Bat Burka. You mentioned, as others have, the notion of athletic beauty. I see the issue of distortion and costumes as related, again for reasons that I explain. Costumes can be read in different ways. This fueled my adolescent enjoyment of the Gene Colan-drawn Black Widow from her Daredevil-co-starring days enormously.
Arguably the sexiest super-hero comic ever. I think you can have it both ways; this is a good example of how the same thing can be interpreted in different ways at the same time. This article was enjoyable and informative, and yet, you continue to miss a very essential point which I know TCJ would prefer to keep ignoring as much as their opposites, the mainstream super-hero fan community would like to forget- these were all created for young audiences several decades ago. You need to churn out articles and psychological theories regarding the true messages hidden in the Hulk being barely dressed.
You might as well write a detailed piece on why Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster is wearing a blazer. Was he, on a subtle level, promoting monster chic? Context counts. Re Sgt. Fury, I recall some Marvel satire comic story art by one of the Severins?
She swam with the baby whales, danced in storm funnels, and lived in complete magical freedom. We kissed. I put my arm around her shoulders and she looked down at my hand for a long moment before covering my fingers with hers. All we know is that these sculptures exist. Now, Harry must uncover a traitor within the Council, keep a less-than-agreeable Morgan under wraps, and avoid coming under scrutiny himself. He runs a gift store on the edges of Starling Bay, a small coastal town where nothing much happens.
The absurdity of a lot of these costumes, male and female, becomes so much more apparent when you see an attempt to put them on a physical person, whether big budget movie actor, a model, or con cosplayer. The preposterous gender distinctions in most superhero comics could simply be attributed to poor artists who lack the skill to differentiate between male and female bodies in more subtle and realistic ways. Or it may be that if they are capable of drawing realistic male and female bodies, artists are troubled to find that the two genders have more in common than not, and retreat into exaggeration to reassure themselves of their own hetero- sexuality.
After all, the genre is all about clear, unambiguous distinctions, and the imperative to differentiate male, female; good, evil; red, green; etc. Everything that can be polarized sooner or later will be. Speaking of distinctions, I am not convinced that there is a clear point at which the hyper-macho male body becomes grotesque and therefore unerotic, i. I think so. One may fantasize about being Peter North, i.
Whether one identifies with a pornstar or superhero i. As far as costumes are concerned, for the most part my view is that they are simply color codes again, the imperative for clear distinctions ; seeing them as clothing when they are not explicitly armor or some sort is frankly difficult for me. The repressed Clark Kent-Bruce Banner symbol of ineffectual flaccidity, of course, long ago resurfaced as R.
Crumb, Harvey Pekar as they appeared in their stories , and Dan Pussey, along with similar perennial losers of alternative comics. I guess what is most disturbing about the visual component of your essay is that superhero sexuality these days is more hideous than ever, especially the obnoxious depiction of Maxim-inspired, silicone-implanted women, now embraced by the once fairly conservative Marvel and DC. Of course this also speaks to the massive desensitization of the average male comics reader today, however many of them are still left.
This is simply incorrect. Only the slightest and least conspicuous bulges are welcome in mainstream superhero comics, carefully avoided in spite of the tight costumes. Any suggestion that there is something under the spandex which might reveal itself such as when a photorealist such as Alex Ross draws a figure as his model appears is met with shrieks of horror from phallophobic hetero male readers.
While there is certainly some element of homoeroticism in male superhero costumes, it is carefully circumscribed by the comfort zone of straight boys who prefer to imagine that every man except him has been neutered.
Thanks — I think you are right about the need to remeber the context in which these characters were created. I also think that the way they look now reflects a current context that is different from the past. Perhaps you are sure that your position is the correct one, I dont know; I think there are lots of different ways to think about these costumes and what they mean. Your analysis and commentary seem reasonable to me. Although I think there is more to it than this, your explanation about how readers see themselves seems dead on.
