These past few weeks have been very interesting here at Scallywags Int., mostly because we’ve been getting plenty of feedback concerning our latest pages. It would seem that the trio formed by Raven, Lizzie and Princess Twinklesparkle have sparked quite a series of debates and opinions about matters of beauty and such, and I see this as an opportunity to let you all know where I stand on the matter, not just for this specific comic but for comics in general.
I started reading comic books much later than most geeks, because I live in South America and access to such things isn’t quite as easy here. Of course, I knew about comic books, their characters and stories since a very early age, but it should tell you a lot about how difficult it was for me to get comics that my first contact with the X-Men was through their animated TV series and Superman and Batman were movies way before they were comic books for me. I finally managed to get my hands on some books around 8th or 9th grade in school, and even then it was a matter of maybe getting one (they were terribly expensive) and having to read and re-read that single one for months until I could get my hands on the next. Naturally, there wasn’t even the slightest chance I could follow a story, so I normally just studied the art as much as I could. Most of these books were 90s Image comics. Rob Liefeld was like a comic art god to me back then. Jim Lee was beyond anything I could imagine.
Eventually I started to buy Wizard Magazine, and since it was so expensive I just stopped buying anything else and stuck with that. Through it, at least I could know about comics, even if I couldn’t actually read the comics themselves.
Why am I telling you this? I think I’ve even told you this before. But that’s not the point. The point is that ever since I began looking at comics, I always admired how beautiful everyone was (it didn’t help that I started reading them at what is probably the horniest age a man can go through). I began reading comics in the 90s, so I can’t really say anything about beauty standards before then. But in the 90s Image comics I read legs were long, chests were huge and everybody was scowling (it would seem beautiful people must scowl at us ugly mortals). Everybody in Jim Lee’s books seemed like they were posing for photos, everybody was so perfect. And for a teenager, that was simply awesome.
Until one day, I read an article in Wizard Magazine about Terry Moore, and artist that was famous because his characters looked like real people. They didn’t look photo-realistic, that’s different. They just looked… well… possible. And the way his women were drawn was just so different and so refreshing from anything else I had ever seen that it stuck with me, it changed the way I viewed women, and more importantly, beauty in comic books. Terry Moore’s characters might have been pretty, ugly or anything in between. But before any of those things, they were people.
The way I see it, not everybody is beautiful. At least, not physically. Or at least, not universally beautiful. Most people are only beautiful if they fall within certain parameters that vary from one person to the next. Some people are just downright ugly. It happens. And stories have all kinds of people. When we sat down to design Raven, Lizzie and Princess, we focused on them being characters, having a personality, having a story to be told. It says a lot about our industry when drawing a not-so-pretty face is borderline controversial, but then what else could Raven have been? She’s a dangerous, mysterious character that will sooner knife you to death then smile at you. It just didn’t make sense for her to have cleavage, be sexy and show skin.
On the other hand, Lizzie’s a reptile! Why would she have any trait we humans identify with women? I honestly can’t tell a female crocodile apart from a male, and I’m willing to bet the average person can’t either. A completely different kind of creature has a completely different type of beauty, and Lizzie is exactly that. Part of Lizzie’s story is actually that she’s incredibly gorgeous - for her people.
Princess Glittersparkle also has her own thing going on, but she hasn’t been shown yet (next week) so I’m gonna just leave her without any explanation for now, but you get the point. And the point is that we’re not here to delight your eyes with boobs and sex, we’re here to tell a story and give you interesting characters through good art. And hopefully, that’s what these are. I always find it weird when people demand for comic book characters to be sexy without reason, as if they were expecting this comic to satisfy some sort of sexual desire. I think porn is awesome, but this comic isn’t porn. Certainly, there are porn comics. But again, this isn’t it.
Once, I had a student that asked me for advice because he wanted to “draw beautiful women”, but the result was always that his characters looked vulgar and slutty. I told him that the problem was that he was being vulgar and slutty, and that the problem wasn’t with the beauty of the characters but much rather with his own idea of what beauty was. I told him that the best way to draw a beautiful woman was to not focus on drawing a beautiful woman, but to rather focus on drawing a person. Give her a personality, a story, make her a character. Then, if she’s beautiful, she’s beautiful.
I realize this has been a rather long text to read, so I’ll bring it to an end now. I guess what I’ve been trying to say is that I hope you’re enjoying our characters, and that if you don’t think they’re pretty or sexy I can only say that I honestly don’t mind. I only care if you think they’re interesting. And to me, that’s about as sexy as a person can get.