Monday, January 11, 2010

Jungle Girl (Dynamite Comics)

Let's just say it. Some comic book writers and artists probably need to get out more. Really. Jungle Girl, from comic book published Dynamite Entertainment, is perhaps the best (or at least, the most recent) example of that clear need. (Well, as evidenced here, here, and here, the author of the now defunct The League of Melbotis, might disagree, but what to do?).

Here's what Dynamite Entertainment's character biography of Jungle Girl has to say about her:
While Jana has no superhuman powers, she does have several abilities that have helped her survive in the jungle. She's a strong fighter, a skilled acrobat, and a skilled hunter and tracker. Jana is familiar with most of the plant and animal species in the jungle and is fully aware of what they can do. According to the adventurers, she also has amazing reflexes.

Jana carries several weapons with her at all times, such as her spear, her hunting knife, and a vine rope. Jana also seems to be able to communicate with several of the animals in the jungle, including the woolly mammoth, which she rides in order to fight a finback.
"According to the adventurers, she also has amazing reflexes"? Wow. Did they really say that? It's also not clear from her outfit where she actually carries those several weapons, though.


Alas, Jungle Girl does not have much of a Wikipedia entry; much of it appears to have been pilfered from the aforementioned character biography. You'd think that someone would have come along by now and noted the implications of the character or the fact that it is not an example of attempts by the comics industry to broaden its base of readers. Oh, well.

On a related note are these recent thoughts on the portrayal of women in comics offered by Sleestak of the blog Lady, That's My Skull.

4 comments:

Ryan S. said...

The curious relationship between sexualized female figures and comics is wortha book, and I don't have the space here to address it. I do not foresee a day in the near future when comic artists quit drawing idealized physiques on men and women. What those ideal physiques actually ARE is a test of the artist's personal tastes and preferences (see: Crumb's women, Michael Turner's women, etc...).

Cho made a career out of riding the line between good girl and bad girl comics. There's a market need, and he's exploited it. I don't read Jungle Girl, so I can't speak to the contents of the book.

Unfortunately, the side-effect has been that for every 5 "Jungle Girl" comics, there's one Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel, etc... that winds up collecting dust as (a) its assumed all the comic offers is T&A, (b) readers have to overcome their own skepticism and sexism to pick up a comic featuring a female protagonist, and (c) the artists go off the rails and DO end up drawing T&A comics, and it translates to another generation of readers who can't get past WW's golden bustier and short set (for which I don't blame them).

I recommend the new Power Girl series, btw.

And, yes, I do believe many, many comic artists and fans would do well to dial it back a bit. Unfortunately, its so prevalent to have superheroines in "sexy" costumes that it becomes impossible to discuss or show them without an assumptions forming.

-The Now Defunct League of Melbotis

Ryan S. said...

I should also add: It seems possible that editors could discourage this sort of artistic license, but whatever is going on at DC and Marvel doesn't include a mandate to knock it off. Except for the now-much-publicized editorial stance by Matt Idleson that artists were now forbidden from drawing Supergirl's panties.

Which, you know, should never have been an issue. Swan and Mooney drew these characters for years without Supergirl flashing her underwear.

Ransom said...

If the editors were so inclined, they could remedy the problem. They choose not to make it an issue (though perhaps they do tame the situation when it is at its most egregious, as in your Supergirl example). However, there is not much evidence that as an industry this issue is taken seriously. Here is another take on this issue.

Ryan S. said...

There are several sites which are either devoted to the topic, or which bring it up with terrific frequency. Perhaps most famous is Ragnell who used to host When Fangirls Attack!, whose purpose becomes clear almost immediately.

I will be curious to see if a Disney-owned Marvel and DC under a woman's leadership will begin to see shake ups in this regard on an editorial level.