A “fat” female superhero? We really need to understand that this industry isn’t changing until most people currently in it retire

Selkiesiun posted that she went to San Diego Comicon for a portfolio review and the following happened:

“This is not so much a critique post as it is a conformation of how absurd the standards of art in the comic book industry have become.

I traveled to San Diego Comic Con this year and participated in the portfolio reviews they where holding from Thursday to Sunday. Although I will admit I am not the best artist in the world, I really wanted to try and show them that comic book art could be done in a realistic manor while still keeping the superhuman aesthetics of the art form.

This Batwoman piece was the work that I gained the most flack for from all the companies because the anatomy was as they quoted ‘not industry standard.’ At one company (which I shall choose to not name) I was given a full critique on the anatomical incorrections as the following.”

“Her breasts are much too small and do not have the lift that superhero women should have. Her jawline is fat and her neck much too long. The style of her hair is clunky and does not flow in a sense that a super human would. Her hips, waist and thighs are too big and she honestly looks fat. No one is going to want to read a comic with a fat female protagonist. I honestly recommend looking at issues of Sport’s Illustrated to get the right anatomy. Those women are the peak of human perfection, and that is what we want in this industry.”

They are doing a cool art contest based on this – the challenge is to make a “fat” superhero. If you want to enter view that here.

While there are many good men and women in the industry who are trying to make positive change, we really need to understand that this industry isn’t changing until most people currently in it retire.

In my travels at my day job, I live by a code: Do great work, communicate well, and give management a chance to fix things / work with you. If the don’t fix the issues / appreciate you after a reasonable time frame (usually 1 to 2 years) move on to the next opportunity. It will not change. They will not magically decide to recognize your work.

No one has to do anything, but I personally have moved on from mainstream comics. I don’t believe there is a champion in mainstream comics who has the following 2 bullet points:

1. Really cares about going after the female demographic with superhero comics.
2. Has the political clout to not have that message damaged, destroyed, stopped, or changed back to the same thing it was in 1980.

While there are certainly both men and women in the mainstream comics industry who care about things like this (I know many of them), they aren’t all-powerful enough to get this message past the sausage party.

This is not a knock at anyone or even specific to this industry. Most companies in America are like this – great low and mid-level employees, intractable management who make the real decisions.

There are other factors here. I don’t know for sure, but maybe men who want to see this is really where most of the money in their sales are coming from?

I wonder if maybe this isn’t supposed to be for us?

Mainstream comics isn’t a country. They don’t have to accommodate me. If they don’t want to, “Ok, seeya.”

Nobody has to accept me or sell to me. If they don’t want my business, then I’ll give it to someone else or make something on my own that speaks to me like I have been doing for the past 10 years.

The upset over this happens so often for so many years now that this concept almost sounds like a broken record. It reminds me of friends who have been in bad relationships. “If it’s not working, move on. He’s not going to change after all of this time.”

I applaud everyone trying to make change and support the hell out of them.
I just don’t think it’s going to happen. We haven’t seen much change or evolution on any front in mainstream comics in the past few decades. When you have an industry who brings in most of it’s revenue on nostalgia movies and comics themselves are still considered a novelty that not everyone reads*, you have something that is subsisting on regurgitation.

* Go to an average office in a normal everyday American industry unrelated to comics. Ask the women in there how many read comics. You might find 1, and a lot of women (and men) who used to read comics but haven’t in many years. They will all go to see then next 300 Batman movies, though.

5 Comments on “A “fat” female superhero? We really need to understand that this industry isn’t changing until most people currently in it retire

  1. Last month I wrote about how I never got into comics despite being a huge fan of the superhero cartoons of my childhood (B:TAS, X-Men, etc). The post is here: but the final message is that if the comic industry is struggling as much as it is, it doesn’t make much business sense to alienate what could be life-long young female readers.

    Within 24 hours I had a facebook friend explain to me how it was my fault that comics are like this. I unfriended him immediately after.

  2. My immediate response to that Batwoman was that I liked her. I have to agree that I would be more likely to buy a comic featuring her, and I don’t have a particular problem with typical superheroes. Would just like this one better.

  3. As a large woman I would love to see comic book femm fatale of real proportions. I think that many women (not just the larger type, the real type) would appreciate or even feel empowered by what the industry sees as not desirable/not perfect/not industry standard. I, being a large girl, who just so happens to draw, tend to draw smaller figure females because my size would not be appreciated. Maybe it’s THAT mindset that is keeping us from being able to be accepted? Maybe we just need to stand up for ourselves and “Stick it to the Industry”. Maybe those who admire or have the not-so-perfect body type need to come up and say that not-so-perfect is just as beautiful and capable of saving the world as the oh-so-perfect.

  4. I don’t see anything fat and I love the hair! I do think it is ridiculous to alienate a whole demographic. One can only hope the independent comics will do well enough with realistic female characters for mainstream to turn it’s head.

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