Not me, of course, but take a trip around the internet lately and you’ll find that the poor, put-upon fanboy is being subjected to higher-than-normal ammounts of cock by the unfeeling bastards in charge of the comics industry. How’s that for the antithesis of the typical complaints about homosexuality and even male sexuality in comics?

It all started with Don MacPherson, talking about the images below:

jsa7.jpgpackage.jpg

“One has to give DC Comics credit, though, for sexualizing characters of both genders in its newest solicitations. Just check out the Alex Ross-painted cover image for Justice Society of America #7, slated for release in July. It depicts the newest member of the title team, Citizen Steel, a young man carrying on his family’s heroic tradition after he was altered by liquid metal excreted by a Nazi super-villain.

“That strange steel elixir has transformed him into an invulnerable super-hero, a man of steel. And if one looks closely, it’s not just his fists and flesh that are hard as a rock. Perhaps his red, white and blue costume has led him to believe he’s a postal carrier, because he’s looking down at a package… one he seems more than ready to deliver.

“Groovy… it’s a special delivery… for the ladies. Or perhaps this is DC’s subtle attempt to test of the waters in the yaoi fanbase.”
- Don Macpherson

Oh Don, you’re right, because whyever would a dude wanna look at another dude’s package? I mean, that’s solely the domain of ladies and yaoi fans, who are also mostly ladies.

So what starts off as a pretty ignorant comment in a well-meaning article by Don about the sexification of Catwoman et al. snowballs into Brian Cronin making a jack-ass of himself over at the CBR blogs. Take it away, Brian:

“So, just when I was about to expand DC Comic cover snark this month to include a discussion of two horrible horrible horrible horrible statues that DC solicited this week, Don MacPherson had to alert me to a piece he wrote on those two statues at his neat site… Don also made a catch that, admittedly, I do not think I would have noticed, regarding the JSA cover solicited for July…

“Notice anything creepily unusual? Look closer (as Don so ably does for us).

“How freaking creepy is THAT? My pal Jake said to me, “I think there are two equally creepy options – 1. Ross intentionally, on his own accord, drew a big bulge in the guy’s pants or 2. The model Ross had for Citizen Steel had a big bulge, and Ross decided to paint it in.”

“Pretty darn creepy.”
- Brian Cronin

Where do I start with that? First and foremost, there’s a reason that “Comics Should Be Good” isn’t linked from my site, and the above is a good indicator of why. Second, that’s what “Queer Fear” is, in case you were wondering. Brian and his ‘buddy’ Jake are ‘creeped out’ by a bulge in another guy’s pants (artistic or otherwise). The idea that an artist chose to give a character an impressively-rendered package is actually frightening to these fellas, and the idea that his model might’ve had a good-sized package in real life? And Alex Ross decided NOT to neuter him for some insane reason? Equally as creepy.

Men In Underwear 1The best, best part, is the comments section at Cronin’s post. Wherin a bunch of fanboys come to Brian Cronin’s defense over finding cock terrifying. My favourite bit is where “Jake” says:

“What weirded me out about it wasn’t that a bulge existed, but what must have been Ross’s thought process. It was his clear devotion to accurately reproducing what an erect penis would look like in a superhero costume. Either he planned on giving Citizen Steel a boner, or whoever his model that he painted from had one, and he made damn sure he captured a good likeness.”

Jake, buddy, on behalf of all of us who have made hobby out of studying the bulges in guys’ pants, let me state—for the record—that that is not what a good-sized cock looks like when it is erect, in form-fitting material. It isn’t even an artistic approximation therof. That’s just a good-sized soft cock looks like. I’m… I’m very sorry that you can’t tell the difference between the two. I’m afraid I’m going to have to recommend some remedial work for you in this subject. I recommend starting with the underwear section of InternationalMale.com for an hour a day until you can tell the difference.

While Brian Cronin appears to have decided his post doesn’t need defending (I’d submit that it’s, instead, indefensible) Don Macpherson is not one to take criticism lightly, and his defence of his original column continues in the comments section at Comics Should Be Good, and even spills over into the comments section at the Newsarama Blog. In response to a critic, Don offers up “You make it sound as though Ross has no choice but to include a bulge just because there’s one apparent on the model.” Did I mention that said critic is irate homosexual Dorian Wright from PomoBarney? No? It is:

“So, Don, is it the very idea of a bulge that you’re objecting to, then? Because, yes, if Ross is accurately attempting to portray the model, and say what you will about his art, he does appear to be meticulous in attempting to make it as realistic as possible, than he probably should show a bit of package if the model is. But most importantly, SO WHAT? It’s not as if Ross has lovingly detailed the outline of the shaft through the clothing. All he’s done is paint the shadows and highlights in such a way as to suggest that his model wasn’t a Ken doll. Honestly, from some of these reactions, you’d think comic fans were uncomfortable with the suggestion that men have genitals.”
- Dorian Wright

Image Copyright 2007, International Male.It’s always fun to see Dorian be bitchy, and here he’s fully justified. He’s playing politic here too, and not just out and out claiming that lots and lots of comics fans are entirely uncomfortable with the suggestion that men have genitals. They are. To be fair, it’s not just comics fans, lots of dudes are completely and utterly uncomfortable with their sexuality, but Comic Fans are pretty special in that regard, and comics characters have long been so artisticly dickless as to be concave where their genitals should be it’s not surprising that they’re a little on edge. As a commenter at Newsarama points out, the artistic focus of the piece is clearly the face and chest of the character, not the cock, but certain posters just seem mesmerised by Citizen Steele’s package (that’s his real name, by the way). Why is that, do we think? I’m sure the folks who have a problem with it—the commenters that find it ‘creepy’ or scary—would argue that you simply can’t avoid looking at it, it’s so prominent! I’d like to offer another theory.

Go check out this out. It’s a report on a study about “eyetracking” or seeing how people interact with the internet. It uses a set of goggles to measure where the eye is fixating on a page, and then turns that into visual data. It ranges from bright red, where the eye lingers for a longer period of time, to blue, where the eye barely scans. But yeah, let’s skip to the relevant part. Here’s me quoting a big chunk from the site.

–>Quoted from http://www.ojr.org/ojr/stories/070312ruel/

When photos do contain people related to the task at hand, or the content users are exploring, they do get fixations. However, gender makes a distinct difference on what parts of the photo are stared at the longest. Take a look at the hotspot below.

