An Open Letter to the “Open Letter” author – on Women in Comics and Logistics of Liberator.

Hi there, noticed your letter.

Thanks for your opinions, though I believe they seem based on assumptions of what you expect from this comic series (currently on Kickstarter) and on one image that is a variant cover drawn by a guest artist.  In fact, you’ve stated you haven’t even read the series, which is the only possible scenario since the first issue is still in production.  You say that your letter is based on “advertisements” – I’m not sure what ads you’ve seen, because I sure haven’t taken out any ad space…

But let’s begin.

I know there are two huge problems when it comes to women in comics as it stands today.

  1. How the women are depicted as huge breasted eye candy for the male readers – they’re often posed in such ways that are physically impossible in order to give the best boob and ass shots to the hungry male eyes.  Much of the time, women inside a comic book are nothing more than their sexy parts, or they’re used as a plot device, often to empower the stronger male hero.
  2. How women working in comics or blogging about comics are treated – they’re routinely treated as second class citizens who have to measure up to some standard of nerdiness in order to be taken seriously and should they challenge the status quo they’re often met by anonymous threats of sexual violence and other sexist slurs and equally horrendous and disgusting things.  At conventions, female fans and cosplayers are ogled, groped and otherwise sexually assaulted.  This misogynistic bullshit is a horrible cancer in the comic world.

I want to assure you that I’ve gone to great lengths to direct the artists on this issue.  The females in Liberator are never to be hyper sexualized and they’re to be real, strong individuals who aren’t props, eye candy, or plot devices.  Jeanette is an equal to her male counterpart Damon, an Hispanic male, in most ways and superior in some respects.

When plotting out the series I took great care in instructing the artists on how Jeanette was to be drawn.  Following is an actual excerpt from the character sheets sent to the artists:

She should never be overly sexualised – panels should never focus on her ass or boobs. I’m not a big fan of the gross way most women in comics are portrayed and I hope you’re onboard. Absolutely OK if she’s pretty, but please remember she’s always covered, and she’s never drawn in a sexualized manner.  No brokebacks.

It seems you’re mainly upset about two things.  The “huge conical breasts” of the female liberator and then issues of realism when it comes to liberators carrying out actions (ie the fact that the hair is not tied back in order to ensure no trace evidence is left on scene, type of shoes worn, etc)

That’s what it boils down to, right?

First, the breasts.

Here’s Joel Gomez’ (the interior artist, the main artist) version of Jeanette while in her nighttime gear.

liberatorjeanetteAnd here’s Joel Gomez’ version of Jeanette while not in her nighttime gear.

J-GomezI don’t expect this is where you’re finding the issues.  Remember, Joel Gomez is the primary artist on Liberator and is covering all the interior art.  This is the primary version of Jeanette that you’re going to see.

Here is Yildiray Cinar’s interpretation of the character:

cinar.liberator.figure_edited-1I’m guessing this isn’t where you’re finding the issue, either.  Yildiray is doing a cover for the series and this pin-up as well.  Again, guessing that’s not where you find the issue.

liberator_cover_signedI’m guessing this is the art in question.  This is Yasmin Liang’s interpretation of Jeanette and yes, she decided to draw Jeanette with bigger breasts.  This is a variant cover of issue #1 (meaning that it’s a limited run item, not the main cover) and Yasmin decided that Jeanette, in her interpretation, has bigger boobs and they’re conical shaped.  That’s Yasmin’s art style – you’ll notice that the art does not focus on her breasts, she’s fully clothed, the piece does not sexualise her in any way.

I’m truly saddened that you have issue with this depiction, however I stand by Yasmin and her artistic choices.  Yasmin and I are both hoping to work within the comics industry for a positive change to the way women are treated, on and off the page.  We were both recently interviewed by vegan feminist blogger Laura Sneddon on this very issue – if you’d like to see it, and I hope you do, it’s over here and there’s a whole section on sexism in comics and how Liberator aims to portray a positive and strong female hero.

So it’s distressing to me that you feel this art perpetuates any ugly gender stereotypes as that was the exact opposite our goal.  Please accept my apologies and the assurances that the interior art and other covers should not offend you in this regard.

As to the other concerns in regards to the realism of the hair tied back and the boots vs. shoes – you’ll notice that there were artistic liberties taken elsewhere as well – check out the incendiaries – those would never ignite.  Why?  Because it’s a comic book.  We put Jeanette in a more form fitting hoodie with hair that shows because in nighttime scenes we needed her to be easily distinguished from the other protagonist character.  I know it’s not realistic to have her hair showing.  I chose boots instead of light shoes because I wanted to make her appear at first glance less dainty and more powerful on the page.

In other words, please try to see Liberator for the good and not nitpick the specifics of what someone would or wouldn’t wear in an action because this is a comic book and not a how-to manual.

In your “open letter” you state other inflammatory nonsense that I find particularly offensive, attacks on my qualifications to write this series and there’s even a misguided attempt of associating me with the sexist animal killers of PETA, but clearly you’ve not done the slightest bit of research before unleashing so I’ll just laugh that bit of irony off.

And please, try reading the book before posting any more internet smackdowns directed my way.  You may find we’re actually on the same side.