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For a few months now, Comics Alliance has hosted an article by Laura Hudson, http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine/#ixzz21lIdypBQ - in which she claimed to have discovered that mainstream superheroines are used as wank-fantasy fetish rubber dolls.

It does seem to have slowed Ms.Hudson's awakening to this great and unexpected discovery, that she is a full-blown subscriber to the Sexual Revolution orthodoxy, the kind of person who treats The Vagina Dialogues as a serious piece of feminism. But even so, I have to ask: Where has she been the last forty years, minimum? The stylistic dependency of mainstream superheroes on porn has been OBVIOUS at least since the mid-seventies. The late and much-missed Dave Cockrum was a witty and talented artist, but that was not why DC comics hired him in the mid-seventies: it was because of his unfortunate ability to weave a nearly infinite amount of variations on the combination of skimpy bikini, cape (optional) and slutty thigh boots.
The whole female half of the Legion of Superheroes was stripped nearly naked, leaving most of the boys (some did get similarly tasteless makeovers) in their old sixties uniforms; the visual effect was blatantly to turn the Legion - originally meant as the superhero version of a children's neighbourhood club,
with its clubhouse and secret decoder ring - into a visual image of a brothel with its customers. Steve Bissette said in an interview that Joe Kubert, his teacher, once showed him a piece of Legion artwork from this period in which the artist had amused himself, God forgive him, by filling panel after panel with people copulating or performing sex acts, expecting the inker to correct it; Kubert, the oldest of old pros and not a man to be shocked by little things, was disgusted. Marvel comics followed suit, contributing its own charmless variation in Killraven, a hero supposedly based on one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time, and designed to look like a homosexual stage show performer.
His uniform - a skintight, deeply slashed V-shape hinging on the crotch, and again those thigh boots - would have made the Village People blush, and it was designed, I believe, by Neal Adams! Mind you, that proved a mixed blessing; on the one hand, if the gay element had not been so obvious, the very great but very queenly artist Craig Russell would not have staid on the series so long; on the other hand, had he not, readers would not have suffered through the hideously pretentious writing of the wretched Don McGregor.

This was what was happening when we were teens. Since then things have done nothing but grow worse (look at the X-men franchise) and now a peculiarly contemptible and pathetically stupid brand of gay propaganda, which probably embarrasses intelligent homosexuals as much as it disgust me, has removed the last notion of heroism and common values from Marvel and DC's franchises. Anyone who wants to remember what heroes were like must go to the movies, or perhaps to the better TV animated shows.

But when I said that the stylistic dependency of superhero comics on porn had become obvious by about 1976, what I mean is that it goes back a long way further. And the name of the further is Wonder Woman. Let's not have any nostalgic nonsense; although writers and artists have tried for half a century to give her some sort of dignity and decency (most absurdly when they tried to make her into Modesty Blaise, about 197 1-2 or so), the character was laid out on a framework of bondage-submission and lesbian porn. In Charles Moulton's original stories, half-naked women went through an infinite amount of permutations on the catfight and bondage theme; and Moulton was a psychologist and knew what he was doing. Knew exactly what he was doing.

(He was also an appalling libertine who found two women willing to be his harem brides and abused his psychological competence convincing them to do so - something he may have imitated from Carl G.Jung.) And Moulton had been commissioned to do so by National Comics (later DC), who wanted something that channelled the contemporary idea of the pin-up, to sell to soldiers. This may not be quite as obvious as the contemporary treatment of Starfire, but it was porn, it was deliberately libidinous, it was objectifying women in the worst possible way, and it was there at the very start of the age of superheroes.

I think it is possible to make good superhero stories without sleaze. In fact, I think it improves their quality, and does not hurt sales. But quality is something that editors and publishers have no control over; pornographic content is something they do. So, when they are looking for reliable sources of income, sooner or later they turn to porn.
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WHO is the utter and total sweetheart who sent me one of the best Silver Angel sketches anyone has ever made?
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May you have the 2012 you deserve, [livejournal.com profile] ani_bester. In a lot of cases, this would be a curse; with you, it's a blessing.
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...since I last did a proper pencil and ink sketch, more or less complete.
Thor vs.The Silver Angel

I've also enjoyed drawing Thor fighting The Silver Angel for decades... and I never came up with the least half-decent idea why they should ever be fighting each other.
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After a brief disagreement with a friend about whether the movie Eowyn was pretty or not, I decided to sketch my idea of her:

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...these are the only pictures of Debbie I have. I drew them from memory a couple of years after she dropped out from my sight, when I had decided to write a superhero story featuring her.
Debbie Wallace
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So I'll start it with a very quick Alexandra Quick sketch. It is from Alexandra Quick and the Lands Below, chapter 23. For some reason, I had been itching to sketch this scene, and it was fun, even though anyone will be able to tell that really am no good at hair and hands.
Alexandra Quick
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It occurred to me that I haven't published any new sketches in years. There is of course a practical reason for it - I don't have a working scanner, let alone one that takes A3 sheets - but it means that a number of my newer friends may not even know that I am a failed artist. So, behind the cut, I have placed a number of drawings I produced from a few years ago, and which I published on this blog at various times - not to compare myself to any of my real artist friends, but to show that I do have a small claim in this area.
Read more... )
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Two pictures of the mortal Silver Angel

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The London Liberators - the superhero group of the mortal Silver Angel; and their leader, Lord Camelot - Guess whose husband?
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I offered [personal profile] pandoraculpa a drawing because she was feeling down, and she asked for "someone who is having more fun than I am". I guess that a picture of Harry finding out that flying is something that he does naturally might work. It's not one of my best, and I made a real mess of his torso, but I hope it at least looks cheerful enough.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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This is my first attempt at a subject that has held my visual imagination ever since I read it in PoA. There are a number of problems, especially in the matter of dress, but I was limited by the paper size. I think I will try this subject again, but I think the basic idea is good.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
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This is the central character of a superhero universe I created. She also features in two of my Harry Potter fics: http://www.thedarkarts.org/authors/fpbarbieri/SA.html and http://www.thedarkarts.org/authors/fpbarbieri/HGN.html. In the future I may feature sketches of HP characters and situations.

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