Although both men and women look at the image of George Brett when directed to find out information about his sport and position, men tend to focus on private anatomy as well as the face. For the women, the face is the only place they viewed.

men-v-women.gif
This image of George Brett was part of a larger page with his biographical information. All users tested looked the image, but there was a distinct difference in focus between men and women.

Coyne adds that this difference doesn’t just occur with images of people. Men tend to fixate more on areas of private anatomy on animals as well, as evidenced when users were directed to browse the American Kennel Club site.

<--End Quote. (Bolded emphasis above is mine)

It’s not Alex Ross’ fault, gentlemen. You just can’t help staring at the cock. Even when you’re afraid of it.

- Christopher
Note: I’m sorry that this had to be my first post of substance in days.
Edited to add: Pictures of dudes with big packages, for ‘comparisson’.


91 Comments on “Afraid Of Cock.”

You can track this conversation through its atom feed.

  1. Leigh Walton says:

    Jeez, Chris, if we wanted REALISM in our comics we’d go to Alex Ross or something.

    What? Oh.

  2. Mike says:

    Admit it, you’ve been saving that “all men love the crotch” proof for a while now!

    oh and BTW Ken (TM) doesn’t have a cock because
    1. it would cost more
    and
    2. it would break off and some small child would choke and die on it.

  3. Don MacPherson says:

    Chris wrote:
    Oh Don, you’re right, because whyever would a dude wanna look at another dude’s package? I mean, that’s solely the domain of ladies and yaoi fans, who are also mostly ladies.

    Chris, I think you’ve misconstrued my comments. I don’t take issue with the JSA cover because it depicts a package. I’m taking issue with unnecessary sexualization of characters in comics. It’s not that Citizen Steel is depicted as having a penis; it’s that he’s sporting wood (and in an image that’s meant to cast the character in a tragic, tortured light). The image doesn’t make me uncomfortable because I’m adverse to seeing another guy’s gear; it’s because the erection is SO out of place in that context, and so unnecessary.

  4. Chris says:

    Don- Are, are you kidding me? HE DOES NOT HAVE AN ERECTION. Omg.

    “I’m afraid I’m going to have to recommend some remedial work for you in this subject. I recommend starting with the underwear section of InternationalMale.com for an hour a day until you can tell the difference.”

    http://www.internationalmale.com/dept.asp?dept%5Fid=10610

    Seriously. It’s for your own good, man.

  5. Chris says:

    Mike- Oh, and about 2 weeks. You have to admit, this is a perfect reason to bust it out.

  6. Don MacPherson says:

    In retrospect, I think you’re right, Chris, for taking me to task on the yaoi comment, since evidence does indicate that genre of manga has a strong female fanbase as well.

  7. Don MacPherson says:

    Chris wrote:
    Don- Are, are you kidding me? HE DOES NOT HAVE AN ERECTION. Omg.

    I’d argue it’s open to interpretation, but I can completely see why you’d take issue with my criticism of the Cit. Steel image based on the assumption that he’s not erect.

    My argument was that sexualizing these characters — female and male — contributes to a negative image of comics fans and the industry.

    Obviously, I’m not arguing against sexual content in comics altogether. Sexuality has a place in comics storytelling. Hell, I don’t even take issue with comics porn (XXXenophile is a blast). But the general public perception of Supergirl, Catwoman and super-hero team books from DC is that it’s all-ages material. Those of us familiar with the state of the industry know that’s not true, but that general perception persists.

  8. Chris says:

    Don- You’d argue…? Oh man. Alright, I’ve edited pictures of dudes’ packages into the post now. They’re all soft, and as big as Mr. Steele there. Because, you know, they’d be “pointing” a different direction when hard. Particularly? Particularly if their cocks happened to be made completely out of STEEL.

    I’m glad you aren’t against porn in general, but that JSA cover is no more or less sexual than the codpiece on Batman’s outfit in the movies. Let alone the bat-nipples+codpiece that showed up in the PG-rated Batman 4. Let alone the rest of Ross’ output, which has never shied away from a realistic depiction of the male anatomy (though it wasn’t usually as shiny…).

    - Christopher

  9. Don MacPherson says:

    Chris wrote:
    Don- You’d argue…? Oh man. Alright, I’ve edited pictures of dudes’ packages into the post now.

    OK, the only thing I’m sure of now is that I will never be asked to be an underwear model.

    I still think my arguments hold up, but your perspective is perfectly valid as well. And I agree… too many people commenting in the threads are “weirded out” by the bulge, thereby missing the original point.

  10. Matt says:

    awesome post.

  11. Laura Gjovaag says:

    Chris, you are now my hero. I love this post. I’m totally for heroes having real packages… As I recall, Leah Adezio told me of discussing Aqualad with an artist, she had to encourage him to add more bulge to make him look a little more realistic.

    And for the record, Steele doesn’t look very erect to me. Looks like his shorts need more support, but erect? Not even.

  12. Dorian says:

    It’s always fun to see Dorian be bitchy

    We aims to please.

  13. Leigh Walton says:

  14. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Apr. 20, 2007: That’s “Hate-fueled multiple Eisner nominee” to you, pal… says:

    [...] A realistically drawn crotch in an Alex Ross cover painting for DC Comics’ Justice Society of America #7 has provoked a minor wave of “Ewww” among comics bloggers, which in turn has provided the fodder for one of the funniest essays Christopher Butcher has ever written. Related: Wang! (Above: Wang! Detail from the aforementioned cover, ©2007 DC Comics.) [...]

  15. markus says:

    FWIW; I’d tend to see an erection, but your counter-examples are compelling (if very well hung). Simply put, if it happened at the local public bath, I’d put my money on the former.
    That said, the column is quite dickish in more ways than the obvious one. There is by now a considerable tradition of bloggers pointing out cases of over-sexualised superpeople and the way you just go about mindreading the people who complained about the cover in question and flatly decide it’s “queer fear” or whatever, that’s just … insulting and stupid. Why not remote-psychoanalyse their “tit and ass fear” or simply “skank fear” as well, while you’re at it?

