Back in the Saddle – Feminism and “Daughter of Titan”

When I reluctantly shelved my first comic project De Profundis after numerous setbacks, I felt pretty deflated. So much time, passion and effort had been invested into it that it was hard to look beyond it.

But rather than dwell on that perceived failure, I dove straight into another project; something that would allow me to explore another area I’m interested in. Otherwise I would invariably procrastinate excessively and sometimes you just have to get your head down and power through.

Because De Profundis was more an examination of various religions through their need to personify death, there was a deliberate lack of human narratives to create the distance between the creators of these personifications and the abstract idea itself which was the unwitting protagonist.

So while brainstorming for a new idea I wanted to get right up close and personal with humanity and focus on a more specific topic rather than a gestalt. One such topic that always fascinated/annoyed me was the way women are portrayed in comics.

I feel that way because I rediscovered comics in my late teens after leaving them behind when I was 7 or 8 years old. Meaning that I was thankfully passed that awkward male adolescent phase that comic book creators seem to prey upon with women in revealing, skin tight outfits. In fact I had missed it altogether. So when I see women like Power Girl with her… ahem… “cleavage window” It doesn’t do anything for me. Comics for me are about stories and presenting them in ways other mediums can’t, not titillation.

1

A prime example

Comics create such exaggerated caricatures of women; both physically and mentally that it is probably one of the key factors in holding the medium back as a serious visual art. It’s common knowledge that Power Girl’s first artist drew her breasts bigger each issue until someone told him to stop. As we can see, it took them a while. And let’s not forget that time Power Girl tried to explain her “cleavage window” to Superman.

2It’s just sad how hard they are trying to justify this…

So using this as the groundwork on which I could build a story I was able to reach a catharsis of sorts. Extemporizing from all these thoughts about superheroes, female depictions and women in comics in general into some sort of cohesive plot resulted in a fully formed character bursting to the forefront of my mind.

With her, I had that central point of the story on which everything would pivot, that concept which would become the basis of what I now call Daughter of Titan.

I wanted to create a superhero story that was more conscious of its female protagonist on a physical and emotional level without patronising them. Too many stories use women as plot devices whilst others simply use them to appease the collective adolescent male gaze.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule and one major inspiration that was thrown into the maelstrom of thought was Kamala Khan, Marvel’s current iteration of Ms. Marvel. Khan is a Muslim superhero with a realistic body shape and more appropriate costume. There is still work to be done and she has encountered her own problems as people accuse her creators of reinforcing stereotypes. Thankfully, the majority of readers have seen it as a massive step in the right direction.

I want Daughter of Titan to be another step in that direction.

It’s great to be excited about a project again and already this positive mental attitude has paid dividends.

I have recruited a new artist in the wonderfully talented Vivian Truong- and a Kickstarter campaign is in the wings to hopefully fund the first issue.

But even if things falter once again and Daughter of Titan joins De Profundis on the shelf, at least I know that I have it within me to push onward and not be mired in self-doubt.

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