Tittilation and Assets: The True T and A of the Comic World

In a 2008 publisher’s survey found that 90 percent of comic book fans and readers were male. Though female readership may be growing, it is clearly growing slowly. Even clearer is the fact that the writers and illustrators of these comics are still catering to the much bigger segment of their reader base. Nowhere is this more evident than in the depiction of the female superhero. As the years have gone by, their lips, buttocks and breasts have gotten larger and shapelier, while their costumes have gotten tighter and more revealing.

Despite progress that has arguably been made since the iconic Wonder Woman made her debut in 1941, her female crime fighting successors remain sexualized, commodified and exploited. This brings me back to readership briefly; is the predominantly male audience to blame for this portrayal of the female superhero, or are female readers still scarce because they find little to identify with or latch onto within the genre? Why, for the most part, have female superheroes remained sexualized and secondary? It is my intent to explore this problem within the genre by examining both the comics currently being published both with female leads and female secondary characters, as well as some of the aspects of the subculture of the comic world itself. These female characters are meant to titillate and sell products, they are not meant to give female readers a character that they can identify with or look up to. I will argue that this problem still exists, and has grown exponentially, because above all else the comic world is a world of commodity proliferation, and, to be blunt, sex sells.


About tristap

I am just a girl, trying to find her footing in a Super Hero world. Be gentle...
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3 Responses to Tittilation and Assets: The True T and A of the Comic World

  1. superlissa says:

    Trista, I completely agree with you that the female superheroes we see are there to appeal to female readers, but rather to give the male readers something to ogle at. I, too, struggled to find a female superhero that I would enjoy reading. When I went to Earth 2 in search of a strong, interesting female protagonist, the very kind gentleman who helped me had to do a bit of digging to find anything. The first comic he ended up suggesting was Gotham City Sirens, which to me seems pretty similar to your Birds of Prey. It’s another team of well-endowed women – this time former villainesses Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Catwoman. Here’s a link to a pic, if you like : http://acomicbookblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Gotham-CitySirens-Cv4.jpg
    I honestly don’t remember the one issue I read very well, but I remember being unimpressed. While male superheroes theoretically represent the ideal male, something their male readers would find inspiring, female superheroes seem to me to represent a man’s ideal woman, meat more to arouse a male audience than to inspire a female one. I don’t recall seeing anything in Gotham City Sirens that made me want to keep reading. I need more than a well-rounded butt-cheek to keep me coming back.

    I had to look outside the superhero genre to find a female comic book character that I really liked. I won’t say too much about it here because I’m going to write about it in my own blog. I just wanted to say that yes, I totally agree with you. I’m not at all suprised that 90% of the readership of this genre is male. And with female characters like the ones presented here, it’s likely to stay that way.
    We should create our own for-women-by-women superhero series like Milestone Comics did for minorities. Do you know anyone who can draw?

  2. Check out Jaime Hernandez’s treatment of women superheroes in Love & Rockets: New Stories #1 and #2, published 2008-09. So refreshingly unlike the kinds of comics you’re talking about here.

  3. Mr Marvel says:

    Being a male reader of comics I find what you say to be true. After reading through a lot of contemporary comics, I find myself disgusted with the portrayal of several of my favourite female heroines.
    Ms.Marvel is one of them, I loved the original series and the all new Ms.Marvel, but when it came to the most recent rendition of her, I find that her lips have grown in size, as have her breasts and butt. Also her suit seems to be so tight that it seems to go around her breasts and not over them.
    I know heroes/heroines are supposed to be in physically top form, but what comics show now is way over the top.
    The same could b said for male heroes, do they all have to have 8-packs and muscles that would put Mr.Olympia to shame.

    And to add to what I said earlier, I dislike the way women are shown in comics, although h artwork has improved. I’ll stick with the original Ms.Marvel, before she decided to go under the knife

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