    To recap: if boner, then bad. If normal package, questionable sexualisation of superhero, as unnecesary as e.g. the recent Power Girl by IIRC Turner. In both cases real life examples exist who are that packed/stacked but that’s not the point.
    That’s not saying superheroes should be neutered, but just as the breast sizes of superheroines, the guy needn’t be super down there as well.
    That should go without saying, being a case of a false alternative, but that didn’t stop you using that dickish debating tactic in the post. Then again, you also argue using images of people selected because they’re well hung, which is n’t much different from using model or porn images to justify the body of the average superheroine. It’s dishonest in that is ignores the other sides point to score a cheap one. And it defends Greg Land, which is probably the worst sin of the lot.

  16. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I would imagine some people are seeing the penis as at least semi-erect and positioned up and to the left as opposed to flaccid and pressing against the fabric in order to create folds in that part of the costume.

    It’s sort of like that old lady/young lady optical illusion, only with junk.

  17. Blog@Newsarama » More on Citizen Steel’s conversation piece says:

    [...] But the funniest, and most in-depth, response so far comes from Christopher Butcher, who challenges contentions that Citizen Steel is shown in, um, an aroused state. Bless him, Butcher also provides visual aids in the form of photos from the International Male catalog, and even cites an eye-tracking study. [...]

  18. Guy LeCharles Gonzalez says:

    On so many levels, this is one of my favorite posts ever. Kudos!

  19. laurence says:

    good one

    just imagine the reaction if someone portrayed a women with abnormally large breasts in a comic. there would be outrage..

    it’s good to see people have their patriarchal gender bias fully ingrained when juding “unnecessary sexualization”. sheesh.

    but also, i think it’s a shame his whole costume is one big arrow pointing to his cock. maybe this is normal, i don’t really know much about superhero comics anyway ;]

  20. AC says:

    I read about Chris Steele’s package on Dan’s site back when he intially posted it and was pretty dissapointed by his comments (and surprised that anyone thinks that’s what a hardon in spandex looks like). Thanks for taking everyone to task on this.

  21. Betty says:

    Why, it warms my heart to see all the men protesting the sexualization of comic characters!

  22. Dorian says:

    Markus–Funny, the only place I see Greg Land mentioned is in your comment, not Chris’s piece. I’d respond to you in more depth, but frankly I’m too busy laughing at you for calling his accurate description of the underlying homophobia to most of this “oh my God, no, a crotch!” panic from straight comic fans “dickish.”

  23. Johnny Bacardi says:

    At the risk of becoming the Lord God King of TMI, I’d like to offer the observation that not all erect penises point upwards.

    Thanks and good day.

  24. Chris says:

    Markus- You’re a semi-regular commenter here, so I’ll try and give you the benefit of the doubt on this one. So, addressing your comments:

    “I’d tend to see an erection, but your counter-examples are compelling (if very well hung). Simply put, if it happened at the local public bath, I’d put my money on the former.”

    I totally don’t see the up-to-the-left thing that Tom does, and if that’s what you’re referring to, I think you might at least have a point (though that would give him exceptionally large + heavy balls). But otherwise? You’d lose that bet and all the money you put down. Any other interpretation, as far as I’m concerned, is all about what you’re bringing to the art and not the art itself.

    “That said, the column is quite dickish in more ways than the obvious one.”

    Hahaha….

    “There is by now a considerable tradition of bloggers pointing out cases of over-sexualised superpeople and the way you just go about mindreading the people who complained about the cover in question and flatly decide it’s “queer fear” or whatever, that’s just … insulting and stupid.”

    Well, it’s insulting, yeah, but stupid? Dude, like Dorian pointed out, there’s a blatently obvious undercurrent of homophobia to this entire event, and nowhere is it more prevelant than on “CSBG”. I’m not stupid for calling Cronin on being afraid of ‘teh gay’ if he admits to being afraid of the big cock and the thought process behind a painting of it in the post itself. That’s not stupid, that’s not even subtext. That’s what’s actualy there. It’s probably an insult, but it doesn’t make it any less true. As for the tradition of bloggers blah blah blah? Gail Simone has already got responses to fear of female sexuality covered, I’m good for now. If it ever gets as bad as this, I promise you I’ll jump in there too.

    “Why not remote-psychoanalyse their “tit and ass fear” or simply “skank fear” as well, while you’re at it?”

    Like I said, I’d be happy to. Actually, I’ll just make a statement right now: “SOME BLOGGERS WHO COMPLAIN ABOUT WOMEN LOOKING SLUTTY ARE AFRAID OF FEMALE SEXUALITY. SOME ARE NOT, BUT IN LIEU OF A GOOD EXAMPLE, I WILL MAKE THIS STATEMENT TO APPEASE MARKUS.”

    “To recap: if boner, then bad.”

    Nah, not at all. See, you totally missed the undercurrent of homophobia in this discussion, because afer Don covered it, it didn’t become about ‘oversexualised children’s comics’ or whatever, it actually became about two dudes (and their comments sections) being afraid of any hint of male sexuality. If it was a boner and they were similarly terrified of it? Same deal, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just a cock, 47% of the planet has one, even superheroes. Suck it up. (heh) The discussion of appropriateness for the cover of a superhero book is a separate thing, but “Alex Ross DECIDED TO PAINT THAT. CREEPY!!!!!” is a separate issue, sir, and one where they don’t have a lot of ‘wiggle room’.

    “In both cases real life examples exist who are that packed/stacked but that’s not the point.”

    I guess if you’re completely humourless and/or willing to engage the points I’ve made, sure.

    “That’s not saying superheroes should be neutered, but just as the breast sizes of superheroines, the guy needn’t be super down there as well.”

    Needn’t he? According to whom?

    “That should go without saying,”

    No, it really doesn’t. See, I’m not against superheroes being sexy, or superheroines having ‘heroic’ proportions. The argument against Mike Turner is that he’s a fucking hack, and turns women into grotesqueries. He’s ‘emphasising’ on the level of Tom of Finland, but he’s both less honest about it and less mature. The argument against Greg Land is that HE’S a fucking hack too, but instead turns all characters he draws into porn-stars, by virtue of all of the women he draws being traced from pictures of porn stars. He’s inserting actual fuck-poses into work where fuck-poses are not called for, and work against the drama of the story. If he were doing a book called “traced fuck pose monthly, staring Sue Storm” I’d have no problem with it.

