Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Poison Ivy cheescake and the She Hulk

First up, Poison Ivy in Worlds Finest - Superboy and Robin. Total cheesecake, but good cheesecake!

Gratuitous? Why yes, but also in keeping with Ivy’s character, so it works. I love that picture. very pin up style.
Also, this last picture with Metallo’s big threatening face makes me smile:

Both are cheesecakey, sure, but c’mon it’s Ivy! She exists to be sexy cheesecake. That's pretty much her point, she's a dangerous sexy femme fatale. So long as not all female characters are like this I have no problem with this.

EDIT: Bellatrys pointed out in the comments that this second picture isn't really cheesecake, I'm inclined to agree with her. I should think things through more.

Speaking of cheesecake I recently got a bundle of She Hulk comics from a friend. The Savage She Hulk - Vol1, numbers 1, 2 and 3, and the Sensational She Hulk Vol 2, number 11, 32 and 50. Very good fun, especially vol2, number 32 as Jen keeps making wise cracks about Marvel comics swimsuit issues and the laziness of her writer (John Byrne in this case).
I'm now keen on reading the rest of her adventures, which is just typical as they've gone and cancelled her bleedin' series. Grr.


Christian Zamora said...

Cheesecake Poison Ivy is good. She's always been one of my favorite characters from the Batman gallery just because she's quite twisted and sexy, all rolled into one.
BTW, Happy New Year, Saranga! Hope you have a great evening!

bellatrys said...

Personally I'd hardly count them as "cheesecake" - in the first one, the emphasis is on her face, and her bustline - which is undersized by contemporary comics standards (eg the current depiction of swimsuit-model Carol Danvers plus guns in Ultimatum, which has actually gotten a lot of fanboys saying "Enough with the absurdly-oversize breasts already" on forums--!) is barely noticeable against the background, instead of the usual reversal in which a female character's face is the afterthought, and her expression hardly counting as such.

In the second, yes, there's cleavage, but aside from her again-not-too-skimpy outfit, what's really cheesecaky about it? Her face is the focus, not her breasts, she isn't twisted to show her ass, and her pose isn't exaggeratedly-hipshot, but the same sort of action pose that you usually see a male chara depicted in.

I would say that this is a great example of the fact that you can have art featuring female figures who are still clearly female and even attractive, without being objectified to the point where their deeds are secondary to their pinup status (contrary to assertions by some that *not* objectifying female charas would result in ugly/asexual imagery...)

Saranga said...

@ Bellatrys:
Re the first picture, yes the emphasis is on her face not her boobs, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it's still a sexy picture. It's just sexy in a different way. Which is part of the reason I like the picture so much.
I also don't think her boobs being relatively smaller than, ooh, say Power Girl's (I don't know the Carol Danvers depictions), make it less cheesecakey.

I was working off my personal idea of cheesecake, but, (and I'm going to sound really snarky and pedantic here, but I promise I'm not having a go, I'm liking the discussion and your points raised), the definition in the Oxford English dictionary is:
'the portrayal of women in a sexually attractive manner'.
Dictionary.com defines cheesecake as: 'photographs featuring scantily clothed attractive women'

Under both those definitions I think that first picture is cheesecakey. Plus, she's puckering up for Metallo. He is not normally someone she'd try her kiss on, as it wouldn't work. So putting her in that sexually suggestive pose makes it cheesecake.

I take your point about the second photo though, I didn't really think that one through. I shall edit the post to reflect this.

I very much agree with your last paragraph :)

Now I'm really peckish and want some cheesecake...

bellatrys said...

Now I'm really peckish and want some cheesecake...

LOL! Myself, I like the ones that B&N has in their coffeeshop - coffee, cheesecake, books...not a good combination for the wallet!

Thinking about what you said, I'd like to amend my statement to say that they're not *primarily* cheesecake - that it may still be present, but that's not the primary purpose of either image. Kind of like the difference between a Vargas-style pinup that might have a woman drawn posing in a skimpy Greek goddess outfit, and one of the great Diana statues of the past, even a totally nude one like St. Gaudens' for the old Madison Square Garden. In one the classical trappings provide the excuse for (near) nudity, in the other the (near) nudity is the consequence of illustrating classical mythology.

For instance, if I were coming upon the first one on the rack, and had no idea who the characters were, I would still wonder "Who is this wood nymph and why is she saucily holding a robot's skull a la Hamlet?" because that's what it looks like - and the "kiss" pose comes across (to me at least) as a kind of mocking, parodic thing, making her an *actor* instead of an object. (Of course, I recently saw The Revenger's Tragedy with Chris Eccleston, so I may be somewhat influenced in that regard...) However, the overall effect is to make it seem as though her cleavage and ass are hardly important to the artist - and the scene - at all! Why, you'd almost think that *plants* were somehow more important to this character than the fact that she has *tits* - how wrong is that?!

The best way, however, to show this will be to draw out my own rough, quick'n'dirty version of what the same cover/s, drawn by Benes or Cho, would probably look like. This will take a little time, but it should be an interesting experiment, since it's kind of the opposite of my usual remixing (either I de-objectify women or I objectify the men, for contrast) - it will be fascinating to have a non-T&A original to mess up and see what it does to the implied "story" of these covers!

Saranga said...

That's a good point about actor vs object.
Re your art, I'd be quite interested to see that, are you gonna post it online and if so, can you point me towards it when it's done?

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