©2010 Jody Culkin

Jody Culkin is an artist, photographer, and teacher. Thanks to being married to PW comics maven Calvin Reid, she’s also a veteran of many comics and book shows. Camera in hand, she has chronicled the activities and faces of the past seven or eight years of comic cons — her work can often be found in PW Comics Week.

But she also has a hobby.

©2010 Jody Culkin

Photographing the dolls of the cons.

And when viewed through her lens, a whole new picture emerges. Culkin writes:

I take a lot of pictures at Comic Conventions, and I have become obsessed with these doll/action figures that are everywhere at most mainstream cons. I find them strangely disturbing. This is a fairly random assortment of pictures from the last few years at San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic-Con, I have many more.

Yes….”strangely” disturbing.

©2010 Jody Culkin

Many more in the link. We say book offer….NOW.


  1. A few are, but most (even some of the over sexualized ones) strike me as be quite beautiful works of art. Some make silly statements, while others are quite graceful in their execution. If this was a low brow board, many would be applauding how far some of them go. Either way you slice it, I wouldn’t put it to far up on my list of things that upset me. The closure of Wikileaks it is not.

  2. As someone involved with the sale of one of the above figures (the blue-haired demon babe w/ the pitchfork), I don’t view it the same way as the other figures in the link. :/ I agree it’s a sexy female body in a come-hither pose, but the believability of Joseph M. Linsner’s (& also sculptor Clayburn Moore) anatomy puts it in a different realm – to me – than the physically impossible manga babes it’s shown here with. Also, Joe’s female characters are written in positions of power: a goddess, a vampire, a demoness. It’s hard for me to see them as just objects when they are so clearly in control of their stories & destinies.

    I’m an artist who has always loved figurative art, so Vargas & his ilk have always had a powerful sway. There are some of the con dolls on display that I agree are..icky. I am definitely going to share this link, as I’m curious to both my artist friends’ responses to it, but also feminist friends & woman pals who don’t work in comics. Time for a fresh look.

  3. I’ve always appreciated the art, effort and stylized work that goes into Japanese figures. They have some of the most daring poses. Granted this might turn off a few people at conventions, but that’s the thing with diversity. Either chalk it up as the nature of the beast or draw some lines in the sand and section off age-appropriate areas (which is such a slippery slope it’s not even funny).

  4. Not interested in these dolls but I don’t see any issues with them that we shouldn’t also see with the musclebound ubersculpted male dolls — unrealistic ideation: it’s all of a piece, folks. You can’t just disown this stuff as if it’s somehow qualitatively different. I also disagree with the double standard against sexism. As in, you can do whatever the F you want with a male doll and nobody’s going to write blog posts as if you’re keeping women down with one hand while painting figurines with the other.

  5. I think these dolls make a very important statement about the very real problem of cameltoe in our society. Instead of getting on our high horses and being skeeved out, we should be applauding the creators for being so brave.

  6. Honestly, stuff like this is why I’m pretty close to done with comics. The subculture has changed drastically in just the past decade or so… American comic nerds are almost otaku now.

    Maybe I should stick to indie shows like TCAF and Stumptown.

  7. I don’t know. Sex sells seems to apply here. Don’t hate the player hate the game might also apply. The only way to change this stuff is to totally change the whole worlds views on sex.

    I’m not really offended or bothered by any of the various things that have come out over the years. I just don’t buy it. I often wonder how so much can come out though and still continue to sell. I’d assume that people run out of room eventually, or even start to have a different direction of interest. But those that like any of these, I don’t fault them for buying.