Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jamal Igle on The Pulse

Well, we are a mere 11 days away from the much anticipated Supergirl #34, the first issue for the new creative team of Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle! 11 days!

For those craving to hear more about what the new team has in mind, there is a great interview with Jamal Igle over on The Pulse. Here is the link:;f=36;t=007480

Now Mr. Igle talks about a lot of things in the interview including Tangent:Superman's Reign and Marvel comics and it is worth reading the piece in its entirety. What is interesting is that he spends a lot of time on Supergirl and touches on one of the persistent hot topics about Kara, her costume.

About every 2 months or so, the topic of her costume rears its ugly head on the various Supergirl boards out there. Some people absolutely loathe the belly shirt. Some feel it is too 'slutty' and 'sexy'. Some love it. Others are indifferent. Here is what Mr. Igle had to say.

With the encouragement of DC Editorial, he and Gates are toning down her stripper-inspired costume and making her personality more realistic as an actual teen-aged girl: "I'm trying to [take a different approach to her] than the previous artists. Catching up on older issues, the shirt got smaller… and she's supposed to be a teen-aged girl."

He verbalized the uncomfortable feeling many readers of the title have felt for several years: "I don't feel comfortable sexualizing what's supposed to be a teen-aged girl." The first thing he did, "was look at the costume, and make her less like a hooker than she's been looking."

The picture at the top of the post was a preview piece Igle drew when he was announced as the artist. Sort of a different vibe than the Cinemax-like panels from Ian Churchill above.

As for me, I like the Matrix version of the costume. And no, that statement isn't a lame excuse to show my Igle commission again, although clearly he would draw a wonderful Kara in this outfit. That said, while I don't prefer it, I don't hate the belly shirt in and of itself. There are plenty of other young super-heroes sporting the look including Stargirl, Ultimate Jean Grey, and X-23.

What I don't like is when the belly shirt is drawn more the size of a sports bra, usually accompanied with a skirt the size of a napkin rather than a skirt. There is *no way* Ma Kent designed that take on the costume. And this is not the 20-something Linda Danvers, this is a 16 year old Kara. When drawn tiny, it is a bit cringe-worthy.

And of course, throughout the series, she was drawn sensually not only in terms of her ever-shrinking skirt, but in her positioning. For example, the above coquette-ish look by Joe Benitez.

While I don't think anyone should judge a real person's sexual proclivity by the clothes they wear, there is no doubt I would not let my daughter dress like that. It looks too provocative. But let's hear more from Mr. Igle.

"I think I've figured out of a way to draw the costume." He used as reference the uniforms of the University of North Carolina cheerleaders. "The point with her costume and character is to like her as a character. You should want to be empathetic with what's going on with her." He pulled out a splash (which unfortunately must stay secret for now, since the first issue of the "new look" has not been released) which was extremely attractive – without any hint of slutty. A much-improved "look".

First things first ... I am a 'Big East' guy, not an 'ACC' guy. UNC? Ah well, those basketball cheerleaders usually have more to cheer for than those of my alma mater, Providence College.

But one can easily imagine an S-shield over the UNC on the above shirt. And yes, there is a hint of mid-riff, but with a more athletic feel to it, a sense of mobility. And little sense of tittilation.

More Igle:

When he was brought on the book, he was asked to make her "more presentable" than she was previously. They "went out of their way to make the character more presentable." He noted: "There's a difference between cheesecake…" and what is supposed to be a book about a teen-aged girl who is trying to find her place in her new environment.

The saddest thing for me is that there is this sense that the belly shirt in any form is slutty and terrible. And I don't believe that. Only when it is under-done, does it convey that. Only then can it cross over to cheesecake. Take for example the micro-micro-micro mini on the evil Kara above, again from Ian Churchill. I mean how does that stay up? It is barely covers her pelvis! I mean there is a place for cheesecake, but not in a book about a 16 year old girl.

