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.