sexist Superhero Costumes, and there, in the very first illustration for the article, is a super-heroine doing precisely the same weird spinal twist to face the reader and swivel her ass to face him, too, with one one leg splayed wildly in the air.

I’m sorry, Mr Milholland. I will never doubt you again. I guess there’s a reason I haven’t read any mainstream comics in 30 years, too.

(Jhonen Vasquez also has a marvelous send-up of the balloon-breasted, soda-straw waisted comic book stereotype, but I cannot show it here because it is totally obscene. Oh, all right, if you insist, I found a poor copy here.)

206 comments

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  1. 1
    Tabby Lavalamp

    http://eschergirls.tumblr.com/

    Devoted to mocking the deformed poses comic artists put female characters in.

  2. 2
    Bronze Dog

    I’m glad I’m seeing a backlash against sexism in comics in my internet circles. Linkara complains about it a lot in Atop the Fourth Wall (where bad comics burn). IIRC, in one of his Miller Time segments, he went as far as digging up some disturbing writing from Frank Miller during the comic’s creation to show that a fan service scene was specifically written for titillation purposes.

    The rare times I buy comic books, I buy them for the sake of entertaining stories. If I wanted superheroine porn, I’d look at naughty fan art sites for free.

  3. 3
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I guess there’s a reason I haven’t read any mainstream comics in 30 years, too.

    I can think of a better reason.

    Because you are a grown-up with access to actual books.

  4. 4
    Ing

    I can think of a better reason.

    Because you are a grown-up with access to actual books.

    Don’t hold your nose too much higher or you’ll fall over.

  5. 5
    Fabricio Ferreira

    That’s our Rob Liefeld, making all of us proud of his incredible artwork.

    To be fair, he doesn’t know how to properly draw the male body, either. Case in point: his famous Capitain America drawing (just google “Liefeld Captain America anatomy” and cry).

  6. 6
    Louis

    This also illustrates another well known phenomenon within sci-fi/fantasy and particularly roleplaying game and MMORPG genres:

    The less armour/the smaller the piece of armour a female character is wearing, the better armoured she is.

    Those scanty chainmail bikinis? Better than a suit of full lead lined, concrete buffed, enchanted, cleric blassed, dragonscale enhanced cyber-plate as it happens. True. A bloke in the inn told me.

    ;-)

    Louis

  7. 7
    frog

    Ing@4 : I’m awarding you one internet! I had a much more heated response to that comment, but yours was much better.

  8. 8
    Ing

    Not to say that 90% of comics are irredeemably stupid and seem to actually be getting dumber after a brief burst of speed forward, but come on. It’s a medium, when it can equally be porn or a historical fiction on Eliot Ness or a story about stopping an evil scientist from using his zombifying ray on the treemen it’s time to stop pretending it’s limited to an age group.

  9. 9
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Because you are a grown-up with access to actual books.

    Maus? Barefoot Gen? Fun Home? My Cancer Year? Fuck ‘em, they can’t be “actual books” because they have pictures an’ all. Antiochus said so.

  10. 10
    WharGarbl

    @Louise
    #6

    Those scanty chainmail bikinis? Better than a suit of full lead lined, concrete buffed, enchanted, cleric blassed, dragonscale enhanced cyber-plate as it happens. True. A bloke in the inn told me.

    Although to be fair, I do see how that might make some “sense” due to the way AC is calculated (which include ability of character to dodge).
    A “scanty chainmail bikinis” may offer better AC in term of that it afford wearer higher dodging ability. In some system, I can sort of understand that some character would be made extremely hard to hit but dead if they do get hit (I forgot which system that was, but there was one where damage is calculated in two stages. First is To-Hit, aka if you got hit, which fighting naked actually helps. Second is On-Hit, aka how much it hurts, which fighting naked generally mean you’re dead.)

    A few note:
    Lead-lined – I don’t think lead makes a good armor, its soft AND toxic for long exposure (then again, long exposure to sharp claws might not be healthy either way).
    The rest minus the plate part – Can’t those enchantment to be applied to bikini/mankini armors?

    Mm… mankini armors.

  11. 11
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    I’m going to ask this as a heterosexual woman who is thus not the target market of most print comics (though I’m a huge webcomic fan and probably would be happy to spend money on print comics if I got the sense they were written for me at all).

    Are images like these even attractive to anyone? I mean, I just see this incredibly distorted body with no basis in reality and I honestly don’t even see how it’s sexy.

  12. 12
    jolo5309

    The less armour/the smaller the piece of armour a female character is wearing, the better armoured she is.

    That was in 3rd edition GURPS, it was a trait called “bullet proof nudity”.

    @Ms. Daisy Cutter, Feral Fembeast

    You missed Will Eisner’s work (The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, A Contract with God and others), plus what I consider Spiegelman’s best work, In the Shadow of No Towers.

  13. 13
    Ing

    Are images like these even attractive to anyone? I mean, I just see this incredibly distorted body with no basis in reality and I honestly don’t even see how it’s sexy.

    From what I gather, not for some men. But these are the extremes which take it so far that it breaks the enjoyment for some people maybe?

  14. 14
    cjmitchell

    I should point out that this is probably what inspired Supor Stupor: http://www.jimchines.com/2012/01/striking-a-pose/

    I have not read any of his stuff…but now I want to at least buy it to support this kind of person.

  15. 15
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    I read manga.

    It isn’t much better *sigh*

  16. 16
    Louis

    1) Louise? LOUISE? Holy shit I’ve had an involuntary sex change! Excuse me whilst I nip to the shops for a new wardrobe.

    2) Your attention to detail is shocking, the lead LINING is there to minimise exposure to ionising radiation from Gamma-behemoths, black holes and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Obviously. Duh! Any fool knows this.

    3) Sadly the rule for male characters is “Wear MAXIMUM armour”. This means if you wear a mankini, you will die. However, if you wear a moderate to medium sized castle made of iron with extra spiky bits and a bladed rotating codpiece*, then you are impregnable. Yes the same enchantments work with the male versions, but they cannot be pink (unless you are a paladin apparently).

    HTH HAND.

    {tongue firmly in cheek}

    Louis

    * Always, and I cannot emphasise this enough, get your codpiece the right way round. This is especially important if, when making a {ahem} “running start” you leap bravely into an already active bladed rotating codpiece. Otherwise it’s 2 x d20 damage to Sensitive Parts. And no one wants that now do they?

  17. 17
    WharGarbl

    I’m going to ask this as a heterosexual woman who is thus not the target market of most print comics (though I’m a huge webcomic fan and probably would be happy to spend money on print comics if I got the sense they were written for me at all).

    Are images like these even attractive to anyone? I mean, I just see this incredibly distorted body with no basis in reality and I honestly don’t even see how it’s sexy.

    I can only offer a personal opinion: No, it looks freaky to me too.

    I prefer mine in formal business attires (or just normal looking attire) whooping ass through non-conventional mean (or chainsaw).

  18. 18
    freemage

    I’m going to ask this as a heterosexual woman who is thus not the target market of most print comics (though I’m a huge webcomic fan and probably would be happy to spend money on print comics if I got the sense they were written for me at all).

    Are images like these even attractive to anyone? I mean, I just see this incredibly distorted body with no basis in reality and I honestly don’t even see how it’s sexy.

    One theory I ran across recently is that the effect Liefeld, et. al. is going for is a sort of composite approach. When drawing part of the anatomy, they deliberately make that part as ‘sexy’ (by lad-mag standards) as possible. Then they scrunch them all together into a single figure. The viewer is expected to move eyes over the figure piecemeal, not as a whole.

    In short, it’s what you’d get if you took a typical Maxim spread, and used Photoshop to cram the ‘best bits’ from each into a single image.

    Even comic artists who don’t horribly mutilate the anatomy will take this approach by using a series of zoom-frames that only highlight a square foot or so of the woman’s anatomy (issue #1 of the Catwoman reboot did this as the opening sequence).

  19. 19
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @cjmitchell:

    Ah thanks, that was the page I was looking for.

  20. 20
    WharGarbl

    @Louis
    #16

    Sadly the rule for male characters is “Wear MAXIMUM armour”. This means if you wear a mankini, you will die. However, if you wear a moderate to medium sized castle made of iron with extra spiky bits and a bladed rotating codpiece*, then you are impregnable. Yes the same enchantments work with the male versions, but they cannot be pink (unless you are a paladin apparently).

    Damn, there goes my bi-sexual elf-man in mankini build.

  21. 21
    Avicenna

    There are a lot of phenomenal comics out there with depth and quality.

    Yes. There there are a lot of Powergirls out there. There are also extremely one dimensional heroes. There are also heroes such as Jaime Reyes (The Blue Beetle who is the origin of the Night Owl of Watchmen fame) who step away from the uber muscular masculine fantasy of a modern greek god (Which is basically what comic book heroes are) and heroines such as Renee Montoya (The Question who is the origin of the idea of Rorschach)

    Yes, there is a problem in comics that means that they aren’t women friendly. It can and will change. For every ridiculous Starfire and friends there are a bunch of extremely interesting characters who come out. Ultimately it was a male dominated world.

    And Wonder Woman was written by a pro-feminist (for the time) polyamourist bondage fan when it started off. She was picked up as a WW II symbol of western proto-feminism (AKA like Rivetter Rosie). Her outfit is actually patterned on the american flag (at one point she wore a blue skirt with white stars).

    She basically was purchased and turned into a pinup girl who could benchpress a tank. So while the boys (Superman et. al) were off punching nazis she would fight attempts at home. She was actually the equivalent of Captain America (who was a superhero created to fight Nazi spies and sympathisers.)

    Her motivation and indeed powers have changed over the years. And her portrayal and indeed costume. She currently runs around in a tank top and trousers. A bit more appropriate arse kicking gear.

    In short? Don’t write it off. It’s a fantasy universe where every man has the body of Adonis or Usain Bolt with few exceptions (The Joker for example, Even Professor X is unfeasibly buff for a man forever assigned to a wheelchair) and where women dress like super hookers and have insane bodies. It’s an ideal of greek gods. It will change. As it always has done. More women are reading and thus the portrayals will change over time.

  22. 22
    dexitroboper

    This is about cover art, not comics, but the idea is similar: Men’s vs Women’s poses via James Nicoll’s livejournal.

  23. 23
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Jolo5309: I know, I missed quite a few other good examples.

  24. 24
    Dhorvath, OM

    Eskeptrikal Engineer,
    Yes, I do not read comics, it’s a format that suits me poorly in many ways, but I would be lying if I said none of the art appeals (although not every example is equally so as with any art style.) Were it not the prevalent trend in comics I might find myself drawn to seek out even odder combinations of pose and curve. But as it stands, the climate has saturated with these concepts and something that could be novel and enticing is now hurtful and tiring.

  25. 25
    jolo5309

    @Ms. Daisy Cutter, Feral Fembeast

    I know, I just like to mention Will Eisner in comic articles.

  26. 26
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Don’t hold your nose too much higher or you’ll fall over.

    If not having a collection of comic books qualifies me as an elitist in your book, consider the fact that I will eat just about anything that passes under my nose without regard to flavor, texture, or age. And then please try to forgive me.

    Maus? Barefoot Gen? Fun Home? My Cancer Year? Fuck ‘em, they can’t be “actual books” because they have pictures an’ all.

    To be fair, these are “actual” books, being bound printed matter. And one of them was awarded a Pulitzer prize. So there’s that. And you can read one in less than an hour which is pretty awesome if you don’t like to read.

  27. 27
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    I believe that this link says about all that needs to be said about Rob Liefeld. You are all welcomed.

  28. 28
    stringer

    To be fair, these are “actual” books, being bound printed matter.

    To be fair these are actual Scotsmen.

