Yesterday the enduring appeal of the human female rump as an object of sexual desire was reaffirmed in two separate incidents.

Rapper Nicki Minaj released a new video called “Anaconda” (NSFW) which has already been viewed some 22 million times. The video features the amply bootied Minaj shaking it in a tiny thong, tiny denim shorts, a small bikini and tight tights. It is the latter she wears as she crawls on her hands and knees to and then lap dances a visibly shaken Drake. Some have called Minaj’s butt “fake” — I’m not up to speed on hip-hop lore to know if she had implants or not, but whatever, it’s quite a thing, and the video definitely puts Iggy Azalea in her place. And as mentioned, it’s been viewed 22 million times in one day so it’s a hit!

Meanwhile Marvel released a Greg Land regular cover for the new Spider-Woman #1 and a variant by 68-year-old Italian erotica expert Milo Manara.

Did Manara and Minaj somehow share drafts of their work? The resemblance is SCARY!

Manara also copied the pose from the cover of one of his best known comics, Click! in which a woman is controlled by a remote control box and turned into a sexually voracious horndog whenever someone turns the dial. This was not the basis of the 2006 Adam Sandler film, but imagine if it had been.

Jill Pantozzi at The Mary Sue took point on the outrage on this, proving that despite the recent changes, TMS is no man’s site:

I honestly don’t know what anyone involved was thinking. The series is being written by Dennis Hopeless with art by Greg Land, and although it appearsMarvel is attempting to draw in women with a slew of new female-led titles, this does not instill confidence. Nor does it tell women this is a comic they should consider spending money on. In fact, what the variant cover actually says is “Run away. Run far, far away and don’t ever come back.”

That may sound like an exaggeration but it’s really not. This is what we talk about when we ask comic publishers not to actively offend their paying (or potentially paying) customers. It’s important to note, Manara is known for erotic art, and there’s absolutely a place for that. But was he the best choice to promote this particular comic? I would say unequivocally no.

It appears to The Beat that after a period in which the growing female audience of comics has been wooed by Marvel, this new book is meant to appeal to the old “headlights comics” crowd. The interiors by Greg Land and variant by known erotic master Manara confirm that. Kinda simple.

Marvel’s decision to aim Spider-Woman at the male crowd is a little odd, but maybe this is the character Sony is contemplating for their female-led superhero movie and Spider-Woman needs to be made a little more man-friendly? I dunno.

I’ll be brutally honest, I’m more offended by that Greg Land cover than the Manara one. The Land one, as I tweeted a few weeks ago, is really badly drawn and makes it look like Jessica Drew is a double amputee with one shrunken leg. I’m sure he copied it from some photo that is just foreshortened but it still looks awful. It’s just DULL. You can’t say that of the Manara cover, at least.

I’d hope for better for Spider-Woman, but one franchise at a time, I guess.

As for “Anaconda” (The title refers to Sir Mix-a-lot’s line from “Baby Got Back” — “My anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns, hun”), I admit it’s a bit disconcerting to see someone as normally in control as Minaj crawling on all fours and objectifying and fetishing a female body part, but you can’t deny the power of the ass, and Minaj seems to be wielding her own super-power. Perhaps Spider-Woman is just doing the same thing?

Somehow it doesn’t come off quite the same.

UPDATE: Obvs. I’m far from the only person who made this connection, and most have deemed the Nicki-led video as empowering and the Manara image as the male gaze over again. Amanda Marcotte at Slate:

But really what it comes down to is who is in control of the butts in question. With Spider-Woman, we’re looking at yet another example of a man imposing his ideas about the female body and female sexuality onto a character, creating an image that feels like she’s reduced to the ass in question. But “Anaconda” is a video with a woman in charge of her own image. She’s shaking her thing because she wants to and she’s looking directly into the camera and rapping, too, making it impossible to reduce her to a single body part.

Also, Cathy Johnson directed me to this essay on the empowering message of “Anaconda” by The Rogue Feminist:

In contrast, Nicki Minaj is reclaiming a song (Baby Got Back) that was made by a Black male rapper who celebrated (but also objectified) Black female bodies. Throughout her song, Nicki raps like a man would, talking about her sexual conquests with men and the size of their dicks, almost as a way of doing to men what they have done to women (objectifying their dicks as Sir Mix A Lot objectified Black women’s asses and many other men objectify women’s vaginas). She also brags about her sexual prowess and stays in control and aggressive in the video (she goes as far as cutting a banana representing a dick and slapping Drake’s hand away—the video critiques the male gaze). The target of mockery and disparagement in Nicki’s video is men and the male gaze, and the video works to reclaim agency from it.


  1. Not to degenerate the topic any further, and add insult to injury, but if you flip the picture upside down, Spiderwoman’s rump+bum resembles a cock + balls…

  2. It looks like Minaj is completely in control of her sexuality and what she puts out there. She does as much as SHE wants to, and no more. It seems perfectly fine for a woman to want to display their sexuality.

