Though I also saw this on Facebook, Bleeding Cool got to it first so netiquette dictates I link them here.
Dennis Barger Jr. of Wonderworld Comics and Detroit Fanfare posted a photo on Facebook of a special variant cover for IDW's Powerpuff Girls #6, which you should all take a moment and look at right now:
Yeah. The big eyes, heavy makeup, thigh-high fetish boots, short, tight, latex mini-dresses on sexually developed adult bodies bodies... we're pretty sure they've got the formula wrong here. Let's see... sugar... spice... chemical X... nope, sex appeal isn't on the ingredient list.
In case you're not a fan, The Powerpuff Girls are elementary school aged characters, and the IDW comic is part of their "Little" line, an All-Ages line marketed toward children. Ruh roh.
Barger was pretty pissed, wondering:
Are we seriously sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted writing fan fiction writers on the internet???? is that what this shit has gotten to? DISGUSTED
Pretty much everyone who read the post agreed, and Barger tagged IDW VP of Marketing Dirk Wood, who offered an explanation:
Hey Dennis et al - That was actually a Cartoon Network mandated cover, by an artist of their choosing. I think they were thinking of it more along the lines of "female empowerment" than the kind of thing you guys are talking about, but certainly, we're sensitive to the issues here. We love making comics for kids, and always want them to be appropriate. For what it's worth, CN has been a great partner in that regard… I know an 8 year old and 10 year old really well, and always look at these kinds of things through their eyes… Half of the employees have kids here, and we pride ourselves in making comics they'll enjoy and not give them a warped view of the world (except, you know, in a good way). Anyway, I certainly see your points, and we'll be sensitive to these things, as I think we mostly have been. But any questions or concerns on things we do, drop me a line any old time.
So, according to IDW, Cartoon Network is to blame here, though IDW does throw in an excuse claiming the cover is somehow about "female empowerment" as well. We've written about this kind of thing before, and we'll sadly probably have to do it again in the future, because, as a father of two girls (and one boy), I can tell you that the amount of overly sexualized crap marketed at young girls is simply astounding. It's a constant effort to avoid it, and, in the end, unless you're home schooling your kids, most of their friends at school are going to be into it anyway. It's an uphill battle, is what I'm saying, and it's more disheartening when it affects properties, like My Little Pony or The Powerpuff Girls, that would normally be considered a safe haven for young girls and boys, free of gender stereotyping and rampant, unnecessary sexualization.
Barger had more to say - a lot of it actually, but we'll excerpt one more post:
If this were any other title released by IDW and Cartoon Network I would say, fine do what you want, there is definitely a market for it. If it were sexualized japanese animation, anime or manga with a parent advisory it would be fine....but this is an IDW "Little" ALL AGES book, with stories that are aimed at getting me and other retailers a store full of kids buying comics, and yes their parents who grew up watching powerpuff girls can enjoy it too. They aimed a book at kids, loaded it with something bad and now have to face the collateral damage. We have been mocking this lately with "Baby Kiss" "Lil Hellboy", "LiL Crossed" (no they haven't made "LiL Crossed" but why the hell not) Let's take Shia LeBuffs new movie Nymphomaniac and convert it to a kids books and release it on free comic book day. We are either trying to move as an industry towards an all ages, family friendly next generation comci book world, with still some great cutting edge stuff for adults or we might as well just give the Eisner award for the spirit of retailing to the old store with the most x-rated comics and porn in "Adults Section" of their store. I think we can do alot better than this Comic Book Industry, you are letting me down.
The thread went on for a long time, and if you want to know more, go ahead and read it here. It got so long, in fact, that Barger had to start up another one. And now, with the story starting to get picked up in the comics media, it's bound to get bigger.
Dirk Wood's statement showed that IDW is at least aware of this issue and perhaps they'll rectify it in the future, but is this even on Cartoon Network's radar? Or is some executive over there just counting the dollars they're raking in from exploiting the sexual malfunction of internet pervs at the expense of characters that are considered some of the first feminist superheroes? It wouldn't surprise us - Cartoon Network is under the Warner Bros. umbrella, after all.
If you don't think this is okay (it isn't), make some noise about it on social media, and be sure to tag Cartoon Network in your posts. And post your thoughts in the comments below too.
UPDATE: Cartoon Network pulled the cover.