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Let’s just start with the obvious. Guillem March is not a bad artist. While most of the work he produces is not to my liking, on a technical level is he’s quite competent and can product some lovely pages. But let’s also start with another obvious fact, Catwoman #0 displays a lack of key artistic skill - an understanding of basic skill of human anatomy.
It’s a fact that women’s bodies don’t work that way. The cover has already has art mocking it. But the cover’s lack of recognition of the basics of anatomy is not the problem.
And this isn’t just a problem of the cover being highly sexualized and exploitative, which it is and which March’s work is known for (although he seems to have other thoughts on that issue - mildy NSFW).
And it’s not just the problem of how men vs. women are portrayed in comics. This despite the concept of “boobs don’t work that way” or, the brokeback, or as in this case, “asses don’t work that way” is a familiar meme in comics to the point that more than a few websites have popped up to illustrate them. And despite that the discussion of the inequality of how male vs. female characters of portrayed in comics has happened many, many times.
And it can’t be the problem of “but comics are for men and men need the sexy to buy female led comics” argument. If so then how come Batgirl, Batwoman and Wonder Woman, without having wonky asses and unzipped tops, have been the best selling female led comics from DC for the last 9 months? And why do so many men also complain about covers like this?
And it can’t be the problem of “how do you show a sexy character without being sexy?” Catwoman is sexy. But she also has been drawn as sexy and with two buttocks of the same size for many decades. Catwoman being a sexy character isn’t the problem. So what is the problem?
The real problem is this - at a time when Catwoman is about to appear in what is sure to be one of the biggest grossing movies in history making the potential for cross over to a Catwoman comic is the highest in 20 years, this is the image chosen to appear on an issue that is ideally designed for new readers.
So I ask the question - how does that cover help the cause of maximizing DC and Warner Brothers IP? How does that cover say, “Hey did you like Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises - come see her in comics!”
Let me illustrate this for you. Here is Anne Hathaway’s ass in The Dark Knight Rises:
Note her two buttocks are of equal size and are not as large as a half a late summer honeydew melon. In other words, she’s appearing in a traditional “sexy” pose and, in my opinion, looking quite fetching AND you don’t feel the need to tear your eyes out.
Compare and contrast the images.
I suspect a lot of women are going to see The Dark Knight Rises. I suspect that a lot of people who have never read a comic book may see The Dark Knight Rises. While the conversion of people from “watch a superhero movie” to “reading superhero comics” hasn’t proved to be huge, in a market that struggles with growth do you really want to do things that work against it?
So while there is a problem that this cover shows off a distorted body of a Tier one female character. And there is a problem in that it is another extreme example of how women are portrayed in comics. And there is a problem with wonky art that doesn’t even approach true anatomy, but these have all been discussed before. And since we still see covers like this it’s not clear to me that those problems are considered problems in the halls of corporate.
So I’m going to focus on a problem that does seem to get attention in corporate circles - money.
This cover risks anyone not already reading Catwoman looking at that contorted body and a giant half-ass and say, “Yeah, I’ll pass.” It risks people who after seeing the movie may have looked at picking up the a zero issue as an starting point as a new reader looking at the cover and saying, “WTF?”. It blows an opportunity for more money.
See I’ve learned from my years in business money talks.
This cover risks leaving money on the table in a market where margins are everything.
That’s not good business. And that’s a problem.