Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Interview With Mahmud Asrar On Superman Homepage

Over on the Superman Homepage, there is a great interview with Supergirl artist Mahmud Asrar. Here is the link to the interview in its entirety:
If you are a fan of Asrar, you should definitely head there to read this. It is a great piece going over a variety of topics from his beginnings in the comic world through his current run on Supergirl. I picked out a couple of questions to cover here as the answers were interesting.

Q: You'd previously been hired to work for DC Comics on the "Brightest Day: Atom" oneshot and an Atom back-up feature in "Adventure Comics", how did you get the job of being the artist on the relaunch of "Supergirl"? What was the process behind that?
A: Right after the "Giant-Size Atom" book I started working on "Star Wars: Jedi - The Dark Side". While I was on that DC offered me the chance to do some covers for "Supergirl". This was for the pre-New 52 book. Later I was asked if I'd be interested in doing an ongoing book for them. They were being really vague and after a non-disclosure agreement I was filled in on the details. Turns out I was being offered to be a part of the New 52 with Supergirl. I was pleased as I was looking to do a single character book with a preferably female protagonist.

I can remember when Asrar's covers for the prior Supergirl comic came out, I was pretty impressed by them. In particular I thought this cover really stood out as being fantastic. It has almost a pulp or noir feel to it with Supergirl and the heroes literally being in the palm of the villain's hand (I still feel funny calling that guy Triplexxx).

So I am not surprised that DC approached him to do Supergirl for the new 52.

I am pretty sure this cover was going to be the cover for the Good Looking Corpse trade paperback, a book which ultimately was never released.

Q: There's always a lot of discussion regarding the sexualization of female characters in comic books. Many feel that the design of Kara's costume in the "New 52" is inappropriate for a teenage girl, especially from the waist down. What are you thoughts on this? And what do you like/dislike most about this version of Supergirl's design?
A: Truthfully, I completely disagree on this regarding Kara. Sure, there are obviously sexualized or overtly provocative costumes on some characters out there but I don't think Kara fits that category. Kara's costume and its purpose has been hinted at in the first and sixth issues. It's basically a training outfit. If you take a look at modern sports, you'll see that female athletes dress up pretty lightly. So in that sense, or any other sense, I don't think Kara's outfit is sexualized or provocative at all. Admittedly I try to draw her attractive but I aim to keep it tasteful at all times.

So I don't necessarily think that this costume is overtly sexualized, not in this day when Starfire, Dejah Thoris, and Emma Frost grace comics covers. I do think that the red covering of the 'crotch panel' and the intricate corners around that area do tend to draw the eye. To be honest, I'd be happy with a simply blue unitard with the S-symbol.

But I agree and am very glad that the book remains tasteful. There are no cheesecake poses or awkward anatomically impossible preening or even provocative points of view or panel angles in this book. There is nothing gratuitous or distracting. Instead we get straight up comic book action.

Q: Can you let us in on any upcoming Supergirl storylines you are working on or will soon be working on? What are you most looking forward to?
A: Right now I'm working on the zero issue. I'll be vague here to avoid getting sliced and diced by the DC legal ninjas but expect quite a few answers on Kara and her origins. It'll be a very gratifying issue for long time readers while being an excellent starting off point. Also we've got some surprising new, but maybe familiar, characters appearing in upcoming issues. You'll never guess who.

Hmmm ... another hint that we will see new but familiar characters in the future. I am going to restate my theory that Reactron will once again be a Supergirl rogue ... either as Zor-El's assassin (again) or as the 5th World Killer (although he might be a she in this incarnation).

Either way, echoes of Supergirl's history in this incarnation (as in the last and in Peter David's book) are always appreciated as they acknowledge her mythos.

Thanks again to the Superman Homepage for conducting the interview and letting me repost these questions here.


Phillyradiogeek said...

I agree about Kara's new costume: the pants are a bit too high cut for my tastes, but otherwise the costume is much more modest compared to her previous costume.

I let my 9-year-old daughter read every issue, and I don't find anything in the series that is inappropriate for her. She loves it!

Anonymous said...