    Right now, if I can be incredibly condescending towards you for a moment, you need to sit and think about this until you can make the distinction between an idealised physique (including primary and secondary sexual characteristics), of which a 6 pack of abs and a big cock are part, and a physique exaggerated for a specifically sexual effect, like Tom of Finland’s erect-penis-down-the-pants-leg-to-the-knee. Because it’s not just a difference in scale, it’s also a difference in intent and execution. If you can’t see it? I don’t think we can have this conversation.

    “Then again, you also argue using images of people selected because they’re well hung, which is n’t much different from using model or porn images to justify the body of the average superheroine. It’s dishonest in that is ignores the other sides point to score a cheap one.”

    I don’t think the other side has much of a point. It’s all a bit like when the VHS of “Disney’s Aladdin” was released, and prudes swore that Aladdin had a boner on the cover of the box. He didn’t, it’s Disney’s goddamned Aladdin and that cover box art went through 40 rounds of approvals before someone decided they saw something–it was a clear fold of the fabric–but that didn’t stop the outcry. People are fucking nuts about nuts, and crazy for cock (see eyetracking study linked above). I’m not going to give their arguments fair consideration because a) that’s not my job, and b) their arguments are as ludicrous as intelligent design and Reganomics. Fuck that.

    Thanks for commenting!

  25. The Doctor says:

    Wow. This is the thanks that Alex Ross gets for NOT castrating his male characters. Huh.

  26. Chris says:

    Johnny- Yeah, that’s the one fact I regret not including. I was trying not to muddy the waters on this one though, but honestly? They don’t become erect and then point down, not without past trauma to the region.

    Feel free to send photos though, just mark whether-or-not they’re okay for print. ;)

    The Doctor- I’m worried he won’t be so cocksure in future paintings.

  27. Chris says:

    I think it’s the diagonal lines that all point directly to his crotch that really does it. Just in a design and composition way, it’s all about the cock. Which does seem a bit odd for JSA. JSA is all about Powergirl’s boobs after all.

  28. 10FootBongz says:

    Frank Quitely is a sobbing mess right now. How many issues of Superman does he have to draw before someone complains about the bulges that he draws? Will someone please show him some respect by freaking out over the fact that the big blue boyscout has genitals?
    You are all really hurting his feelings. I hope you are all happy with yourselves.

  29. Leigh Walton says:

    If anybody needs proof of what an erect penis looks like in spandex (a phrase I never thought I’d write), Dirk linked to some photos a little while ago of Spider-Man and Captain America “wrestling.” And there’s that infamous pic of the kid cosplaying Robin at some convention — that’s definitely not a Batarang.

    I am a straight guy and it boggles my mind how much ignorance people are showing on this issue. The Ross model has got, at best, a semi.

  30. Huff says:

    Oh man that was great. You’ve definitively got the point that most heterosexual guys are insecure with male sexuality down: I’ll admit to it to some degree, and there probobly is a kind of knee-jerk reaction for most guys. On the other hand calling it “creepy” and being freaked out about it is going overboard. Anyways, if you can have camel toe on the cover of New X-men then why not show off Steel’s junk?

  31. ZC says:

    …Man, people are goin’ crazy over nothin’ nowadays, aren’t they?

    I admit I’m not one who normally even thinks about oversexuality in comics (female or male), with the rare exceptions of absurdity (that recent Michael Turner Power Girl thing that I think even Brad Meltzer was making fun of).

    I mean, honestly, it’s just… not important to me.

    I just want my comics to be good, enjoyable, etc.

    I don’t want to think about the comics industry, period. Let alone big talks about sexuality and pandering and blah blah blah.

    Cue a picture of something exploding.

    Now that I’m done with that, I think the first comment here pretty much summed up the entire point, really, which I’m gonna quote because it’s just that good:

    “Jeez, Chris, if we wanted REALISM in our comics we’d go to Alex Ross or something.

    What? Oh.” – Leigh Walton

  32. Darwyn Cooke says:

    Jeez, Chris…….

    Usually, I find your essays a great read and am almost always in agreement with you. This time is no exception.

    But I’m confused. Is this the same Chris Butcher that tried to get J. Bone to change his strip for Comics Festival because the gay lead was too provocatively dressed? In a humour strip with no sexual activity that featured a gay lead, Chris Butcher panicked and and tried to get the artist to dress his character more conservatively so as not to offend the good people at Diamond. To J.’s credit, he refused to change his strip. And Diamond didn’t say boo about it.

    Chris, you’re an important and vital figure in today’s comics world. We need more guys like you in this industry and I always enjoy the chances we get to talk when I’m in town. But what you’re doing here is just…fucked up.
    I read your essay, and moreso, the comments here, and you seem rather full of yourself as you judge those who’ve joined the conversation, especially Don M (a great guy who has been kinda mis-contextualized here) and the condesending attitude you take with someone named Markus. But that situation last month with J.’s strip kinda mitigates any authority you may have to comment on others fears.

    If a guy goes all nelly over a sexy male figure in a comic he edits, but takes a day to post photos and examples to ridicule others who have a problem with that type of thing, what does that say? I know that if you ever heard of such seemingly hypocritical behaviour, you’d call it out on your blog.

    So let me ask you Chris……who’s really afraid of cock here?

    Darwyn Cooke

  33. Todd E says:

    All this talk of erections and over-sexual genitalia picqued my curiousity. So, in the name of science, while wearing boxer-briefs, I studied my own crotch in the mirror.

    If we ssume the guy is about 6 feet tall, then the proportions should match fairly closely to my own body. I’m 6 feet tall and of average size. After doing a quick comparison, I’d say Citizen Steele is average sized or slighty above-average and most definately not erect.

    The lesson: Before you start talking about guy’s bulges, have something to compare it against.

    And incidently, I’d hate to take some of these guys to museums in Europe.

  34. Manly Ripsnort says:

    [...H]e was altered by liquid metal excreted by a Nazi super-villain.

    Emphasis mine, but if it’s true, THAT officially creeps me out more than cock ever could!
    And the problem w/ the Michael Turner cover was that it was completely UNrealistic, as in Liefieldian anatomy, not the “sexiness”.

  35. Hannah says:

    A non sequitur, but reading this reminded me of the issue with the homoeroticism in the hip-hop industry. The vast majority of men on these covers are bared-chested, oiled, and often holding some kind of handgun; also, in videos women are objects, but men are “your buddies,” and the importance is on them being satisfied. Yet when you try to confront people on the very homoerotic implications of these elements, they’re immediately on the defensive or refuse to discuss it.

