Some of you may have seen Escher Girls, which is a tumblr collecting examples of the ridiculous poses female characters are put into in comics. There seem to be certain recurring themes. Here are a few examples.
- Boob socks - for some reason female characters are often drawn with clothing that appears to vacuum seal their boobs. Ignoring the fact that material does not act that way. So no basis in reality, it's entirely there to objectify the women.
- Boob flounder - where the boobs appear to have shifted around the torso, because the artist just couldn't bear to draw the women without visible boobs. Defying anatomy, again there only to objectify.
- Boobs and butt pose - where both the boobs and butt are drawn visible. Ignoring that pesky idea of a spine. Again anatomy fail, done for only one reason.
- Centaur women - where the spine is bent into a terrifying curve. Yet another anatomy fail, guess why?
- Collar boobs - Boobs which appear to originate from the collar bone. What's this anatomy you speak of?
- Dislocated hips - When the legs seem to be attached to anything except where hips would be.
- Organless torsos - Because they have to be thinner and thinner and thinner. Either that or the artist thinks the organs are stored in the breasts?
- Porn face - it seems no matter what the female character is thinking/feeling whether it's pain, anger or joy, her default face is this one.
- Ineffective fighting styles - when the artist has sacrificed making the character look like a good fighter/strong/dangerous in order to show off their, you guessed it, boobs and/or butt.
And of course clothing - notice the men's armour in that picture.
As a reaction to all of these, someone set up the Hawkeye Initiative. With the idea of putting a male character into these kind of poses, as a lot of people have become kind of desensitised to female characters in those positions.
I've been thinking about this recently, having decided to buy my teenaged godson comics for his recent birthday and Christmas. DH and I both really enjoy comics and it'd be great to be able to share our enthusiasm with him, and it struck me as the kind of thing he'd probably enjoy but isn't, so far as I know, already into. One of the things we gave him was a graphic biography that (from my quick look through) seems to depict people in general perfectly reasonably, but I really wanted to give him a proper superhero comic too, just because they're so damn enjoyable. I found it pretty hard finding something that would be immediately appealing to a new reader of the genre, with great illustrations and not too niche or too dark; I came to comics in my early twenties and got a lot out of Watchmen, the darker Batmans and so on, and although I wouldn't exactly have been disturbed by reading them five years or so earlier, I'm glad I didn't because the violence would have impinged on my enjoyment of them. So I ended up jettisoning any ideas of trying to find something in which the depictions of women weren't too appalling, because I was just going to end up not finding anything at all. If he turns out to like the genre I'm going to have to give myself more browsing time next year; I'd love to find a good superhero comic where the women are proper people.
There's a webcomic I read, which isn't in the same style as Batman style comics at all, but which occasionally has an amazingly refreshing view of women. One of my favourites is this one (after introducing two lesbian characters):
It's all based around punk music, so there's all sorts of commentary on social matters, which do sometimes touch on gender issues. He's a brilliant and insightful writer, I wish he did more work on NN2S.