I don’t know who Richard Famous is — a gay Brtish man who makes little-watched YouTube videos — but what he has to say about “the brokeback pose” and how hyper-sexualization depowers female comics characters is pretty dead on.



  1. Honestly: Some people do buy these comics because of the hypersexualized depiction of females. Even if they do not want their girlfriends or real women to look like this.

    Weird or not, I do not see the problem in that as long as certain comics are clearly marketed like that.

    So, if Top Cow does hypersexualization in titles such as SHI or VELOCITY, I don’t see the problem in that.

    Just stating “that would be weird” is a rather bizarre way to cut off a certain explanation. Especially on the internet.

  2. The reason they all look so hyper-sexualized is because the artists didn’t learn to draw from life, but learned to draw from looking at posed pics in (porn and comic) magazines.

    It’s like making a copy of a copy of a copy… everything gets distorted.

  3. Bill has part of it as far as the visual grammar many comic artists acquire from learning from other artists. Part of this comes as well with the roots of modern comic art in mid 20th century illustration, and specifically in the norms set up by Pin up art at the time. A lot of the funny poses he talks about came from there. And he’s right, it makes no sense for whitchblade, about to kick some ass, to take a stance like a Film Fun cover girl. But when the style was established girls didn’t run around in armour that often. Funny thing is back then, if an illustrator were commissioned to draw say, Joan Of Arc, they would not have her push her tits out. So while we can site the copy of a copy rule for where the look comes from, in the end we only have the lack of thought on the part of today’s creators to blame for it.

  4. It’s never occurred to me any man would actually want a woman to look like any of the examples he cites above. I’ve always assumed those poses were just poses drawn by 25-35 year old men guessing blindly at what sexually excites 13 year old boys. And as porn became more and more prolific/accepted, the artists got more and more outrageous.

  5. There’s a flaw in his logic.

    Superheroes aren’t anarchists, they’re fascists, imposing their morality — brutally — on others. On that, I think he’s wrong about the whole ‘nerds are liberals’ concept. Indy comic types, certainly, that goes with the whole indie art aesthetic from comics, music, film, etc. But many, many mainstream fans I’ve come across lean pretty hard to the right, many being libertarian hard-liners. Which suits the John Galt in tights, unrealistic and unattainable heroic paragon that hero comics often portray.

    That said, taking a trip into the über-fascist lunatic mind is a lot of fun. It’s escapist wank material on every level. Adding some moral grounding to many mainstream comics universes would end up with a sidekick stopping to say to the hero, “Dude, you just beat a man senseless for selling a nickel bag. What the fuck are you on?” and he’d end up in therapy for PTSD. (PLUG: Kevin Colden’s I Rule the Night goes into this, and it’s great – available trough Comixology now!).

  6. And the flip side is when the characters are too realistic fans complain that there’s no life in them. Obviously, this style of art is a design choice. I like Manga, too… but I’m not about to complain that the eyes are too big on the characters or compare them to *real life*.

    But that’s just me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion — especially in something as subjective as *art*. I’m for diversity, which includes the 90s hyper-styled characters, too.

  7. From my own observation, I’d agree with Cheese. Maybe 30 years ago most mainstream comics fans were liberal, but as far as the current superhero fans go, I’d guess most of them fall within the Libertarian-to-Conservative end of the spectrum. The concept of the superhero has always occupied a weird, shifting space between anarchy and totalitarianism, depending on how you define the idea of “adolescent power fantasy”.

    On the other hand, I still believe most comics *creators* are liberal. And manga fans!

  8. “But many, many mainstream fans I’ve come across lean pretty hard to the right, many being libertarian hard-liners. Which suits the John Galt in tights, unrealistic and unattainable heroic paragon that hero comics often portray.”

    Yeah, if you’re into a fantasy like superheroes, fantasies like Libertarianism isn’t much of a leap.

  9. funny, i’ve seen the opposite, many/most fans i’ve come across over the years lean left of center. i’ve met the occasional hard right/ libertarian fan and always have to wonder why the hell they read books that come off as left of center. here’s the thing, the current comic book fans are the same fans from thirty years ago, just older. the number of new fans hasn’t grown as much over the years (hence the current problems the companies are having with dwindling readership). maybe some of you guys live in places where the folks tend to lean more to the right. maybe i live in a place where more folks lean to the left. as far as the characters being “john galt in tights”, if you’re talking about image comic book characters over the years, yep, without a doubt. marvel and dc, more of a mixed bag. as for the way women are drawn in comics, over the years there has always been complaints and complements about the way women have been portrayed in comic book art and art in general (remember vargas). truth be told that ain’t gonna stop. guys like women drawn in sexy poses. some will be bad and some will be good. considering both men and women are drawn completely unrealistically body-wise, in completely outlandish outfits (even the beat once posted a pic of namor in nothing but a seashell covering his minnow), that this stuff is so far removed from real life that all this boils down to is fantasy for fantasy’s sake. nothing more or less.

