Hey comic fans, why all the hate for sexiness in comics and toons?

Currently there’s a threadful of rolleyes about a new mutant in the Xmen 3 movie whose ability is seductiveness – a siren, I guess. Apparently, a woman whose ability IS sexiness just won’t do. (I personally find the thought of a woman with sexiness ramped up to mutant superpower levels to be intriguing.)

Then there’s the matter of Jim Balent, the mere mention of whose name is enough to elicit groans and rolleyes from some Catwoman fans. His crime: he made Catwoman too sexy. This, in a genre where most female characters appear to be implant-wearing gym rats who wear painted-on latex bodysuits under ordinary circumstances.

I speak not as a comic expert or even a comic fan, but someone who’s read a lot of threads and done some research for various articles I’ve written. I keep coming across these posts and threads where it’s kinda taken for granted by a lot of posters that everyone will think it awful that a female character is just too sexy.

I must say, this is not my personal reaction to such news. Granted, I’m generally porn-friendly. But when I was a hormonally-charged teen, I like sex and wanted sex in more of everything, especially my personal life, where I felt it was in ridiculously short supply. Even after I went to college and the Pussy Express pulled into may station big time, I still liked sex, and I liked it in everything, the more the better.

In fact, my attitude never changed. As an adult, I would say my brain now contains sex hormones, it’s no longer swimming in them. But they’re definitely there.

So I’m having trouble grokking all you crazy kids and your “too sexy” attitude. Care to explain yourselves?

I don’t think it’s that there’s sex. I think it’s that there’s too much sex, in these kinds of movies, and it’s done distastefully–the only purpose is to titillate, to draw in young, horny viewers (no offense ;)).

As usual all answers can come from This is Spinal Tap

Nigel: “Well what’s wrong with being sexy?”
David: “Sexist… sexist.”

Comic book sexy is usually purile teen fantasy stuff you know big boobs eany weenie waist lines and as little clothing as possible … not that there is anything wrong with that… but it is generally goofy and is fodder for those who go on about the silliness of comic books.

kingpengvin, you have a point, but I think it all comes down to the meme that animation, and comic books are for kids only.

I think it’s due to the nerd cells of the brain clashing with the sex cells. When you read a comic, the nerd nerves are activated from the start and ready to take in the comic. When confronted with sexiness the nerd nerves will show resistance and try to avoid it at all costs. That is why parts of the brain have been recorded to shut down when having sex or watching porn. You can bet the nerd section is down as well.

And that’s why skipping forward is many a nerd’s task, including this one, when Riker and Deanna get it on. :stuck_out_tongue:

Bit of a WAG, but I’ve always had the impression that comic books and cartoons with lots of sex appeal were seen to be not as good as ones which don’t use them. Like, a cartoonist looks at a storyboard and says to himself, “This isn’t gonna sell. How can I make it more appealing?” Only instead of trying to make the story better, he just adds lots of sex appeal. He’s making the package prettier. Kind of like how Hollywood uses lots of explosions and famous actors to sell a movie that is otherwise absolute crap.

I’m not saying that lots of sex appeal means that the comic sucks, just that it’s often a sign.

Several reasons.

[li]As Scott said, comics and cartoons are for kids. Despite claims otherwise, most of them haven’t really transcended this. They’ve just added some boobs. Juvenile entertainment that’s PG and wholesome is just good clean fun. Juvenile entertainment that’s full of tits and blood is kinda pathetic. Plus, doing that stuff with childhood icons is just kinda unwholesome.[/li][li]We’d like to get more females reading this stuff. Impossibly proportioned females don’t help.[/li][li]It mostly sucks. There’s very rarely any real eroticism, or synthesis between the sexy stuff and the main plot and characters.[/li][/ol]

I have no objection to mature content in cartoons and comics. A mutant seductress, though, is just dumb. It’s like that whole genre of internet fiction called “mind control” where some male protagonist finds a way to hypnotize women into obeying every sexual command, essentially turning them into robots. I take it as a clear sign of a lack of writing ability and imagination and, yes, maturity.

Justice League Unlimited has skirted the edge quite effectively in my view.

No offense taken. But the people who are objecting don’t seem to be objecting from the viewpoint of Concerned Parents And Other Authority Figures, but from fans who feel their art form is being sullied by all this emphasis on sexiness. If the objection were from bluenoses I would understand All Too Well what was going down. It’s the response from the folks the bluenoses generally are Concerned on Behalf Of that puzzles me.

“Yes, Mom, the comics are way too sexy, please control them!”

Totally unnatural sentiment, if you ask me.

The only problem I had with the new sexy mutant was that it reeked of Poochy.

“Me am director. Me am make sexxxy character. Me am clever director for boys like sexxxy. Sell many tickets me will.” :rolleyes:

I have no real problem with sexy characters in comic books or cartoons. I just have a problem with directors with no respect for the source material.

Same issue here … Parental Authority stuff rather than complaints from fans.

