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Sunday, April 26, 2015 

The worst artist defended the best

At the time Frank Cho and J. Scott Campbell were being attacked by SJW kooks, Rob Liefeld, of all people, came to their defense with a post he initially put on Facebook:
Allow me for a minute to direct this diatribe specifically at my comic book brethren... In recent times I haven't joined in the fray but this time I have to stand up. I just finished reading a disturbing rant by a fellow who took, in my humble opinion, uncalled for shots at two stellar talents in my industry, in our industry, Frank Cho and J J Scott Campbell. Let's establish here at the outset that these two are a pair of comic book wizards, visual stylists that have been at the top of the comic book mountain top, and have entertained the masses for nearly two decades. Both men are famous for their renderings of the female physique, an art form once referred to as "cheesecake" by possibly the best illustrator comic books ever saw, Dave Stevens. Campbell and Cho have entertained myself and most of you with their outstanding work on Gen 13, Avengers, Star Wars, Danger Girl and X-Men over the years. Again, both are Titans in comics and illustration, having spent entire weekends with both gentlemen on the convention circuit, I can tell you that both men are outstanding human beings. From my experiences with both they are generous, warm and have a great sense of humor. It has been publicly suggested recently that each stop drawing in their respective styles, equating them with being "dirty" and "perverted".... Say what???? What's going on here? Is Jessica Rabbit a shameful cartoon to today's audience? Betty Boop? This rhetoric has been increasing of late and I find it completely distasteful that we are now calling out talents such as Frank Cho, J Scott Campbell, Milo Minara for their svelte female figures. Hey, pal, whoever you are, this is fantasy, it's not real you know. We draw warrior men and warrior women. You know who also puts a little sway in their female figures? How about Jim Lee, Marc Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen,Todd McFarlane, Adam Hughes, the list could go on forever but now each of my comic book brethren are being crucified and I would suggest that the wide majority of us who support their work get really loud and stand up and say this isn't okay. Don't suggest your fellow artist is somehow below you because he draws a voluptuous figure. These aren't pornographic images, it's just healthy female heroins, sometimes illustrated in a dynamic manner or an occasionally cheeky way. So I'll end here by asking us all to stand up for two of our own, each who deserves better than threats or suggestions that they change their trademark and very successful styles! I'll tell you what, we could all use MORE comics from Campbell and Cho, two time tested commercial powerhouses, not less.
I assume this was meant to make clear Liefeld recognizes that he, by sharp contrast, is not a talented artist, and as anyone familiar with his work for over 2 decades knows, his illustrations of physique are horribly incompetent, right down to the feet, and very derivative. Even today, he hasn't changed much. His defense of Cho and Campbell is flattering, but it won't change my opinion of Liefeld's botch jobs over the years.

Campbell's response was:
Thank you Rob, not only for the generous and tremendously kind words, but as you so elegantly said, for standing up for what it is that we do. I do think it's perfectly fine to draw and depict, healthy, strong, beautiful, pretty, yes... dare I say occasionally "sexy" and alluring women in our industry. Can it go too far..? sure, as can anything that's considered art. But I think we self regulate just fine, we have for decades. But this groundswell that's going on with these blogs with an agenda and this faux outrage, suggesting that us artists who are predominately known for drawing attractive and pretty women need to "grow up" and suddenly leave the industry that we love and that loves us because of a noisy few... despite the evidence that the books we work on are selling in the high stratosphere is preposterous! Thank you for standing up for us Rob! I sincerely hope more start joining us! If you love what we do, stand the hell up for us and don't let these message boards and rogue artists dictate the narrative any longer!
These loudmouth minorities have existed in various forms for more time than we may think. The one I may be most familiar with is the kind that can't tell the difference between fiction and reality when it comes to fictional characters, and they've sadly been present in letter pages from past pamphlets for goodness knows how long. And instead of trying to explain that the writers are responsible for any poor persona in a fictional character, among other problems, the editors and writers themselves just went along with it, leading to the huge disaster we're at now. That's another matter I believe should be addressed. Here's a little more from Campbell:
The industry is watching all of these interactions and the policies of the big companies are changing as they're reacting to this garbage. We're starting to feel the conservative safeness in their choices more and more. Some of the artists you love are actually getting less and less work because their styles are deemed as "too sexy" now according to these loud voices of the minority.
One of the key reasons why the babbling on specific websites is worthless is because the faceless, nameless blabbermouths complaining about their work may not even be buying and reading the mainstream books in question. In fact, they probably won't even if artists of their alleged preference were brought on instead. Which makes them nothing more than crackpots who think they're protecting the public from unconfirmed smut. Here's a recent example of somebody who thought he was being a genius attacking the She-Hulk's depictions, but only came off as a selfish "moralist".