    So while the Citizen Steele image is, in all honesty, very tame compared to the image of women, it doesn’t shock me to see some of the same overreactions.

    Beyond Beats And Rhymes, a documentary on issues of sexualization and image in hip-hop, has a great section on this topic.

  36. Ivan Brandon says:

    i have nothing to add, except to say this is the funniest chris butcher blog post of all time.

  37. Myk says:

    Chris.

    You sir are the king of comic related penis posts.

    Thanks.

  38. Drooling Fan Girl says:

    Somebody needs some support there!

    http://krazykimchi.com/imageboard/src/bolleblogheader01.jpg

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_belt

    “A dance belt is a functional name for a thong jock, an undergarment which is often worn by male ballet dancers because various choreographic moves would otherwise produce unfortunate visual distractions, discomfort or even injury.

    The dance belt is worn to lift the genitalia away from potentially damaging or undesirable movement of the legs. It resembles a thong and is usually worn in a color similar to that of the dancer’s skin. This makes it nearly invisible under tights and a leotard. It is also designed so that the elastic rests in depressed areas of the body, so that it does not show up as raised lines.

    Some figure skaters and equestrians also wear dance belts, for reasons that, similarly, include both safety and aesthetics.”

  39. Nestor says:

    That’s clearly not a boner. The big arow on his uniform does tend to point at his crotch in a nonsubtle manner, but as the other eye tracking photo proves us dudes are all about the crotch staring

  40. The Rack » Archive » Baffled By The Bulge says:

    [...] Anyhow, this is it: our statement on Bulgegate 2007.  It’s puerile, it’s childish, it’s  probably below us, but considering some of the discourse that pals like Christopher Butcher have uncovered and discussed, I felt it deserved a bit of notice. [...]

  41. Captain Infinity says:

    I just honestly don’t see what the big deal is. I saw it, I moved on. It’s far, far less obtrusive than the blatant way women are drawn in comics.

  42. Frank Smith says:

    “it’s that he’s sporting wood (and in an image that’s meant to cast the character in a tragic, tortured light). The image doesn’t make me uncomfortable because I’m adverse to seeing another guy’s gear; it’s because the erection is SO out of place in that context, and so unnecessary.”

    Of course he’s tortured – that man needs relief!

  43. Damien Whiter says:

    I discovered this discussion due to the link in “Lying in the Gutters” and I’ve got to say this is the funniest comics discussion I’ve read in years. And my heart goes out to all the fanboys who think an erection looks that small.

  44. Jane's Comics says:

    “Dirk linked to some photos a little while ago of Spider-Man and Captain America “wrestling.” And there’s that infamous pic of the kid cosplaying Robin at some convention — that’s definitely not a Batarang.”

    Where can I see these pics?

  45. Kevin Huxford says:

    The thing about this whole argument that I don’t get is that Don’s INTERPRETATION of the art is that Steel has a boner. Based on him having a boner, he commented on it as part of the tendency to oversexualize images in comics lately.

    Disagree on whether it is a boner? Fine…then you don’t see the pic as some sexualizing piece…which is also fine. But to make Don all about the homophobia based on it? That’s just a sad assumption that some have demonstrated being completely closed to conversating on.

  46. M Parsons says:

  47. escapingbabylon.com » On objectification and Comic book covers covers says:

    [...] About a year ago today, in response to objectifying comic book covers, and in particular some fans’ arguments that these covers are totally appropriate, Livejournal user odditycollector put up a post titled “Totally appropriate covers” (warning, the link isn’t exactly family friendly) that illustrated their point beautifully. I don’t want to take anything away from the point, but a recent article (quoted and linked below) found via comics212 brought a thought to my mind that I’ve had before. This image of George Brett was part of a larger page with his biographical information. All users tested looked the image, but there was a distinct difference in focus between men and women. [...]

  48. Chris says:

    http://comics212.net/2007/04/23/follow-up-in-defense-of-don-macpherson/

    Hey there, I posted a little follow-up this morning talking about the difference between Don’s post and the CSBG guys, if you’re still reading the comments section here I’d appreciate if you’d go read that as well.

    - Chris

  49. Andy Mangels says:

    >

    Chris, I’m not gonna send you pics, but trust me when I say that there are guys whose erection points (or curves southward). In the last 20 years, I’ve seen enough (either in person or in porn) of them to say that it’s a rarity. Not even as common as the side-pointers. But it does exist, and isn’t from trauma.

    To think otherwise is just creepy. ;>

    And IF Steel is supposed to have a stiffy in his chrome undies, I pity him. Seriously. Compare his hand size to the bulge. Poor man.

  50. Leigh Walton says:

    Hey, um, Jane’s Comics:

    http://www.andyelycra.co.uk/gallery.php?gallery=2heros
    Can’t find the Robin photo at the moment, sadly.

  51. Blog@Newsarama » You paint a funny face like a chick. says:

    [...] Chris does a good job of summing everything up while The Hurting decides to publish Wang Watch 2007! [...]

  52. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Apr. 25, 2007: Courting tackle and its discontents says:

    [...] As funny and generally spot-on as it was, one thing that bugged me about Christopher Butcher’s “afraid of cock” rant was the assumption that there’s something wrong with straight men who might not want to think about other men’s wangs. I have to dispute this. We all have our hang-ups, and while they can sometimes mess with our lives — e.g.: straight men who won’t perform cunnilingus on their mates, callously refusing pleasure to others and potentially wrecking their relationships — hang-ups are just as often completely harmless. [...]

  53. Sure we wang! Can. Can wang. « Tlönista says:

    [...] “Chris Butcher’s got a point, but look, there’s nothing wrong with that instinctual feeling of squeamishness at a naturalistic, unexaggerated, not especially sexualized depiction of cock. Sometimes a guy doesn’t want the fact that other men have penises too just…shoved in his face, you know? Er, so to speak. Kind of an aesthetic preference, like how some people don’t like asparagus. Something about the elongated shape, I guess.” [...]