    The issue becomes when someone decides what sexuality is and isn’t acceptable; for example, someone have a tattoo on their lower back is looked down upon because…reasons.

  3. As for the Manara drawing, he’s a good artist but the face is hanky and the suit is painted on. If he fixed those, I’d imagine defenders would have a much easier time with it. It’s not terrible perspective for being a T&A piece. Of T&A artists, he’s one of the better ones.

    Land’s is just Landariffic. What are you gonna do? He’s under contract and I imagine they need to give him a certain amount of work to fulfill that contract.

  4. Manara draws porno and cheesecake stuff. I’m not sure why the usual prudes would get shocked by this cover given Manara’s history combined with how Europeans like him don’t fear the human body to the extent some Americans do.

  5. Got to laugh at the way people find an empowering message where they want one. The artist in a pop video has about as much control as a puppet on its strings.

  6. There is nothing offensive in Manara’s cover, and he does erotic art not cheesecake, these last thing doesn’t exist on this side of the ocean, comics just don’t sexualize women, these are, for example, italian lead comic female characters. It’s a variant cover intended for collector of Manara’s art so I’d say it’s quite normal he does it in his style. I really don’t think Manara can be put on the same level of the american comic artists that exploit teenager sexual arousment depicting female super heroes as pornstar in exciting poses, he always made erotic art for mature readers and who knows his work knows that is not demented like a Sandler’s movie but meant to be surreal and funny; after all we are talking of someone that worked and works with people like Federico Fellini and Aleandro Jodorowsky, artists and directors some level above the average comic writer (and above average too one could say).

    I don’t think it’s a misstep for Marvel neither, it’s not like they have Manara as regular cover artist for the book, it’s just one of many variants he did for them and I think it’s asinine to criticize everything at the same level, a book that systematically exploits woman sexuality and an alternative cover for collectors are not the same thing (but this is a common problem with americans and their attitude to social issues in general). While I am at it I also want to strike a blow for Land. I am not a fan or an expert of his work and I know in the past he used to trace from pornographic imagery and so on, but I’ve read the current Mighty Avengers’ run and I think it’s consciounsly trying to avoiding that behavior and style so I would give him a break by his past sins?

  7. Heidi, given that women were 44% of the audience for Guardians of the Galaxy and given that women go to the movies on the whole more than men, it would be a questionable business move if the Manara cover was the result of Marvel deciding it needed to make Spider-Woman more “man friendly” (as well an an insult to a lot of males who are fine with women in PG-13 movies not being sexed up to the max) but then again they did decide to do this cover. I have no problem with Manara as an artist, as many people have said it has a time and a place. My issue as I stated the day these images first appeared is the why a company that is spending PR and marketing energy putting the new female Thor on the View and declaring in their press releases they are all in on the female reader would than burn PR capital with this. (Especially after they their decision to publish Manara’s “Women of X-Men”,which was one bikini top strap slip from soft porn, during their Marvel’s “year of the woman” didn’t go over so well).
    You really have to wonder if one person within Marvel said – “you know we’re supposed to be all WOMEN AND COMICS just maybe we get another cover from Manara?”

    But given that Greg Land whose female comic characters have channeled women in porn is the main artist for the book and whose cover image seems to be lacking limbs in its attempt to have the women pose both “strong and sexy”, probably not.

  8. Compare and contrast with his X-woMen story.

    Surprisingly, his variant cover for Nightcrawler would have been a good composition for Spider-Woman.

    Wow… he’s done quite a few variant covers for Marvel!

    As for Land… well… this is a lazy design.
    There’s almost no background.
    The effect of the cover seems like interior art was taken and then Photoshopped. (Compare to Land’s painted covers on Marville and She-Hulk.) The logo is badly placed.
    Since this ties in with the Spidey-verse epic currently running, wouldn’t it have been more interesting to crowd the cover with Spider-Woman surrounded by the variant (HA!) “spider women”? (Silk, Spider-Gwen (?!), Araña…) THAT would grab reader’s interest! (Especially if branded to coincide with the Spider-Man story.)

    I’d like to see a page of embarrassing Spider-Man poses, both on covers and interiors.
    There could even be a special page featuring McFarlane’s extremes.

  9. There is nothing offensive in Manara’s cover, and he does erotic art not cheesecake, these last thing doesn’t exist on this side of the ocean, comics just don’t sexualize women

    Uh…you might want to rethink this statement a little.

