Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I was so excited

I'd like to apologise about the amount I seem to be writing about the Buffy Season 8 comic book. Yes, I'm an obsessed fangirl, but it's mostly becaue comics are a new medium to me. I find the sexism in comics new and kind of shocking, so I will be writing more about it than anyone wants to know.

So this is the cover of the third Buffy comic book:

That's supposed to be Willow - who has grown a foot, had breast implants and stole Buffy's pants. She has also apparently spent the years since we saw her last searching out the single most impractical garment ever made to wear as a top.

Bah - I was so excited about season 8, but I'm not sure I can take it if every female character is drawn for men.


  1. If you want to check out some feminist friendly comics you could take a look at 'Progress' by New Zealand artist Jared Lane (it may be hard to find outside Chch, he self publishes and puts out 1 issue a year) one of the main characters is a feminist (though 6 issues in shes yet to talk to another woman about a subject other than a man) shes also drawn looking more like a real woman than woman in most comics books.

  2. Anonymous9:27 pm

    Why do you assume that "men" (that uniform group defined by their genitalia) are the targets? Have you looked at the cover illustrations on "romantic" (cough) novels recently? I thought Buffy was mostly aimed at teenage girls, and hence the cover illustration is probably targeting them. Not in a healthy way, by any means.

    Coz as one of the alleged target market, that picture makes me snigger way more than it makes me want to open the cover.

  3. Anonymous9:28 pm

    That picture of Willow is hardly the worst you'll find in mainstream comic books.
    At least her boobs aren't, ya know, floating.
    And yes, there's some cheesecakery imaging here, but again not the worst, there are far worse female comic book images out there.
    I can only assume that you're new to comic book fandom and that the new 8th Season in comics is the first, or one of the first comic books you'll ever read.
    There are numerous feminist comic book blogs out there, if you'd really like to raise awareness of this check out Girl- Wonder.org and the excellent feminist comic linkfarm When Fangirls Attack!

    All the best and keep fighting!

  4. As Melody pointed out, that's pretty tame to be considered sexualized by comics fandom or the comics industry. The standards are pretty low.

    Most likely they (including Joss Whedon in they) have no idea this is a cheesecake image. I strongly suggest you tell them:

    Editor, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    Dark Horse Comics
    10956 SE Main Street
    Milwaukie, OR 97222

  5. Byron - I'm picky about that mo' movie measure thing - and not that into comics in general, just Joss in particular.

    Anonymous - the reason I assume that men are the targets is because of the boob job. Images of fantasy women for men (whether we're talking touched up men's magazines or comic books) are all about the big boobs and small waist. They're about creating sexual objects.*

    Images of fantasy women for women are different. Whether it's the cover of romantic novels, or airbrushed pictures of women in magazines aimed at women. In any medium which is trying to sell women stuff through advertising (ie magazines, even TV - although they can't rely on fantasy women) - you don't see breasts emphasised like that, because the idea is to get ever smaller.

    I think both sets of images of women are harmful. It's just one set makes it clear that I am not the intended audience, and I resent that when it comes to Buffy.

    Ragnell my problem with that image isn't that it's sexualised. It's that they've taken an actual woman with an actual body shape, morphed her to an image that is clearly coded as an object for men.

    melody - I'm really struggling to figure out what the point of telling me this wasn't the worst was? It read as if you're dismissing my concerns. If you have another purpose please spell it out. I don't care if it's not the worst. I choose not to read material that has any larger 'no girls allowed' signs than that cover.

    *I'm not saying all men like or respond to such images, just that this is the purpose. I think such images are more complicated than a simple sexual fantasy, and are about creating and maintaining male power over women.

  6. Maia -- and my point wasn't to make you feel bad, it was to try and get another letter in the editor's office because I'm certain they're sick of seeing my name.

  7. Anonymous8:34 pm

    Maia: You aren't alone, and don't let anyone make you feel like you're wrong for pointing out instances of subtle sexism in comics.

    I had a similar take on a different comic-related issue here.

    I really do hope you'll take Ragnell's suggestion and write a letter to the editor, especially given what you said over at her place about Joss' bragging about the lack of cheesecake in the comic.

  8. Anonymous2:16 am

    Willow's frickin' hott.

  9. Anonymous7:55 am

    The cover artist, Jo Chen (a woman, I feel I should mention), is somewhat known for altering characters' actual physical charicteristics for attractiveness. Specifically, she is the cover artist for Marvel's excellent long-running series, Runaways, which features, among others, an overweight major character (Gertrude "Gert" Yorkes) and a twelve year-old character (Molly Hayes). Although none of the covers were sexualized in the way this cover is, the covers in which Gert appeared frequently showed her as much thinner then she appeared in the interior of the book (where she was usually drawn by her co-creator, Adrian Alphona, and also by Takeshi Miyazawa and Mike Norton). While Molly is often drawn appearning significantly older - more in her teens then preteens - on the covers.

    For some reason, I always seem to be the only person with a problem with this concerning the Runaways covers - I'm glad this isn't the case here.

  10. Anonymous10:12 am

    Why, I do believe she's wearing that shirt backwards.

    That an artist--any artist, no matter what her or his track record--would take a real person, a person the target audience knows and loves, and stretch, inflate, re-curve, alter, and twist into the stereotypical (completely overdone) "here's my T, there's my A" pose, is hard to understand. It seems simply to be habit. This is just how you draw a woman, any woman. This is the sort of pose she stands in. This is the minimum boobage. This is the way the butt must crack.

    Artists shouldn't have to "remember" to draw women of other dimensions and in other positions. And they and their editors and art directors shouldn't be given a free ride to be lazily whip out the same tired generic images.

    Don't even the fantasising teenage boys ever get tired of it, sometimes?