  54. An All New Low...? « In One Ear… says:

    [...] as a creative explosion ready to be unleashed” « So, You Know How… An All New Low…? April 25th, 2007 It’s scary stuff.  Comics have finally stooped to exploitation ofsexuality to sell books.  A formerly kid friendly medium has now joined the ranks of porn to sell comics.  Have they no shame?  Do they not consider the other dangers of such imagery? [...]

  55. John C says:

    Just found this post. Funny stuff aside from the “creepy” nonsense. Can’t help but chuckle at straight guys who’ve spent (in some instances) decades obsessed by muscular men in tight outfits suddenly getting all hot and bothered when an artist depicts the male anatomy with a degree of honesty. More cocks in comics, plz.

    Meanwhile, some of you may remember this:

    http://odditycollector.livejournal.com/97166.html

  56. MangaBlog » Blog Archive » Thursday’s random links says:

    [...] Studioqt has a nice demo of what’s involved with retouching sound effects. (Found via Sporadic Sequential, which is currently rather NSFW further down the page, as he’s having a celebration of wangs in manga. It’s yet another department in which our medium does better than the superheroes.) [...]

  57. markus says:

    re: Cronin: possibly, crucially you just don’t seem to care at all whether he thinks a boner on the cover is creepy or whether it’s really just the package. In the latter case you’d be right, I’d call that “queer fear” as well and appreciate you drawing attention to it. If the former, he has my full support, I’d react just the same to a cover depicting a superheroine with Liefeld-style strands of moistur/goo between her legs.

    And that’s really the heart of the matter, you interpret the picture differently and you’re unwilling to step into the shoes of someone who is convinced there’s a boner in the picture.

    Like that guy from the CSBG comment’s sections you quote. _At worst_ he’s simply wrong about the picture and perhaps through several links you can somehow asscribe a certain homophobia to his comments along the lines of “so afraid of cock he sees a boner where none is”, but (a) that’s deep into pop-psychological bullshit territory, ignoring all the other reasons (e.g. spring) why that person might see a boner and (b) it hinges on the correctness of “no boner”. Which apparently reasonable people disagree on. Perhaps the commenter would even come to share your view after having seen you examples.
    But that might have required given them the benefit of the doubt even if they don’t see the Ross cover the “right” way, your way.

    ——————-
    Concerning the artsy stuff:
    - well yes, the some of the criticism was that Ross inserted a fuck-pose where none was called for. Per your follow-up that’s done with.
    - re: boner = bad. You know, if you’re reduced to arguing that people insufficiently clearly point out they’re talking about a concrete instance in a superhero book and your argument relies on interpreting a local statement as their universal opinion … you’re talking nonsense. You’re effectively suggesting they’d have a problem with Ross drawing (homosexual) porn for a porn mag. Your evidence does not back up that suggestion in the least.

    - “the distinction between an idealised physique … of which a 6 pack of abs and a big cock are part, and a physique exaggerated for a specifically sexual effect” A good point I readily admit to having given insufficient thought to. So, thanks.
    Still, you’re miles off the point I was talking about. I was criticising the false dichotomy between “neutered” and “so packed some people think it’s a boner”.
    Anyway, on your point: your distinction is mostly one of artistic intent and for most examples outside Tom of Finland you’ll find it’s a bit of both and artists rarely bother to reveal their motives nor can be presumed to be knowledgeable and honest about them. In the middle, we interpret, using various clues one way of the other. If you can’t come to that interpretation table admitting the other side has a point or a legitimate, non-evil (/homophobic) reason to see what they see, that discussion can’t happen either.

  58. John C says:

    Has anyone thought to ask Alex Ross what reference (if any) he used for the painting?

  59. Jane's Comics says:

    “Can’t find the Robin photo at the moment, sadly.”

    Darn, that was the one that I wanted to see most.
    :P

  60. Andy Mangels says:

    “Has anyone thought to ask Alex Ross what reference (if any) he used for the painting?”

    I did.
    It was one of his regular models.
    Who was not erect.
    Nor packing any serious baseball bat.
    Nor did Ross set out to create controversy or paint a penis. He just painted reality, then costumed and chromed it.

    Paraphrasing, but from our conversation, the very heterosexual Ross finds this whole “afraid of the whang” thing ludicrous.

  61. John C says:

    Thanks Andy. :)

  62. Aman-About-Town says:

    Chris, you are brilliant. Thank you for your attention to detail and your compelling arguments.

  63. 13th Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction & Fantasy Fans « Words From The Center, Words From The Edge says:

    [...] -Christopher Butcher posts Afraid Of Cock in response to the furor over Alex Ross’ painting of Citizen Steel over at Comics212.net: Brian and his ‘buddy’ Jake are ‘creeped out’ by a bulge in another guy’s pants (artistic or otherwise). The idea that an artist chose to give a character an impressively-rendered package is actually frightening to these fellas, and the idea that his model might’ve had a good-sized package in real life? And Alex Ross decided NOT to neuter him for some insane reason? Equally as creepy. [...]

  64. KaBoom! says:

    Absolutely the best comics blog post EVER!

    I read this and laughed my ass off.

    The straight fanboys love their handsome, muscular, male superheroes as long as they’re neutered or under-endowed because in that one way, they can be superior to their hero. But hey, give him a normal package (and yeah, that is just an average package), and they feel threatened, “creepy”.

    I don’t see anything inappropriate in having sexualized characters in mainstream comics, it makes them more realistic. It is the over-sexualized, hyper-pneumatic depictions that are wrong.

  65. Jasonsan says:

    This is the most interesting thing I’ve read in a while. That photo of the concentration area that men and women were compared with is so incredibly interesting. I think it has more to do with competition, though. Men like to size other men up in order to see where they fit on the cock-scale.

  66. Dana B says:

    wwooo! penis!!!!

    That’s… all I have to say really.

  67. her_schism says:

    What really bugs me about this is people complaining that it’s “oversexualization” and yet we have all the big bouncy boobs boinging about and impossible spine breaking poses.

    Personally, if comic book fans can’t handle spandex with what might be a cock underneath, it shouldn’t get these twisted up disgusting women.

    (Personally, I love cheesecake, both of the male and female versions and I don’t really mind the sexual objectifiction of women in comics, but when men can’t handle what may be sexualized males, it just becomes ridiculous.)

  68. Caitlin W. says:

    I must say, I wonder if the men squalling about a well-endowed superhero are the same ones who roll their eyes if us wimminz get annoyed at the blatant oversexualization and objectification of women in comics.