  29. 29
    phoenicianromans

    That was in 3rd edition GURPS, it was a trait called “bullet proof nudity”.

    Well, let’s be a bit clearer about my favourite game system here – it was listed as a silly option under cinematic combat rules, along with things like nearby explosions only causing knockback to heroes and eyeballs exploding in space. It offered greater amounts of PD (i.e. the chance of a bullet not hitting you at all) the further down you stripped, with a slight bonus to female PCs. It’s that last bit that made it sexist – in line with silly action movies – but you could benefit as a male by letting your tackle out while you blasted away at the enemy.

  30. 30
    timday

    And this.
    “….if a martial artist who is also a contortionist can’t mimic a pose you use constantly for female fighters, there might be a problem in, you know, your choices on basic anatomy.”

  31. 31
    Moggie

    Katherine:

    I read manga.

    It isn’t much better *sigh*

    I’ve never been a big comic fan, either west or east, but my favourite comic book heroine is from manga: Chiyoko, from Akira. Built like a Soviet tank, almost indestructible, and not intended to be remotely titillating. If Rob Liefeld had shown up with a brass bikini, she’d have ripped his head off and stuffed it down his neck.

  32. 32
    =8)-DX

    Um, I’ve recently been having sex and it sometimes DOES seem that my girlfriends ass and boobs are pointing at me at the same time. For me sex has ALWAYS been a little contortionistic (I bend too!). But then that’s pretty much it – these sexist comics display women as sex objects – as if they were having sex at any given moment.

  33. 33
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Avicenna: Ahhh, Renee Montoya. *swoon* A physically fit lady kicking ass in more or less regular clothes. Kicking so much ass. Then again, on the dudely side, my brain melts a little around the edges for Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow (not just the Cillian Murphy one, though DAAAAMN).

    Wonder Woman’s creator was rather less feminist than he was a female supremacist in a sexually-based sense.

  34. 34
    Ing

    To be fair, these are “actual” books, being bound printed matter. And one of them was awarded a Pulitzer prize. So there’s that. And you can read one in less than an hour which is pretty awesome if you don’t like to read.

    To be fair, Dickens was originally in serial format before it was a book. Just like comics!

  35. 35
    Drolfe

    Ing,
    Can you believe all that trashy stuff by Vonnegut and Asimov (even some Heinlein) that was turned awesome when they bound it into a book? This is a rich vein that can be mined for days.

  36. 36
    Ing

    So to clarify, no not reading comics doesn’t make you a snob. being a snob for not reading comics makes you a snob.

  37. 37
    phoenicianromans

    Um, I’ve recently been having sex and it sometimes DOES seem that my girlfriends ass and boobs are pointing at me at the same time.

    Is she alive?

    [Looks around at people staring] What?

  38. 38
    coyotenose

    PZ, you should have stopped reading 25 years ago, not 30. 1980-1988, roughly, was a new Golden Age of Comics. The coming of criminally incompetent writers and artists like Liefeld was especially painful to those of us reading at the time specifically because things had been so good up until that point.

    …I just argued against my own case, didn’t I?

  39. 39
    Dhorvath, OM

    Um, I’ve recently been having sex and it sometimes DOES seem that my girlfriends ass and boobs are pointing at me at the same time.

    This makes perfect sense. Group activities permit all sorts of permutations.

  40. 40
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    To be fair, Dickens was originally in serial format before it was a book. Just like comics!

    Verbatim from my seventh grade English teacher…except she was promoting Dickens.

  41. 41
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    Thanks for the answers!

    @freemage, so what the artists are likely doing is to draw a butt by itself and then some cleavage by itself and then just haphazardly draw a torso in between? I guess that makes the artist’s train of thought make a little more sense, though I still find the resulting images disturbing to look at.

  42. 42
    Ing

    @Eskeptical Engineer

    I might point out that this trend really took off with the XXXTREME anatomy of the 90s especially people following the lead of Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. The problem is that Leifeld’s anatomy SUCKS.

  43. 43
    coyotenose

    I’m STILL discovering nuances of character, art and language in Watchmen after a dozen reads over years. If you’re reading these stories in under an hour, you’re doing it very, very wrong.

    But then, being a grownup, you don’t read them kiddie picture stories, right? So you’re saying you have no actual frame of reference for how much comprehension a good comic book story requires of the reader.

    Post #4 called this solidly.

  44. 44
    Ing

    Which again, I wouldn’t raise every funny book to the level of Watchmen or Sandman or Maus…but I wouldn’t drag others down with them.

  45. 45
    coyotenose

    Blockquote fail. >.< Let's try again.

    And you can read one in less than an hour which is pretty awesome if you don’t like to read.

    I’m STILL discovering nuances of character, art and language in Watchmen after a dozen reads over years. If you’re reading these stories in under an hour, you’re doing it very, very wrong.

    But then, being a grownup, you don’t read them kiddie picture stories, right? So you’re saying you have no actual frame of reference for how much comprehension a good comic book story requires of the reader.

    Post #4 called this solidly.

  46. 46
    Ing

    Also some artists seem to literally be tracing porn.

    The Ultimate’s books IIRC were guilty of that on their covers.

  47. 47
    Kagehi

    The rest minus the plate part – Can’t those enchantment to be applied to bikini/mankini armors?

    There was, if I remember right, a module for D&D where some ancient king had been a serious letch, so had what amounted to little more than arm bands, and anklets, and **only** those things, enchanted with shields, hast spells, and other effects, which game his all female guards AC levels close to that of enchanted plate armor. One has to admit, at least superficially, its a tempting idea, as a guy, if your guards where dressed like that, and such defense was possible. In reality, given enough time to get used to seeing them that way, it would only really impress the people who showed up to ogle them, in the process distracting the person from what ever they where planning to bother thing king with. lol

  48. 48
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    Thanks for adding historical context, We Are Ing.

    As I said, I’m a huge webcomics fan, so it seems like I should be a comic book fan. I do quite like Sandman and Fun Home. It just seems like so much of what’s available in comic book form is full of these types of images that I don’t feel like wading through it all to find the good stuff.

  49. 49
    Elena

    @freemage #18:

    One theory I ran across recently is that the effect Liefeld, et. al. is going for is a sort of composite approach. When drawing part of the anatomy, they deliberately make that part as ‘sexy’ (by lad-mag standards) as possible. Then they scrunch them all together into a single figure. The viewer is expected to move eyes over the figure piecemeal, not as a whole.

    Sadly, nobody recognises the influence of Picasso’s cubist period in Rob Liefeld’s artwork. He’s so underappreciated.

  50. 50
    Ing

    @EE

    Try Atomic Robo. It’s one of my favorite all ages. And it seems to have Carl Sagan as a reoccurring character.

  51. 51
    scottplumer

    I’ve always liked comics, but even as a kid, I hated superheroes. Creepy, Eerie, Tales from the Crypt, and those of that ilk were my faves. Later I discovered more adult comics, like Harvey Pekar and Robert Crumb. I’ve had the honor of meeting Harvey Pekar on several occasions. There’s an effort to get a statue of him erected in the cemetery in Cleveland where he;s buried.

  52. 52
    Eskeptrical Engineer

    @We Are Ing

    I’ll check it out! Thanks for the recommendation.

  53. 53
    zeamays

    My guess is they’ve all been watching things like this
    http://sorisomail.com/partilha/34321.html
    Ht: Regretsy

  54. 54
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Oooh! Seconding Atomic Robo!

    And then there’s all the amazing works of Mike Mignola. And Jill Thompson’s for-kids-but-so-fun Scary Godmother. And her and Evan Dorkin’s Beasts of Burden, which is amazing.

    Also, I cannot recommend I Kill Giants enough. Or Kurt Busiek’s The Wizard’s Tale.

  55. 55
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    So you’re saying you have no actual frame of reference for how much comprehension a good comic book story requires of the reader.

    Not at all. Maus was required reading in one of my college classes, and I have friends with little other than this kind of literature in their apartments/houses*. I have a very good idea of the kind of comprehension that they require of the reader: more than a cereal box and less than any one of the novels in The Clan of the Cave Bear series.

    FWIW, the same thing could be said of literature that I have enjoyed, like The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Fun, but not at all transformative.

    But let’s not get apoplectic. You seem to be devoted to this kind of thing, to which I say knock yourself out. My original comment was hardly aimed at the proud and sadly ignored literary tradition behind such works of art, but the kind of comics that the OP was about, abounding with anatomical anomalies not to mention unrealistic views of women. I read some of these as a pre-teen, realized they were worthless, and abandoned them the way that most people eventually do.

    *Watchmen being one that I have poked through on several occasions. Meh to that. Different strokes for different folks.

  56. 56
    timgueguen

    It’s worth remembering that for a time Rob Liefeld was one of the most popular artists in the comics business.

    The comic artist most notorious for tracing porn at the monent is Greg Land. It’s funny because Land can draw without the tracery, as seen by his ’90s work, but for whatever reason it’s become a staple of his work. One Land cover that came out in the last couple of years was especially bemusing to me because it featured the Marvel villain Lady Deathstrike. She’s Japanese, yet in this particular piece of art she looked like Katy Holmes.

    If you’re looking for comic info and critque check out http://noscans-daily.livejournal.com/ and http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/

  57. 57
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    I just read Persepolis. Highly recommended, and mostly the women are dressed the exact opposite of these ones :)

  58. 58
    Kagehi

    I remember the days of the “first” US graphics novel (I say US, because Manga was doing it for years, but not with color pages). Sure, there where a few that sort of tried to cram a few comics into a book, but they where not graphics novels, and neither are most of the ones out now. It was Elf Quest. http://www.elfquest.com/ Seems they are available on the sight now too, including ones I never read (at some point the normal comics, in “novel” form became more and more common, and these disappeared from the shelves: http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics3.html

    Name is kind of stupid, but it wasn’t a kids book, included some bits of nudity in some parts, it tried to spawn, for a while, an RPG, and almost got made into a cartoon, until they figured out that only Disney was willing to do the level of art necessary, and that they a) wanted to own all rights to it, and b) turn it into “elf babies”, as an early morning, not even teen level, bit of garbage, in line with the old “Muppet Babies” type cartoon. Needless to say, the deal fell through. lol

    But, it was bloody obvious all the comics where phoning it in, for a while there, putting the same, comparatively shitty, artwork into a thicker book, and trying to call it the same thing. Took almost 5 years for them to even try to come close to that level of art, and then.. most never bothered.

  59. 59
    Kagehi

    Hmm. Actually, looks like their later works may have gone more “comicy” too. Sort of annoying. :p

  60. 60
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Aleathea H. Claw: Persepolis is so amazing. As are Satrapi’s other works.

  61. 61
    batp

    Panel 7 seems the odd one.

  62. 62
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    MadArtLab the skeptical art site takes on these questions:

    Ryan, a triple threat on this subject, (skeptic, artist and armorer) talks about fantasy representations of female armor.

    http://madartlab.com/2011/12/14/fantasy-armor-and-lady-bits/

    Upon worrying about a divide by zero error he then follows it up with much better math on the protective values of various female fantasy armor from naked to full plate.

    http://madartlab.com/2011/12/20/fantasy-armor-errata/

    And finally his take on the OP’s subject:

    http://madartlab.com/2012/01/14/rubber-spines-and-bent-space/

  63. 63
    Ing

    My original comment was hardly aimed at the proud and sadly ignored literary tradition behind such works of art, but the kind of comics that the OP was about, abounding with anatomical anomalies not to mention unrealistic views of women.

    Which is a criticism of quality not an essential taint.

    . I read some of these as a pre-teen, realized they were worthless, and abandoned them the way that most people eventually do

    You seem to be suffering from some head injury, perhaps if you got off that high horse before you tried going through the door you wouldn’t keep hitting it against the frame.

