Home Comics Art Fact check: can you really fight in The Brokeback Pose?

Fact check: can you really fight in The Brokeback Pose?


Okay so like we don’t have enough to do, we just started a tumblr for The Brokeback Pose. Because…well because it’s so awesome.

To get us warmed up, here’s a post from a martial artist/contortionist, who explains that having your top and bottom face different directions is not that easy…and not very realistic in a fight. (Here’s a follow-up post with more.)

Taking a look at these, they just don’t seem to be the best fighting poses possible. What do you think. Of course, torsion adds power behind punches, but adding this “foot up driving forward” pose would seem to be pushing the momentum into the knee.

Here’s an interesting example from this month’s RED LANTERN that shows a BATTLE OF THE BROKEBACKS! Including the ultra-rare MALE FORWARD BROKEBACK! Who do you think will win?

Rafael? Any other martial artists/fighters out there?

As for the tumblr, I’m not really going to have time to update it a lot, but send me examples at comicsbeat @ gmail.com. Or if you want to help post, shoot me a line.

UPDATE: After standing up I attempted to throw a punch with my lead knee cocked, but…well it didn’t work and I lost my shoe doing so. Figuring I am not a pro at this, I found the following picture of a man who know how to punch, Muhammed Ali.

As you can see, when throwing a punch the lead/opposite foot is planted and bent to give that hip torque Rafael was talking about.

So, to give more power to the punch you plant the front foot, instead of cocking it in the air in order to show that little dark triangle between your butt cheeks.

Ali’s pose is not as dynamic, though.

  1. Twisting at the hip is part of adding power to the strike. It’s actually more than that but that’s the main goal. This keeps one from throwing “arm punches”. The weight transitions as the body torques, squared up positions are for pushing and tackling forward. Even Greco Roman wrestlers pull off moves that require a massive torque at the hip. The power of a KO is a combination of several things happening at the exact point of impact: Positioning of both combatants, tracking awareness, timing and willingness, etc.
    Showy moves DO often work, just ask Anderson Silva, Lyota Machida, Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard and Jon Jones as well as hundreds of examples of insane KOs and submissions happening in real time with highly skilled fighters. That’s part of being very skilled and tremendous athletes. Softer styles or more dance-like combat systems hide the applications within a smooth line of movement because a student picks up smooth movement better than erratic broken gestures. As they advance in learning the dance can be fragmented but the student will always have that root form of action to reset themselves if they get lost.

    As the article stated – Superheroes should fight even better, geez- they freaking fly, shoot blasts from their eyes and some are on surfboards.
    I think most of the problem people subconsciously pick up on is bad core anatomy, where a twist coupled with several other positions are not humanly possible because one would detach the spine, but again that depends on the character’s powers correct? Postures and body language are all part of character so it all depends on who they are.

    If artists just drew squared up perfectly stabilized figures then you’ll get some boring comics. Bodies that are very fit and that move smoothly are going to be attractive. It’s all about context.
    Remember comics isn’t just photo-realism or even action film choreography, it is a part of those, but also references the traditions of classic animation rules, with a touch of the sideshow and surreal. Also, comics also convey several moments of time in a single image, and I can see why an artist who is so ingrained in that subconsciously incorporates it in a character’s posture. As I stated earlier, a collegiate wrestler may twist at the hip but may also push their chest forward during the quarter beat of the movement then turn their head – all this can be placed on one figure. Would not be my choice but artists may not not be looking to mimic reality but a shorthand of faceted bio-mechanical movement. Just look at Tony Salmons, or Frank Robbins – not everyone’s cup of tea but the forms work in the context of the world they inhabit.

  2. The female character on that Red Lanterns cover actually looks okay to my eyes. Maybe it’s because you can’t really see what her feet are anchored on, but that looks like a realistic position after throwing a hard punch across your body.

    That pic in the middle is hopeless, though…

  3. To answer the Red Lantern question:
    Bleez (the female) because she doesn’t have any ribs getting in the way when she torques her waist.