    Note: Having a noticeable package in spandex is realistic. Having DDD boobs with a two-inch waist is not.

  69. Sphinx says:

    Can we just accept that men should not wear metallic spandex and move on?

  70. Eisenkreis says:

    I find it absolutely hilarious that most of the guys who’d be splattering drool all over the pages upon sighting the overtly buxom and RIDICULOUSLY thin statue of MJ ala Spiderman showing off her fanny… are the ones flipping their shit over the fact that there’s some PACKAGE showing up these days.

    When you turn it around and imagine how many women have been practically laughed out of the room for bitching about boob-waist-and-ass sizes, it puts you in a bind: laugh through a megaphone into the faces of those who’re screaming their heads off, or beat them to death with said megaphone… THEN laugh at them.

    Frankly, I’m all for the oversexualization of males in comics– and I’m all for this gendertyped ‘outrage’ that seems to be overtaking the comic bloggers. Whether or not the intent is centralized around the issue of objectification, and rather, has the ‘straight guy phobia’ of porno associated with it (more on that soon!), this makes me smile. Trying to wrap said homophobia up IN the oversexualization package (lawl package) is cracking me up to no end, largely because of the HUUUUGE doublestandard it’s presenting, as well as the blatant fear of stating the real case.

    Ever wonder why guys in breeder-porno are ugly?

    Straight guys themselves fear getting turned on by good-looking models.

    No joke.

  71. ComicKate says:

    Dear Chris-

    I think I love you, man. No, really. I haven’t laughed this hard or nodded this vehemently in reaction to a comics-blog post in…ever, really.

    It’s so nice to see a comic cover with a dude who actually looks like a DUDE. The fact that the art itself is completely fantastic, that the pose is great, that the superhero in question looks like he could be a real (if impressively ripped) person? Makes me want to go out and BUY THIS COMIC. And isn’t that what covers are supposed to do?

    Bravo, Alex Ross. And you too, Chris.

    Love and kisses (no, seriously)

    Kate

  72. Rina says:

    People are complainig about innecesary sexualization of men? WHAT?

    And here I was happy for the few times that that happens.

    Chris, I love you.

  73. Rina says:

    Another post but I was just reading this and couldn’t resist…

    Don wrote:
    In retrospect, I think you’re right, Chris, for taking me to task on the yaoi comment, since evidence does indicate that genre of manga has a strong female fanbase as well.

    As well? Are you fucking kidding me? I mean, I know that male yaoi-fans exist but…

    but look, there’s nothing wrong with that instinctual feeling of squeamishness at a naturalistic, unexaggerated, not especially sexualized depiction of cock. Sometimes a guy doesn’t want the fact that other men have penises too just…shoved in his face, you know?

    … Wow, just wow. So, I should feel perturbed about other’s women vaginas?

    Damn, I think some people are really repressed about sexuality in general.

  74. Blurgle says:

    I would bet you money that the twits who are terrified – terrified! – of seeing a boner are the same ones calling women horrible subhuman bitches for complaining about the Mary Kate-as-tramp-laundress statuette.

    Overdone, unrealistic, ridiculous sexualization of women? Fine, and anyone who complains about it should be shot.

    Overdone, unrealistic, ridiculous sexualization of men? EVIL EVIL EVIL HORRIBLE (froth at mouth)

  75. Lame Wang Game says:

    Now I see the “up and to the left” and it’s um hard to not see it now. heh. Ok. bad but it was there. I think this is great. I think that more people are going to view now less of the equalization of sexualization or unrealistic in the average person sense of comic books then that comic book readers/ bloggers have way too much free time, and little going for them, if they can spend hours and pages worth of discussion on a comic book cover that will generally only be seen by people who actually go into comic book stores and unless they know of the JSA will probably ignore it as I doubt any retailer is going to put this on display with lights and arrows. I have been into comics for 27 of my 30 years, and I’m more upset by the constant attempt to prove that comic book collectors/avid readers aren’t the stereotype that we are a bunch of losers when you’re just proving we are. Arguing over DC’s third generation Captain America wannabe (which I did like don’t get me wrong) package is hillarious and incredibly SAD!

  76. Manofsteelbuns says:

    Um…is there a Citizen Steel fanclub I can join?? This is a totally hot cover, and I can’t wait until July. It’s about time male comic characters look like MEN instead of eunuchs. For all the guys who are “weired” out, here’s a newsflash: MEN HAVE DICKS! And they come in different shapes AND SIZES! These characters may has supernatural powers, but there’s no reason why they should have less than HUMAN bodies. If your own dick size is causing you to feel inadequate by comparison, just GET A GRIP…literally and figuratively. To the comic artists: MORE BULGE PLEASE!

  77. Someone With A Real Life says:

    Hi,

    To be quite honest I think you are sad people for talking about this. Men may look at other peoples packages but thats only because of our natural instincts and that we all want to be the alpha male. Next time post something more tasteful Chris….

  78. Blog@Newsarama » ‘Rama Rampage: Better Late Than Never. says:

    [...] For those afraid of male chickens, worry not; it’s all part of Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s grand plan, as the Broob explained to the mothership: [T]his is no tease. This is a new Captain America, in the Cap comic itself, so you know I wouldn’t just do it for a gimmick. This has been part of the plan all along, and if I ever implied there wouldn’t be a new Cap ever, then I was avoiding the question or dodging it. I tried to dance between the lines but I have said all along there wouldn’t be anyone in a Cap outfit for a while. Nine issues in comics is a while, right? [...]

  79. comics212 - never safe for work. » Blog Archive » Cock: TCAF Cartoonists face censorship on University Campus says:

    [...] Where… where could that be? [...]

  80. Guy Who Can End This OLD Arguement says:

    I know this is a pretty dang old post now but… Seriously… Women are rendered with breasts… men SHOULD be rendered with a bulge in their pants… It’s not sexual… it’s realistic… I mean… Women have breasts, men have testicles and a penis which tend to rest in such a way as to move clothing, especially skin-tight clothing, forward and away from the groin of the average male. So, what I say? Get real, grow up, and get over it.

