Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why I Don't Take Witchblade Seriously

Witchblade should, in theory, be a superheroine I would like.

First, she's an Italian brunette. I can relate.

Second, she's a witch, who has blades. This is cool.

But, in the final analysis, I do not take Witchblade seriously. Which is to say, when I think "Superheroines" she does not come up on my list.


Because she's largely a T&A Superheroine.

I mean, the TV show went some way in breaking that image up. But in the comics, for the most part, she is largely a T&A Superheroine.

T&A Superheroines pose in every panel in a manner than accentuates their chest or ass. They often are depicted on covers half-naked. T&A Superheroines are ostensibly "empowered" females, tough wimmens...but written mostly for the males in the audience.

But I'm not complaining about that. Because having established that characters like Witchblade, Lara Croft, Vampirella, Lady Death, etc. are T&A Superheroines, they now get a free pass to be as sexy and over-the-top as they want.

I mean, it's a whole genre. It's a genre that has the right to exist. Men have the right, if they so choose, to buy comics with half-naked women with webbing on their breasts. And even buy the damn statues. It is, in my opinion, erotica. I might make fun of some of that erotica, but I wouldn't want to start advocating censoring it.

But that genre needs to be recognized and called what it is -- fantasy/soft-core erotica. It's not about mainstream superheroines. It's not for children. It's not the norm. It's specialized.

It's only when I see a Superheroine with a capital "S" like Wonder Woman treated like a T&A Superheroine that I get really annoyed.

Interestingly, with the "Anita Blake" comics we get an inversion of this, with the male characters a bit more sexualized. The "Anita Blake" book series spawns from romance novels, which have a nice long history of half-naked beefcake on their covers. It's erotica. It's ok.


  1. Yeah really, looking at Vixen it's like they designed a machine that would make her chest pushed out to put her in.

  2. Wow, OccSupes... you really, really didn't need to defend your lack of interest in WB. Hell, I'm a redblooded American lad and I don't take it seriously. Not one issue in my collection (though I do have two issues of Avengelyne... I know, shameful).
    You're forgiven. Rilly, rilly.

  3. I COMPLETELY agree with this statement. I don't take T&A superhero stuff seriously, either.

    And I understand what you are saying about Wonder Woman, but that was just one panel, it wasn't an entire issue...

    And I didn't mind the panel...

  4. I think it was more like: On the surface a character like Witchblade could be a decent superheroine concept, but then it's all T&A which overshadows anything else. Obviously nobody would take Witchblade serious in its current comics incarnation.

  5. Wow. That was the most intelligent thing I've ever read on the subject.

    I always get annoyed whenever someone starts rallying against Witchblade and her ilk for being too sexed up and all T&A. The entire *point* of Witchblade and her ilk is it's all sexed up TNA. No one's trying to hide anything.

    To confuse a character like Witchblade with a serious superhero is a bigger sin, to me, than just calling a spade a spade and moving on with life.

  6. Rumour has it, though, that Witchblade is currently being written well. Or better. Betterer. I was amused when I was reading a thread on Newsarama where the president of Top Cow was saying that it wasn't just a TnA comic anymore, right next to that add they allways run with the Witchblade Anime. Fun times.

  7. Boy, this has been the year of comic book companies getting publicity over how they are drawing/portraying their female characters -- the MJ statue, the Showcase Batgirl, the soft porn Wondy.

    There's gotta be a more constructive way of getting more attention for the female superheroines than this...

  8. I'd be intrigued to hear your take on Ant which I was convinvced was a remarkbaly keen parody of both: 90's comics -and- TnA comics... but now, sadly, know better

  9. I'm sorry, but in the midst of this "free pass" is the judgmental tone of sexual repression, and I call foul.

    Here's the thing-- while I'm sure there are men who can literally get off to this sort of thing, I don't honestly think the majority of Witchblade's followers have such a low threshold for gratification. When I slung comics hot off the presses (alright, lukewarm boxes off the UPS truck,) sweaty fat men with lotion were not the primary buyers of bad girl titles. They were sold to average guys with average to high-five quality sex lives. They bought them because they liked the art, strictly speaking and/or for its cheesecake elements. They enjoyed looking at the female form, and they often enjoyed the mix of sexuality and violence. This included sexualized violence like bondage, though rarely violent sexuality, like rape/torture. There were the sickos, who would supplement their comics with more disturbing material or straight up porn, but they were very much the minority.