Yet if Campbell's alluding to DC and Marvel, we're long past the point where I'd say it's worth working for them at all. Let's be clear: a good artist's work shouldn't be wasted on bad storytelling, right down to the company wide crossovers. Back in the 1990s, when Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell were assigned to the X-Men, that was the case, and Image too was known in its early years for similar reasons, which undermined the impact of any better offerings they might've had. It didn't help that variant covers were becoming a constant sales gimmick either.

They also mention a lady named Joyce Chin. From what I know, she may be a beginning artist, fairly new to the trade, and she said:
I spoke up about the absolutely appalling behavior, and the senseless outrage, and got a bunch of crap for it, because apparently women who want women to speak out, only want them to do so if it's the same opinion they have about it.
Just what Honey Badger Radio found out at the Calgary Expo. (In a way, I had a similar experience once with Kurt Busiek's crowd after I pointed out the flaw in his argument's about Marvel's Gambit character.) When somebody argued that SJWs should think up their own comics, she added:
Well that's the thing, with online comics, kickstarter, all these alternative publishers, and books coming from the big two that offer really cool storylines, diversity, and great art, why on Earth draw battle lines? Comics right now, is at the coolest point it's ever been in terms of it's ability to appeal to a big audience, and more of humanity. The gender mix at cons has pretty much reached equal. When I first got in, there was never ANYONE in the ladies bathroom at SDCC.

[...] Most of the people who come up to me at cons with books to sign that I've done of Xena, Sonja, Vampirella etc. are women. A LOT of Campbell and Chos fans are women. There are a lot of women now drawing superhero comics who love depicting the female form as powerful, positive, and with ownership of their own sexuality. Yet nearly all the coverage of what women want in comics denies that any of that, our voices, our likes and wants, exist. It's as unfair and uncool as denying that there is misogynist content in comics.
There you go. It's possible that wish fulfillment ties in to some of these ideas, and fashion magazines have long featured photographs of hot supermodels in skimpy underwear, so where the SJWs get the idea women have a problem is beyond me. In past years, there have been other notable lady artists like Ramona Fradon and Jan Duursema, who drew beautiful girls in their portfolios too, and nobody was making petty arguments about what/how they should draw either.

Interestingly, some of these SJWs probably have denied that DC and Marvel are the companies really guilty of clogging misogynist content into their products. No doubt, because in their twisted minds, T&A is "bad", but violence, physical, sexual or otherwise is allowed, no matter how offensive it is. That's the most disturbing part of their whole MO, which rejects escapism for the sake of "reality".

Thinking about this issue, it wouldn't surprise me if excellent veterans like George Perez one day found themselves shunned like they were nothing but plagues, and late talents like Will Eisner, Gil Kane, Frank Frazetta and Dick Dillin were condemned posthumously, all because they too have been known for drawing awesome female physique in their own way. In fact, even a talented artist/inker like Rachel Dodson could find herself on the outskirts; even women aren't immune to these kind of PC kvetches.

But if the past few weeks have said anything, it doesn't look like many artists working for the mainstream are coming to their defense. Let's take the following as examples: Patrick Zircher, Jimmy Palmiotti, Adam & Andy Kubert, Ron Wagner, John Romita Jr, Cully Hamner, Mike McKone, Frank Quitely, Gene Ha, Mark Bagley, Alex Ross, Rags Morales, Mike Allred, and Chris Samnee. Some of these men, to my knowledge, are mega-leftists, but almost all of them have specialized in artwork involving lovely ladies, or been favorable and supportive of the same. You'd think they might care about Cho and Campbell's case, but if they've said anything, I have yet to find it. There could be at least 2 reasons why these established mainstreamers aren't coming to Campbell & Cho's defense: they're worried about being blacklisted, or, they see this latest flap as the perfect way to whittle down competition in the mainstream so they'll get more coveted assignments. If it's the latter, that's really bad. Say, why hasn't Jim Lee, whom Liefeld mentioned, stepped up in their defense either? It could be he thinks he's so high up in DC, there's nothing wrong with throwing the others under the bus.