  81. comics212 - never safe for work. » Blog Archive » It’s always Ladies Night at a Comic Book Store says:

    [...] In the past I know that Eisner Award-winning comic shop Zeus Comics in Dallas, Texas has done social ‘mixers’ for their clientele, including a specifically queer-themed mixer in late 2005. My experience with the comics industry is that it’s no more or less homophobic than the general public (and those that disagree should hang out on X-Box Live some time to see what fandom-oriented homophobes really sound like…), but that doesn’t change the fact that the comic store is generally a very heteronormative environment. Superhero comics in particular (the bread and butter of most comics shops) are notorious for this. Check out my Afraid Of Cock post for more. Many queer customers still don’t feel safe being ‘out’, so any actions that are taken to really include and engage gay comics fans I feel are worth noting. Would BNW ever sponsor a Gay Singles Night? “I would need more convincing that there would be a need for a more queer specific event,” says Atom! “But, a lot of our single queer customers and friends were here and some met each other for the first time, so who knows?” [...]

  82. MikeRaymond says:

    I know this is an ancient discussion, but in case anyone’s still reading it, I thought I’d point out that the artist who drew Captain Marvel back in the 1940s was the first one to give a male superhero a bulge where guys should rightfully bulge. As he tells it, a young reader looking at an early version of CM complained that he didn’t have a dick. Beck drew a convex curve instead of the concave curve the other artists were drawing. No one ever accused him of drawing boners, he just drew a guy who looked like a guy with man-sized junk (or maybe a protective cup) wearing tight spandex. (The battle against the bulge has a long and weird history… in the 1960s, TV producers went into a hissy fit whenever there was the slightest suggestion of a bulge in Batman’s costume… they refilmed whole scenes, to get rid of it.) The “weird” thing isn’t guys having sexual organs, the weird thing is how anomalous it still seems to us when an artist draws one who looks like he does.

  83. Comics Should Be Good! » Confessions of a Comics Glutton says:

    [...] In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that I got the idea to use the food analogy for my conspicuous consumption of comics from this Chris Butcher post, where he likened exclusive superhero readers to people with candy diets. That’s always stuck with me, even as I load up on Marvel and DC books at the LCS. I felt he should get the credit, even if he’s not a big fan of the us and the penile phobia that powers the site. [...]

  84. mykle1616 says:

    I still can’t quite understand all the fuss over this cover. And the fact that a lot of GUYS are saying dude is hard? It makes me wonder just how small ya’lls erect penises are. If dude is hard, he must have like a 2 inch penis fully erect. Fact of the matter is, a lot of guys in their underwear resemble this state. Whoopty-freakin-do. And the fact that so much attention has been drawn to it just reinforces that most men are still insecure with the fact they have a penis. Where was all the hub-bub when Alan Davis drew the little line in the crotch of Captain Britains uniform, or Nightcrawler’s for that matter? Or the old DC Titans pic for subscriptions drawn around X-mas of 85, I believe where Changeling has a pretty big bulge in his pants? Gee, I’m so sorry striaght men were forced to see this spectacle instead of yet another cheesey shot of Power Girl’s chest. Or Cyclone’s pantiless Marilyn pose. Besides, it’s about time I got something to sorta look at on a comic book cover, not that this did anything for me. I guess my big thing is get over it. I just don’t get the fuss.

  85. TZG2.0 | FASTER, INTERNET! KILL! KILL! says:

    [...] Citizen Steel´s day off. (Cock controversy) [...]

  86. The “Power” of POWER GIRL? « Happy Blogtime! says:

    [...] The thing is, guys do complain about penises; remember the outcry that resulted when DC solicited an image that Alex Ross drew in which some guy named Commander Steel had a revealing bulge? Here are the details: http://comics212.net/2007/04/19/afraid-of-cock/ [...]

  87. The "Power" of POWER GIRL? « says:

    [...] The thing is, guys do complain about penises; remember the outcry that resulted when DC solicited an image that Alex Ross drew in which some guy named Commander Steel had a revealing bulge? Here are the details: http://comics212.net/2007/04/19/afraid-of-cock/ [...]

  88. MightyMaeve says:

    This is my first day reading your blog entries, and the more I read the more I think I Love Your Brain and What It Produces.

    You have not only written an article that is insightful, coherent and informative, but witty and completely enjoyable to read on subjects I’m very much interested in!

  89. MUSCLE MADNESS | The Slow Bullet says:

    [...] Male superheroes are actually frequently portrayed as being completely without a member, despite their very, very tight outfits. There’s frequently just a flat area. In fact, whenever there is even a suggestion of penis, male fans get a bit, er, flustered (and not for reasons like honest arousal). Remember when Alex Ross, painter of realistic superhero images, portrayed Citizen Steel as actually having a crotch? [...]

  90. Lex says:

    Ok … 4 years old thread, but questions raised still valid ….
    Plus, pretty much all the previous posts got it wrong …
    The equivalent of Captain Steel’s cover for women would have been a cover with a superheroin displaying an inescapable camel toe ON THE COVER….
    Which you would hardly find, even in 2011 (granted, you can find it here and there in the inside pages) …
    So in that sense that was quite a newness, hence the shock ….

    So …. until displaying camel toes becomes the norm, the real sexism problem seems to be more the difference in the poses…. Like stated in that post : http://theslowbullet.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/muscle-madness/
    the equivalent for men of the usual depiction of women would be for the heroes to all display poses like Tom of Finland’s models …..
    - http://queermeup.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Tom_of_Finland_09.jpg
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_JfzG4mI1KQc/S5o9l6jIqnI/AAAAAAAAC54/zOV6BAcULaA/s400/Tom_of_Finland_15D.jpgjpg
    But then one could object …. : the way for men to appear sexy is to have muscles and look masculine (square jaws, large shoulders, hairy chest) -, the way for women to look sexy is to adopt sexy poses …
    Not so much the reverse, like men offering their butt and women going into body building excesses … It is not a comics norm but a social one …
    So in this way comics treats fairly both genders in presenting them equally and in their own ways as objects of desires …
    Now is this that we are looking for in reading comics ..?? We could probably do without it … There is already enough gratuitous stimulation and frustration without wanting to add more …

  91. Comics Are A Man’s World; But It Would Be Nothing Without A Woman Or A Girl : hivster says:

    [...] spread to bastions of  hyper-masculinity like the male super hero Citizen Steel? Well there’s a moral panic from male fans and industry vets alike of [...]

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