How Should Superheroes Be Drawn


Mike Henry as Tarzan
 Andrew Wheeler has a fascinating essay over at ComicsAlliance about the body types of superheroes in modern comics, compared with what is realistically the only viable comparison from the real world: Olympic athletes. He asked four working comics artists to rank eight heroes, four men and four women, in terms of how they thought their bodies should be drawn, and which Olympians those characters are comparable to. I recommend to head over and check out the results.

I don't think it's a secret that the way heroes are drawn is a big deal in comics, considering it is a visual medium. Like video games, the industry is constantly under attack for propagating negative body images and over sexualising women, and I agree with a lot of those arguments. I do think that the blame cannot be focused on comics and video games alone, and that it is a larger cultural issue, and is one that shifts with the times. In the fifties, Sean Connery was a Mr. Universe contender. In the seventies, they looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the eighties, an action hero looked like Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone. Now they look like Colin Farrell, or Jake Gyllenhaal.

In comics, heroes started out looking, well normal. Practically pudgy in some cases. In the nineties, during the Dark Ages, and through the influence of people like Frank Miller, Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane, the men all started to look like the Hulk, and the women all like the most desperate sort of strippers. And this hasn't changed much since then. You'd think with the rise of 'smart is the new sexy', and the svelte look of our cinematic heroes, that the capes and cowls would get toned down to human proportions. And while the men aren't as exaggerated quiet as much as before, the women still end up looking like Catwoman #0 more often then not. And video games it seems are just now entering 1993, in terms of pure physical extremism, now that the technology is advanced enough to create these images that the developers were looking at in the pages of Youngblood, back when they were kids.

I do believe a shift is needed, and I don't think it's coming anytime soon. Anyway, head over to ComicsAllaince, and give Wheeler's stuff a read.

Via ComicsAlliance.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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