  10. I’ve commented on here before and am – undeniably – a libertarian. I also have been collecting for 25 years and am that older fan who just kept collecting.

    I always relish the hypocrisy of consistently leftist creators and fans who keep saying things like (“comic book readers have to be liberal, right, because only smart nerds read comics, and smart people are all liberals, right?”). Then those same leftist creators write and draw hyper-sexualized Catwoman or Starfire (or if you’re a Marvel creator, just ignore female characters). And then these enlightened intellectual leftist fans — buy it!

    Of course, having little grasp of supply and demand or basic economics (ok – some know the basics but choose to ignore them in hopes of instituting their socialist utopias), they don’t understand why creators keep creating — what they’re buying??? Come on, people. This ain’t hard.

    That being said, I think there are better portrayals of women out there. I love, love, love the take DC has on Batwoman. I loved Strangers in Paradise. Oh, and I Kill Giants was incredible. I am sure there are others.

    So, go buy the stuff you like. And, when creators put out this schlock with Catwoman dry humping everything that moves and Starfire wearing nothing but a belt — DON’T BUY IT.

  11. Someone once told me that I’m really missing out on the comic, Power Girl. But I just can’t do it. I just can’t get beyond that boob window. He said it’s really well written, and how do I know it’s not any good if I don’t read it? How can I judge something I haven’t tried? I told him it’s kind of like a fried twinkie. Someone could tell me a fried twinkie is the greatest thing they’ve ever tasted, but I already know that I don’t want to eat fried twinkies. Its as simple as that: Fried Twinkie=boob window.

    He said I’m being a prude. I told him that it’s not about prudishness, it’s about tackiness. This stuff looks garish and tacky. I like superhero comics–at least in theory, there are rarely any contemporary superhero comics that I’m willing to buy–but I frankly find most of them embarrassing. I couldn’t recommend them to anyone because they look like soft core porn. Someone could tell me that Gen 13 or Witchblade or Power Girl are the greatest comics in the world, that I’m missing out on the great writing, but I can’t get beyond the fact that they look ridiculous.

    I don’t see how any of this is defensible. The guy who said “it’s a matter of taste”–and that’s essentially true–but I’m not sure what that taste amounts to) doesn’t seem to acknowledge the fact that those weird submissive poses are sexist in the most basic way. He mentioned Japanese manga, but there are more than a few manga that are similarly embarrassing. Not because of the big eyes. I couldn’t care less about the big eyes. It’s the big gravity defying boobs and the submissive poses. And since these images often dominate the market place (particularly the direct market) it only makes comics a harder sell to the uninitiated.

    It comes down to this: if you want your comics hobby to be your own little fetishy niche, by all means, make these women look like Huge breasted cripples. But if you want the general populace to care about these books, to appreciate them like you do, there’s got to be an effort to make these women look reasonably human, and less supplicating. This isn’t impossible.

  12. Cheese said:

    “Superheroes aren’t anarchists, they’re fascists, imposing their morality — brutally — on others.”

    You know who I think are fascists?

    The guys who do autobio comics.

    They’re brutally imposing their concept of reality on everyone who writes fiction, whether it’s traumatized batdudes, dope-fiend hippies or mice harmlessly throwing bricks at crazy cats.

    Reality is the Real Fascism.

  13. Richard makes some good points and states them in a way that illustrates what he means. I just see those silly poses as desperate attempts to get teenage guys to buy the books. Pandering to a low denominator. But I also see a parallel in how movies are promoted, with poster poses that are similar.

  14. These poses and body types are more extreme and fetishy than the images in just about every other form of media. Even more so than video games.

    Most of the men who buy superhero comics are in their 20s or older. These images are for them.

  15. A) for the most part there are no ugly people in comics
    B) no one wants to read about ugly people especially women
    C) most comic fans need to get laid, those that can’t well you have your reason for the look the pose and what ever else you want.
    Plus this guy is gay what does he know about how men want to see women portrayed he doesn’t think of women that way