    Here’s a sub-set of the Brokeback pose: costuming. What percentage of “rear view” is shown? Bleez and Wonder Woman have quite a bit on display above.

    Here’s another rare male BB pose, by Jack Sparling. Actually, it’s a two-fer.

    Is it the first? How many examples exist before Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man?

  4. Rafael: Thanks for the informative answer — of course dynamic, exaggerated anatomy is one of the most valuable tools in the action cartoonists arsenal. As is a shapely, rounded ass, apparently.

  5. “Also, comics also convey several moments of time in a single image”–this is a really important point, one I only began to understand in the past year. Could never figure out why my fights were so static-looking, then I realized it was about encapsulation rather than capture. Or something.

    But god, I hate the cliche of the brokeback pose.

  6. I read superhero comics regularly from ’86 to ’93. In my experience it is the rare artist working in the genre that successfully delivers “realistic” action sequences. From what I understand they are going for excitement which sells issues as opposed to “realism” or believability.

    While the ‘brokeback’ pose seems to be a pet peeve of writers at The Beat for its [arguable] sexualization of women I submit that superhero comics are full of ridiculous poses for the male characters too. This is endemic to the genre. Adolescent male fantasies are the heart and soul of superhero comics and adolescent males want unbelievably tough looking guys and incredibly sexy looking women. Until this changes prepare for more ‘brokeback’ and its like.

  7. “While the ‘brokeback’ pose seems to be a pet peeve of writers at The Beat for its [arguable] sexualization of women…”

    It’s totally arguable. And one of the constant digs the Beat likes to throw at mainstream comics because it gets hits to the site. Instead of say featuring a comic or creator that NEEDS attention. Snark for snark sake.

    At a San Diego con, I saw a girl walk by that looked like she stepped out of a Michael Turner comic. Long torso, long legs, long neck. I made the decision there that no matter what people say, somewhere in this world there is someone that, yes, actually DOES look like a comic book character.

  8. >>>Instead of say featuring a comic or creator that NEEDS attention. Snark for snark sake.

    You mean like the posts I had today on Kyle Baker and Kevin McCarthy, Jason Lutes, Sean Philips and Ed Brubaker and Becky Dreistadt?

    Got it.

    I can’t help it is you never notice my positive posts, Mikael. It is indeed a sad fact that negative ass shots get way more attention than BERLIN. That is just the way of the world.

    Luckily I will keep posting on both.

    I remember reading a story once about how they were trying to get a “heroic” post for Secretariat but he just wanted to laze around. So they walked a mare in heat by the stalls and he definitely perked right up.

    People, macaques and most mammals become excited at the sight of a red rump. It is just nature’s way.

    To me, it is more rewarding to point out what is nature’s way and what is nurture’s way and how they intersect and interact and how by studying them we can all become better humans.

    It is also more rewarding posting about Berlin.

    BTW, I would definitely get more attention and/or respect if I stuck to posting about one thing. But for now it is more fun to be a polymath.

  9. Update: On the pic with Ali, he actually pushes off the back foot and the body weight is sent through his structure, landing the punch as his front foot plants to catch his balance. He’s already landed here so the weight is on his front foot. Think of a baseball pitcher, he’s in a classic crane stance with weight perched on his backfoot and gets all his power behind the ball, then lets go of the ball like a whip, his raised leg plants to stop him from toppling over. There’s a punch called a Superman punch in MMA where guys lift their lead foot and leap right at their opponent thus the namesake.

  10. Rafael: Obviously, I am not an expert in throwing a punch. However, googling “Superman Punch” did yield this awesome still that may be the closest we will ever see to a real life recreation of the above fighting poses:

    Also I noticed the ladies above aren’t actually punching — they are clawing and waving. So maybe it is a good stance.

    AND….I still haven’t found my shoe. For real.

  11. The Ali pose is not VISUALLY dynamic. I’ll bet the guy on the receiving end of that punch will agree that it feels pretty dynamic.

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