  64. 64
    Rip Steakface

    I’ve only ever read Watchmen, so I don’t have much personal familiarity with comics. However, I have watched quite a bit of AT4W and have noticed the absurd poses that shitty comics tend to have. Do try to note, however, that the man responsible for the most mind-meltingly awful spine-twisting impossible anatomy is pretty much Rob Liefeld, and we can safely ignore him these days.

    And no, no one in their right mind found it attractive at any point – the only reason Liefeld did so well is because it was something different from the kind of art that was prevalent up to that point.

    It’s unfortunately common that superhero comics make all women have ridiculous proportions – all are staggeringly busty with waspish waists and over-the-top asses. Funny enough, Watchmen (which came out in the mid-80s!) had a much better sense of realistic proportions. While the women were still all deliberately designed to be attractive (given that they were based on older superheroes from another defunct company), they were still fairly realistic (if only in a “these women can easily exist, they just are uncommon” way). I take one look at a cover for, say, the DC reboot for some superheroine and typically just facepalm at the ridiculous proportions.

  65. 65
    Ing

    Do try to note, however, that the man responsible for the most mind-meltingly awful spine-twisting impossible anatomy is pretty much Rob Liefeld, and we can safely ignore him these days.

    Sadly we can’t

    Despite his art, tardiness with deadlines, ADD with projects, and history of problems working well with other artists he still is popular with higherups and has I believe 11 books he’s working on right now.

    Clevenger of Atomic Robo (previously Firestorm and the like) now has zero.

    The industry has a LOT of problems.

  66. 66
    Ing

    Oh the first two or so volumes of Runaways were good as well and IIRC avoided Escher art. One of the few comics to do varied body types IIRC.

    Funny enough, Watchmen (which came out in the mid-80s!) had a much better sense of realistic proportions. While the women were still all deliberately designed to be attractive (given that they were based on older superheroes from another defunct company), they were still fairly realistic (if only in a “these women can easily exist, they just are uncommon” way).

    Which is one of my complaints with the movie. The comic was “Capes in the real world”, thus the art design you mentioned. The movie had the fights over the top epic rather than a gritty, brutal, unpolished realism I think would have served the narrative better.

  67. 67
    DLC

    nothing wrong with a bit of fanservice, as long as it cuts both ways. That said, the examples provided are not “a bit of fanservice” they’re a whole big ate too much beans last night buttload of fanservice. IMO there’s a line out there with “Sexy” on one side and “Sexist” on the other, and this Liefeld and those like him seem to be well on the bad side of the line.

  68. 68
    Ing

    @DLC

    Oddly someone mentioned on Eishergirls or one of those sites how it seems actual porn comics avoid this. They speculated that it’s because the artist didn’t feel the need to blow their load (pause) in one shot and thus avoided the ass-boobs cram while ‘real’ artists still apparently felt giggly and naughty at having a chance to draw teh smexy pose.

  69. 69
    Utakata

    Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort @ 15 says:

    “I read manga.

    It isn’t much better *sigh*”

    Oh come one…who needs gratuitous spandex when you can get gratuitous panty shots? /sarcasm

    Um…yeah, I agree, in many ways it’s far worse. :(

  70. 70
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Antiochus:

    I can think of a better reason.

    Because you are a grown-up with access to actual books.

    -I can’t speculate on your motives for saying this, but the implication is ridiculous. Comic books are a visual medium that can tell stories in a unique way. Joss Whedon used the comic book medium to continue the official/canon stories of Buffy the Vampire Slayer several years ago; same with Angel. Alan Moore is one of the most respected comic book writers in both the US and the UK, and Watchmen is the highest selling graphic novel of all time. Though it usually sells in graphic novel form, it was originally produced in 12 issue comic book format. One of my favorite writers, Peter David explores religion (among other things) in an entertaining and adult (not sex) manner in his ongoing series, Fallen Angel. Sadly, comic books are still marginalized by many people in exactly the way you just did. Many still believe comic books are for children. I can understand to an extent. Until the 80s, comic books were intended largely for children. I can’t pinpoint a specific time, but there was a shift in the 80s (I’ve seen readers attribute that shift to WATCHMEN, which was mid-80s) that broadened the type of stories being told in comics. That’s continued through today. Now, there are comic books on any number of subjects (I’ve read HALLOWEEN comics, with Michael Myers as a background antagonist; there’s the TRUE BLOOD adaptation; there’s Robert Kirkman’s WALKING DEAD, which was adapted into a pretty good tv show on AMC, and is still being produced monthly, in comic book format). Despite the appearance of comic book heroes on the big screen, much of the public still thinks of comic books as being for kids. There are many comics that I would *not* want kids to read.

  71. 71
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    To be fair, he doesn’t know how to properly draw the male body, either. Case in point: his famous Capitain America drawing (just google “Liefeld Captain America anatomy” and cry).

    -Oh no. Please don’t ask anyone to view such horrid ‘art’. That’s torturous.

  72. 72
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Eskeptrical Engineer:

    Are images like these even attractive to anyone? I mean, I just see this incredibly distorted body with no basis in reality and I honestly don’t even see how it’s sexy.

    -I do often wonder who the target audience for scantily clad, impossibly posed women is. Being gay, I’m not the target audience. I’ve heard people say those kinds of sexist images are for young adult fanboys still living in mommy’s basement who are still virgins. I’ve never met anyone like that, personally.

  73. 73
    Ing

    @Tony

    Oh there are people who defend this and yell at people not to take it so seriously.

  74. 74
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    We Are Ing:

    Try Atomic Robo. It’s one of my favorite all ages. And it seems to have Carl Sagan as a reoccurring character.

    -YES. What a fun book!

  75. 75
    Philip L

    My word, Tabby Lavalamp, you have blown my mind with the link to the Escher Girls tumblr: the amount of anatomical wrongness seems to go on forever. I’ll point out two, uhh, remarkable pics:

    Dancin’ Psylocke: some ingenious people have animated the image of Psylocke from the picture that is featured at the very start of the Cracked.com article. XD

    Rob Liefeld anatomy fail: what the fuck? Oh, and the tumblr is tagged by artists, so you can simply click on the Rob Liefeld tag and get a whole an entire page of broken spines, butt and boobs, organless torsos, plasticine limbs, and other WTF.

  76. 76
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    We Are Ing @73:
    -I know. It’s a matter of taste to some extent. I don’t expect anyone to like the artists I like. However, not only do I not like Liefeld’s style, I feel he’s a horrible artist. His sense of proportion (not just the bodies, but buildings and backgrounds) is way off. He seems incapable of drawing feet. His backgrounds lack much detail. Many of his faces are very similar. It’s as if he hasn’t left the late 80s/90s grim n gritty era behind. I can’t believe he still gets offered work as often as he’s strayed off his schedule.

  77. 77
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    Kagehi,
    Elfquest! I cut my graphic novel teeth on that series.

    Jesus, I don’t think I’ve read any comic books/graphic novels since I picked up Bone over five years ago during a going out of business sale.

  78. 78
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Oh yes. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I relent. I have been wrong all this time.

    Ing: “High horse”? Come on. No kid gloves required. Offer me a porcupine and show me the door.

  79. 79
    Ing

    @Antiochus

    Oh please. Come now, you even could have just sensibly criticized the cape genre and been more defensible.

    You’d still be wrong but it would display less arrogance and ignorance.

  80. 80
    Ava, Oporornis maledetta

    Impossible forms, not just for books anymore! That female stereotype also appeared in regular Sunday-funny comics of yore. Viz.: Daisy Mae from Li’l Abner and the slightly-more-normal secretary in Beetle Bailey.

    Off topic slightly, aside from human figures, the kind of stuff they got away with in 60s and 70s cartoons and TV series would cause protests now. No sane TV exec would green-light “F-Troop” today. “Broom-Hilda?” The Wiccans would complain. Even “Blondie” had to evolve into a modern businesswoman, owner of a catering business.

    But I digress.

  81. 81
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I can’t remember when I’ve laughed so hard—thanks for all the links to the “art” of Rob Liefeld. My gawd. I mean, of course the phenomenon is wretched and awful, but that whole “grotesque anatomy in service of sexeh” genre of drawing makes me piss my pants laughing. It’s so unbelievably stupid and bad.

    You comic book people have a legitimate gripe with the likes of Rob Liefeld and Greg Land. Until today I had no idea comic books were ever not like that. When I think of them, it’s that style of drawing that immediately comes to the front of my mind and makes me go “fucking stupid bullshit” about comics. Those guys really fucked it up.

  82. 82
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Josh: When I was in my early teens, I heard a bit about amazing graphic novels, and went to the comic store, budding nerd joy in my heart. As it was the mid-90s, I was greeted with a wall of Greg Land and Liefeld. I left that day.

    Later, I found stuff from Slave Labor Graphics, including what PZ linked. I read Maus and Sandman. I liked some comics, I’d sniff. But not that stupid superhero stuff. Childish. Hardly counted as reading. Then I started seeing the Mr., who has an impressive collection of superhero stuff. I still sniffed at it. And then one dull evening, he got me to read a story that still moves me to tears. “The Death of the Red Mask”, from Grant Morrison’s Animal Man run. And then, realizing that not only did a wealth of incredible storytelling exist in comics (one gets used to the costumes the same way one gets used to SF tech in SF stories), but it was easily accessible to me, and I could find more, where women aren’t just Cubist blowup dolls.

    So yeah. You and me both were cheated out of a lot of fun for a long-ass time by these fools who can’t draw.

  83. 83
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Because you are a grown-up with access to actual books.

    The funniest part? Back when novels were first introduced, they were basically regarded the way comic books are today.

    Sorry, your lawn has grown into reclaimed prairie and we’re still not getting off it.

  84. 84
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    *waves newspaper*

    I know your parents!

    [When acting was introduced it was regarded in much the same way that pantomime is today. If you don't dig pantomime, it's probably because you haven't seen the right mimes...I'm not talking about the commercial shit that the kids like. I'm talking about the underground shit.]

  85. 85
    Ichthyic

    on Starfire:

    Her rewritten back story apparently had her coming from the planet Penthouse Letter.

    LOL

  86. 86
    Ing

    What’s annoying is that the pre2011 reboot one when in the 80s…wasn’t that awful. There at least wasn’t the escher art and it was a lot less porntastic. Even the sex stuff with her was handled better.

    I still sniffed at it. And then one dull evening, he got me to read a story that still moves me to tears. “The Death of the Red Mask”, from Grant Morrison’s Animal Man run. And then, realizing that not only did a wealth of incredible storytelling exist in comics (one gets used to the costumes the same way one gets used to SF tech in SF stories), but it was easily accessible to me, and I could find more, where women aren’t just Cubist blowup dolls.

    For me it was Denny O’Neil’s The Question (the precursor to the current Question). Most issues had a plot centered around a philosophical idea or writing.

  87. 87
    Shplane, Spess Alium

    Jhonen Vasquez? Ew.

    If you’re going to point towards a comic that lampoons the depiction of women in the medium and takes a semi-mature approach to gender and sexuality, try Empowered.

  88. 88
    Rey Fox

    I don’t want to dig too deep into the DC reboot, but is Starfire still written as a teenage character? Possibly the worst thing about many Escher Girls in comics is that they’re supposed to be teenaged. *shudder*

    1980-1988, roughly, was a new Golden Age of Comics.

    Is this because the mainstream comics were any good, or is it because of the rise of independent publishers?

  89. 89
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    I came to the O’Neil Question kind of backwards, after following Renee Montoya from Gotham Central to her taking on the role. But also excellent.

  90. 90
    Ing

    @Rey Fox

    …god I hope not. The team she’s most associated with is the TEEN Titans, though she hasn’t been a teen for most of her history (wasn’t there a wedding between her and Nightwing in the 80s?)

