IT’S POSSIBLE TO DRAW WOMEN WITHOUT HYPERSEXUALIZATION
AMBER LOVE 2-NOV-2016 This site and my work are supported by generous people through Patreon.com/amberunmasked. I wasn’t going to continue this conversation about the Manara, Cho, Campbell problems in the comic industry because, quite frankly, I have better things to do than beat this dead horse. Then I saw J. Scott Campbell tweet an absolutely lovely sketch of Riri Williams and thought it should be recognized (above).
This is exactly why some friends of mine and I feel caught in this difficult debate. We love other works by Milo Manara, Frank Cho, and any of the other artists who have been criticized for hypersexualized female characters in comics and gaming. The fact that they make other art, fine art, means they explicitly choose when to submit the T&A images as final work.
As other people have pointed out, when a creator then goes and continues the pattern of hypersexualization and posts about what great support he’s getting from fans and the industry, it shows that no lessons have been learned. It shows a creator who doesn’t care that he’s hurt people.
But let’s explain this in terms of real women who live in a world that only cares about them when they’re 15-30 years old, “classically” beautiful (ie, western), and able to produce children: art affects who we are. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t cry at beer commercials or the opera or watching a dancer win a competition or when they’ve finished a book that killed off a character they loved. So when someone perpetuates behavior like mocking their feminist critics who know they are talented and can be a better person, it proves that they don’t value those life lessons. They don’t want to open their eyes and see that women and young girls are held up to impossible standards every single day in every form of imagery. They laugh. They keep mocking. They keep drawing. They don’t learn.
What I hope, upon seeing Campbell’s tweet this morning, is that he took the time to reflect on the criticism and that he saw people meant well. They meant for him to see that a young black female comic book character will be judged differently than one like the Hulk or Captain America. When he tweeted that he didn’t understand what was wrong with calling that original Midtown cover pose “sassy,” he admitted that he was unaware of the racial tone to “sassy black girl” tropes. It’s a good sign. It shows growth and a positive change in comics! We don’t get this a lot and it’s a diamond in a sea of pig crap when it happens. The Riri sketch is a beautiful thing. She looks motivated, confident, greasy from her construction, aged appropriately, and yes, still adorable.
[UPDATE: 15-Nov-2015 Midtown released this image below of the NEW Campbell Riri variant]