The Incurably Chronic Geek: Why I love the art of Patrick Fillion
Comic book art is meant to exaggerate proportions and features that we as a society find attractive. Men are meant to be very heroic and masculine, being dawn at least 8 heads tall oppose to regular proportions of 7.
Wolverine is 7 1/2 heads tall, a relatively short character compared to many of the other X-men.
Women are drawn very sexually, usually wearing as little as possible. They are draw with huge tits and curvy bodies. Again they are a certain representation of what we would want a heroic and also attractive superhero to look like.
The Goblin Queen here will illustrate my point well. Women are drawn, and allowed by main stream society to be 95% not clothed. They’re essential naked, save a few strips of cloth but it is seen as acceptable comic book art. There is nothing wrong with it. It erotic but not porn.
Now tell me, what is so wrong with this. While a lot of his art is XXX, an illustration like this is not. It is exactly the same as the illustration of the Goblin Queen. His bulge is artistically exaggerated, barley contained by a tiny skimpy bathing suit. However if this were to appear in mainstream comics all hell would break loose. So why this double standard? There are a lot of answers to that question, but I think that he provides one of them in drawing males in the same sexualized manner as women are drawn. It’s an important statement to make, and also happens to be very sexy.
So keep up the work Patrick Fillion. It’d be nice to see some of your sensibilities be accepted into mainstream comics. You’re awesome.
I love this analysis. I’d also point out the distinct difference, in the example of the Wolverine illustration, between the exaggeration of the character’s musculature and the absolute absence of even a vestigial bulge in his briefs. Patrick Fillion’s art just goes another obvious step that other comic book artists don’t, and makes a fantasy of the entire male form.
Of course, PatrickFillion.com is full of images that go several NSFW steps even further than that…
I did mention the site is Not Safe For Work (NSFW), right? :-D
[i hear this a lot. i’m not certain i ever really cared for either argument, even when presented to me. sure, i remember goblin queen from the 1980’s during the marc silvestri-drawn INFERNO and i remember thinking, “SHE’S ALMOST NAKED!!!!”…
…but then, “HAVOK’S ALMOST NAKED TOO!!!” so what’s the point when it works both ways?
now, comparing wolverine from the 1970’s/1980’s to a tumblr header drawing (say 2010, just because why not: i didn’t click any links presented here) isn’t terribly fair. but whatever, right, the point is: WHERE ARE THE COMIC BOOK PENISES!!???
i’m sure it’s a terrible thing to hear but comics are STILL aimed at mainly young straight males…and if the advent of megan fox is any clue, that’s whom these companies pander to (yes, i know you know they’re pandering - everyone does). i know it’s un-pc to say it but fuck it: young straight males don’t care for penises in their superheroes. weird, i know. this is the ridic answer to the question why is one type of superhero near-nudity allowed and the other isn’t (and really, i agree that if namor were drawn as above, yes, there would be so much outrage…for a month or two, until they changed it to appease the comic’s base customer: young straight males.)
so, where does one get their monthly (daily!?) fix of superhero penis? beats the hell out of me. if you want to ogle oversexualized near-naked men, well, that’s why god invented the internet. in comics, expecting what you want never works out; this is why jim lee isn’t drawing x-men anymore and rob liefeld has a career. there hasn’t been a decently viable mainstream gay superhero pretty much ever. for me, the closest to this ideal archetype are apollo and midnighter from warren ellis and bryan hitch’s THE AUTHORITY (apollo and midnighter become horrible cliches after ellis’s 12-issue run). and i can hear the whine now: “But it’s not the same!!” you’re right, it isn’t. when you let the major players work gay folk into comics they turn out like northstar in the 1990’s or fucking shatterstar and rictor in the 2000’s: contrived and hackneyed and terribly pandering (huh…there’s *that* word again. weird, hey?) and incredibly unbelievable.
so what is the real argument here: we want more male near-nudity because we’ve been getting female near-nudity in superhero comics; or, i want a gay character who’s a superhero to whom i can relate; or…what?
frankly, the best queer superheroes and characters - like the best queer people - are not part of the mainstream. if that is who you want to see in stories there are apollo and midnighter,as i mentioned; lord fanny in grant morrison’s THE INVISIBLES; orlando from latter chapters of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN; mikaal tomas in james robinson’s STARMAN; dr alison mann from brian k vaughan’s Y THE LAST MAN. if you want gorgeous comics men then look to the work of, as above, marc silvestri (particularly in the 1980’s & 90’s), jim lee, adam hughes (ironic, i know!), steve dillon, craig hamilton, phil jimenez, chris weston, and, of course, alex ross.
the wolverine figure above is from a mavel-brand how-to book. the goblin queen is by ed benes who’s a terrible comics penciller NOT artist. to say that “Comic book art is meant to exaggerate proportions and features that we as a society find attractive,” is not entirely accurate. isn’t it? i thought superhero art was pure fantasy and, well, to put it simply, ART. there isn’t any ideal being conveyed here, i don’t think. if you think there is and i do not, i’m not sure we’ll find common ground. but my argument then becomes, why hasn’t all comics art been like this then, even in context of the time a particular comic is being produced? it wasn’t always this way. i’d argue, as grant morrison says in his SUPERGODS book, that it wasn’t until the 1980’s that we wanted more naked and more risque and more titillation in comics. morrison goes on a different thought from here (mainly, to the apt presupposition that superheroes and readers began to take themselves too goddamn serious after alan moore and dave gibbons’ WATCHMEN), but i think it applies as well in terms of sexualization of comics characters…which stems from, again, what comics’ target market wants/consumes. comics, like any other type of media, bows down to the desire of its audience, and like music and movies and literature, etc., what the general audience gets is what the majority wants. capitalism is democracy, remember? nowadays, comic book art does not resemble anything from the twentieth century because that is NOT what we buy, it’s not what we want. you might be saying you don’t want a eunuch wolverine, sure, but you only say that AFTER you’ve given marvel comics your money. it’s like complaining about the president you didn’t vote for. it’s that easy.
lastly, look, you at no point even considered any of this as an issue when you first started buying comics. i know i didn’t. if you say you did, i’ll call you a liar. but, if my reverence of grant morrison wasn’t yet evident, here’s this from SUPERGODS:
"…it’s adults who have the most trouble separating fact from fiction. A child knows that real crabs on the beach do not sing or talk like the cartoon crabs in The Little Mermaid. A child can accept all kinds of weird-looking creatures and bizarre occurrences in a story because the child understands that stories have different rules that allow for pretty much anything to happen.
Adults, on the other hand, struggle desperately with fiction, demanding constantly that it conform to the rules of everyday life. Adults foolishly demand to know HOW Supermen can possibly fly, or HOW Batman can possibly run a multi-billion dollar business empire during the day and fight crime at night, when the answer is obvious even to the smallest child: because it’s not real.”]