Emphasis on Cleavage “Befuddling”

The preliminary Adam Hughes cover used to solicit Catwoman #74 looked like this:

Catwoman #74 sketch cover

When the comic arrived in stores, it looked like this:

Catwoman #74 cover

Aside from too much lens flare and the identifying title information, you’ll notice another rather prominent addition. It turns out that it’s typical for Hughes covers to change between solicit and shipping. It’s likely that, at the time of ordering, the final cover hasn’t been finished, so a sketch/early version is used. In the meantime, the artist might decide to go in a different direction, or the editor might have “suggestions”.

My headline comes from this blogger’s comment, “It just absolutely befuddles me and astounds me.” It shouldn’t (and I’m not picking on Heidi, bless her optimism). Those familiar with the history of the superhero genre in the American comic market will not be surprised that an image of a female hero was changed to show large boobies. And let’s not forget that she’s been many times a fetish character, what with the leather and boots and whip and feline theme.

The only thing that surprises me is that we have such a blatant example of what decision-makers think motivates purchases of female-led superhero comics.

20 Responses to “Emphasis on Cleavage “Befuddling””

  1. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Actually, I like the face in the 2nd cover more — it has a bit of a 1920s quality to it And the boobage. Well, we are living in a world where Jessica Alba gets CGI D-cups in FF2…

    (what did that cost? Seriously. Frame by Frame digital enhancements of a moving character who is seen about 2/3s of the movie? I bet it cost more than the entire production budget of MEMENTO)

    … so the opened zipper here doesn’t surprise me at all, nor does it shock me, nor will it elicit anything but a yawn.

    A yawn? A yawn. Whoever thinks that today’s kids will be aroused by such an image doesn’t seem to know that THEY probably know more about finding the “cool” porn sites on the web than their Dads and Uncles. So it’s not like it’s for them.

    So who exactly is this for? I’m not being sarcastic, I wish I was. Who is this for? I’m pretty certain that men in their 20s and 30s have SEEN boobage in the real world, if not played with it, so to speak. So that can’t be it, can it?

  2. Johanna Says:

    Really? I knew that they’d done something similar to Lindsay Lohan in her Herbie movie (only there it was reduction to make her more acceptable to kids), but I didn’t know about FF2 Alba.

    And I get the impression that no matter how many breasts some men have seen, that they still appreciate another attractive pair. :)

  3. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Well, Johanna, of course we APPRECIATE it, ahem, but I for one have reached a point ten years ago or so when I thought: wow, Kate Winslet in a ballgown looks more erotic DRESSED than how Lindsay Lohan would look NAKED.

    I think most men go yawning after a while when it becomes “would you like boobage with that” with everything.

    Also, try asking men (please note I say MEN, not BOYS) as to what type of woman they’d find sexy, and I bet you that 9 times out of 10 you won’t hear any of the “important” female celebrities and/or models that the media is pushing down our throats.

    I’m also a bit tired to always hear “oh, it’s the men who want the skinny, anorexic girls with the big plastic tits, it’s them, those bastards”…

    … and all the while who is making the decisions in the fashion magazines/ad agencies/etc…?

    Women and mostly femme gay men. The latter would explain the skinny boy-like preference in drag, er, dresses, the former… sometimes I wonder if certain types of women really, really don’t like other types of women, ahem.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Go ahead, say something about lesbians, and you’ll have covered everyone. :)

  5. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    I can’t say anything about Lesbians, Johanna, primarily because I haven’t worked with any in the media industry myself.

    But I’ve worked with women on designs and photo shoots, I’ve worked with gay men in trying to picking the right models, and in both cases there was a pattern in how models were chosen.

    I once supervised a cover shoot for a magazine relaunch, and I picked out half a dozen models from the calling cards to come in (and before you ask, I picked them based on their facial structure and their eyes).

    So, it’s July 2002 and the models come in with jumpers. What’s the US word again? Sweaters? Which struck me as a bit weird, and it struck me as a bit weirder that I was the only one in the room who thought that was weird.

    So I told them to strip.

    get out of those jumpers and show me how they look like in a t-shirt. And yes, I am perfectly aware of how sexist that sounds, but of those six models FOUR were what I would call malnourished. One of the six was so thin, she had barely a muscle on her arms.

    And the “professionals”, and yes, it was the female EIC of a German fashion mag AND her VERY gay art director went nuts over that one.

    Yeah. Sorry. I seen it.

  6. Lyle Says:

    Also, try asking men (please note I say MEN, not BOYS) as to what type of woman they’d find sexy, and I bet you that 9 times out of 10 you won’t hear any of the “important” female celebrities and/or models that the media is pushing down our throats.

    Hmm, I’m having flashbacks to the reaction by straight men to the AfterEllen Hot 100 List. (Read past the first comment quoted, a good number of ‘em similarly voice weariness with the type Maxim pushes in favor of the variety of women AfterEllen’s lesbian readers picked.)

    Also, flashbacks to a Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency episode where she kept saying a model with the most stick-figure physique as having “the most perfect body she’s ever seen”. Viewers overwhelmingly winced, thankfully.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Thomas, I’m not denying your experience, and I find the stories very believable. I just wanted to undercut the “you can’t generalize to ALL gay men (women, etc.)” criticism early (and I was trying humor to do it).

    Lyle, considering what she’s done to her face, I wonder why anyone listens to her.

