Comic-Land: Let’s talk about butts

Photo from Vox.com

Colin Slark | Team Members

Artist Milos Manara has created a very special alternate cover for the first issue of Marvel’s new Spider-Woman comic. The titular heroine is featured on all fours, straddling a New York rooftop. It is a very striking piece of art, mostly because Spider-Woman’s body seems to be somewhat altered from average human anatomy. Her limbs distend and her spine, shoulder blades, and other bones are visible through her skin-tight costume. The crown jewel is Spider-Woman’s butt. Her posterior is featured prominently, as the rest of her body seems to be a plinth on which the butt is displayed. Her body seems to be approximately one-quarter butt.

The character becomes irrelevant. It doesn’t matter that Spider-Woman is supposed to be any kind of superhero in this book, because this cover is telling the reader that the real star is her giant ass. For comparison, in the same week, other, male protagonists were shown on their covers doing the following: Thor, channeling lightning with his magical hammer; Magneto, fending off mutant animals with his powers of magnetism; and Spider-Man from the year 2099 is in a pitched battle with evil robots. On the covers for the male characters’ books, their power and heroism is clear.

Photo from Vox.com
Photo from Vox.com

 

The website comicsbeat.com published an article last February saying that women make up around 46% of comic book fans in the United States. Nearly half of comic book fans are women, but the market seems intent on aiming their books at immature young men. Men are displayed as being powerful and heroic, while women seem to have to be posed in such a way that both their breasts and their butt have to be showing while making a sexy pose. If women make up nearly half of their readership, comic book companies should spend less time pandering to part of their audience, and should instead make their books accessible for all readers.

If you want to read books that are friendly towards women, the solution is to avoid the two biggest comic book publishers, DC and Marvel. Though both companies (especially Marvel) have been hiring more women as of late and making more female friendly books, covers like this one and others, likemany covers of Teen Titans, where scantily clad girls are in sexy poses for the entertainment of adults show that they are not committed to making their products accessible across audiences. If you want to read comics where people (acting like people) are treated like real individuals, read creator-owned comics. Virtually all the major North American comic companies feature product lines where the creators own the work they produce. This means that these creators can write whatever they want without making products that meet some sort of marketing criteria. It’s not a universal constant, but many of these books have characters acting like people, and not like stereotypes.