While searching for pencils/inks for the Gotham City Sirens covers, I discovered that one of the first results for Guillem March is an article titled In Defense of Guillem March. Being a huge fan of his art, I read it, and now it's time to defend sexy comic girls.
According to the article, the "too sexy" Gotham City Sirens covers made some readers feel angry/sad/objectified. For example, here is part of a comment by a girl with a clear opinion,
Let’s not even get into the illogic of going braless with those size breasts and a tailored shirt; it’s just another indication that those pictures were drawn by a man, for other men, and no woman was involved in the process or considered as an audience member.
In case you missed it, I am a female. Why does this matter? Because some females dismiss male opinions defending sexy comic girls, the assumption being that because males can't relate, their opinions are less valuable. Luckily, this female CAN relate and still wants to defend sexy comic girls.
Gotham City Sirens covers are sexy in a fantastic way.
What is there to rage about in these covers? They aren't touching themselves seductively or striking sexual poses. Yes, they are sexy, but their body language isn't suggesting "come hither I want you". In fact, touching them looks like it would lead to a terrible ass-kicking. Read the comic and you'll find their personalities support this idea. If you take a look at all of the covers, you'll notice...
1. Catwoman always looks tough. Her poses may showcase her flexibility, but never in a submissive or sexual way. Half of the time she looks ready to claw your face off.
2. Harley is always being her ditzy self. Her bouncy and loyal nature is well portrayed in many covers, so good on March. Sure, you could argue her devotion to the Joker is unhealthy, but it's an important part of her character. Not every female character can or should be a strong female. Neither should every male. Flawed characters are what make stories good.
3. For a character who is almost always portrayed in a sexual way, Poison Ivy isn't particularly seductive in most of the covers. This is surprising because it would be completely in character for her to be.
They say, "It isn't just poses! Their clothes are ridiculous!"
Recall the comment from the beginning about the impossible physics of costumes and women. No, boobs that large would not be held up by that tiny costume, but neither will Superman's tights never bunch up. You think hero capes always flow elegantly in the wind? No, Robin is constantly eating cape. Few costumes, male or female, are realistically viable. This is why our Halloween costumes suck.
It is true that female costumes are more revealing. A primarily male audience demands this, but this doesn't mean the female audience dislikes it. If you suddenly became a superhero, would you cover yourself head to toe? Even if you did, would that outfit not be form fitting? If you looked like and had the confidence of Catwoman, how would you dress? Values of modesty in our physical society don't cross fluidly into comics. Go... walk around in a Power Girl suit... you'll get more unaccepting than lusting looks.
They say, "But they give men unrealistic expectations!"
Do they really? It's the comics doing that? No, it's not. In fact, of all media forms to choose from, drawings might be the safest.
Give males more credit. Even if you covered up every female in comics - made every male and female realistic - it wouldn't change the fact that males naturally enjoy seeing attractive women just as much as we enjoy attractive men. Both males and females prefer seeing attractive people.
Yes, the majority of writers and artists behind comics are male, but many have been doing a good job of not portraying women poorly. Of course insulting things happen once in a while, but all you have to do is speak up about it. As much as females assume males don't understand, we can't claim to understand their point of view any better. It is unfair to blame anyone, male or female, if they are unable recognize that something is insulting.
What's wrong with sexy?
What do other females want their comic characters to look like? No cleavage? Modest costume? Do you want them to look like an average woman? If that's the case, do you want Batman to look like the average man? Apparently, March's sexy Oracle cover upset some people. All I have to say is, it's about time someone made her sexy!
Here is a comment I agreed with,
As a woman in her mid-50s, I love the covers for Oracle and think the one for Gotham Sirens is nice. I wouldn’t mind seeing the artist draw my favorite male characters.
There is nothing wrong with sexy adult female characters depicted as such. There’s a difference between sexy and slutty. I just prefer more equality. If you show the women as sexy, you should show the men that way, too. I can’t get enough bare-chested shots of my fave guys.
Her argument is perfect. Sexy isn't a bad thing, and women objectify men as well. (By the way, Guillem March DOES draw awesome male characters. You will not find better Azrael works.)
As long as my female characters aren't being submissive, making pouty faces or slutty poses (assuming it's not their MO), I'm happy. Draw them with as much cleavage as you want, just stop before they're comically huge. Don't cover them head to toe or feel the need to always give them average faces. Don't do it to men either. I accept my human preference for the attractive. There is a reason Bruce Wayne has a full head of hair even in his old age in Batman Beyond.
The other side...
It's clear I'm pro-sexy but that doesn't mean comics never make me look twice. For instance, a recent issue of Zatanna had her constantly poofing her clothes on and off to add naked-time. It wasn't unnecessary - it made me feel like they forgot some readers were female. I'd prefer more story to seeing her naked 4 times in one issue.
Then there are always characters whose costumes are simply ridiculous. Emma Frost is occasionally an example, Vampirella is always an example.
Still, you'll find more arguments over covers than stories and interiors. In fact, if a cover is offensive enough, women who don't read comics can pick up on it. Let's look at a few.
Actually insulting covers explained... with the magic of sarcasm.
#1: It's Wonder Woman! I forgot she had a face or, you know, is one of the most powerful women in the universe. Something here just makes all that other stuff trivial. Look where Frank Miller signed his name! Male me would SO sign my name there.
#2: Power Girl and Supergirl having a sexy girl fight? YES! Something is drawing my eye to the center of this, can't quite put my finger on it (though I bet I'd love to). Good thing Power Girl is reaching across Supergirl, other way around and we would have missed the view! Man, sexy broken glass fight style is my favorite.
#3: Ed Benes, don't you know heads are overrated? You almost got it, at least you didn't show her face. That would be just awful. This one reminds me of all the male superheroes with ass-only back-of-the-head covers...oh wait...
End sarcasm. The first cover is actually insulting. While Benes' Elektra does nothing but tell me my ass valuable, his artwork is fantastic and hard to hate on. The middle one, however, is arguable. Their bodies are strangely positioned, but it's hardly the most offensive thing around.
Opinions are great but they're just that - opinions.
It's only fair to point out that the portrayal of women in comics has come a long way. Male characters still dominate but males also dominate readership. If females dominated the audience this would be a very different post.