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Over on the Escher Girls blog, which does an amazingly consistent and good job of slicing and dicing comic book art featuring women, a submission was posted which blew my already cynical mind.
It was about a Batwoman piece that artist submitted for a portfolio review. The artist freely admits to not being the best artist in the world but wanted to get some feedback from portfolio reviews during SDCC.
I’ve stood and watched some portfolio reviews at conventions, and I’ve seen all levels of artists’ stuff - from penciled images that makes your jaw drop with “you’ve got to be kidding me” to work that you can see real potential in.
You can check out more of her work on her DA page, but let’s focus on the comments she received in regard to this sketch of Batwoman.
I’d say that is fine portrait of Batwoman and, bonus, that no backs were broken in the production of it. Gail Simone said, “I like that Batwoman piece very much. I don’t know what the rest of the portfolio is like, but if you can tell a story as well, I would work with you any time.”
And now on to the feedback. You can read the whole thing over at Escher Girls but essentially the general feedback from the publishers was that it “wasn’t industry standard”. One company was more specific. Brace yourself: (Bolding mine.)
“Her breasts are much too small and do not have the lift that superhero women should have. Her jawline is fat and her neck much too long. The style of her hair is clunky and does not flow in a sense that a super human would. Her hips, waist and thighs are too big and she honestly looks fat. No one is going to want to read a comic with a fat female protagonist. I honestly recommend looking at issues of Sport’s Illustrated to get the right anatomy. Those women are the peak of human perfection, and that is what we want in this industry.”
You know I could post a few recent covers that show off female characters and their lack of anatomy (and backs and normal size asses) but I don’t even think I have too. And the fat comment? Look at the waist — does that look anyone who could be reasonably considered overweight?
And remember we don’t know which comic company this is. Could be a big two, could be an indie.
That said I am not the least bit surprised. Not when I was told by an artist who works at a big two company that an another artist was not given a gig on a female led book because a senior executive didn’t think the artist “drew women ‘sexy enough’”
And there are other tales I’ve been told. But I’ll save them for another day.
The debate about how women are drawn in comics seems to never end. And each time it comes up I am heartened by the folks who get it and then brought down to earth by the amazingly cluelessness of others - both men and women. Kelly’s column on the topic over on CBR practically broke the internet but if you haven’t read it you should. But prepare yourself for some of the comments.
And look this post isn’t about having artists who aren’t ready for the big time getting a pass. This isn’t about female artists and comics. This isn’t about disagreeing that there is a hyper-realism in comics. Of course there is, I know absolutely no one is real life who flies or has the ability to stop a missile with their bare hands. This is about how there is a fundamental disconnect by some people in comics when it comes to the depiction of women. Not by all. But even one like the person who commented on the Batwoman piece is too much.