So this morning I was checking out an article on The Beat, and as usual proceeded into the belly of the beast, a.k.a. the comments section, to see what great things people men had to say on the subject of the sexualization of men vs. women in comics. The post had used a few pictures to highlight what it looks like when men are sexualized.

It started out as expected, with commenters wondering just what sort of problem women could possibly have with this unequal and oftentimes inappropriate representation. It must have something to do with our self-esteem!

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Yes, of course. That’s exactly right. You really nailed it. We cower and tremble in the wake of the awesome sexuality of female superheroes. We are quelled under their empowered, fiery gaze as they lift their asses to their respective skylines, breasts struggling to share the spotlight. We are wildly jealous of these women who do not, and cannot exist.

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Man, why are we so OBSESSED with this? Can’t we find a new hobby instead of continuing to tire out these dudes with rational arguments? It’s starting to make them uncomfortable!

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This is possibly my favorite comment ever. Female artists clearly don’t exist. It’s immoral to ask straight men to draw sexualized men. Perf. Problem solved.

But things take a turn when ole’ Kurt Busiek gets on the comment train, and makes some nice points to all the people using strawmen and generally avoiding the actual issue at hand.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.38.30 AM Yes, I agree, Kurt. I love the “repressed” argument. One of my favorites. Women are just such prudes! Why can’t a bunch of guys just have a little fun with drawing contorted female bodies that are somehow supposed to be representative of heroism? Come on!

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I mean, yeah, all we have to do is change the staging of images like these and then they’re totally equal to their male counterparts, duh. Just imagine a few more villains in there!

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Busiek, 1. Trolls, 0.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 10.38.37 AMI actually like the idea of trying to tap into my inner teenage boy. I’ve never met him. What’s he like?! Did he like Mean Girls as much as I did?

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People are getting a little butthurt at this point. The sarcasm is reaching extreme levels.

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Let’s be real for a second while we focus on this point. Most people were upset over the Manara Spider-Woman cover because it was a comic that was touted as being FOR WOMEN. Marvel has been trying to court a larger female audience, and this is how they do it? Let’s also remember that the main cover by Greg Land is rife with problems. I would have been happy to see this sort of cover on any number of titles, female or male led – at the end of the day I love Manara. But this was very much the wrong series for Marvel to slap that cover on.

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Yes, we all know that Marvel is a business and sex sells. Most readers certainly don’t expect (or even want) comic publishers to wipe out sex from their books. The problem is with equality and representation. I borrowed this comment thread because it’s a pretty accurate depiction of the argument that has been hanging over the industry for too long now. Luckily, I have a solution!

For every ridiculously posed woman there should be an equally unrealistic man, and I don’t mean drawing muscles on his muscles. Put both sexes in back breaking positions if they’re going to continue to be used, and show equal amounts of bare skin if bikinis will still be used as costumes and “armor.” Comics are fantasy, they don’t need to follow all the rules. Just give the readers a ridiculous bulge for every pair of gravity-defying tits and a pair of ass-less chaps for every boob window.


If you’re not into that, then maybe just do the sensible thing and better represent women. You tell us you’re courting us. We’ve been telling you how to do it for a long time now. It’s not that difficult. Do not use women as only romantic interests, as helpless damsels needing to be rescued, as victims, as catalysts for more heroic dude action. Make. Women. Characters. That. Real. Women. Can. Relate. To. They can be fucked up and broken, they can be stubborn and willfully obtuse, they can be single, wives, mothers – they can be any of these things. Just give them character. Give them depth. Give young readers something to admire and aspire to. Give them back their humanity.


7 thoughts on “The Comments Thread: Busiek Tells It Like It Is

  1. I loved this article, the over sexualization of female characters within comics has always been something that causes me to scratch the noggin, and even though I clearly see the typical goal as to maintain male followers and consumers I am dumbfounded that it is not something that we as consumers can not move beyond..
    Unfortunately I fear the marketing departments of publishers make more decisions here than writers and artists and I would presume that their inner male pubescent virgins are making all decisions..

    Must say this is when I start looking to the independent publishers form the stories and character development that is truly creative and not biased on gender based marketing..


  2. If I may be allowed to
    If I may be allowed to defend myself, the fact is the Vampirella costume I drew for Frank Frazetta was MUCH tamer than what her costume evolved into through the years. Also, designing her costume was hardly my “job.” I just happened to be there when Jim Warren was trying to explain to Frazetta what he had in mind and Frazetta wasn’t getting it, so I sketched the costume for him.


  3. Since so many people seem to be linking to this thread, I thought I should add:

    I was partway through an answer to Jim when Heidi closed the thread, and I didn’t know it until I tried to post. So I wound up posting my reply over at my Facebook page, doubtless confusing many people. But having written it, I wanted to put it somewhere.

    It can be seen at

    And, for those interested, here’s Trina’s re-creation of what she’d sketched, from Jim Warren’s description:

    Thanks for the kind words, folks!


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Kurt! I did feel I had to defend myself when that guy talked about me designing Vampi’s costume, sincethe costume I designed bears very little resemblance to the costume she wears today.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, Trina, what you drew was basically a tank suit with a diamond cutout (plus accessories) and what it became was more like bikini bottoms with wide-ish suspenders and a collar.


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