And Bleeding Cool certainly doesn't sound helpful, as they said the following:
It’s arguable however that we are at a stage when the invisible hand of the free market will do what it always does. As more women enter the comic book market, so the industry is changing to address that. Because what the industry likes to do best is make money. And when Saga, Sex Criminals, Ms Marvel, Thor, Harley Quinn, Batgirl and more do that, then the rest will follow. And in the long run I’ll also end up with some superhero comics I’m a lot happier to show to my daughters.
Well I'm sorry to say, but they haven't done that, even after male Thor got replaced, which even women didn't ask for. This article misses a vital point: most women, just like men, want to read stories that are entertaining and have talented scriptwriting. That's why New Teen Titans and Avengers worked so well decades before, and not just because of the hot costumes. And without good writing, it won't make any difference what the art's like, the mainstream will just be giving a whole show to which nobody comes. Plus, there's women out there who don't take kindly to violent abuse of notable mainstream female cast members. In which case, it's no wonder a lot of women aren't interested in superhero comics. Say, how come they mention Sex Criminals? Doesn't the title alone suggest it's a very racy item that might be what BC's claiming won't work with anybody? From what I know, no matter how the content is conducted, it's certainly not a children's book.

Which brings us to another interesting point: whatever the costumes and other outfits look like, the noisy minorities don't seem especially concerned about the crude, jarring violence that's increasingly plagued mainstream superhero comics since the 1990s. In fact, if they're really so concerned about T&A outfits in superhero comics, how come they're not so bothered by the kind of insanities found in various manga/anime products coming from Japan? Over the years, I've noticed insulting jokes involving sexual assault turning up in some manga products - sometimes known as "ecchi" - that outstrip what you see in a US/European comic by many miles. And I guess that doesn't disturb the SJWs so much, does it?

Oddly enough, BC did mention a women who's working on products involving T&A:
However, as those who attend comic book conventions will attest, those flocking around the Zenescope table, are as likely to be female as male as well.

And it’s also worth looking at the work of Gail Simone, seen by some as a figurehead of the increasing female focus within comics, and her work for Dynamite with female creators on the Sword Of Sorrows series using Red Sonja to produce a series of sexy female characters and stories.
Well if there's any female audience for the creations of Robert E. Howard, then I honestly don't see why it'd be different for superheroes. Obviously not. But then, the writer goes on to respond to Campbell's comment about less mainstream company work with:
That, J Scott, is capitalism. People will buy what people will buy. But tastes change and either you change with them or you appeal to a market increasingly reducing in prominence.
Ahem. This wasn't a case of sales results for specific books we were talking about. It was the publishers acting like cowards because they think all the audience would literally stay away should they dare hire Campbell and his crowd for their products. The argument tastes change doesn't work so well either when you consider how awful the storytelling's become. Without good writing, you only appeal to a market buying out of sheer inertia, in hopes the worst tales will someday make big money on the speculator market, and it's been pretty apparent for years that it won't.

Sure, T&A as we know it can go too far in some cases. But that doesn't mean it's an inherently bad idea, and when the SJWs refuse to complain about jarring violent content in modern superhero books, including stories that trivialize serious social issues like sex abuse, then it becomes pretty apparent their whole goal is only to dumb down mainstream storytelling in the worst ways possible. And that's why no sane person should waste time listening to their drivel. It's situations like these that prove why the internet is not always such a reliable source to figure out anything.

Update: also of worthy note: Cho donated at least a thousand dollars to a battered woman's shelter from what he made on the Spider-Gwen cover. Now is that really somebody worth making such a negative fuss over? It's a very heroic step Cho took, and a lot more than can be said about all the DC and Marvel contributors involved on Identity Crisis. Indeed, did Brad Meltzer, Morales, Dan DiDio, and other such men ever donate the money they made off that abomination to a shelter for abused women and children? In the past decade, I don't recall ever hearing they made donations to aid victims of abuse, which puts those charlatans on a level far below a much finer fellow like Cho.

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All three of them are hacks in my opinion.

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