    A sizeable percentage were in fact women, especially Witchblade and Lady Death, especially when Mike Turner or Jim Balent were drawing them. These were easily accessible action/horror titles featuring beautiful heroines drawn in a "pretty" style with attractive coloring. I like looking at Dick Grayson's hot bod myself, not because I want to "do" him, but because for the time it takes to read a comic I'd like to live a little "through" him. It also explains why I skipped most of Chuck Dixon's run, as I never wanted to be drawn by Scott McDaniel or written as an also-ran, but that's a whole other tangent. There are women who want to "be" Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, whereas I rarely sold them on the paraplegic Oracle or friggin' Wonder Woman.

    In my experience, few women buyers were into "continuity porn" and super-heroes, and not everyone is going to respond to Neil Gaiman or Jeff Smith. As I've often noted, I was a bigger Wonder Woman than anyone I ever sold to possessed of a uterus. Frankly, I don't think most women like Wonder Woman. They find her boring and unrelatable. They bought into heroines like Catwoman and Rogue instead.

    See, this is America talking. This is puritanical bullshit. To blow off a fictional character because of their mildly titillating nature while relishing the destruction and gore left in the wake of the Hulk or Sinestro-- it's glass houses and motes in thine Witchblade reader's eyes. It's you reflecting yourself rather than speaking to Witchblade's creators and fans.

    Now me, I don't take Witchblade or Lady Death seriously either, and I don't believe I possess a single comic book adventure featuring either. I have read them both, and blow them off for the right reason-- featherweight, undercooked storytelling. A lot of the concepts and mythology surrounding both characters is intriguing, but it would take a lot more than Ron Marz to convince me to give them another shot. I never took Kyle Rayner seriously, either. Green Lantern just kept featuring guest appearances by characters I liked, and I unfortunately do follow continuity porn and super-heroes...

    ...But don't you judge me! There's nothing at all deviant about running a Martian Manhunter-themed blog! You get your kicks your own way, and I'll take mine!

  10. Martian Manhunter blog? Where-at?

  11. No, they need to do a matching series of fanservice for women, is all.

    I call it "C&A", btw. (And yes, there are more Daniel Long covers on my sketchboard, in progress.)

  12. I swear, I kill more blog conversations than anyone I know. But hey, even if intended as a gag, a plug unfollowed if so a thing to mourn...

    A Blog For J'Onn J'Onzz:

  13. Does anyone remember that thread on The Engine when one of the editors at Top Cow asked for suggestions on how to make Top Cow a cutting edge, serious company like Oni or Nu-Image? Everyone was 'Witchblade, witchblade, witchblade.'- as in, 'get rid of.'

  14. ...or at least when you're getting work from Warren Ellis or Paul Dini, don't have their female protagonists drawn in wet t-shirts with size "G" breasts.

  15. Sounds similar to a "discussion" I had recently had on a fan forum. Maybe I should've said "softcore erotica" instead of "softcore porn," since the word porn is even more prone to kneejerk reactions...but eh, who knows if it would've made a difference at all. It's just unreal to me some people have so convinced themselves this genre is in no way was fun to finally sort of "prove" it in a way, using Wikipedia. ^_^

  16. You know, the first Witchblade I ever saw was the tv series...which was kinda cool, though not utterly engrossing. Then I saw some banners for the Witchblade anime and I thought to myself, "Wait, what?" I guess the anime must be more in line with the comics. That is sad. T_T You're right, of course, about the erotica thing. Has its place, if even a mockable one. But I guess I came into it at the wrong end.

    One of these days, if I ever become a professional cartoonist and get the go ahead, I'd like to do a She Ra comic. The cartoon was cheesy as hell, but there was a lot of unrealized potential there, I think. Perhaps its just my childhood talking.

  17. Someone should find some old Wonder Woman comics and read them. I think you'll be shocked at what you read. Wonder Woman is the original T&A Superheroine.

  18. Anonymous12:47 AM

    Well I have to say that I agree that such characters are drawn for their illicit appeal. However Its not solely for the fantasy of sexual desire. Just like many men young and old alike wish they were as rugged, handsome, witty, and extra ordinary as the heroes they read about in comics. So many women wish they were the buxom, independent, mysterious, desirable heroine counterparts. And don't get me wrong I'm not defending W.B. specifically cause I don't think I've picked up more than a copies. What I'm defending is this assumption you make about such comics only being drawn for men's sexual interests. I personally don't see any difference when Superman is drawn flying away from another victory, his chiseled body and bulging muscles coddling whatever damsel he may have saved. Not to mention his quite large crotch framed mid picture in bright red against a perfect blue contrast. A lot of men want to be that guy. Just as many women want to be Witchblade or Vixen or even Wonderwoman. I'll grant it to you that some are more scantily clad and others are just clad but its just different measurements on the same stick. But hey to each his or her own I guess,