We [Fraction and his wife, Kelly Sue DeConnick] were pregnant at the time, and while I was out there I started to realize that if I had a daughter, there would come a day when I would have to apologize to her for my profession. I would have to apologize for the way it treats and speaks to women readers, and the way it treats its female characters.
I knew that if we had a daughter, because I know my wife and I know the kind of girl she wants to raise and I know the kind of girl I want to raise, she was going to look at what I did for a living and want to know how the fuck I could stomach it. How could I sell her out like that?” Fraction continued. “That conversation is still coming, and I’m bracing for it in the way that some dads brace for their daughter’s first date or boyfriend. I became acutely aware that I had sort of done that thing that lots of privileged hetero cisgendered white dudes do. ‘I’m cool with women, and that’s enough.’ It’s not enough. It’s embarrassing to say, because we somehow have attached shame to learning and evolving our opinions, culturally, but I became aware that there was a deficiency of and to women in my work, and all I could do at that moment was take care of my side of the street.
Warning, do not read around anything both extremely valuable and breakable.
I write articles about racisms for Cracked sometimes! This is one of those times!
omfg this is literal gold
“And then what? Up will be down, dogs will marry cats, the Hot Pockets will microwave us!”
This is an A+ article and I really, really, really hope that Michael B. Jordan gets to play Johnny Storm just to spite all those people.
Four Redesigns I did for She Has No Head’s new article by Kelly Thompson
The theme were characters that need a redesign.
Okay, since seemingly people were complaining because they failed to look into the context for these designs, im providing my notes.
With Harley I wanted to take the approach of the super wacky and cute version of her that Bruce Timm created, but put her in the context of the more hardcore dangerous team. Given who she runs around with, and where she fits, it sort of makes sense that she would combat-ready up a bit, but I didn’t want to lose the charm of her character
When I think of Raven, “dark elegance” is what always comes to mind. With all her costumes, the “dark” is always apparent, but I felt there’s been a lack of “elegance” of late, and that’s what I sought to bring back. I also tried to incorporate as many design elements I could from an actual Raven. The tail inspired the shape of the cape, the wings inspired her shoulders, and I added actual feathers onto her, etc. I’ve never thought of her as a mobile character, so I chose to go a more “fashion route.”
This was a tricky one. I wanted to balance equal parts Alien-Princess and Warrior. To an extent, I approached her how I would Wonder Woman – I didn’t want to hide the royal side, but I needed the costume to serve her very physical activities. Because of her power set, and her alien nature, I didn’t adhere to human practicality and the costume restrictions that might entail (bare feet), but I didn’t want her to look outlandish either.
In keeping with the idea that she is currently lacking confidence from her diminished/unpredictable powers and just the overall turmoil she caused, I wanted to keep the black costume and general personality change she has now. I chose to make the full body covered, because as a character who prides herself on her confidence, and the confidence brought forth from her body, I’d imagine with this weakened state of mental resolve she wouldn’t be too keen on showing it off. But that doesn’t mean Emma won’t still be fashionable.
These are from DC Comic’s Superboy comic. I just picked them at random, because I know if I want to talk about how modern comics coloring is dumb as hell—DC Comics are sort of the gold standard for not giving a fuck about the colors in their books. I mean there are a lot of things Marvel does wrong—how they as a company through the years perceive the role of color in comics, is not consistently one of them. Books like X-Force and Hawkeye happen enough that you think there must be someone on staff there who recognizes a company built on a history of bold stand by your colorist moments. But DC—this is pretty standard what I expect to see with DC. They have sort of a house style for coloring, and this is basically it. Sun is red. Jeans are blue. Buildings are building colored(bat books get a little more moody in terms of color but only because they’re trying to live up to a cliche ideal of moody and noir) so on and so forth.
Anyways. This page isn’t colored badly or anything. So I’m not dissing the colorist. As far as I know they are just doing exactly what they are being paid to do. I’m more talking about the aesthetic being presented here and how it works against the other elements at play in the comic.
The First thing, like I said, is that the choices are extremely literal. Jeans are jean colored. Vest is all vest colored. So on and so forth. It’s very boring—particularly when you think about how things change color every second of the day depeneding on light, depending on the color of the things they are next to—color is not an entrenched thing—it’s a wavy thing that is constantly shifting to reflect time around it. One panel superman’s vest could be bright pink, the next it could be blue and orange. Things shift.
But even that—whatever. The thing which is really at play here which is actively making this shit look shittier than it should be—is the lighting effects/gradient filters. Every thing on this page has a fucking gradient on it. Superman’s stupid vest has gradients all through it. Making it look almost metallic in nature. His shirt under his vest looks like a knight’s coat of arms—when I think it’s just a y’know…sweater. By putting gradients all over the clothes you completely rob them of any texture. And the sad thing is if you want to show weird progressions in color on clothes—you can get pretty dynamic and crazy.
