This week’s offering from guest pencils by Celia Calle in Madame Xanadu #27 is gorgeous and gives me a chance to talk about context in comics. But first, here’s the panel:
So under normal circumstances this would be a total example of the always frustrating brokeback pose*, however in context it totally works. First of all, this character, unlike most superheroines, IS a model. So it makes sense to me that she’s posing and strutting and trying her best to strike poses that are exaggerated, dramatic, sexual, and even controversial. Her JOB is to make people look at her body, and better yet, to make them yearn for it (and whatever she happens to be wearing/selling/etc.). This pose (though still pretty much impossible) makes SENSE for her in the context of who and what she is and her purpose (at least what we know of it).
Secondly, the clothing. That is clothing fit for a MODEL, not for a superhero, and again, that’s what she is. And I love those clothes, they are crazy hott. Thigh highs? SEXY. Miniskirts? SEXY. I think there’s this perception that women that complain about portrayals of women in comics don’t like anything sexy…so wrong. We just want the sexy where it belongs and used in moderation so everything and every woman does not look exactly the same. This is a good example of where it belongs.
You also can’t compare this image to more realistic imagery as the artist is working in a crazy exaggerated style (one that is a great fit for the story inside I think) but one that is obviously not based on any kind of reality.
Beyond the “controversy” what do I like about this? Well, it’s just cool looking – the limited color palette is gorgeous, the stylized exaggerated forms are crazy cool, and the perspective is striking as well. It’s really interesting to me and actually reminds me a little of a more dramatic but not quite as polished version of Stuart Immonen’s art for Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. I wish we had Calle on a regular book that would call for this kind of stylized exaggerated style, it would be a fun read.
*the brokeback pose in comics means a character that is twisted in such a way (usually to show both her tits and ass at the same time) as to make her back look broken.