  91. 91
    Ing

    I came to the O’Neil Question kind of backwards, after following Renee Montoya from Gotham Central to her taking on the role. But also excellent.

    It was suggested to me from the Justice League cartoon where the character had a prominent role.

  92. 92
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I like comic books. Even the superhero ones. But for me, those ridiculous women’s poses and costumes are distracting. It is crap, and blatant pandering and attempts at manipulation and as the artwork becomes more slick it enters “uncanny valley” territory. Why would women dress differently from men in what is their work clothing? Why are they standing in such odd positions? Why would you use your freeze ray to rob a bank instead of becoming the Steve Jobs of air conditioning and refrigeration? (That last one is more of a general question…)

    It presents a weird sort of paradox where I know there should be more female characters, but I’m almost happy that there aren’t because the writers and artists would just fuck them up royally.

  93. 93
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I can’t pinpoint a specific time, but there was a shift in the 80s (I’ve seen readers attribute that shift to WATCHMEN, which was mid-80s) that broadened the type of stories being told in comics.

    The Crow probably helped, given the timeframe.

  94. 94
    Kagato

    Rob Liefield represents all that is wrong in the world of comics.

    He has no sense of anatomy – none; his men are hideous, his women are hideous and exploitative (see below), and his compositions don’t make any goddamn sense. Above all he’s lazy; he honestly doesn’t seem to care how much he fucks everything up, or even if he actually finishes a drawing.

    Exhibit A

    Via Eschergirls above, he is quoted in Wizard:

    When coming up with a gesture, I don’t use any reference, but once it comes time to finish the drawing, well, I’ll look at everything from Victoria’s Secret catalogs to Maxim to my shapely wife for input.

    Quite the reference range you’ve got there buddy.

    But the worst thing about Liefield is, despite his blatant lack of talent, disregard for women and apparent disdain for his readers, he somehow managed to dominate the comics market for years and fuck things up so badly it’s taken a decade for the industry to sort-of recover from his awful influence.

    On a mostly unrelated note, during all this I managed to find my way to this hilarious site:

    http://xmenwithgooglyeyes.tumblr.com/

    Such a simple premise, yet I am enthralled.
    I can’t stop giggling!

  95. 95
    timgueguen

    Have to pick on poor Robby a bit more since it hasn’t been mentioned yet: Another of his failings is his habit of giving people way too many teeth. Some of his panels will have a single character showing enough teeth for a dozen characters.

  96. 96
    NathanDST

    Slightly on topic, why do so many women in superhero comics (or video games, or cartoons) fight in heels? For that matter, how do they fight in heels? How do they leap, flip, and kick in three inch heels? Try watching a YouTube video of Catwoman in Arkham City fighting, and tell me how that works.

  97. 97
    kristinc, now with added ventilation

    Also some artists seem to literally be tracing porn.

    Here ya go. These are so obviously bondage poses with weapons sloppily drawn in afterward. http://eschergirls.tumblr.com/post/16521214197/poor-avengelyne-cut-off-at-the-knees-and-forced

    Until today I had no idea comic books were ever not like that. When I think of them, it’s that style of drawing that immediately comes to the front of my mind and makes me go “fucking stupid bullshit” about comics.

    Hell, I’ve read a couple issues of Sandman, Watchmen, some YA manga, and I slavishly follow a couple of wonderful webcomics, so I know better. But Liefeld-type bullshit is still the reason that try as I might I can.not. take comics seriously. I was exposed to it at a formative stage, evidently (flipped through a couple comics in my early teens and decided they were fucking ridiculous), and I can’t scrub the association.

  98. 98
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    You all owe it to yourselves to go over to eschergirls. The woman who captions the ludicrous comic contortions is gut-bustingly funny.

  99. 99
    Avicenna

    And the poses aren’t new…

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_XdP6Lp2ceqY/S8VJq3TMx3I/AAAAAAAANrc/q89biTd4fqI/s1600/laocoon.jpg

    It’s the greek aesthete. Insane muscles and weird proportions. It’s as old as western history.

    As for the Mankini of Powah? I suggest Namor (The Submariner).

  100. 100
    SallyStrange

    This is hilarious, because I did read comics during the 90s, and although the name Rob Liefeld never meant anything to me before today, I instantly recognized his “artwork.” I remember hating it.

  101. 101
    Kagato

    Ah yes, Greg Land is the guy who traces, recycles and flat out steals other people’s art.

    http://jimsmashextended.blogspot.com.au/2008/07/greg-land-tracing-swiping-recycling.html

    Dude’s a hack and should have been fired the moment he was caught using someone else’s copyright material.

  102. 102
    pentatomid

    I thought this was rather appropriate:
    http://jimhines.livejournal.com/612200.html

  103. 103
    Morgan

    I don’t want to dig too deep into the DC reboot, but is Starfire still written as a teenage character?

    I’m pretty sure Starfire was never teenaged in the comics. She was introduced in The New Teen Titans in the 80s, but that was named for the team from the 60s and the members were mostly college-aged or older. As far as I’m aware she was in her early twenties at introduction and should be in her late twenties or early thirties now (though keeping track of characters’ ages over real-world time is pretty nightmarish).

    Starfire in the cartoon was aged down like the rest of the cast but that version of the character hasn’t had much influence on her portrayal in the main canon. (Which is a shame, because while I like original Starfire as a character, if she had to change I would much rather have seen her move toward her cartoon self than the current, reboot version.)

    I’m still boggling at the notion that someone thought they needed to make her outfit more revealing. I mean… wow.

  104. 104
    captainchaos

    Is it bad that I went to the article to look at the pictures of sexy women?

  105. 105
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    It’s funny that this topic came so soon after Xmas (not X-Men, sorry if you misread that and got X-cited). My little girl was getting quite a lot of fun from my nephews coming over with their Iron Man and Captain America action figures and playing super heroes, so she wanted some. We went looking for action figures that would be appropriate for a little girl and give her some positive female imagery. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck, what a total PITA that shopping trip turned out to be, and a real eye-opener.

    If the dolls weren’t blatant cheesecake, they only got worse and turned into pure pr0n. And I had seen some very beautifully drawn characters by fan artists doing takes on manga and anime characters so we went into a couple of those shops and the dolls got worse! Are we supposed to see our heroine’s vajajay? Are they supposed to have nipples poking out the tops of their shirts?

    We finally settled on one doll from a shop of Super Woman. It actually says ‘Woman’ instead of girl, and she had a complete body suit and, as far as we could tell, a more human build than some of the human/insect hybrids the comics world is telling us is the ideal of the modern Grecian sculpted aesthetic. Here is linky, and hoping it works since it’s from a major online shop and I’m not sure how this site’s anti-spam filters work:

    http://amzn.com/B003B9CALY

    I had no idea where this character came from since the last comics I had purchased were back in the ’80s (P. Craig Russell’s ‘Elric’ series and Wendy and Richard Pini’s ‘Elfquest’ anthologies, which distort characters anyway). If we wanted to get into classic characters, the only leftover option we had was from Fisher Price and their Little People versions of Batgirl and Wonder Woman. My little girl actually preferred them, because they are ‘just like me!’ she says. Linky:

    http://amzn.com/B005ISAAWM

    Women really get the short end of the stick in the super hero genre. While we were researching the problem afterwards we came across a few websites by women who like the idea of super hero comics for girls/women but find the patriarchal publishing and illustration clan too much to bear. One of them made reference to a game for kids, so we checked it out.

    The problem even got into the video-game end of the genre when my little girl was totally revved to play this Marvel heroes game, it’s called ‘Super Hero Squad’ which featured Storm on the cover. She thought the idea of a woman who can control all the weather was really neat. She got very turned off when all five starting characters were male and Storm had to be ‘unlocked’. She is very young still but was very much made aware at that instant that the genre is being geared towards boys and essentially lost all interest in the game. Fuck you, Comic Book Guy, and your otaku, masturbatory bullshit quashing a little girl’s idea that she can be super too.

  106. 106
    ajbjasus

    What is this (mainly American, it seems to me), obsession with SuperHeroes, and legitimising them as a serious art form ? It’s silliness to me is exemplified by the fact that someone is getting in a froth because “They are a bit exaggerated”. Stand back and take a look at yourselves, folks.

  107. 107
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Well, never forget that all those bad artists can claim that they’re just imitating da Vinci.
    Don’t believe it?
    Try to pose like dam in the famous creation of man with a hip that’s lacking a joint in the small of the back.

  108. 108
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    …and Kagato, @94, thanks for the Googly Eyes. I needed that.

  109. 109
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    I love the eschergirls site. It’s very funny and has great links. Spent at least 4 hrs there. The comic book/video game/fantasy sexism is a serious turn off for me, even though I love geeking out with that stuff. I mean seriously, stop being so sexist, and double your marketing base. Even if the assholes only care about more money, that makes more sense right? But noooooooooo, got to make it so that I can’t enjoy the things I like or expose my daughter to better things than princess because of fucking sexism. Not to mention stupid sexism and racism of Disney. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. I’m so glad for sane places like this blog, eschergirls, etc. It honestly keeps my sanity.

  110. 110
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    ajbjasus @106: There is a point, and it flew about 370.6 km above your head. It’s not the distortion, dumb-dumb, it’s the sexism.

  111. 111
    ajbjasus

    @110

    Things flying a number of kilometres over heads

    The images wouldn’t even be there if people didn’t take such a vacuous artform seriously

    I also notice riduculous stereotyping in lots of aspects of this genre – for example male superheroes also seem to have ludicrously exagareted secondary male sexual characteristics ?

    Dumb dumb

  112. 112
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    The snobbery you are displaying was covered earlier in the thread. The male characteristics have also been covered. Try to keep up with the rest of the class, Poindexter, you might learn something.

  113. 113
    ajbjasus

    Learn something about superheroes ? No thanks. I thought we were encouraging people not to dumb down by spending time agonising about the fine detail of fairy stories?

  114. 114
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I had the chance to look over some of the finer examples of this art form last night.

    Now I see how
    Hackneyed and/or cribbed illustration +
    Ham-fisted writing =
    Awesome

  115. 115
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Learn something about superheroes ? No thanks. I thought we were encouraging people not to dumb down by spending time agonising about the fine detail of fairy stories?

    So, what on earth are you doing here except giving your halo a bit of extra shine?

  116. 116
    ajbjasus

    So, what on earth are you doing here except giving your halo a bit of extra shine?

    Eh ?

    We’ve got to accept all the basic tenets of a debate before we contribute ?

    I’d better stop criticising those pesky rleigious folks then.

  117. 117
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Moggie/Utakata:

    The issue with manga that I have is you’ve either got the ridiculous proportions (and AMAZING costumes) of the CLAMP-style artwork (do a search for Yuko Ichihara – she’s ridiculously tall, ridiculously thin, and has the most gorgeous dresses!) or you have the strange quality of the 18-year old girls who look like they’re 12 (Ilyasviel von Einzbern…)

    The stories are usually really good, and there are EXCELLENT manga out there (Fullmetal Alchemist, Fruits Basket, the aforementioned CLAMP books,) but they still all suffer from ridiculous proportions or child-like teenagers…

  118. 118
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    ajbjasus
    WTF is wrong with you? I don’t read comics in general due to the sexism but don’t be a snob about it. Shit. That’s the same kind of bullshit argument made about video games before.

    I thought we were encouraging people not to dumb down by spending time agonising about the fine detail of fairy stories?

    1. Sexism isn’t a fine detail. It should be shouted down and rooted out of EVERYTHING.

    2. Do you say the same shit about fantasy stories, like say LOTR? All fiction is fucking fantasy, if you really want to go down this road.

    3. Dumb down? Seriously? Your a stuck up ass. I bet you’d say the same shit about bronys and video games.

    Fuck off and die in a fire. Pretty please. Otherwise I will love and tolerate the shit out you.

