So that little story about Milo Manara's Spider-Woman variant cover, featuring Spider-Woman with her ass way up in the air, cheeks spread, presenting on the top of a building, has gotten a lot of attention this week. It's been all over the press, both comics and mainstream, and, of course, all over social media. Well, Manara, a longtime professional artist who has been drawing this kind of erotic imagery for years, has finally responded.
Before we start, let me just point out that I don't blame Manara at all for doing what he does. He's been doing it for decades, he's European (they have boobs on TV over there), and there's nothing wrong with erotic art. The blame lies 100% with Marvel for putting him on this particular cover for this particular book. While you can debate whether it's appropriate for Marvel to objectify their female characters in any context, it's really pretty obvious that in this context, it was entirely inappropriate. So I'm not hating on Manara, or erotic imagery. I just don't think a mainstream superhero comic starring a female superhero in an era when the industry is struggling to be more inviting to its growing female readership is the right place for it.
But enough of that. Let's see what Manara had to say. The interview comes from an Italian website, so we're gonna have to rely on Google Translate here.
First, on the criticism of the cover's erotic nature, he comes right out of the gate mentioning Ebola and Ferguson, and then suggests that maybe people are sensitive to erotic images of women because of Islam. Better strap in for this one, folks.
On the erotic side, however, I found it a bit 'amazing. Apart from the fact that there is a mandatory prerequisite to do it seems to me that both the United States and around the world there are things much more important and serious to worry about. The facts of Ferguson, or the drama of Ebola. That there are people that they take it for things like that ... Unless there is, these days, a hypersensitivity to erotic images more or less, due to this ongoing discussion that we are called to do with Islam. We know that the censorship of a woman's body should not be a feature of our own, Western Europe. This is also quite surprising.
One answer in, and this is every bit of crazy I'd hoped it would be. Next, Manara describes what he was going for in the drawing and why he thinks criticisms of its anatomy are off base:
What I wanted to do a girl who, after climbing a wall of a skyscraper, crawling on the roof. She finds herself on the edge, and his right leg still has it off the roof. So the criticism anatomical that were made, I think they are wrong: it is not to have both knees on the roof. One leg is still down, and the other is pulling up. Precisely for this reason, also, then this back arched. I tried to do this.
But who is spreading her ass cheeks? That's what we all want to know, Milo! Oh, we have our answer in the next paragraph: it's Jesus, or maybe Darwin:
After that, it's not my fault if women are like that. I do the design only. It's not me that I've done so: is an author much more "important", say, for those who believe ... For evolutionists, including me, on the other hand, women's bodies have taken this form over the millennia in order to avoid the 'extinction of the species, in fact. If women were made exactly as men, with the same shape, I think we would have already been extinct for a long time.
If mens' asses are so unattractive, how do you explain Alexander Skarsgard? HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN ALEXANDER SKARSGARD'S ASS, MILO?! IT'S MAGNIFICENT!
Next, Manara points out that this isn't the sexiest cover he's ever done, and basically that all superhero comics are pretty much porn anyway:
Also, do not consider it one of the covers most erotic I've done. I think I have chosen out of all the poses imaginable - and the proof is if one goes on the Internet, where I documented myself, to see all the photos of Spider-Woman - at the bottom of that, even as framing, less problematic . Indeed view is a bit 'from above. You do not see hardly anything. We see that only has an ass, drawn like this. And it's a girl with a nice ass, that yes, from my point of view.
The superheroes are like that: they are naked, painted anything. Superman is naked painted blue, Spider-Man is naked red and blue, and Spider-Woman is painted red. But they are things that are part of the "trick", so to speak, that publishers use to create these forms of superheroes nude - on which I do not find anything wrong - but there is no real nudity. If we see them later in the stories, going beyond the cover, are characters whose bodies are "in view".