It is almost as if Supergirl is held to a higher standard than other characters, as no one is gnashing their teeth over Star Girl. But now people are looking at this costume and seeing 'slutty' where I simply don't. It was hard for me to believe that the cover for Final Crisis#3 was labelled by many people on blogs and boards as showing an orally-fixated tramp rather than a scared young hero.
More Igle:
Igle and Gates are on the same page with making Supergirl less trashy while still appealing to adult readers. "Previous writers wanted to make her edgier, but there's a way to make her edgy, and still be likable. The way Sterling writes her, you want her to win; You can tell she's trying. She's a teenager – and she'll still make mistakes" like any teenager.
He noted that the more realistic characterization, "is easier once you break down the character and think about her motivations. She's finally decided that she wants to live up to the expectations of her" based on previous stories and her role in the DC Universe. Now wants to help people, but "monkey wrenches keep getting thrown at her."

That sounds so perfect right now. A Supergirl that wants to help people ... and that readers want to see win. I am looking forward to Mr. Igle's new design and I am counting down the days to October 1.


TalOs said...

That sounds so perfect right now. A Supergirl that wants to help people ... and that readers want to see win. I am looking forward to Mr. Igle's new design and I am counting down the days to October 1.

HEAR HEAR! :D That particular recent interview by the Pulse and Mr. Igle was a very thought provoking and insightful piece as to HOW he wants to avoid making Supergirl in to nothing more then 'jail bait' as his main goal if anything really. And I for one sincerely applaud him on it.

Like your good self anj, I too truly adore the 84 Supergirl movie/Byrne eras Matrix costume and actually consider it to be the most iconic out of all of her looks all together. But in having said that I also like the Mr. Turner 2 piece super suit and really liked it when Mr. Ale Garza depicted it as having looked like upon his run as artist on the title too! (Man he made the 2 piece suit not only look still eye catching but he did it all in a very stylistic and out right kewl way at that even!)

Mike said...

The other day a couple of late-teen-ish girls came into my comic book store and, upon seeing the Supergirl cover of Final Crisis #3, exclaimed, "Ooh, she looks slutty." Yeah, I don't see it that way either, but there you go. I saw an article recently about how the current trend in teen fashion is to cover up. Well, I guess after the low-rise jeans and belly shirt craze, there was nowhere else to go but back in the other direction. But there is a backlash starting against skin-revealing outfits on teen girls (in the real world; ignore what Hollyweird startlets wear). DC might want to rethink Stargirl's costume too while they're at it (actually, DC should let her grow up into her 20s, but that's another rant for my Stargirl blog that exists only in my head).

Anj said...

The other day a couple of late-teen-ish girls came into my comic book store and, upon seeing the Supergirl cover of Final Crisis #3, exclaimed, "Ooh, she looks slutty." Yeah, I don't see it that way either, but there you go.

I was so floored by the slutty comment about FC#3 that I ran a poll here! I thought it was a nice homage to Jim Mooney and showed a worried Kara, looking at something frightening off screen.

Bottom line, I can't wait to see Jamal Igle's re-vamp of the costume.

John M said...

I totally agree- the modern costume only looks terrible when its too short and underdone. Also, the character's positioning has a lot to do with whether the costume looks good or not.

Renato Guedes, Drew Johnson, Lee Ferguson, Ron Randall, Barry Kitson, and Kevin Sharpe all did a fantastic job with the modern costume!

Linda Danvers looked great in the belly shirt as well with art by Leonard Kirk, Jamal Igle, and Ed Benes.

The whole idea of using the UNC Cheerleaders uniform for inspiration sounds pretty cool!

But when Igle mentioned this it made me wonder- would a teenage girl really fight crime in a belly shirt/ cheerleader inspired outfit? I'm not sure one way or the other. Still, I think Kara does look heroic in the costume, and it shows her youthful side!

Anonymous said...

people are just being haters, nothing wrong with wearing a belly shirt.