I think this book has been DC's best and most consistent title and Asrar's art has been wonderful. I'd prefer Supergirl wear a similar cut costume to what she has now, all blue, and with s short, red skirt. Essentially the movie costume. That being said, there is nothing wrong at all with the current costume. Certainly more tasteful than the way males are portrayed in I, Vampire.

That this question of 'sexualization' of female characters and Supergirl's costume even came up pisses me off. In case anyone hasn't noticed, female characters are less sexualized these days than at any time from the 50's-90's. Way back when, they used to wear skirts and fishnets and were shown in sexy poses. These days, the outfits are less sexy and there are ridiculous concerns over how and in what positions female characters can be drawn.

The desexualization of female characters these days pretty much has me not buying comics these days. This is happening in an age where men are objectified at a rate higher than either gender in history. Every superhero movie has the shirtless scene, Smallville was essentially about how Superboy and Green Arrow looked with their clothes off ( I wouldn't let a daughter watch any of those),and there is vampire porn, shirtless boys, and movies like 'Magic Mike' everywhere one turns.

I wish someone would take away all of the shirtless men, vampires superheroes, and female fantasies to even things up. Until then, I will prefer 90's comics. Those were the days when both genders were allowed to be equally sexy. These days, female characters and their costumes are not sexy in the least.

Anj said...

I let my 9-year-old daughter read every issue, and I don't find anything in the series that is inappropriate for her. She loves it!

Thanks for the comment!

Does she like it? I have been thinking of sharing the comic with my 13yr old and wondered what other young girls think of it.

Anj said...

Until then, I will prefer 90's comics. Those were the days when both genders were allowed to be equally sexy. These days, female characters and their costumes are not sexy in the least.

I think you shop in a different type of comic book store than I do if you think women in comics are less sexy.

I also think you have made this one personal observation of yours over and over and over here and everywhere. And it is a point that no one agrees with.

As I said before, you should start your own site to foster this argument rather than continue to haunt other people's comment sections. If you truly believe this as strongly as you say, create your own forum.

Anonymous said...

He has his own site, it is as dead as Free Silver and the Open Door Policy.

Funny how a certain commentator is ALWAYS citing sexualized male vampires to justify his arguments...said poster "rises" from a dead website and interminably feasts on far more vital blogs, websites and all sez Nosferatu to me.
I think MIster Asrar is teasing the Return of Donna Storm, a chrome plated No Prize to the first person to get the reference...


Anonymous said...

The costume IS inappropriate! No teenage girl would be caught dead in an outfit like that! Any cosplay I've seen tries to make her crotch shield wider and the blue less high cut, so her butt cheeks aren't hanging out as well as not have people stare at her crotch.

Pre-New 52 was appropriate in that she wore biker shorts under the skirt, not tiny briefs, which is something young women DO wear. Of course the artist is going to say that he doesn't find it sexual or degrading as he has a job to keep and insulting the Jim Lee might get him in trouble.

I've been a fan of Kara virtually all my life, and it hurts not to read about her since I lost her to The Crisis, but I will no longer read this comic because the costume offends me but also because I don't want to read for years yet again how she has to find herself.

As for the tired excuse that men are sexualized as women are and demeaned in comics is ridiculous; they are idealized not sexualized. They aren't drawn with their spine broken to show both breasts and butt, and the men don't have their costumes zippers all the way down constantly to showcase their generic large round breasts. They aren't drawn in cheesecake and pin up poses throughout their titles, nor their assets focused on in panels, and no speech balloon coming from their butts either. There are no male characters who are changed to portray them as perpetual date rape victims, either, for example.

DC's The New 52 is all about re-hashing the 90's gimmick of shock, with extra sex and violence and "extreme" characters, and the ridiculous ugly costume. They gained only 5% new readers, and half their titles aren't even in the top 100; Supergirl's new series is performing worse than her last one, and new writers and artists are replaced by Rob Liefeld -- not exactly forward thinking.

valerie21601 said...

I have no trouble with the top half of Kara's new costume it's the bottom half (crotch) area.

Clearly (to me) this Kara has had a Brazilian bikini wax job because she is covered with a string thong.