  10. from the above article “In contrast, Nicki Minaj is reclaiming a song (Baby Got Back) that was made by a Black male rapper who celebrated (but also objectified) Black female bodies. ”

    I thought it was an answer to the people who were saying that women with big butts are gross, and that the ‘barbie doll type’ of woman we see on magazine covers isn’t the ideal. He even mentions in the lyrics
    “I’m tired of magazines
    Sayin’ flat butts are the thing”

    Even the beginning of the song is two FEMALES commenting on how gross they think big butts are. I took the song as a celebration of a woman who isn’t so petite or phony “I ain’t talkin’ bout Playboy
    ‘Cause silicone parts are made for toys
    I want ’em real thick and juicy”……

    “So I’m lookin’ at rock videos
    Knock-kneeded bimbos walkin’ like hoes
    You can have them bimbos
    I’ll keep my women like Flo Jo”

    “So your girlfriend rolls a Honda, playin’ workout tapes by Fonda
    But Fonda ain’t got a motor in the back of her Honda
    My anaconda don’t want none
    Unless you’ve got buns, hun”

    He is making fun of the playboy/Jane Fonda Fitness cookie-cutter women that he saw at the time. Where, back then were the models on covers with big beautiful butts?

    You would think that ‘The Rogue Feminist’ would CELEBRATE the fact that a man is loving a large woman, instead of perpetuating the myth that only skinny, rock-video women are what everyone should be. Of course, they only see it as ‘objectifying’

    So, if a guy does it, its ‘objectifying’, but when Minaj does it, its ‘reclaiming’ something. The part you quoted states “The target of mockery and disparagement in Nicki’s video is men and the male gaze, and the video works to reclaim agency ”

    So, can’t the same be true for Sir Mix-A-Lot, whose target of mockery and disparagement is men and women who feel that only skinny and petite is the ideal…?

  11. @ Johnny Memeonic

    I don’t have to rethink the sentence but you should familiarize with european comics to understand what I mean.

    In America you have these super hero comic books, obviously developed (and rated) for children and teenagers where artists whose style you call “cheese cake” make what you call “fan service”, that is depicting women characters in a hyper sexualized way to titillate the above said readers.

    About Manara I can tell you that: he makes erotic art, clearly intended and rated for mature readers, he doesn’t use ill-concealed sexual imagery to sell other genres of comics to teenagers in heath. He also worked with world renowned genius like Federico Fellini, Aleandro Jodorowsky and Hugo Pratt, credits I doubt american “cheesecake” artists can boast honestly. His art becomes “cheesecake” only in the context of american super hero comics due to the phenomenon described above.

    Regarding european comics, I challenge you to find in italian or french comics the equivalent of what happens in american super hero comics. We have erotic comics, we have pornographic comics but we miss comics intended for teenagers where the female characters dress or pose like in american super hero comics. We miss that for more mature comics too honestly, that here are mainly realistic or underground graphic novels. In all the italian and french comics that I know (quite a lot) you can be sure that if a woman is in bikini than the scene is set at the beach :)

  12. Regarding european comics, I challenge you to find in italian or french comics the equivalent of what happens in american super hero comics.

    Go look through any Metal Hurlant/Heavy Metal cover gallery. I win.

  13. It’s clear that is Manara a misogynist that doesn’t respect women, and this is how you empower women:

    “Yeah, he love this fat ass
    Yeah, this one is for my bitches with a fat ass in the fucking club
    I said, where my fat ass big bitches in the club?
    Fuck the skinny bitches, fuck the skinny bitches in the club
    I wanna see all the big fat ass bitches in the motherfucking club
    Fuck you if you skinny bitches WHAT?

    I got a big fat ass
    Come on”

    Complete lyrics:

  14. @ Johnny Memeonic

    I guess you don’t get my point. Metal Hurlant is a magazine for mature readers and it is not mainstream (it also has its roots in seventies counter culture, a period where showing nudity and sex, be man or women, was more an act against censorship and not exploitation of women, but this is another issues). To make an example maybe more familiar with your knowledge, criticizing Metal Hurlant for its contents it’s like criticizing Robert Crumb for his Dicknose’s comics and similar underground work. MH does not contain super hero narratives for teenagers that uses hypersexualized women portraits to retain its young easily aroused readers.

    These are the most popular mainstream italian characters that young readers read:

    Compare cover and contents with the ICV2 top ten and make an idea for yourself.

    The same you can do for french comics.

  15. I actually like it. It is more than a sexual reference. To me it is like a call to show your beauty and sensuality while being self confident and powerful. Who can f… her at the border of the skyscraper? :) Ah, I am a woman, peaceful woman who does not fill the need to visit a psychologist.

  16. @ Johnny Memeonic

    My comment got lost in moderation. I am not in the mood of writing it again, let’s just say I was talking (as you can see in my previous comment) about all ages mainstream comics not an underground magazine for mature readers…

  17. “The Land one, as I tweeted a few weeks ago, is really badly drawn and makes it look like Jessica Drew is a double amputee with one shrunken leg. I’m sure he copied it from some photo that is just foreshortened but it still looks awful.”

    Looks acceptable to me (Spiderwoman only. The whole cover composition is not good). Face reminds me of John Byrne art.
    Colors are good too, unlike the common “shiny” coloring we see in modern comics.

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