(Don’t let the title of this post fool you. There are no hot nude babes.)
I’m still incredibly burned out on the constant navel-gazing and armchair-CEOing of comics fandom, but this was something I want to comment on. Dark Horse Comics has solicited what looks to be a pretty good anthology of female comics creators. The bad news is, here’s the cover:
I’m sure some folks will accuse me of being too PC, not getting the joke, whatever, but really, what the hell? Here’s the email I just sent to Dark Horse regarding this trainwreck of a cover:
I’m writing about the unfortunate design and title for your upcoming anthology of female comics creators, ‘Sexy Chix’. The title and cover have generated some outrage so far (which, unfortunately, I suspect will be regarded as “Controversy is great PR!”) but I really hope that a mature, pioneering company such as Dark Horse will reconsider their decisions on this book.
The actual contents of the book I have no problem with; in fact, I’m very interested in it. But I’m also feeling torn over whether or not to purchase it. If I do, then I implicitly agree that the cover and title “worked” to sell the book, which they didn’t in my case. If I don’t, then I add fuel to the “See, nobody wants to read about female creators” argument. I feel like I can’t win.
Here are my specific problem with this anthology:
Demeaning title objectifying the subjects? check.
Written in curvy pretty font? check.
With a ‘Snow White’ bluebird? check.
In pink? check.
Spelled how an immature teenager might spell it? check.
And that’s just the title. One wonders if the marketing meeting was adjourned before anyone suggested dotting the “I” with a little heart.
Then we get to the cover art. Despite the book being about the artistic work of the women, we get photos of the women themselves. While it is nice to put a face with the creations, is it necessary to focus the front of the book on how these women look? Books on creators such as Jack Kirby or Will Eisner usually focus on the artwork, not helping people decide if Kirby was physically attractive enough to merit interest in his work.
And even if putting photos on the cover were a good idea, these photos and the layout scream of little attention paid to the design. It’s completely random which are in color, which are in black and white, and which are in between. Some look like press photos, some like amateur photos, and one looks like it was taken with a webcam. Don’t these artists deserve better?
The solicitation copy reads, “Don’t let the title fool you-this isn’t your average collection of comics featuring impossibly proportioned vixens in spandex. This time around the sexy chix in question are the writers and artists behind the comics, representing some of the best and brightest talent contributing to the medium of comics and graphic novels today.” This begs the question, why then use such a title? I suspect it’s meant “ironically” or whatever, but the entire presentation displays a severe lack of connection between the actual content and the way the content is supposed to be perceived. Why only six photos on the cover if “many, many more” are represented inside? You can’t fault one for wondering if the remainders weren’t “sexy” enough.
If you truly think these women are a voice deserving to be heard, I urge you to reconsider your plans for this project. There is nothing here that is suggesting that you take it seriously or that I should. I am interested in the content because I’m familiar with some of the artists’ work from other publications; were I to be coming at this without knowing anything, nothing here would make me believe this is worth my money. These creators deserve more than a cheap laugh of a cover that is easily ignored and that plays to every stereotype concerning women and comics. These are talented, hard-working artists, and they have earned more than this.
Thank you for your time.
We’ll see if I get any response.