Monday, September 25, 2006

Dear Comic Book Guys - I Think We Have A Problem

I've been distracted of late, replying in my personal journal about issues of race and the fact that fans of color will not have white fans for breakfast, if they write fanfiction and get something wrong with a character of color. Maybe comic book fans of color do eat them some white meat, all raw and ripped to shreds. But fanfiction fans of color, or as my roommate has named us 'The FoCing Cabal' aren't bestial.

Moving from this back to a column idea that some folks have been pimping at me, I innocently start looking up various comic book artists, and googled phrases like 'realistic body shape in comic books'. Because I realized that I know a lot of DC artists, but not a whole lot of Marvel artists and I wanted to do something with an even playing feel.

Then I came across this in Comicbook Resources Forums

The Xenos

03-25-2005, 08:48 PM
For me the best looking and most realistic women[sic] in comics are by Greg Land. Yet Cho also draws some fine women and I love his art overall too. His dinosaurs, monkeys, and other creatures are also wonderfully illustrated. His women do often look at bit too much alike at times though. Part of this may be an obession with Linda Carter.

The best looking and most realistic women? Really? Based on what? The women in 'ButtSluts IV' ? The women in 'Bukkake & Bondage'?

Th recent WIZARD book about how to draw characters has had scans make it onto the internet. And it has drawn (puns are so cool) all sorts of furor. Dedicated Sidekick has a post up about how Poser6 thought he was crazy when he tried to mimic the poses generally done for women.

My first impulse in all this is to tell the artists to go rent some 70's porn. There'll be big women, little women, tall, short, big breasts, smaller breasts, small stomachs, a few flat stomachs, the really sexy little rounding that comes from a woman who's given birth; a cornucopia of shapes. If there's one thing the porn of the 70's had was silicone free, pubic hair wearing, flesh actually jiggling women.

How have we reached a place in society when Barbie doll looks are considered realistic by men? I know I've been paying attention to female self-esteem and teenage girl self-esteem. I know I've seen the various articles and reports about men who bodybuild too much because they have body dysmorphia. I know this unrealistic pinnacle on beauty on both sides is a false impression, put up on a pedestal by advertisers who want to convince the public that they're imperfect and flawed and this product will make it all better; eat this, wear that, smell like this, cover that, whiten this, darken that, exercise, jazzercise, weight train, rubber band train, highlight, lowlight, shave, wax, peel, microderm abrasions, anti-wrinkle, brush your teeth in an elevator, inject here, tan, don't tan, spray on tan, just one little tuck, cut, fold, clamp...

But didn't we used to be able to see the difference between plastic impossibility and real life good health? Didn't we? Has it all really been a steady slide down since the 80's? Has the illusion become the norm?; The only thing reflected in art and the mirrors we look at and the eyes we look out of when we view and judge other people?

Is the epitome of beauty, long straight hair, a thin roman nose, high cheekbones and light eyes with long dark eyelashes and a sleepy sultry look like there's always time for bedplay? Is this what the word woman conjures up now? Is the epitome of handsome, 2% body fat, tight corded muscle, and boyishness?

Has this all become standard because only one side is fighting against it? Women? And the men see it, and are unhappy and maybe angry that the wife or girlfriend or daughter they think is beautiful isn't according to popular culture but they don't say anything because.... Because of what? Why don't they say anything? Why do women only hear it when they start complaining, but not in a chant happening side by side when they go to confront some marketing campaign or beauty product?

And on a random but slightly related note - Is the quest for a woman with bigger breasts compensation for how small and thin they've become? Is the male hindbrain eagerly looking for a woman who looks like she could breast feed his seed, despite the fact that every other part of her body says 'I'm malnourished and will possibly die soon' ? Is it connected to the need to have something relatively soft against them when thin women have pelvic bones that can be felt grinding down through flesh in a painful manner?

In the next five years are women going to have to be going 'But baby, you don't need pec implants' ? / 'Your delts are fine the way they are, you don't need silicon in there!'

Realistic. It's like the word doesn't mean what it's supposed to mean anymore. And if it doesn't, then super-realistic, super-physique, super-heroic will just get more and more ridiculous, won't it? Skinnier and more scantily clad females. Bulging and more distorted and disfigured looking males.

That's a sad future. I don't want that future.

Although, it does give a clue as to why we see women's nipples but never the shape, size and length of any super-hero's package. Just what would a super-hero package look like? And how would you determine who was bigger? Does the Hulk beat Captain America ? Thor beats Spiderman? Or is Peter Parker hiding some unique aspect of radioactive spider bites? If Wolverine and Cyclops really pulled it out to measure - who would win? And if that was really a factor in comics, as things get more and more outrageous, how soon would it be before compared to all the muscles any hero had, they all ended up seeming - small?

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