This is why an argument that tries to explain t. I agree, the bulges are conspicuously absent in mainstream superheroes, still to this day. I remember the shock I experienced as a youngster c. Grey Morrow is one of the few, who hardly ever worked in the mainstream, who consistently drew the male bulge. I own a page of original Marie Severin art inked by Wally Wood from the Claws of the Cat 1, and there are several instances on just that one page of the fanny-cracks and cleavage being reduced or eliminated with whiteout.
Can you imagine staffers in New York whose job it is to make such corrections? Today, I imagine there are probably Photoshop specialists whose job it is to amp up these attributes on the female figures, while policing the male figures.
Let me be clear, Alex has an enviable mastery of watercolor technique and his popularity is well deserved. My idea of a comic book superhero is basically an outline drawing of a nude figure, covered in process cmyk colors on newsprint , maybe with a few boot and glove lines.
Greater visual realism, however much talent and skill it demonstrates, beyond a certain point only multiplies the absurdity of such imagery. Thanks for the kind words, Ken. Of course you are talking about comics, wich depends on representative art. Richard Corben comments on some of the broader aspects of the topic.
RC: I feel the images in my work do not specifically suggest what you infer. For instance, a drawing might show a hugely muscled male nude. This in itself is not deviant; however, the viewer projects some of his own feelings onto the drawing. This is in fact the intent.
igontosca.tk I think much of your interview reveals more of you than me. BB: Look at the way you exaggerate the male figure. Oh, yeah, the Comic Code. Well certainly that was something that comics publishers in those days had to abide by. But it was self-imposed and voluntary, after all, and ultimately an expression of their desire to maintain as wide a public for its product as possible. In , Marvel and DC were still operating under a presumption that a mainstream audience was still a possibility if in fact already a dwindling reality; in , all bets are off, since there is only a market of a few thousand die-hard comic book fans anyway.
Why they continue to show any restraint whatsoever i. Again, let me just remark how hideous are all the recent examples of the genre in the visual essay here. Things have gotten even worse in all respects in recent years in the coarseness of the imagery, in the loss of drawing ability amongst mainstream artists, in the depiction of gender, etc. Just repulsive.
And yeah you right, that is some ugly-ass shit. Keep in mind that, historically, creators in this industry are as different intellectually, politically and creatively as any other random clump of artists in other creative specialties.
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Inked by Syd Shores; the details that stick to memory! All of which neatly ties on to her photography book, The Last of the Nuba.
Of course this also speaks to the massive desensitization of the average male comics reader today, however many of them are still left… —————————. A tip of the hat from a long-time fan…. Frankly, it just looked like another chance for the collective TCJ audience to throw stones at current mainstream superhero comics, which, given the high dross quotient, is an awful easy and cheap exercise.
Starting things off with that Liefeld image certainly suggested such might be the case. Perhaps Parille touches on this, but there is these days a quite impressive array of widely varying but still acceptable artistic approaches.
The more realistic stylists Brian Hitch, J. Of course, none of those artists emphasize or exaggerate the musculature and physiques of their characters, and also realistically okay, semi-realistically present the typical superhero body suit. The question might be, if this is the case, how is any of this evident in the work?
The essay, it seems to me, is about a dominant trend in superhero comics. Of course there are exceptions, most of which have come from major independents. But one cannot seriously argue about the overwhelming direction publishers and collectors have driven or attenuated the genre in print in recent decades. What continues to fascinate is the involvement of iconic childhood namby-pamby trademarks like Batman and Superman in these travesties, and the pretense that the narratives somehow depict good vs.
No doubt, the artistic constraints — impossibilities — placed on corporate-owned properties breeds a good deal of the futility evident in the genre. It would be a great deal more healthy, in my view, if superhero comics were openly mysogynistic, homoerotic, pornographic — just let it all hang out. They may still look like comic books, but for the most part they are merely transcriptions of ultra-violent, completely amoral video games on paper. Either that or they are projecting, or over-analyzing the shit out of something.
And if some gays find tight-costumed superheroes appealing, so what?