Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Peeling her skin off

"Drawing Blood," is a horror novel by Poppy Z. Brite. I remember it had something to do with vampires and had the first bit of gay sex I'd ever read in a novel. The thing that, ten years later, I still remember is something the lead female character had to say. She's a stripper and remarks that,

"The men who came here could never see enough of her body; it was as if they wanted to take her apart. If she could remove her G-string, they’d want her to bend over and spread her cheeks so they could look up her twat. If she could do that, she supposed, they’d want her to unzip her skin and peel it off."

And what in the hell does that have to do with comics you ask?

It has to do with the way the costumes of female characters are tweaked. The way low rise bottoms become bikini cuts (M. Marvel), covered breasts become exposed cleavage (Wonder Woman), midriffs are bared and skirts exist only to give readers a peek at underwear (Supergirl). The way that a certain level of exposure is not enough. And if that level is tweaked, if Carol is flying around in a costume that's graduated to bikini cut from low rise then Ms. Marvel gets letters like this one (Ms. Marvel #7);

And if Carol wore a thong? What next? Will he want her in pasties? Will he want her naked? Will he want her to unzip her skin and step out of herself?

There's more to say on this but I'm having a hard time getting it out. More on the importance of uniforms for heros and heroines, on a letter about a thong even being considered for publication, about the implicit understanding that these women exist to cater to the male readers...This is certainly related to Ratcreature's now famous post about how to draw female comic characters (according to Wizard)....

So I'm throwing Ms. Brite's quote out into the blogosphere. I plan to think on this more but I'm hoping some other people who are more articulate can flesh this out more.

(Thank you to Aimee for tracking down the 'Drawing Blood,' quote!)


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