  119. 119
    PZ Myers

    No, our goal should not be the eradication of fiction and fairy tales: it should be the realistic appreciation of them as exercises in imagination, rather than portrayals of reality.

    Exaggeration isn’t the problem here. The issue is that here is this promising genre, and its diversity and creativity has been devastated by the one-sided pornification of its art.

  120. 120
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    We’ve got to accept all the basic tenets of a debate before we contribute ?

    No, but you’ve got to accept the topic.
    Coming to a thread about a certain topic X, where people who actually care for different reasons about topic X, telling them that it is stupid to talk about X anyway because of Y is classic troll-derailing 101.
    Just as a reminder, the topic the topic at hand is “ridiculous poses of women in superhero-comics”.
    It’s not “Are comics art?”
    “Are people who read comics dumb?”
    So, saying that you have no interest in the topic at hand but continuing to derail the thread with your “better than thou” attitude makes you a troll.

    Back on topic:
    I remember when I wanted to find a picture for a P&P RPG character I had. Female elf, ranger-type.
    I ended up making a costume and taking a picture. No self-respecting warrior with a tiny interest in survival would roam the wilderness naked. In snow.

  121. 121
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    Fullmetal Alchemist

    yesssss to this. I only know a few that I’ve gotten into from a friend and this is one that I loved. All waiting for the next drove me crazy. Same with Bleach. Naurto I’ve just stopped reading for months, then do a marathon because all the fillers is driving me away. There are a couple others but all the fanservice gets on my nerves. I hate being pushed away from things I want to enjoy. =(

  122. 122
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Just a Lurker:

    The pros and cons of Fullmetal Alchemist:

    Pros – It’s awesome, great characters, great story, great art, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s scary, it’s engrossing, it’s invigorating, it kept me wanting more.

    Cons – It’s over :(

  123. 123
    Morgan

    Katherine Lorraine @117:

    …the strange quality of the 18-year old girls who look like they’re 12 (Ilyasviel von Einzbern…)

    A strange example to pick, since looking younger than her age is a plot point with her. I mean, you can milk the question of why that’s so for a lot of skeeve and squick around anime/manga/games as a whole, but it’s not an issue of art style…

    …but they still all suffer from ridiculous proportions or child-like teenagers…

    Really? I mean, if the presence of teenagers who look younger than they are at all is an issue then yeah, FMA has a few examples, but if you’re saying all manga that doesn’t skew towards inflatable-breasted CLAMP noodlefolk instead is populated entirely by implausibly tween-looking teens, then I’d have thought FMA served as a counterexample right there. I don’t know – maybe I’m misunderstanding you?

    Of course even if you’re just objecting to the presence of some “older than they look” characters in a cast there are works out there with relatively realistic styles. Death Note, for a fairly well-known example, and a whole bunch of material aimed at older audiences.

  124. 124
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @morganmcevoy:

    Ilyasviel von Einzbern is in a manga / anime adapted from a Visual Novel. That’s just creepy. But she’s not the only example, just the one that comes first to mind (any of the Key adaptations (Air, Canon) could fit as well – which again are from Visual Novels – creepy creepy!!)

    FMA is a really good manga, but it’s still got some of the suffering of badly proportioned characters (Lust, the Armstrongs.) Fruits Basket I said too has tweeny-teens. Ouran High School Host Club you have Honey-kun. I realize that it’s a visual style that most manga and anime artists employ, and in some cases a legitimate point of the story (example – Honey-kun is supposed to look young because a) he’s a character in a manga that’s making fun of shoujo manga and b) he’s a childlike character who is the strongest fighter in whatever region of Japan they’re in.)

    And I hated Death Note.

  125. 125
    Morgan

    Right, so you’re not saying all the characters are overly young-looking teenagers, but that the ones who are bother you. Gotcha. Nonetheless, such characters are not omnipresent even if they are annoyingly common.

    And while I wouldn’t defend Lust or the Armstrongs as realistically proportioned (author: “Men should be buff! Women should be va-va-voom!”) they at least fall under the heading of “stylized” rather than “wait, what?”. Were that the baseline for Western mainstream comics the subculture might be a lot better off.

    (Not to obscure, in my zeal to defend manga against overgeneralization, the indisputable fact that the medium is still chock full of sexism and sexualization, even in series I read and enjoy. I’m not sure whether there’s an equivalent to the absurd poses, though – maybe I’ll have to trawl that tumblr and see.)

  126. 126
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @morganmcevoy:

    Exactly. If the presence of the child-like-teens wasn’t so common, it probably wouldn’t bother me. Haruhi Suzumiya kind of put it right when she talked about lolita characters as having that moe charm (when she was introducing Asahina to Kyon.) It’s not the same as the absurd poses of western art, but it’s for the same reason – it’s a sexual draw to the characters, and the fact the draw is towards teenaged characters who look like children squicks me out.

    Now that I think about it, Azumanga Daiyoh was one of the few manga I can think of where the characters were well-designed – although they did appear the same throughout the three years of the story, but I’ll let that slide a bit. Chiyo-chan was young, so naturally she looked young. Characters were all different heights and weights and sizes (Sakaki-san being really tall, busty, but proportioned.) They looked real although stylized. (In the note of characters changing as they grow older in the series, Momiji-kun, Kisa-chan, and Hiro-kun from Fruits Basket all got older-looking as the three years of the story went by.)

  127. 127
    ajbjasus

    Okay – I started off talking about superheroes here. My initial point was indeed about superheroes – heavily muscled caricatures of human beings, generally with magical powers. Maybe the basic tenet of the artform (the exaggaration of what is normal) predisposes it towards unhealthy consequences taken to extremes. The pornification is a good example. Which is also bad.

    I was also trying going to lead on the the notion that to the wider world, a debate about comic book super heroes (valid though the main point is) could be misrepresentated elsewhere.

    Kind of got sidetracked though.

    Am of to fuck off and die somewhere now.

  128. 128
    birgerjohansson

    You may want to check out Sam Kieth.
    His MAXX was made into an animated version on “MTV’s oddities”. Despite the surreal background he managed to address a lot of profound issues.
    http://www.amazon.com/MAXX-Sam-Kieth/dp/1887279008/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328108279&sr=1-5

    His “Zero Girl” and “Four Women” did the same, but without the superhero/superheroine tropes.

  129. 129
    Ing

    I had the chance to look over some of the finer examples of this art form last night.

    Now I see how
    Hackneyed and/or cribbed illustration +
    Ham-fisted writing =
    Awesome

    Now you’re just being a fucking idiot.

  130. 130
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Now you’re just being a fucking idiot.

    De gustibus non est disputandum.

    In a thread that was originally about what’s wrong with mainstream comics, I dared insult the genre as a whole. How was I to know that the discussion that was to follow would largely be an apologetic for comic books as art. And yet discovering this, I persisted in having an opinion of comic books in the face of your wrath (and that of others). If you think that mocking the artform makes me snobby, whatevs. Being that good literature actually costs less than comic books, its a snobbery that I can afford and suits me.

    “Fucking idiot” is misplaced. I don’t assume that you are a fucking idiot for spending your time engrossed in what I perceive as trash lit, rather than reading something of value. You must have your reasons.

    I have read some of what others have held up as the best in the genre and found it wanting in literary technique, character development, insight, and artistic technique*. Further, it is mostly too silly to take seriously at all. I’m not at all sorry that this makes you angry.

    I direct you to the porcupine stack.

    *I even had a good giggle over the ElfQuest link. I read as a kid. F. me. I used to think that series was the schiznit.

  131. 131
    Ing

    I don’t assume that you are a fucking idiot for spending your time engrossed in what I perceive as trash lit, rather than reading something of value. You must have your reasons.

    Bullshit.

    I have read some of what others have held up as the best in the genre and found it wanting in literary technique, character development, insight, and artistic technique*. Further, it is mostly too silly to take seriously at all. I’m not at all sorry that this makes you angry.

    So you’re just trolling then?

  132. 132
    Rey Fox

    In a thread that was originally about what’s wrong with mainstream comics, I dared insult the genre as a whole. How was I to know that the discussion that was to follow would largely be an apologetic for comic books as art.

    You really are an idiot.

    I have read some of what others have held up as the best in the genre

    For a whole few hours, too. Such dedication.

    Trollololololololo…

  133. 133
    Pteryxx

    semirandom re Full Metal Alchemist: the movie FMA: The Sacred Star of Milos is showing this month at a scattering of theaters across the US and Canada.

    http://www.funimation.com/rojas/blog/fullmetal-alchemist-the-sacred-star-of-milos-theatrical-dates/1238991

    and I thought Lust and the Armstrongs were shaped over-the-top because their relative over-the-top-ness was part of their characters? I mean, obviously Lust is going to take a sexualized shape, considering. And everyone facepalms whenever Armstrong does his schtick.

  134. 134
    Ing

    http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/02/01/watchmen-returns-in-prequels-from-dc-comics/

    Speaking of problems with the industry.

    I’m sure hope someone has realized the irony of returning back to a comic from the glory days…when said comic was fairly brutally critical of nostalgia. A comic where a bottle of Nostalgia Perfume literally shatters a Crystal palace?

  135. 135
    Dhorvath, OM

    Hey lookit that, another industry that tries to capitalize on past successes, rather than growing new ones. How can homogeneity not be the result of art for profit?

  136. 136
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Pteryyx:

    And I mentioned that, yes. Just like Honey-kun or Momiji-kun, their childishness is part of their characters. Doesn’t mean it’s any less annoying. Doesn’t mean I don’t cringe whenever I see or hear Honey-kun with his cutesy little voice.

  137. 137
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    For a whole few hours, too. Such dedication.

    Like I said. I read all kinds of comic books when I was young. I devoted quite a few hours more hours to them than they deserved.

    If I were commenting on a blog that was about how awesome comic books were, yeah…this would be trolling. However, I’m commenting on a thread about how ridiculously women are portrayed in mainstream comics. I simply agreed with that statement and raised the ante.

    Let me be clear. The best comic book in the world doesn’t have the transformative power of any of Salman Rushdie’s novels, not to mention the fluid use of language. They lack the complexity and pathos of David Foster Wallace’s work, the challenge of Faulkner or Pynchon, the innovation of Virginia Woolf, etc. I haven’t even gotten into the classics. Why would one spend time reading a comic book rather than one of these, especially when the latter is cheaper and more accessible?

    At least in the US, the current generation spends quite a bit less time reading than it has in the past. My students do not generally read for pleasure, except when they are reading junk. Yet they think this counts as reading. As a result, they most often have little command of the written language, a complete inability to put together a coherent narrative, and an appalling lack of attention when it comes to image-free text.

    So enjoy comic books all you want. I think that they suck in general*. You haven’t presented me with any reason to change my mind.

    *I acknowledge that there is always a chance that there is one out there that really is all that and a bag of chips. However, Maus, The Watchmen, and ElfQuest are not.

  138. 138
    Ing

    Let me be clear. The best comic book in the world doesn’t have the transformative power of any of Salman Rushdie’s novels, not to mention the fluid use of language. They lack the complexity and pathos of David Foster Wallace’s work, the challenge of Faulkner or Pynchon, the innovation of Virginia Woolf, etc. I haven’t even gotten into the classics. Why would one spend time reading a comic book rather than one of these, especially when the latter is cheaper and more accessible?

    Yet they think this counts as reading. As a result, they most often have little command of the written language, a complete inability to put together a coherent narrative, and an appalling lack of attention when it comes to image-free text.

    So enjoy comic books all you want. I think that they suck in general*. You haven’t presented me with any reason to change my mind.

    PLease we’re already at near peak snobbery

    I acknowledge that there is always a chance that there is one out there that really is all that and a bag of chips

    Oh yeah you’re so fucking open minded.

