I know that in my column here, which is unofficially titled “Living Fiction,” I usually adopt the hippy dippy angle of “comics are more real than we think” or whatever and apply it to whatever it is that I’m ruminating on that week.But this week, I’m probably going to have to put my foot down and make a very clear case that comic books are not real life, and that people need to stop getting so worked up over what they see in them.
Recently, comic book artist Dave Dorman went to his blog with concerns about promotional art for the upcoming Brian K. Vaughan series, Saga. Dorman, a fan of Vaughan’s, came across an interview with the writer in which he stated that Saga is meant to be a return to a time when people could pick up a first issue of a comic and it was legitimately the start of a brand new series, much like when he was a child. Dorman said that he interpreted the comment from Vaughan to signify that the series would be something that he and his young son would be able to enjoy together. He then became offended when he saw the promotional art in question, depicting a mutated man and woman standing shoulder to shoulder as the female is breastfeeding an infant. Dorman was outraged and went to the Internet to speak out on the matter, saying “I find this image offensive, not only for promotion of a comic book, but specifically for a comic that Brian clearly states that he would like to see today’s younger generation pick up and read as he did when he was a kid.”
Before we go on, let me clarify something. At the end of his post, Dorman says he loves comics (albeit in a facetious context), and I don’t doubt that he does. My beef is not with Mr. Dorman, his appreciation of comics, his opinion on parental matters or how he raises his children. I should also mention, just in the interest of full disclosure, that I don’t have any children (knock on wood) at the time of writing this column, and I have no idea how the transformation from single twenty-something to middle-aged parental unit might sway my opinion on this issue (my best friend, however, does have a teenage daughter, and he has basically the same position on this issue as I do). I just want to be fair as possible to Dorman and make it clear that this is not some bullshit Internet personal attack. He simply brought up an interesting topic that is relevant to both comic books and society, and I… well, I’m very opinionated about both of those things. Clear? Cool.
This is one of those things where, when I first read it, the fact that Dorman was offended by it wound up offending me. What is there to be offended by? The use of a female mammal’s (not sure if she’s necessarily human; she has wings, you know?) mammary gland to provide nutrition to a newborn child, presumably a child born to her and the weird goat dude that she’s with (it looks like she’s wearing a wedding band, and the baby seems to have horns)? You’d think people would be happy to see a solid family unit. Is it the insinuation that somewhere in that panel is a nipple and there is a person with their mouth on it? I hope not. Because it’s only a drawing. Even if the nipple were shown, it wouldn’t really be there, because it’s only a bunch of shapes and colors, and beyond that, a bunch of pixels on a screen. No nipples were actually exposed, caressed, suckled or nibbled on in the making of this panel (one would presume).
As people began to question the logic of his complaints in the blog’s comments section, Dorman attempted to calm the readers’ backlash by saying “I paint boobs all day long. Boobs don’t offend me.” He went on to clarify his opinion by saying that the real source of his indignation was not in the act of breastfeeding, which he admitted is “natural” and “beautiful,” but the fact that this natural beautiful thing was depicted in a kids comic. Because… kids should be protected from things that are… natural and beautiful? He also said that his son was breastfed, which only further invalidates why he would feel that a child wouldn’t be mature enough to see it depicted in a comic. He explained that he simply felt that adult content didn’t belong in a comic that he interpreted as being meant for people of all ages.
I swear, I’ll never understand this society. How can things like sugary cereal, toy guns and wanton consumerism be considered good for children, but an image of a mommy feeding a baby the way all mommies feed their babies is considered “adult content?”
People. Look. The use of boobs as things to feed a newborn baby should not be what offends comic book readers. The use of boobs in POWER GIRL should be what offends comic book readers. I mean, look at her! It’s utterly ridiculous. She’s idealized to the point of deformity! Is she pulling her sleeve up or is she pushing her boobs closer to the reader? Is that what she actually has to endure to pull up her sleeve, because if so, how does she even fight crime? Also, what’s with her eyes? Is she supposed to look tough, because it seems she’s having a stroke. And to be honest, this was the nicest picture of Power Girl I could find. You ever Google images of Power Girl? I did. I didn’t see any shots of her breast feeding, but I’m sure if she gave it a shot, she could save every starving child on the planet. This is the depiction of females in comics that people should be offended by. And even then, not really. Because these are comics. Comics are fake.
And even if it was real, how is it wrong? This is the human body we’re talking about. It’s gone unchanged for thousands upon thousands of years. It’s evolutionary perfection, the best thing in the known universe, and we want to do everything we can to ignore the damn thing. If you’re going to be offended by prurient depictions of the female body, such as the character of Power Girl, you might as well get offended by the Venus of Willendorf. Or get offended by your parents, because none of you would be here if your parents and ancestors didn’t like screwing, or if your mom was too ashamed of her body to feed you from her boobs. Or just stop getting offended by every minute thing that you come across on the Internet because people who get offended are just bored and probably need to get laid.
And yes, I include myself among that number.