  8. James Schee Says:

    I too like the face in the second one better, yes I do notice she has a face.:)

    It certainly odd but really, and I hate to sound like I’m hand waving this, its just something I expect from big two. That doesn’t make it right or wrong (now stupid is a good question) but I guess since I read so little from them that I can’t get upset even a little bit anymore.

    Has a strange urge to go buy grape fruits now….

  9. Dave Says:

    I like the first one A LOT more than the second. I have a big wall in my basement where I display all my new comics and I’d be embarrassed if my mom or mother-in-law went down there and saw cover #2 on the wall. A few months ago there was a Justice League issue with a ridiculously over-endowed Power Girl on the cover. I actually paid $3 extra to get the variant (though that was also because I’ll happily pay more any time to not own another piece of work by Michael Turner.)

    Frankly, imagining what’s under the fully-zipped outfit in cover #1 is way sexier than actually seeing the boob-explosion in cover #2. But then, my wife was wearing a black turtleneck sweater today and I thought she looked smokin’ hot.

  10. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    LOL @ Johanna

    Of course not ALL gay men and ALL women, but there is a certain type in both categories who rises to the top in the fashion/media world, for whatever reason, I never figured it out. I usually stayed away from any media project that dealt with fashion after my experiences. Also, because I just had the urge to just hand out sandwiches to models… “here, eat… SOMEthing” and add in my mother’s voice: “There are people in Africa who are starving like you, and not by choice”

    It’s just one of the phenomenons that baffle me, even after 10 years in the industry.

    And I do think that there is a schism between what the media serves up, what then the female audience out there THINKS this is what men want and what men really find erotic or sexy.

    And, like it or not, it is those special types who project what THEY want onto the public.

    Wait. That sounds familiar. Pretty much the same way that Fan Fiction Central (er, Marvel and DC) works these days…

    … so maybe it IS logical for Catwoman to have those boobs registered as lethal weapons.

    (full disclosure: I adored it when Brubaker and Cooke relaunched her and made her sexy AND smart… unfortunately that has gone bye-bye)

  11. Thomas Gerhardt Says:

    Oh, yes, one more thing on starving models. What I have actually observed personally was this: a model drenching cotton balls in orange juice, then swallowing about a dozen of them.

    In her words: “they expand in my stomach, have barely any calories and make me think I am full all day”


  12. Johanna Says:

    Hard to believe it’s been so many years since that relaunch, isn’t it? They’re coming up on issue #100, which means over 8 years.

  13. Thom Says:

    >but I didn’t know about FF2 Alba.

    I can’t find any articles backing the assertion up, so I am assuming Thomas is speculating (unless he has some links to articles). I have a hard time believing such info would not be freely available (the Lohan bit made world wide news).

  14. Nat Gertler Says:

    Let me note that, apart from the question of cleavage, I think the second shot is actually a much better cover than the first shot. Why? Because the first shot is, well, just Catwoman holding a picture frame. That evokes a “so what” reaction from me. But in the second one, she’s holding the picture frame and smiling a wry little smile… like she’s really getting away with something, like she’s pulled off something clever, rather than simply looking bored. And that clever thing is what I want to know about, what I want to open the book and read about.
    (Is it just me who suspects he’s modeling the face off of Audrey Hepburn?)

  15. Chris G. Says:

    Wouldn’t it have been simpler to have cast a bustier, more talented actress than Alba in the first place?

  16. Tommy Raiko Says:

    With regard to the Jessica Alba/Fantastic Four 2 boob enhancement, it seems that her bust size was increased for the movie *poster* (see http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/celebrity/Jessica+Alba-6286.html among other sourcse,) but I can’t find any immediate indication that her breasts were enhanced for the film itself (at least not by CGI; I assume the costume department included a flattering undergarment for her, for example.)

    Movie studios retouching publicity and poster imagery to, shall we say, enhance performers’ assets is nothing new. As depressing as it is to note an instance of it happening, the Jessica Alba/Fantastic Four 2 movie poster situation doesn’t seem to be an uncommon or egregious example of the practice.

  17. Scott Anderson Says:

    “The only thing that surprises me is that we have such a blatant example of what decision-makers think motivates purchases of female-led superhero comics.”

    You’d know this better than I, but anyway, I was reading Val’s experience in comics and in one section she mentioned that Supergirl sales grew significantly as the comic become more T&A-ish. Naively I guess, I was surprised by that, but when you say “what decision-makers think motivates purchases of female-led superhero comics,” do you mean what they think based on some conclusive data or on what their guts tell them? After reading Val’s story, it seemed that she was saying that even she believed that T&A was selling books.

  18. Scott Anderson Says:

    BTW, let me add that it is always a joy to read your reasoned and yet still passionate comments on comics.

  19. bizarro Says:

    still less cleavage than I see on the “rack” of women’s magazines when I check out at Wal-Mart.

  20. Johanna Says:

    Scott, I think both. I think the folks making these decisions at the major American publishers see women as foreign alien creatures they are often frightened of (gut impulse), and that to the existing superhero market, busty babes sell a lot better than reasonable female characters (sales data). There aren’t enough customers buying superhero comics looking for the opposite to make up for the sales drop. To reach those customers, publishers would have to do a lot more outreach and be a lot more patient than they’re capable of right now.

    (And thank you.)




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