Frank Cho is a comic book artist who has drawn for Marvel and has a knack for drawing very pretty women. Seriously google image the guy’s work. Now nothing he draws really crosses the boundaries of taste as you can find similar body types all across comics. That being said I find it hard to believe that Mr. Cho didn’t know what he was getting into when he sketched and posted an image of Spider-Gwen in the infamous Milo Manara Spider-Women pose.
Now keep in mind this was posted on Frank’s own personal blog and this is not an official cover in any way. You could read it as a show of solidarity as the original Spider-Women Manara pose caused the comic book internet community to break in half. Eventually causing Marvel to cancel the variant. Sound familiar? Or maybe the artist was just having some fun and trying to clear the cobwebs from his self professed creative slump.
So this being the internet meant that some people were not going to like what Mr. Cho does on his own time. The Mary Sue wrote an article titled, Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should effectively condemning the artist for drawing the cover that he knew would rile up some people:
Here’s the thing: yes, Cho has always drawn some cheesecake stuff, and there will always be a place for that in comics. It’s why we don’t write daily articles about stuff like this and this. But by taking a shot at this particular cover, one that caused so much discomfort among lots of comic book readers, it shows a clear disregard for the perfectly valid outrage over Manara’s original Spider-Woman variant; an incident that, we should note, made our list of the “Worst Moments in Female Fandom in 2014.”
Aside from being an obvious poke at “those angry feminists” who “overreact” to things, the cover is also an unfortunate but elucidating look at what some men think about women who are trying to carve out a space for themselves in the frequently misogynist world of comics – where they feel objectified and overly-sexualized on a regular basis. What makes this sketch even more inappropriate is that the Spider-Gwen book is clearly aimed at a teen audience, meant to entice new, younger female readers to Marvel comics. Plus, Gwen herself is a teenager.
This of course, meant that now this has become an “official” news story and words like “scandal” were being thrown around.
Artist Frank Cho posted a statement on his own website:
Wow. What a crazy couple of days it has been. My parody cover sketch of Spider-Gwen aping the infamous Manara Spider-Woman pose sent some of the hypersensitive people in a tizzy.
To be honest, I was amused and surprised by the uproar since it was, in my opinion, over nothing. It’s essentially a small group of angry and humorless people ranting against my DRAWING of a pretty woman. It’s utter nonsense. This world would be a better and a happier place if some people just grow a sense of humor and relax.
Now, I’m getting bombarded by various bloggers asking for an interview addressing this “scandal”. Instead of me wasting my breath and precious time over this non-issue replying to all the interviewers, I’ve drawn another cover sketch in response which will, hopefully, answer all the questions.
Co-Creator (Loosely) of Spider-Gwen Robbi Rodriguez posted this threatening tweet
Here’s my take on the frank cho sketch cover. Your drawing dirty pics of one of my kids. Be lucky your never around me. #spidergwen
— RobbiRodriguez (@RobbiRodriguez) April 7, 2015
So the controversy piled on! So later Rodriguez made a Facebook post clarifying his comments:
Thanks for my making my feed entertaining. You kids have knocked out one more of my career goals.
Let me start by saying, for one, that wasn’t a physical treat. It would have been an earful similar to this post, just with more cursing. Trust me – a good ton of the pros in the business would want to do the same.
Two, I don’t take back what I said. It’s my opinion and feeling on the matter, and you can take it or leave it. I didn’t put it out there for discussion. I’m a prick that way. Also, it isn’t something I haven’t expressed before. You can find a few tweets on fan art, and I’m well aware I can’t control what fans do. I know it doesn’t hurt the ground swell that the industry has made so far, but it does hurt what ground has been made regarding the influx of new readers when a pro does work in that manner.
That tone has its place and its audience, and it doesn’t make you wrong for liking it. Shit, I like most of Milo Manara’s main work. I think they’re fantastic works within their subject and context. But out of context it can come off as tasteless since this country is still not mature about sexuality and sexual expression. More importantly, it becomes trashy when we are in the midst of the biggest new reader boom in years. At ECCC I never heard so many “this is my daughter/son’s first comic” or “my wife has never picked up a comic till this book” or sister/brother, or other non-reader. It’s fucking fantastic that the industry broke that wall. But every time I see those 10 gratuitous variant covers I cringe as I sign while said new readers watches.
Shit son, this isn’t about censorship because most of the people bringing up that argument don’t even know what that word means exactly. If you, as pro, want this medium and industry to be taken seriously, like we have a chance to now, then start fucking acting like it and change with the times. The definition of body image has changed in of all entertainment in the last decade. And it’s not a matter of changing the style of your work – it’s a matter of thinking about your work outside of your bubble.
Really, it just took me getting over telling non-readers that that I work in comics, because it was embarrassing to have the only image associated with the medium be “big tits, big guns.” We are making some great headway now. You don’t know how many time I’ve seen Saga at the bars I draw in, and it’s fucking amazing. It’s fucking amazing because these are not old readers, these are fresh young minds just getting into the medium. But once they see works like the Cho sketch cover or the J.Scott covers, it puts the medium back in the basement-troll stereotype zone. Trust, you may not see it, but it’s there.
So guys, (and this is the guys here) we have a chance to make this industry more legitimate than it has been in decades. Don’t fuck it up by sticking to your old ways. With the new influx of fantastic female creators, you need to do your part to build the business. This may be our last great chance to do so. Growing the fuck up will help us all out in the long run.
This is just my opinion and not a discussion I have no time for. I have fucking work to do.”
So I think it’s time that we all take a breath and take it down a notch. Fanboys threatening each other is one thing. But professionals in the medium? That’s a whole different thing.
Personal opinion? Frank Cho was having a bit of fun and probably comes out of this looking the best. He made a troll post and then doubled down which gains my respect no matter what side of the feminist fence he’s on. Rodriguez comes off like a slight psycho here. Cameron Stewart earned a lot of flack for throwing his peer under the bus like he did but at least he didn’t threaten the guy. Points for not backing down from the statement but if anyone seems unprofessional and “embarrassing” it’s Robbi.