Check how Dean White has colored this x-force comic—he’s still presenting gradients—but the color choices of those changes are much bolder and create a much more singular image:
So I’d say that using gradients in this way just exposes your color choices and progressions even more. If you’re not on point with those color choices—you end up with this very bland Superboy looking comic.
But here’s the real problem. Check how the actual linework on those superboy pages looks? There’s crazy textures of ink strokes in the clothes—there’s some really cool dynamic lines on that kids mask—and it is all lost behind the gradients, and the need of the colorist to know better than the artist in terms of how to present light. If you went flats on these pages, and followed the directions of the artist’s linework—shit would kind of look like a comic that a major company put a ton of money in to make. It would look bold and challenging.
Think about Matt Hollingsworth’s work on Hawkeye and how by playing with flats instead of gradients and being on point in his color progressions he is allowing the composition and lineart of Aja to sing and for the most part because of that, the book immedietely went on a lot of top critics lists—almost irrespective of anything Fraction actually wrote in the page.
I mean look at the simplicity of this:
Because of Hollingsworth being willing to lay back in the cut here—Aja can get away with fun page design shit. I mean Chris Ware sees that and is like “duh”. The more shit a colorist puts on a page, the less you will see the lineart—and the less dynamic the composition can be.
When you do colors like the Superboy book up there, you are literaly wasting the reader’s eye’s time on the page by overloading it with mediocre shit, just so you could tell me that oh hey—“Jeans are still blue!” “Flesh color is still flesh color”. Thanks. I totally couldn’t have figure the same thing out if the page were black and white.
Most of my time writing, I talk about the stuff that is done right, and in coloring, I routinely highlight dope shit on that front. But there is I think value in occasionally calling out shit like this. Because I see smaller companies with smaller budges mimicking what DC does because “that’s what sells”—but the truth of the matter is that if you make your books like as bland and boring as DC makes their books—how exactly do you plan to stand out and steal eyes on a cramped shelf space? Especially if you are also telling the same type of played out superhero soap operas as the big two. Hiring a few bold colorists to manage your line for you—is probably the cheapest way to visually win that game. I mean not for nothing, but look at what Mignola has done with his books. He sort of has his in-house colorist in Dave Stewart who maintains cohesion across the line—so you know a mignolaverse book on sight—but he’s also making choices that are different than the ones being made at the big two on colors. There’s some sort of economic formula there in an age where readers are largely ignoring artists and paying attention mostly to the writers. If I were a cynical comic publisher—I’d be putting the bulk of my budget into the hiring top colorists and writers—and then filling the art in with cheap clean lined folk. Why am I even talking about this? I dunno.
Anyways. Gradients are dog drool. Flesh color gradients are theeee worst of the worst.
The gradients thing is, at least in part, because DC farms out their coloring to “color studios” on an increasingly large amount of books. A couple years ago I attended a panel at SDCC given by one of the owners/lead colorists at one of these studios (or the studio - they may be the only one, I’m not sure) and basically what they do is they break down the coloring process into steps - flats, gradients, and shiny finishing work bullshit - and have multiple artists doing the grunt work. DC likes it, I suppose, because it’s theoretically cheaper (I guess? It must be, because I can’t imagine why they would go with it otherwise) and it does make their stuff look unified but…it’s just ugly. So fucking ugly. There’s no actual craftsmanship in those pages - it’s literally assembly line art. (IDK if you were aware of that or not, OP - I don’t mean to step on your toes or anything, just wanted to add some extra info that seemed relevant.)
And obviously you CAN do good work with gradients and stuff, as OP pointed out, but many people don’t have the talent for it because they’re not actually good at using color and have no understanding of it, but apparently that’s not necessary these days despite the fact that comics are a visual medium.
hi guys! this is a comic i made for a final in my comics in literature class. we had to do a research paper on a topic we’d discussed in class and then accompany it with a comic with a relevant subject. my paper was about hyper-sexualization of women in comic books, but i decided to broaden it out here as well as personalize it and make myself the subject and discuss something i’ve been subjected to in the convention circuit and on the internet as well as thousands of other women, as well as give a cue to thought about how the comic book industry as well as the video game industry and even just media in general (all of which are male dominated) push such ridiculous pressures onto girls and women.
also, it feels kind of silly to have to add this since i hope it’s obvious, but i am very aware that there are men that don’t subscribe to this attitude, and am incredibly grateful that these issues are brought to light to people other than the ones that are subjected to it.
anyway haha i have literally been staring at this for 9 hours i don’t even know which direction is up anymore. thanks for reading!!!