  139. 139
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    ajbjasus:

    I also notice riduculous stereotyping in lots of aspects of this genre – for example male superheroes also seem to have ludicrously exagareted secondary male sexual characteristics ?

    No, Cupcake. If male superheroes were objectified the way female superheroes were, they’d look like this, or this, or this.

  140. 140
    Ing

    At least in the US, the current generation spends quite a bit less time reading than it has in the past. My students do not generally read for pleasure, except when they are reading junk. Yet they think this counts as reading. As a result, they most often have little command of the written language, a complete inability to put together a coherent narrative, and an appalling lack of attention when it comes to image-free text.

    NO NO NO YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! LIKE WHAT I LIKE DAMN IT! YOU’RE ENJOYING READING WROOOOOOOOONG! AND GET OFF MY LAWN!

  141. 141
    Ing

    I also notice riduculous stereotyping in lots of aspects of this genre – for example male superheroes also seem to have ludicrously exagareted secondary male sexual characteristics ?

    Except that’s part of the male fantasy too.

  142. 142
    'Tis Himself

    Improbable Joe #92

    Why would you use your freeze ray to rob a bank instead of becoming the Steve Jobs of air conditioning and refrigeration? (That last one is more of a general question…)

    In the 1950s I read a DC comic in which the “criminal mastermind” invented a machine which reduced reinforced concrete walls to rubble in an instant. This marvelous engine was used to break into a bank vault. Even though I was only 8 or 9 I realized that manufacturing and selling that machine would bring in a lot more money than robbing banks would and without any danger of imprisonment.

  143. 143
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Antiochus:

    They lack the complexity and pathos of David Foster Wallace’s work…

    **sporfle**

    Tedious anti–”genre fiction” snob is tedious.

  144. 144
    Ing

    Antiochus seems to be irreversibly snobbish and pratish on this issue and totally locked in to their publicly declared stance and unable to unclench zir anus for even a second. I am totally convinced of this

    *I am willing to believe that Antiochus is perfectly open minded and not at all being an elitist sphincter…or at least willing to claim this to try to make my previous obvious close mindedness appear less assholeish.

    ;)

  145. 145
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Ing, Ms. Daisy Cutter:

    Antiochus seems to be irreversibly snobbish and pratish on this issue and totally locked in to their publicly declared stance and unable to unclench zir anus for even a second.

    If that’s true*, it likely isn’t the worst of my many flaws. But fuck it. If you are willing to believe that I am capable of being open minded**, I’m not going to piss on your better nature as if it were one of the glossy serials under discussion. Here’s my offer. I’ll read the comic of Ing’s choice** if Ms. Daisy Cutter gives Infinite Jest a spin.

    *It’s not. I unclench my anus for several seconds at a time twice a year. At each solstice to be precise.
    **Cuz I don’t understand sarcasm and shit.
    ***I mean really scrutinize it. Several times. I’ll put a pic on the FB Endless Thread page of me reading it. And write a book report.

  146. 146
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I’ll read the comic of Ing’s choice***

    Jeeze. Can’t keep track of my own asides.

  147. 147
    Ing

    If that’s true*, it likely isn’t the worst of my many flaws. But fuck it. If you are willing to believe that I am capable of being open minded**, I’m not going to piss on your better nature as if it were one of the glossy serials under discussion. Here’s my offer. I’ll read the comic of Ing’s choice** if Ms. Daisy Cutter gives Infinite Jest a spin.

    You missed my joke. I was mocking how you gave a very strong demonstration of having made up your mind on the issue followed by a claim of openmindedness tacked on that rang hollow.

    I’m not going to piss on your better nature as if it were one of the glossy serials under discussion.

    FFS, do you not think your constant insinuations about the quality of art tastes here isn’t some reflection of intellectual superiority?

    I’ll read the comic of Ing’s choice** if Ms. Daisy Cutter gives Infinite Jest a spin.

    I won’t submit Ms. Daisy to that. I’m no monster.

  148. 148
    Ing

    AE

    No one gives a shit that you don’t like comics. It would be very much appreciated if you’d stop proclaiming how superior your intellect and tastes are because of that though.

  149. 149
    Pteryxx

    Why would one spend time reading a comic book rather than one of these, especially when the latter is cheaper and more accessible?

    Because the one isn’t you. Sheesh. Not everyone processes linear, written language better than they do visual imagery, much less prefers one to the other – and some of us can handle both language AND visual comprehension. I’ll stack up WE3 against Flowers for Algernon any day, not just for depth, but because Flowers for Algernon could not be adequately told as a comic, and WE3 could not be adequately told in text. (Though Ian Mcdonald’s “Floating Dogs” comes close.)

    If you DO write a book report on a comic or sequential-art work, Antiochus, you’d better devote significant consideration to the artwork’s contribution to the narrative, pacing, tone and subtext. Otherwise, you’ll be doing half a job, and I’d dock you points for it.

  150. 150
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    AE, as Ing said, nobody who matters gives a fuck what you read or don’t read in your spare time. What’s tiresome is this intellectual pissing contest, which displays how insecure you are about your self-image as a “well-read” person.

  151. 151
    Ing

    Pteryxx

    I’m remembering now what the Director of The Ledge said about how movies can use the close up and response of the actors to convey an emotion more powerfully than the novel can.

    It’s really different tools

  152. 152
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Erm…I didn’t miss your joke. I guess I can’t expect you to keep track of footnotes.

    FFS, do you not think your constant insinuations about the quality of art tastes here isn’t some reflection of intellectual superiority?

    Is every negative statement about art an insinuation of superiority? Where’s the fun in experiencing art if you don’t talk about it? What’s the fun in talking about it if those who don’t like it must be silent?

    And as far as implying something about intellectual superiority, you did call me a fucking idiot. I assume that you don’t think that you are a fucking idiot. There’s implication there as well.

    About openmindedness: you may have a point. I’ll make you an offer that doesn’t require that anyone is tortured by having to read anything by DF Wallace. Is there a comic book that I could buy for less than $30 that exemplifies the qualities that I seem to be missing*? I will buy it, read it, and report back.

    *I forgot. Don’t suggest the Maxx series. My wife has the whole thing. I read it. Again, meh.

  153. 153
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Comics/Manga are a different genre from books and TV, I don’t understand how you can so easily proclaim the superiority of one genre over the other.

    Probably from a narrow viewpoint of literacy, books might be more useful (though I’m open to data that says otherwise), but I’ve found that comics can be a great gateway to literacy – as a young person in your mother tongue, or as an adult when learning foreign languages (one of cliché reasons people learn Japanese ;) ).

    And there are actually manga which are harder to read than books, like the great mangaification of the Chinese classic Romance of Three Kingdoms by Mitsuteru Yokoyama. Or even Konan (I think the English title is “Case closed”), I’ve heard from Japanese friends that they don’t like to read it because it just has TOO much text..

    In Japan it’s quite common to have books (like the American “Dummy’s” series I guess) in manga form, and in many cases the combination visual imagery and text makes it easier for the reader to understand complex subjects. I remember reading an astronomy guide like that, or a dinosaur book when growing up.

  154. 154
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    I’ll never stop being amused by pretentious fools like AE who howl about comics being poor novels. Do they also moan about what terrible ballet blues guitar music is? Act shocked and indignant at how ghastly of orange juice a bowl of oatmeal is? “This art form is a terrible attempt at a completely different art form!” No shit, Sherlock. Now sit the fuck down, the adults are talking. And no, we shan’t be getting off your lawn and getting haircuts any time soon.

    AE: If anyone wants to read about the terrible deep thoughts of a self-absorbed junkie scion of a rich white family, there’s not exactly a shortage, and there’s better than DFW out there.

  155. 155
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    “manga that are harder to read than many books”

  156. 156
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    If you DO write a book report on a comic or sequential-art work, Antiochus, you’d better devote significant consideration to the artwork’s contribution to the narrative, pacing, tone and subtext. Otherwise, you’ll be doing half a job, and I’d dock you points for it.

    Fair enough.

    What’s tiresome is this intellectual pissing contest, which displays how insecure you are about your self-image as a “well-read” person.

    A lot of what we do here is an intellectual pissing contest. Some might argue that I am overly confident in my self-image as a well-read person. I suspect that a discussion of my own psychological problems would be even more tedious to you than the current discussion. But fine. I’m boring (or goring) you about a topic in which I am not invested. I’ll shut up.

  157. 157
    Dhorvath, OM

    I find most graphic story telling hard to process, (calling it reading seems to me a trap) and would rather just enjoy the gestalt of the images in anything I pick up. Does that make me a lazy graphic novel audience member? Likely, at the least it indicates that many things would be wasted on my interaction with such a medium. I think my brain just doesn’t process well at both levels simultaneously and I end up disconnected from one or the other stream presented. Sad, it seems there are many who feel a connection that I just don’t share.

  158. 158
    ibyea

    @pelanum
    You mean Detective Conan? Oh yes, that manga has tons of texts, although primarily it is due to the fact that the protagonist has to explain how the culprit made the traps.

    Oh, and a manga I recommend to those who doubt its ability to tell stories would be Monster.

  159. 159
    Dhorvath, OM

    Ibyea,
    I do not doubt that it works to do so for many, I just get distracted personally.

  160. 160
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    @ibyea,

    yeah, for some reason I thought it was called “Case closed” in English, I don’t know.

    Yes, and at least in the Japanese original, Conan uses very academic language even beyond your average high-schooler, so his explanations are not just very long, but also reasonably difficult.

  161. 161
    ibyea

    @Dhorvath
    Oh, this wasn’t directed to you. I know that each person prefers certain mediums over others, and that is allright. It is dismissing a medium just because one doesn’t like it that I have a problem with, which you were not doing.

  162. 162
    Pteryxx

    elaborating re what Ing said:

    I’m remembering now what the Director of The Ledge said about how movies can use the close up and response of the actors to convey an emotion more powerfully than the novel can.

    It’s really different tools

    To me, being faceblind, the facial expression part of movies (and comics) tends to be lost on me. I have to read other cues to get the emotion, whereas for most people, those other cues merely underscore the actor’s facial expression: posture, lighting, framing, music, dialogue. I imagine something similar goes on with reading novels – the literate and experienced reader with a large vocabulary “gets” the cues from a certain referenced turn of phrase, where a less capable reader gets the broad strokes.

    In comics, the emotional cues and pacing have to do with color choice, contrast, pattern repetition, and the size and placement of elements on the page. I mentioned WE3 because it really pushes element placement, and certain two-page spreads exist to blast the reader with sensory detail, mimicking the hyperattention of an adrenaline rush. No novelization could ever do that through the narrow-bore conduit of a text stream. And movies not only combine verbal, visual, social, motion, and musical input, they absolutely control the pace at which the viewer experiences the material. Neither novels nor comics can do that except in the broadest sense.

    Oh, and on facial expression specifically? My friends and I discovered that I’m actually better at reading “facial expressions” in online roleplaying and MMOs. I can’t SEE the expression of a real face, but if someone types “[character] gives a smile that doesn’t reach her eyes” I know exactly what that means and how to react.

  163. 163
    ibyea

    @pelanum
    In Japan it is called Detective Conan. The English version is called Case Closed. I think it was due to some copyright issues. Anyways, I just call it Detective Conan.

    And yeah, aside from the academic language, some of the murders are really convoluted, so sometimes, you have to read something twice to understand. It’s a good thing real murderers aren’t THAT smart. ^_^

  164. 164
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    ibyea,

    (BTW, my nym is not from Latin ;) )

    no, in Japan it’s called Master Detective Conan (名探偵コナン). As an aside, when translating the manga/anime to English, they even partially translated some of the names, which is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever seen happen in translation (though then I always try to consume media in its original language if possible, so I wouldn’t know).