I'll never look at a Power Pack comic the same way again. Next, Manara tells us that he's learned something from this:
I can understand, of course. As also understand people who have felt offended. But I understand in the sense that suddenly open my eyes, and I have to acknowledge that what I think is a beautiful picture, nice, attractive, seductive - that is exactly my purpose, or what I want to achieve - for others it is disturbing. But this is something that I have to take note each time. And in some ways I am surprised more and more.
I almost feel bad here, because it's not really Manara's job to understand the zeitgeist of modern American superhero comics. That's Marvel's job, and again, they deserve the blame here, not Manara. There's no way a company can be on The View trying to appeal to a female audience with their new genderbent Thor, and the next week think it's a good idea to commission that variant cover. It just doesn't make any sense together.
Manara later explains that more than 50% of his fans are women. It sounds a little too much like the "my best friend is black" defense to me, but maybe something is lost in translation.
I'm not so convinced, then, by the last part of the controversy. That is, those who accuse Marvel to have been improvident in groped to capture the female audience by placing a cover of that kind, and the asking me that, you know, I have a male audience. This context it totally. My audience is at least 50% female. I know exactly why when I go to the festival, and I see the queue of those who put themselves in line to be signing books, there are more women than men. So the context that the celebration of a female body interests only to males: do not think so.
And in what was probably the most offensive part of Manara's statements, he compliments Greg Land as an artist:
I did not know. I respect very much Land as a draftsman. I see that it is one of the most realistic, and I assumed that he had the models, but that ricalcasse picture like I did not know. Unless it is a malignancy without foundation? I like it because it has a certain evocative power, sometimes strong, impressive, and is one of the ones I like. I have seen, inter alia, that have given anatomy lessons to him. You never stop learning.
You take that back, Milo Manara! Nobody respects Greg Land as a draftsman! Unless that's Italian for porn DVD still tracer! Alright, let's bring this home...
And anyway, I want to say it: the last thing you want is épater les bourgeois , or offend someone. I just want to make something of seduction that provides five minutes of relaxation.
He's talking about masturbation here, right?
All there. The reason why I agreed to do some covers for Marvel when they asked me is because I think that in some remote farm in Maine or Oregon there was anyone who would read these comics, perhaps saying "ah, what a beautiful girl ". All there. I'd be more than satisfied if such a thing to happen. But I do not think a design like the one on the cover of Spider-Woman could have an impact masturbatory.
I do not think; be seductive, and I'll do everything possible to be. As I said, the picture that I chose - I have not framed from behind, from beneath, etc. - is from above. And from the sinuous back and see these two buttocks. But it is not that you see who knows what.
No, dude. It's for masturbating to. Let's just be honest with each other. And wrapping up...
I'm tempted to quit back to the beginning: I think there are more things to worry about. if you want, however, one last thing. To date I have not heard those of Marvel (these days there are some communication difficulties, but I think I hear them soon, in a week). But it seems to me that this cover has not yet been published. This is to say that it may well be that Marvel, seeing these controversies, withdraws and does not publish. Who knows, maybe we are talking about nothing: Marvel decided not to publish it and goodnight to the bucket. In another case, just for completeness, I remember that they asked me to enlarge a little bit the costume of one of those covers. So in general, if you do not agree, they tell me. And I agree: since the responsibility is theirs, it is right to believe as cautelino. Know more, the market is the American one, and so on. Moreover I have given this 3-4 months ago. It was and remains only a celebration of the body, without any manipulation. I'd understand if they were real girls, forced to do things they do not want to do, and commercial purposes. But I am the drawings, holy patience.
Holy patience, indeed. I think we can all agree on that.
So what do you think, readers?
Reader #1: I say we kill him!
Rest of Readers: Yeah!
Reader #2: I say we hang him, then we kill him!
Rest of Readers: Yeah!
Reader #3: I say we stomp him!
Rest of Readers: Yeah!
Reader #3: Then we tattoo him!
Rest of Readers: Yeah!
Reader #3: Then we hang him!
Rest of Readers: Yeah!
Reader #3: Then we kill hiim!
Rest of Readers: Yeah!!!
Milo Manara (disguising his voice): I say we let him go!
Rest of Readers: No!!!