J. Scott Campbell: Ruining Your Fairy Tales Redux

30 Mar

It seems that no matter how hard I try, I will not be able to shake myself away from my original post that I wrote forever ago about J. Scott Campbell and his work with fairy tale characters.  Now, I wrote this nearly a year and a half ago, yet it still garners 30-50 views a day for this blog; it carries a lot of weight.  I will stick by this opinion piece for a long time.  I wrote it while in a fever of hysterics over this lambasting of the female form with ridiculous cheesecake art.  I have found myself defending my opinion in the comments column on numerous occasions.

But, I gave up on doing that.  Why?  Well, first off, there are a lot of comments on that post; there’s usually one to four added every month.  Secondly, I realized that trying to defend myself against some of those (and you) viewers is really difficult when they are coming to the site to enjoy those images.  Thirdly, I also found it hard to respond to the comments when, for no apparent reason other than disagreeing with me, people would personally attack me.  I respect people’s right to enjoy those images, but they have to understand that they are supporting the dehumanization of women.  It’s kind of like in the rap industry where men are expect that the only way they think they can make it big is through rapping about violence against men and women, guns, treating women as sex slaves, and other derogatory remarks.  Although, I deem it not as pervasive, I believe that many comic artists believe that they have to fall into the “good girl” imagery because that is what sells.  Honestly, how many impersonators of J. Scott Campbell are there out there?

I find myself continually surrounded by this imagery, and every time a new J. Scott Campbell variant cover (because that is all he seemingly does) comes out, I shrug to myself in flippant anger.  I have said my piece about his art and that style, but I believe I can say more.  So, that leads into this post here today.  I have to admit something:

I found a piece of J. Scott Campbell artwork that I, generally and overall, liked.

I love his colorist (who, I believe, is a woman), and I think that every one of his pieces has potential.  It just happens to overemphasize certain parts above all others – the parts that correlate with women, of course.

Anyway, here’s the piece:

S0, I was flipping through my copy of The Wizard of Oz as interpreted by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young, and I came across this variant cover in the back.  Lo and behold, I look down and it is by the one and only J. Scott Campbell!  To say the least, I was surprised.  I knew he was a phenomenal artist just with his attention in the wrong place, but this really showed off all of the potential he has to be one of the great artists in the industry without being so derogatory towards women.  I believe this is the first time I had actually seen him draw a woman not in the age range of 16-30 that wasn’t sexually charged.  Once again, I was surprised!  Sure, a lot of it is based upon Scottie Young’s designs, but there’s so much vibrancy and life to the image that doesn’t tear away at the very fabric of positive femininity.

And then a simple google search put  me back in my place.

I came upon this:

Now, this obviously came about as part of the calendar that I have covered before, but I somehow missed them.  Out of the majority of the images, this seems to be the most tame.  Nevertheless, it shows Dorothy with a short skirt and a pointed toe displaying in full view her very toned – yet supple – leg.  Her expression also reflects that plastique finesse that only a draftsman such as Campbell can convey.  The Cowardly Lion is not so bashful with his paw coyly posed above Dorothy’s waist and butt, and the rest of the crew seems to be reflective of protecting the woman from other men (or creatures in Oz).  Naturally, the Scarecrow seems to throw this theory out of the water, but stick with me here.

The Lion is shown on his hind legs towering above everyone.  He does not seem cowardly and instead elicits the Alpha-Male role.  The Tin Man with the missing heart stands in a stoic fashion ready to defend off potential attackers with a swing of his ax.  On top of that, his pressure whistle seems to be entering the atmosphere at full force possibly signifying his excitement.  The Scarecrow, however, represents the thin aspiration of men to claim a woman (should be girl) like Dorothy.  He is the fear that men feel when confronted by such a sexy woman.  On the other hand, he cowers towards her as if she would provide protection for him.  Possibly between those supple legs.

In this photo we are greeted once again with Campbell’s trademark of sexy woman: jelly-like yet toned legs, pointed toes with high heels, pushed up breasts, and come-hither facial expressions.  However, I would argue that Campbell does subvert some of his common themes by presenting a woman in power or domination over others as shown through her ruling over the monkeys, her grasping of the phallus broom, and the clockwork in the corner.  Nevertheless, this plays into the male fantasy of wanting to be dominated by a sexy woman.  Hell, I know of men who have bombastically said that they would like to be raped by these types of women.  Of course, that throws out the whole notion of rape, but it is still a surprising statement.

Overall, Campbell’s work originally provides promise with his variant cover to the Children’s interpretation of The Wizard of Oz by Eric Shanower and Scottie Young.  However, it seems as if his return trips (or scouting ones depending on the time frame) to Oz have still been that of sexual exploitation.  I may fully never be rid of J. Scott Campbell, and I hope that he will never be fully rid of other cultural critics like me who watch his every move and continue to blow the whistle on the dehumanization of women down to their sexual characteristics.  We need to rise up in this industry and effect change.

