Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Short Note to a Stupid Columnist

Dear Erik Larsen,

I sadly regret to inform you that your latest column is based on overreaction and an apparent inability to accept criticism. Questioning how a female character's bra size adds to the story does not amount to censorship. Yes, comic book writers, artists and publishers have every right to design their characters how they see fit. I have yet to hear any feminists calling for legal restrictions on the cup size of fictional characters. I am also well aware of the existence of big breasted women, and small waisted women, and women of any size and shape possible.

However, as consumers we have the right to examine the product that we are buying. We have the right to question the value of superfluous physical traits, and we have the right to question the motives of the creators who designed those physical traits. We also have the right to spread our findings to other consumers, so that they may consider them when making purchases.

A Rabid Feminist


  1. The strange thing about that column was that I haven't really noticed any great movement to lessen Power Girl's bra size.
    If anything, it's been the exact opposite.

    What censorship is he talking about? Or does raising questions qualify as censorship now?

  2. I didn't find his self-centered logic convincing. And I never liked Savage Dragon either...

  3. All good points. What bothers me, though, is that his central argument seems to be that large-breasted women are essential to diversity in comics, and that they're currently an underrepresented minority.


    I'll quote him here: "If every comic book woman looked like the Phantom Lady I think there would be a serious cause to complain, but we all know that that is not the case -- just as we all know that somewhere out there, there are women that exist that do look like that (they just don't live anywhere near me)."

    Okay, technically, I suppose he's right--most comic book women don't look as malformed as Phantom Lady--but only by a matter of degree. And I suspect there are very few women whose breasts are larger than their heads.

    Also: "The Phantom Lady's only distinguishing characteristics are her ample cans. That's pretty much all she has going for her. Ditto Power Girl. To tone them down is to strip them of their identities."

    This may be true, but it's more sad than anything.

  4. On a side note, I'd point out that while Matt Baker may have drawn a busty Phantom Lady, her bosom and figure were of human proportions. Most of the heckling I've seen about the newest incarnation has been based on the drawings showing her with grotesque, impossible, and utterly nonhuman flotation if the artist had never even seen a picture of a real breast.

    And if this is really all there is to the character, whose fault is that? Look back at her origin, summarized by Don Markstein:

    "Sandra Knight, daughter of Senator Henry Knight, a pampered Washington, DC socialite who contributed little or nothing to the world. One day, on the Capitol steps, she saved her father from an assassination attempt, and that gave her a taste for adventuring. As she fashioned her evil-bashing outfit, she took the trouble to appropriate an amazing invention that happened to be lying around the house — a 'Blackout Ray', capable of casting dark just as a flashlight casts light, which had been given to her father by an inventor friend, a Professor Davis. This basic scenario — Washington setting, senator's socialite daughter, wielding what might be called a "flashdark" — was used in most of Phantom Lady's later incarnations..."

    Are we supposed to believe there's no potential there for an interesting character and interesting stories? Washington intrigue? A bizarre invention? A frivolous child of privilege who discovers a love for adventure? That's nothing? Yeesh! A writer who can't turn that into a good story shouldn't be in the writing business.

  5. Most of his argument is quite reasonable, and I support his assertion that there should be more diversification of body types in comics. But it is something of a stretch to suggest that large breasted skinny women in thongs are under-represented.

    And it's still not censorship.

  6. You still read his colum?

    I... Well I'm a little saddened.

  7. No, a friend who shall remain anonymous e-mailed this one to me.

  8. I would love to take his column at face value, but the cynical side of me says that he's just peeved at getting razzed for the way he draws women in *Savage Dragon* and is generalizing to avoid explicitly saying, "Chicks, quit hating on me personally for drawing nothing but ridiculous boobies in my book."

  9. They still publish Savage Dragon?

    Seriously - I thought it had died out in about 1999 or so.