No comic this week folks. I’ve been swamped in paid work and some big social obligations have eaten up my time. However, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about some things, and so I’m going to share them with you for whatever they’re worth.
Something I’ve been noticing a lot lately is criticism of female superheroes, how they’re written, how they’re dressed, and a lot of the criticism bothers me. Some of its legit criticism, and some of its just plain stupid. Most of the complaining, ironically, seems to come from men. While the whole re-writing of Starfire’s polyamorous alien culture of love and emotion into a cold and detached “no man owns me” frat-boy-esque get your rocks off wherever you feel is just flat out disgusting and bad writing, whether or not Wonder Woman’s pants or lack there of is sexist is just ridiculous.
Let us be clear about something regarding superheroes: they are ridiculous. They are larger than life, smarter, stronger, and better people than any of us. They are ideals for us to live up to. They are symbols. Icons. But they are ridiculous and extreme. They wear flashy costumes, dress in symbols and capes, and their vigilantism is utterly ridiculous. Real crimefighters would never dress or act like any superhero even if they did have super powers. So let us move beyond arguments like “it’s not practical for her to have bare legs.”
Superheroes should be sexy. They are idolized versions of human beings, why should they not be sexy? Should our perfect versions not be strong, smart, competent, and beautiful? If the answer is “no, they shouldn’t,” you clearly need to read something other than superhero comics. Because I think you’re missing the point.
However, what is attractive about and for men is not the same for women. While a woman looks good in a cocktail dress, a man does NOT look good in the same dress, even when it fits him. Contrariwise, a suit that looks right sharp on a man does not flatter a woman. Simple truth. But just so we’re clear, just because outfits and costumes for men and women are different, does not excuse some designs which are beyond ridiculous and surpass bad design and delve into poor taste. The kind of taste you find in sleazy strip clubs.
So how do you design a super hero costume that is sexy, but not sexist? I’m gonna show you! Over the next week, I’m going to take two of our most iconic superheroes, one man, and one woman, and design sexy costumes for them that are not degrading but empowering. More-over I’ll explain the principles behind and reasons for my design choices.