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7 Responses to “J. Scott Campbell: Ruining Your Fairy Tales Redux”

  1. HeartlessSoulEater March 31, 2011 at 6:13 PM #

    The problem with you is there’s no middle ground. The women are drawn with big boobs? The artist hates women. End of story. Not everyone who draws big chested women are out to destroy the rights of every girl out there. You yourself said his colorist is a women. Have you ever seen HER deviantart? There’s stuff there that Campbell won’t touch. The main picture on her profile is a naked woman surrounded by tentacles. Two of my best friends are women artists who draw big boobed barely clothed women. Where do they fit into this conspiracy against feminism? I think it’s really sad that every time you see a large chested women all you can think is “She’s an object.” I get that you’re trying to stop people from thinking that ut the fact is you’re thinking that way too.

  2. David May 27, 2011 at 4:49 PM #

    I think the comments on the witch should be explored a bit more. That she is portrayed as powerful is indeed a deviation from an objectification project.
    The trouble with this is that comic-book super-heroines are constantly being portrayed as powerful. They are not (nor have ever been) weak, sniveling, simpering, helpless girls that have no real use other than to look sexy. I have some reservations about the degree of pornography in popular media, but to suggest that sexuality in an image automatically means objectification is simply incorrect.
    Likewise, it is false to maintain that a depiction of male characters as chauvinistic simply because they are strong. This is one of the commonest pitfalls of the feminist project: the assumption that the key to empowering women is breaking the strength of men. The key is understanding, and a picture of men using their strength to protect a woman is not wrong. The desire to protect is positive, and need not be conflated with domination.
    Hence, the picture is not sexist simply because it could be interpreted as sexist. In fact, the other difficulty you seem to admit about your thesis (the scarecrow) is a great example. Why is it that the image of men protecting a woman a sign of oppression but an image of a man looking to be protected by a woman is a sign of objectification? Is there any act that a man can take toward a good-looking girl that is not objectifying?
    Covering his eyes – or would that give us the feeling that we’re looking at a peepshow?
    Kneeling before her – or would that be taken as a plea to be sexually dominated by her and/or a euphemism for sexual acts?
    Reading a book and ignoring her – or would that show her inherent lack of worth?

    I honestly can’t think of anything, and any who believe that women will be oppressed so long as sexy-looking girls appear in art have a hopeless battle ahead of them. The real question should be: which art is degrading and which isn’t? I’d say that empathy with the girl and strength in her character are good signs. I see both of these things in comic art. I’d definitely like it to be toned down, but think that comics portray a much healthier approach to sexuality than beauty magazines, the porn industry, or the kind of repression being suggested here.

  3. Daniel Ramos December 2, 2011 at 1:52 PM #

    The question is..would you feel so oppressed if you were a guy and knew the existence of the cover art for cheap romance novels that not only show on the cover a well built man in a blatant sexual manner but within the book itself is numerous sexual scenarios and or acts if you will. If you find J Scott Campbells art oppressive, then you will need to also condemn every movie, t.v. show, or photograph that shows a woman in a compromising position or wearing skimpy clothing. Do you also attack rap videos for their showcasing of half naked girls gyrating and simulating sex on videos that are rated pg13??. If you truly have issues with Campbell’s style, that is your prerogative but then you will also have to go after frank fezzetta (don’t do it..your email server won’t be handle the backlash). Not to mention a host of other artists that sexualized the female form. Where do you see Betty Page in all of this?? You have a right to your opinion and to share it, but do not pass judgement and ask others to censor, that’s all..Have a good day

  4. Kory February 8, 2013 at 4:10 AM #

    I would like to take a moment to say “Thank you”
    Thank you for standing up for women, for moving against the crowd. For speaking your mind!
    Im a thick young lady, I have curves yet I will never look like “men” has generalized beauty to look like. It’s the sad and awful truth, I stride every say to be the best I can be. I may not have a size 0 waist, but I can ensure you. My brain will out do a Barbie doll like figure anyday.
    Also, if a women has a size 0 waist, and thighs like that. How can she fit into any kind of jeans?

    • MechanisticMoth February 11, 2013 at 6:04 PM #

      Hey Kory!
      Thanks for sharing your story! We want to not only stand up for women, but to give them a voice and an avenue for them to use it. We really appreciate that you’re taking that opportunity! Curves are sexy!
      You know, I’ve often thought about the jeans thing. Clearly MJ on the Spider-Man cover has not put that fully into consideration.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. J. Scott Campbell: Ruining Your Fairy Tales « MechanisticMoth - March 30, 2011

    […] J. Scott Campbell: Ruining Your Fairy Tales Redux […]

  2. Wizard of Oz – Review! « MechanisticMoth - April 5, 2011

    […] For more Wizard of Oz splendor check out this post here. […]

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