Also, I don’t know that I tend to blame the peurility of comics on the fans. I blames the writers. And I don’t know that big boobs/eenie waistlines/lack of clothing is inately peurile. It’s just male fantasies being male fantasies. Nobody calls women who like men with six-packs, nice abs and a strong jaw peurile, why should they call men peurile for their tastes?

This is one of the possibilities that I have considered – that fans of comics may consider the genre theirs, and they consider them a realm of psychological safety going back to the pre-adolescent pleasure of escaping from the real world. Your “nerd brain” wants the “sense of wonder” stuff and the unfettered-by-rationality fantasy adventure that appears to be the main appeal of comics. As a science fiction reader since childhood, I can relate.

No, that’s not it. I’ll tell you why it is. It’s because a lot of us respect comics and their creators and even (occasionally) the characters, and we’d love for other people to see in our medium what we see in it. We’d like to have comics taken seriously when they deliver complex and mature themes and storytelling that can be counted as fine art and great literature. And having ridiculously-proportioned fantasy females doesn’t help the cause–it further convinces the critics and naysayers that comics are only good as preadolescent power fantasies and “beginners’ strokebooks” for horny teens who can’t legally buy Playboy.

I walk the line where I can totally appreciate the attractive women drawn in comics by “cheesecake” artists like Adam Hughes, Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell, Art Adams, and Kevin Maguire, but some artists take things to extremes, where women have wasp waists and breasts that are larger than their heads. I’m referring to Jim Balent in particular, who has made the leap from mainstream comics with Catwoman to flat-out porn, so I think he was a poor example for the OP to cite to begin with. Greg Horn is another offender, whose sexploitative cover paintings seem to be traced directly from porno magazine photo shoots, whether or not the provocative poses accurately represent what’s happening inside the issue.

In the mid-'90s, Chaos! Comics published Lady Death and several other horror-themed comics featuring scantily-clad succubi, demons, and other nearly-naked babes with unreal boobs and costumes that made Wonder Woman look like the most conservative nuns. Those comics were, frankly, embarrassments to all the good books out there. I can’t see how anyone bought them except teenage boys, and the mix of obvious sex with extreme violence, death, and gore made for an unsettling juxtaposition.

Furthermore, mostly guys read comics, and we’d love to see more women giving them a chance. This won’t happen when a woman in a comic shop will be bombarded by Barbie-like superheroine cover models, and then skeeved out by the culture they created: comic book nerds hanging around the shop talking about how hot Emma Frost looks, and how much they’d love to fuck Supergirl and Mary Marvel at the same time. (Yes, I have overheard this conversation.) Women will be skeeved out, and rightfully so–and they won’t come back. The objectification of fictional fantasy women can definitely create a female-unfriendly environment at comic shops, when we want to try to do the exact opposite.

So that’s why I’m not a big fan of TOO MUCH sexiness in comic books. I’m the furthest thing you’ll ever meet from a prude. I love porn, and I think it has a place and a necessary function in today’s society, especially now that the industry is so much more legitimate than it was 20 and 30 years ago. I still love comic books at age 27, and I have no problem looking at drawings of beautiful women. The superheroes and superheroines are supposed to represent physical ideals of beauty, and something would be wrong if these characters weren’t presented in an attractive way. But there’s a way to be classy and sexy at the same time… I think Bruce Timm’s style in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon series perfectly encapsulates this. His female characters are all cute and sexy, but it’s a show for all ages and there isn’t anything skeevy or pervy about it. I break it down like “good girl” and “bad girl” art, and the “bad girl” art is embarrassing for people who want comics to be taken seriously and introduced to a wider audience, including women and children. The Greg Horns and Jim Balents go too far into the “bad girl” side of things, and they make me wonder why their fans don’t just look at some “real” porn and cut out the middleman.

Sounds like…Bizarro, directing Me Dinner with Ondray.

I get tired of oversexed comics the same way I get tired of oversexed movies. Some flicks I watch knowing full well I’m going to be staring at Angelina Jolie’s latex-clad rear for 90+ minutes, and while I don’t personally salivate over the view, I knew her bum was going to be the star when I planted mine in the theater seat. But I kind of have to wonder what the director was thinking when an otherwise serious movie lingers a bit too long on the female star’s cleavage (or the male star’s package), and there’s no obvious story reason as to why.

Should I expect the same out of my superhero comics? Well, I can’t remember the last time I picked up the Watchmen graphic novel and said, “Wow, the fantastically sexy chick in the spandex only enhances the thought-provoking angst of this scene!” No reason a mutants-among-us rag has to have all the boobies, but they’re rather stuck in the same mold as “action movies” these days – if there aren’t any hot sexxxy leads and explosions, it’s not a real “blockbuster.”

To carry the movie analogy a little further, comics, as a medium partly defined by their art (otherwise you’d just read a book), can benefit from a well-placed mise en scène the same way a film can. All too often I look over my old issues of Uncanny X-Men and see a panel that’s composed primarily of Storm’s breasts and/or Jean Grey’s thighs, with both gals standing in that underwear model cocked-hip pose which nobody ever stands in – unless, of course, they’re an underwear model. The visual subtext in that case always boils down to “Oh, by the way, dear reader, please take a few moments to examine my melon-shaped mammaries!” And that’s too bad for a comic which in other respects has delivered some damn good story on occasion.