    Have you ever tried solving a case as the story goes along? Apparently some fans do that, though I’m not sure if the author really leaves enough cues for that (at least not for me, I just wait for Konan to shoot his anesthetic arrows to begin his “suiri show”).

  165. 165
    Ing

    Oh, and a manga I recommend to those who doubt its ability to tell stories would be Monster.

    Just got the disc version on Netflix…stupid book stores don’t carry it.

    Where’s the fun in experiencing art if you don’t talk about it? What’s the fun in talking about it if those who don’t like it must be silent?

    ‘It’s all stupid’ is not talking about it. It’s you talking about how better you are for not wanting to talk about it. It’s annoying.

    But fine. I’m boring (or goring) you about a topic in which I am not invested. I’ll shut up.

    Please

  166. 166
    Dhorvath, OM

    Ibyea,
    I was just misinterpreting timing then.

  167. 167
    Ing

    The attitude that the entire medium is trash has a long and nasty history to it. Today it’s still a big reason why this form of literature does not share the same protections against censorship that pure prose does.

    There are serious instances of people being charged with sex crimes for having a comic that people wouldn’t have batted an eye at in pure prose form.

  168. 168
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    AE,

    you said it your self, De gustibus non est disputandum. Or, Chacun à son goût. Or even, Jedem Tierchen sein Pläsierchen.

    It’s totally ok if comics/manga aren’t for you. It’s not ok to put your gustus/goût/Pläsierchen over those of others. It might have been an impression you did not intend to give, but that’s how you came off to many here anyway…

  169. 169
    ibyea

    @pelanum
    Some of the tricks are outright impossible to figure out, since a) as you said, the author doesn’t give enough clues and b) some of them are really convoluted. I still remember that highly convoluted case in which someone used crossbows and strings to bring down a corpse from the second floor of a mansion. Seriously, how was anyone supposed to figure that out?

  170. 170
    Dhorvath, OM

    There may be a clue about this above, but pelamun is not pelanum.

  171. 171
    ibyea

    @Dhorvath
    Woops!

  172. 172
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Why would one spend time reading a comic book rather than one of these, especially when the latter is cheaper and more accessible?

    Because it irritates people like you?

  173. 173
    ChasCPeterson

    Interesting and entertaining discussion.
    AE’s opinions have elicited a wide variety of butthurt responses, some more reasonable than others. He, personally, claims to get much more out of reading ‘text novels’ than he does from ‘reading’ comic books and ‘graphic novels’. That’s not wrong, much less fucking idiotic. It’s a judgment, an opinion.
    The comparison certainly isn’t apples and oranges (or ballet and blues as sopmebody suggested), or else they wouldn’t call them both ‘novels’. It’s more apples and pears, oranges and tangerines, ballet and whatever it is those women do between periods at pro basketball games. Blues and bluegrass. You can make a valid comparison to the extent that genres overlap in technique. medium, or objective. Valid comparisons are made all the time among TV shows, movies, novels, plays, and short stories.
    And when you make the valid comparisons, as it seems to me AE did (character development, insight, narrative, language use, evocation of emotion, etc.), and try to be objective about it, then I don’t really see how you can argue his point (to the extent that he made a fact claim). The best and even the very good novels are clearly superior in all these respects to the very best ‘graphic novels’.
    This has nothing to do with the degree of real-time enjoyment any one individual might obtain from one activity or the other. It’s not about taste.

    AE, the way you feel about comics compared to novels? That’s how I feel about The Cure compared to, say, Coltrane, or Dylan or even Umphrey’s McGee. I think pretty much analogous arguments apply.

  174. 174
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    He, personally, claims to get much more out of reading ‘text novels’ than he does from ‘reading’ comic books and ‘graphic novels’. That’s not wrong, much less fucking idiotic. It’s a judgment, an opinion…AE, the way you feel about comics compared to novels? That’s how I feel about The Cure compared to, say, Coltrane, or Dylan or even Umphrey’s McGee. I think pretty much analogous arguments apply.

    So you tell people who listen to The Cure that they need to grow up, listen to some “real” music. Can you tell them its not an actual medium that’s worthwhile? Oh wait, that doesn’t work since you’re examples are all the same medium….

    Also, if you do say those things The Cure fans have every right to call it fucking idiotic, that’s its wrong to dismiss a whole medium just because its not something you personally like.

    Not to mention the snobbery, AE seriously just couldn’t say “I don’t like it but whatevs different strokes, different folks.” That’s not an issue. I don’t care who likes it and who doesn’t. Not liking it isn’t what I’m taking issue with. Noooo they had to get all up on a high horse like we’re are stupid children who don’t know how to read. Condescending much? Its not like one can like graphic novels and “real” books.

    Besides, this is just my opinion.

    Side note : is butthurt homophobic? Like panties in a bunch is sexist? I never thought of it as such before, it just hit me to ask. I’ve used both, but stopped with the panties in a bunch once I realized “doh teh sexist”. Butthurt seems to be in the same line because of the whole toxic meme of straight men being so very protective of their precious assholes that much never be touched because that would make them gay. Huh. Thoughts?

  175. 175
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Limiting myself to Chas’ comment: I fully realize that the best explanation for my failure to enjoy jazz is that I haven’t developed my ear to appreciate nuances that (apparently) exist in that kind of music. I don’t think that an analogous explanation applies to my disdain of comic books. Or for the record do I think you were implying that.

    But razzing shit is fun until people’s feelings get hurt. I should have quit much earlier.

  176. 176
    Pteryxx

    “valid comparisons”?

    Well, novels are singularly lacking in artwork*, obviously because their authors are just too lazy to bother with such things. Therefore I can objectively say that graphic novels are better. Also, artwork’s wasted on the limited minds of readers who can only comprehend what they’re outright told in plain text.

    But the music sucks equally in both.

    *headdesk*

    (*exception: Black Gryphon by Mercedes Lackey, with illustrations by Larry Dixon.)

  177. 177
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Just a Lurker: I literally said “different strokes for different folks” in comment 55. I was also insulted several times before returning fire. I admit to the immateurity of that. And I never urged anyone to grow up.

  178. 178
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    Chas,

    again, as people have said here, for some people, the visual mode of narration of comics works better than just text.

    Good visual artists can also develop characters and story line (try the manga “Medical Dragon” for instance), they evoke emotion through language AND the visual imagery.

    Ultimately I do think it boils down to taste. I can’t see an objective way of measuring the criteria given by AE. Even complexity could be defined several ways, but I do think that written texts tend to be more complex than visual art (though there are works of visual art that can be very complex), but complexity alone is not a criterion for quality.

    Or let’s take film. As much as I like the Lord of the Rings novel, I do think that in places it reads like a Middle-earth version of De bello gallico (and they marched. and they marched. and they marched). I think there was some publisher meddling also partly responsible for splitting up the storyline like that, but nonetheless it was quite dragging. It’s much better shown in the movies, for me at least. (And I made it a point to reread the novel before watching the movies)

  179. 179
    Kagato

    Just a Lurker: I literally said “different strokes for different folks” in comment 55.

    And if you’d opened with that and your personal preference for literature, you wouldn’t have any argument at all.

    But your first comment was:

    I can think of a better reason [to not read comics].
    Because you are a grown-up with access to actual books.

    And I never urged anyone to grow up.

    True. you merely insinuated that anyone who still enjoys comics has failed to grow up (because if they had, they’d be reading books instead).

    But as you said, you were razzing shit for fun: you fished for a reaction and you got one. Mission accomplished.

  180. 180
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    “different strokes for different folks”

    but did you stop there? No. You went condescending.You think it sucks? Fine. I think some of the books you listed suck. Does this make either one of us better? Nope, just an honest taste difference.

    And I never urged anyone to grow up.

    Correct. You did not tell us to grow up. You said it was silly, blamed comic books for the reason why you’re students lack basic skills in writing, short attention spans and just went on about how you used to read them but now read “real” books. Ugh.

    I don’t even read comic books. I think it has so much potential and know there are great ones out there but cannot get into them due to the sexism. I am an avid reader but do not get all snobby about people reading romance, or anything. Its not like all books are the fucking Mona Lisa of books. You get all nose in the air when people read summer fun reads?

  181. 181
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    He, personally, claims to get much more out of reading ‘text novels’ than he does from ‘reading’ comic books and ‘graphic novels’.

    He did not simply claim to personally get more out of them, he implied that there was objectively more to “get” and that people who didn’t agree with him about comics were less intelligent, mature, and sophisticated. If you read the thread, you would know this, so I conclude you’re dishonest as well as an egocentric troll.

  182. 182
    ChasCPeterson

    shit, I didn’t think that posted…it wasn’t supposed to.
    So then I fucked up again and posted similarly on the Thread. oops.

    ‘Butthurt’ has always referred to the result of being spanked or feeling like it. Not anal sex, homosexual or otherwise. That’s my understanding but if people feel differently I’ll apologize and Never use the term Again.

    Well, sorry; I’m done being the designated asshole this evening. Don’t hurt yourselves.

    (AE: no, that’s not what I was implying, more the opposite, actually. I pretty much agree with you.)
    (oops)

  183. 183
    JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness

    That’s my understanding but if people feel differently I’ll apologize and Never use the term Again.

    My understanding too. It just hit me, mostly due to all the thread topics currently up that it could be homophobic so I wanted to ask. I didn’t mean to imply that you were being homophobic or that I thought it was because I think you’re homophobic. Sorry I should have been more clear.

  184. 184
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    (It’s hard to find reliable data on the etymology of “butt-hurt”, so hard to say if it referred to anal sex from the get-go, but nowadays it is pretty much perceived as homophobic, see for instance this news report)

  185. 185
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    This is starting to remind me of rent-seeking.

  186. 186
    Ing

    ‘Butthurt’ has always referred to the result of being spanked or feeling like it. Not anal sex, homosexual or otherwise. That’s my understanding but if people feel differently I’ll apologize and Never use the term Again.

    That’d be a welcome change

  187. 187
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Can we just skip straight to “ungood?”

  188. 188
    Owlmirror

    I want to thank those who recommended Atomic Robo.

    I just read this free short, and it’s hilarious. Especially Dr. Dinosaur at the gun show.

  189. 189
    Rey Fox

    If male superheroes were objectified the way female superheroes were, they’d look like this, or this, or this.

    That Avengers pic cracked me the hell up. The third picture has a trio of commenters that miss the point spectacularly though.

  190. 190
    Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts

    I have been engrossed all afternoon in reading about, and looking at examples of, Rob Liefeld and Greg Land “swiping” (plagiarizing) other artists and, in Greg’s case, tracing photographs (sometimes of porn). Someone mentioned this upthread, linking to the first few pages that sparked my quest to uncover threads showcasing all of their stolen “art”. Somewhere along the search I found this ridiculously sexist drawing tutorial written by Greg Land himself, creatively titled: “Draw a Beautiful Woman”. Enjoy.

    http://fuck-no-greg-land.tumblr.com/post/14110539460/so-ever-wanted-to-know-how-land-draws-with-words-and

  191. 191
    Kagehi

    Putting my two cents in on the specific content.. Oversized bugs the hell out of me, slightly large I don’t like much, average, to a bit small, I prefer. I thought the whole comment about the cleavage in the character for the new Bioshock game was.. “Well, OK, I can sort of see the point generally, but if you think those are big, you haven’t seen the stupid shit other people have done for 3D art.”

