The State Of The Superheroine Addressed

Yesterday on Comic Book Resources, Robot 6 announced that Wonder Women! The Untold Story Of American Superheroines would receive its world premiere in Austin, Texas at the South By Southwest Film Festival on March 10, 2012 at 7pm. According to its official Web site this is a Kickstarter funded documentary, which:

…traces the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman. From the birth of the comic book superheroine in the 1940s to the blockbusters of today, WONDER WOMEN! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation.

WONDER WOMEN! goes behind the scenes with Lynda Carter, Lindsay Wagner, comic writers and artists, and real life superheroines such as Gloria Steinem, Shelby Knox and others who offer an enlightening and entertaining counterpoint to the male dominated superhero genre.

Check out the official trailer after the jump and read on for some separate, but related material, also posted to Comic Book Resources, by Kelly Thompson that questions just how equally men and women are portrayed in the comic book medium.

Wonder Women! The Untold Story Of American Superheroines – Official Trailer!

Meanwhile, Kelly Thompson has posted an article at Comic Book Resources titled She Has No Head: No, It’s Not Equal in which she makes the case that, at least as far as the art is concerned, women are getting short shrift in their portrayal as powerful heroes as compared to male characters. She cites, specifically, that there are four areas: Body Type, Clothing, Beauty, and Posing, by which artistic characterizations of male and female can be compared and, time after time, the women come off looking like soft core porn stars rather than strong, confident characters. In particular, she mentions that women are often posed in a style that is actually referred to as “The Brokeback”:

The brokeback pose is when a female character literally looks as if her back is broken, because that is how she must pose in order to show readers both her tits and ass simultaneously. When a word has been created in order to name this phenomenon, I feel like I should just be able to say BROKEBACK! and let that be it, but in the interest of not phoning it in, let’s talk a little bit more about this and look at some examples.

There is a whole Tumblr site dedicated to examples of the pose (in real life, as well as comics) that can be found here.

While it is tempting to dismiss the article as making a mountain out of a mole hill in a medium that is generally intended for light entertainment, or that it shouldn’t be treated as a big deal because it’s not as though similar depictions of female characters can’t be found on television or in the movies, to avoid the issue is dismissive to those who feel that one can tell a good story, with strong characters (both male and female) that doesn’t need to pander artistically to the tits and ass crowd. That isn’t to say there isn’t a time or place for sexy characters, but…normal looking people of all body types exist in the world. As long as the story is solid, including them among the characters depicted will not destroy the escapist fantasy that I am indulging in as I read the comic book. Writers, artists and their editors should all work together to raise the bar regarding how strong women can be portrayed in their books.