Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass has a post on the fruits of that WB/Target licensing deal that was announced last year, with emphasis on the Wonder Woman aspects of it. Some of it is typical Target fare you’d find in the $4 aisle—a Wonder Woman water bottle filled with candy because health:
But then she finds some Valentines which are among the most horrible licensed products I’ve ever seen—basically someone has taken the mainstream male superheroes from the typical WB style guide and mixed them with the simpering Lisa Frank/Braatz style.
Sue reminds us that this is how the Justice League was once presented, Frank McLaughlin all the way.
These “mixed style guide” items are just appalling…I’m stunned that someone working at a MAJOR RETAILER/MAJOR STUDIO thought this was a good approach. Either using the typical Jim Lee influenced style OR a more cartoony style would make sense but mixing the two??? BY GENDER????? Gross. And laughable. No child is going to be fooled by this.
PLUS WB YOU HAVE A GREAT CARTOONY STYLE FOR THE ENTIRE JUSTICE LEAGUE JUST SITTING AROUND.
That reminds me of yesterday’s kerfuffle over this proposed cover for The Powerpuff Girls. ICv2 has the best write-up — essentially the Cartoon Nework told ICW to use this cover by artist Mimi Yoon on the comic as a variant, but retailer Dennis Barger suggested that putting a more sexualized version of the characters on a comic aimed at kids was….not that great. The Cartoon Network pulled the cover and responded to ICv2:
ICv2 contacted Cartoon Network Enterprises, the licensing and merchandising arm of Cartoon Network, concerning the cover and received the following reply indicating the variant cover, which was intended for comic shop clientele rather than the general public, will not be released: “In conjunction with our licensing partners, Cartoon Network Enterprises from time to time works with the artist community to reimagine and reinterpret our brands using their talents and unique points of view. This particular variant cover for The Powerpuff Girls #6 from IDW was done in the artist’s signature style and was intended to be released as a collectible item for comic book fans. We recognize some fans’ reaction to the cover and, as such, will no longer be releasing it at comic book shops.”
There in a nutshell: I have no problem with showing the Powerpuff Girls in this Mark Ryden-Moé style. It’s quite popular, and as sexualizing young girls go, this example is pretty tame. There’s a whole genre of art devoted to showing women as fetishized children, and you know, whatever. Looks nice on the wall.
Taking these two examples together though, you have to wonder what is going on at WB’s licensing department. At the very least, it shows you why Disney is the #1 girls brand worldwide.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.