    In fact, the only thing that bugs me more about really wrong proportions has got to be the ‘chick with dicks’ stuff some do *all the time*. Though, I have to admit, there is some humor to it, when you see some character like that, or some “transformation” to that state, in an Anime, and then the parts in question are “traditionally blurred” besides. Its like.. Ok, you can’t show it, so why didn’t you just do the tentacle thing, it would have actually been far less stupid.” lol Sadly, outside of Anime, the ones that do that with 3D, also seem to feel the need to make them narrow wasted, and/or with tits so large they couldn’t lean over backwards any place where there was gravity of any kind in effect… Which just makes me WTF? even more at how they think it looks good.

  192. 192
    Kagehi

    Oh, and frankly, I haven’t picked up a comic, other than online ones, since someone gave me some they found some place, like 20 years ago, other than maybe like Shonen Jump, until tonight, when I looked at some on the store shelf and thought, “Well, same, ‘we didn’t even bother to change the printing method and colors for the book version’, as the last time I looked.. Yawn.”

    Otherwise, online.. it varies, ranging from manga like, to others, some more normal than others. Current line up is:

    Drow Tales, Errant Story, Fauxpas, Megatokyo, Misfile, Strange Candy, Real Life, Spinnerette (sort of has the same superhero issue, with the main character), Two Kinds, User Friendly, Cyantian Chronicals (one of several that are active/inactive by this artist, at different times. All sorts of body types, though most of them not human), Abbey’s Agency, Alien Dice, Questionable Content, Sinfest, Ship in a Bottle, Ménage à 3, Eerie Cuties

    Most of them.. are fairly normal proportioned, some not, some realistic in general, some simple art, some intentionally overdone, some otherwise. The last 4 having a lot of “intentional” to them. Left a few outliers out, mainly because they are pure comedy, or both low art quality, and abnormal proportioned, in some respects, do to the specific “style”.

    But, yeah, I would say, from the above, that, on thinking of it, the “superhero/manga” like characters, where there are some up there, are *far* more likely than the rest to either have a) odd proportions, or b) characters that have ages that are hard to pin down (megatokyo, to a degree).

  193. 193
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    If you find that the graphic novel medium isn’t conveying as much information or intensity as a novel of pure prose, it is a legitimate argument, but let me qualify that – it’s a legitimate argument in many cases, but not all.

    The writer of the original story has to have the right pizazz to visualize, convey that visualization in words that a good interpretive artist will be able to convey, and to have the right kind of impact in character dialogue. This is only part one of the equation.

    Part two requires the talented graphic artist to draw what would normally be descriptive paragraphs, character movements and quirks, action and everything else that takes a lot of words to do and squeeze them into a few panels per page.

    If the tale is lacking in whatever oomph you were expecting from purely written word, you haven’t met the right combination of artist and writer yet. There will come a moment when the Citizen Kane’s of the medium are created, but perhaps it’s not there yet…for some people.

    I argue that the advent of the medium of graphic novels as more than just idle pastime for kids is relatively new. Look at the point made in the original topic of this thread. Many of the artists ARE just hacks and sexist, adolescent minded adults. That does not mean that there aren’t yet dedicated people who consider it a challenge to craft the next modern Dickensian classic in both pictures and words. It means that there are a LOT of dollars spent by spotty little school boys on the genre because the old guard is still telling them that the medium is still their exclusive domain, and someone is taking up the task of collecting those dollars by publishing what they want.

    I actually owe apology to ajbjasus for taking him to task on SOME of what he said. His point is valid for SOME of the genre. There is a sort of silliness to the super hero genre, but almost everyone here has gone through that phase of childhood where that was the most entertaining part of their day or summer vacation, or whatever. Some people have learned that the very point of growing up is not to grow up entirely, otherwise you end up a joyless lump who yells at young’uns to get off your lawn. It was also a doorway to discovering the new form of the art that is meant for adults and deals with as high an intellectual idea as you want to delve into. You, the buyer, must shop for the product you think will match that ideal, it doesn’t fall on your lap overnight while trying to prove a point about how necessary one art form is over another.

    Some people also begin to develop an eye for what a talented artist wants to convey inside a small 3×5 square and the narrative tells itself. Someone who never reads graphic novels is obviously not going to recognize nuances of artist that they have followed for a relatively long time to see that a whole lot of story is being told in what was drawn, how it was drawn and how the characters are arranged and posed within that panel. Yes, Virginia AE, there is nuance and art going on, but you enjoy reading in one way, so you are missing what someone sees because they read in another way, the way with words and pictures on a regular basis.

    And, as the original point of the thread was meant to convey, once the period of adolescence for the medium has been struggled through (it really has been a short time since that Dark Knight story changed what comics were thought to be), a lot more topics and ideas are going to be presented that will thoroughly engage anyone who enjoys any form of story, literature in words or pictures. And no women’s spines will be imperiled during the posing of the figures on page.

  194. 194
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    I should also mention that there are a couple of books that will be helpful if you are relatively new to trying to understand the artistic merit of graphic novels or just want a little clearer insight into what is going on in the comic writer’s/artist’s head(s).

    Will Eisner put out a good one called Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative. It delves into what is going on from a storytelling perspective and how one attempts to translate it to the page with the impact one intended.

    The other book is Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. It has a wider scope than the Eisner book, and tells the story of creating a comic, by making a comic of creating a comic. Yes, you read that right, it’s a comic about making comics.

    Yes, I haven’t bought a comic in strange aeons, but I at least make attempt to respect what they do by reading about it, in their own medium. I was always more of a Tintin and Asterix kind of guy, to tell truth.

  195. 195
    ajbjasus

    @193

    McCthulhu’s new upbeat 2012 nym

    It’s easy to get dragged into an adversarial style of debate on these blogs. Mea culpa, too.

    Some helpful and interesting comments have followed though. I was seeking to understand this Superhero thing. I personally find Fantasy\Science fiction much more satisfying when it speculates where the scientifically and physically possible could eventually lead, rather than just invokes “superpowers”.

  196. 196
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    McCthulhu,

    I note that you ignore the long tradition of graphic novels in Japan as a means of entertainment for adults…

    Emakimono, a precursor to manga, first appeared in the 11th century. They would have visual scenes on scrolls, with an accompanying text. At this stage though these were probably only for the nobility and for the priests.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emakimono

    During the Edo period (17th-19th c.), something called Kusazōshi was very popular even among the townsfolk. These were mainly pictures, which were more important than the accompanying text (as most townsfolk wouldn’t be able to read more than a few hiragana).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kusaz%C5%8Dshi

    Now some scholars say that the manga as we know them today were jumpstarted due to American influence during the US occupation of Japan. This may very well be true as the typical manga style only emerged post WWII (Astro Boy, the granddaddy of all modern style Japanese manga, first appeared in 1951), but one shouldn’t ignore that Japan had had visual novels of some kind for centuries.

  197. 197
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    pelamun, I didn’t ignore it. I am aware of it. You have to recognize that adults recognizing manga in Western culture, at least on any sort of lucrative scale, happened only recently. The growth of that market here pretty much parallels the expansion of the graphic novel market in general. The parallels don’t end there, however.

    The anime and manga markets suffer from the same sexism and juvenile subject matter that Western comics do. Perhaps even more so because of the hentai stuff. To be sure, it’s not the bulk of the market, but it’s those bad examples that create the same stigma to people who haven’t shopped around a bit, at least as far as Western tastes are concerned.

    Words and pictures have been around for centuries, sure, but it’s the current popularity and general acceptance, and problems inherent that I assumed we were talking about.

  198. 198
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    McCthulhu,

    why do you seem to assume that everyone here is a westerner (it’s kind of a sibling meme to assuming that everyone here is an American).

    Have a look at what kind of role manga play, and have played, in Japanese culture. Even if we restrict ourselves to more recent times: manga haven’t been a children’s only thing for a long time there (I can’t find good statistics online, but I think 1/3 of printed material in Japan is taken up by manga)

  199. 199
    Pteryxx

    ajbjasus:

    I was seeking to understand this Superhero thing. I personally find Fantasy\Science fiction much more satisfying when it speculates where the scientifically and physically possible could eventually lead, rather than just invokes “superpowers”.

    IMHO so many many salts:

    Where superhero genre stories actually work, instead of just being fantasy-gratification, is in exploring three themes – what it means to be idealistic, what it means to have power, and what it means to be human. The powers themselves aren’t backed up by much justification because exploring the powers themselves isn’t the point, and never was. It’s smaller-scale than most SF, less intellectual, more visceral and personal. When someone has this much power, what is it good for? When is it useless?

    In City of Heroes MMO, there’s a minor NPC working in the heart of villain territory, teaching basic schooling to the underprivileged and to violent, super-powered members of a street gang there. Your villain character’s ordered to kidnap this defenseless, harmless individual, because she’s giving these people hope, and we can’t have THAT.

    Honestly, that should be a familiar theme to FTB readers, y’know?

  200. 200
    Pteryxx

    Yipes, I forgot or assumed an important point: superhero powers are IMBALANCED. They create a huge power discrepancy between those that have ‘em, or stronger or better powers, and those with none. If the powers were rationally explained, similar in every case, or could be duplicated and given to anyone, then that fundamental distinction would be lost. If you’re a superhero, you have powers that you CANNOT SHARE. You don’t have the option of being equitable about this, much less giving them over to someone wiser and more trustworthy than yourself. All you can do is intervene for others… basically, you can only ever be an ally.

  201. 201
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Pelamun, I didn’t make any assumptions about where people are from. Remember the original topic was about the bizarre female character posings drawn by Western artists. What I wrote was also a nod to what Ing and AE were, um, having pleasant discourse about. I know Ing is from Canada (as am I) and AE was familiar enough with what was being discussed that the rate of change in the medium in his area was probably the same. I know of the size of the industry in Japan and China and have seen some amazing fan art pieces from Viet Nam, Singapore, Taiwan, etc.. If you want to talk about sexism and superheroes as drawn and intended for the Asian marketplace, feel free. It’s just that it wasn’t relevant to what I was trying to say, at least in regard to busted spines and De gustibus non est disputandum.

  202. 202
    Ing

    I know Ing is from Canada (as am I)

    Are you sure, eh?

  203. 203
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    And then there are graphic novels that aren’t remotely comics, some of which require no text at all. Shaun Tan’s The Arrival springs to mind.

  204. 204
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Ing: I may have seen you wearing your thinking-toque once or twice.

  205. 205
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Re ajbjasus@195: I think there was this assumption made by a few people here that the graphic novels and prose novels were somehow mutually exclusive. Call me crazy (and you wouldn’t be the first one if you did), but some folks actually walk way out there on the wild side and read graphic novels AND written word stories. I know, crazy…eh?

  206. 206
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    McCthulhu,

    this might be the thing about different cultural perception: to me, the argument between AE and others (it wasn’t just Ing) was not restricted to western comics. Why would it be? Would AE reserve his disdain for western comics only, but somehow hold Japanese manga in high regard? It might be possible, but from what he said I highly doubt it.

    I usually don’t read superheroes, from Japan or otherwise, so I don’t have much to offer on the way they’re drawn (unless you count Dragon Ball as a superhero comic).

    I did some more digging, and found out that:

    - seinen manga (“young men manga”), manga for men became popular in the 70s, and
    - josei manga (“women manga”), manga for women in the 80s.
    (the terms for boy and girl manga are shônen/shôjo manga)
    (there are not called “seinenmuke manga (adult manga)” because that’s an euphemism for pornographic manga, thus the “young men manga” has come to encompass manga targeted at middle-aged men as well).

    Also, interestingly, it has been found that seinen/shônen manga have 10-15% female readership, while seijo/josei manga only have 1-3% male readership.

    Of course many manga reflect the sexist cultural ways prevalent in Japan, though there are some manga that have strong female characters. I came across one, while having this debate, it’s called Team Medical Dragon (Iryû in Japanese), and it’s basically a medical drama, with surgeons and surgery and political drama (corrupt medical system, one of the female characters is trying to change things), good character development etc. Looks quite promising.

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