(Speaking as a female, I get tired of perfect male abs and butts too. Maybe not as fast as I get sick of the chicas and their bubbies… but it does happen.)

That’s another option I had thought of. I figured some comic fans would think sex was being used as a crutch by writers whose ability to write stuff that holds up on its own merits is kinda limited. Also, that comic book writers might not be the best at writing sexy stuff. This is definitely true of science fiction. When the SF writers who made their breakthroughs in the 40s and 50s started writing sex scenes in the sixties, the results were almost always embarassingly bad, with the exceptions of Phillip Jose Farmer and Randy Andy Offut.

But from what I’ve seen, much of the appeal of comic books is visual, and most comic artists are really, really good at drawing sexy, naked women. Frank Frazetta, for example, was INCREDIBLY good at it. Frank Cho, Jim Balent and Dave Stewart are all really good at drawing sexy naked women and really LIKE to do it, too. So, I don’t know that the analogy holds.

Anyway, in an area where I’m relatively expert, mainstream bondage imagery, a certain amount of sexiness ramps up the power and drama of the storyline. Frex, in most damsel in distress scenes, sexiness helps ramp up the drama. If the damsel is bound in such a way that her breasts, butt, etc. are exposed (though not necessarily naked) and she’s helpless, it ramps up the viewers’ awareness of the possibility of rape or molestation, without doing so explicitly.

Comic book artists are better than any other mainstream medium at doing this. The stuff they were up to in the 50s went unmatched until the 70s in mainstream media, and has never been matched on TV. And this is in the pre-Code general audience comics.

So I disagree that sexiness is necessarily a negative influence in drama, though it certainly can be.

Well, it’s not like there’s a long tradition of mind controllers in the comics coughXaviercough, especially using pheremone control like the before-referenced mutant for X3 coughKillgravecough.


Seriously, I don’t have a problem with it at all, but that’s assuming comic store owners are mindful to segregate the egregious stuff from the kid’s fare and even the normal run of the mill superbooks. Also : Sex sells, sure, but that doesn’t mean the inclusion of sex elements in a particular book were done for marketing purposes.

Then again, I’m just a comic book geek with a dirty mind.

Exactly, you said it better than I could ever had. Fans tune out and are displeased when confronted with any tacked-on “sexiness” because they know it’s unnecesary, it shows a lack of maturity from the author, and it simply doesn’t work. To put it better, in your terms, the “sexiness” aspect of it doesn’t come naturally from the world the comics create and instead seems forcibly attached. It takes you out of that world when not done right (and it usually isn’t).

Several reasons.

[li]As Scott said, comics and cartoons are for kids. Despite claims otherwise, most of them haven’t really transcended this. They’ve just added some boobs. Juvenile entertainment that’s PG and wholesome is just good clean fun. Juvenile entertainment that’s full of tits and blood is kinda pathetic. Plus, doing that stuff with childhood icons is just kinda unwholesome.[/li][/quote]

I see a lot of titles out there that are clearly aimed at post-pubescents rather than “just kids.” Witchblade. Fathom, Lady Death, Dawn, Catwoman, Dirty Pair, Gen13. Then there’s stuff that’s for older teens, like Black Kiss, Witch of Tarot, Fem Force and so forth. It seems to me the market is segmenting itself by age group.

[li]We’d like to get more females reading this stuff. Impossibly proportioned females don’t help.[/li][/quote]

Why? In Japan, a lot of women read comics. (My wife, who is not Japanese, is quite the fan of Saiyuki.) They’re made by women, for women. I suspect if US women ever become comic books fans in bulk, something similar will have to happen. Sailor Moon anyone?

Most stuff mostly sucks, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything ever.

Carmen with mutant powers. Yeah, I’d watch that. Coincidently, Seth McFarlane (or was it Seth Green) is a force behind a new comic which features a character named the Seductress with just that power. The book is a humorous look at a dorm full of college freshmen who gain superpowers based on what they were doing at the time (one character is called “The Stoner”). From the sketches I’ve seen the Seductress isn’t your typical comic book girl, but rather a little on the chunky side.

Some of the people in this thread have hit on my feelings. Sexy women are great with a good story backing them. I’m a Power Girl fan, not because of her head sized boobs, but because she’s a bad-ass (telling Captain Marvel to STFU in a recent JSA, threatening to snap Kyle Rayner’s neck when she thought he was oggling her). I’m a Supergirl fan, not because she’s a stunning blonde with eyes you could get lost in, but because the reunion story with Supes was awesome and because her powers rival (occassional top :eek: ) the Man of Steel’s. The same goes for Aspen, another Michael Turner beauty, and Jade (anyone else read the Ghosts of X-mas Past issue of Green Lantern [#111?]? One of the best comics I have ever read.). Of course the boobs, eyes, etc. help, but I’d read and love the comics without them. Heck, the artist drawing the Outsiders, the only book one can find Jade in now, sucks, but the stories are awesome.