Bad girl art

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For information on bad girl art on movie posters, see Bad girl movies.
Bad girl art
This topic covers comics that fall under various genre.
Publishers Image Comics
Chaos! Comics
Avatar Press
Publications Vampirella
Lady Death
Creators Brian Pulido
Marc Silvestri
Todd McFarlane
Related articles
Good girl art

Bad girl art is a superheroine art form genre coined after the analogy of good girl art which also includes strong female characters in comic books.

History of bad girls in comics[edit]

The prototype bad girl - before the term was coined - was Vampirella, whose comics started in the 1970s.[citation needed] When Frank Miller influenced the comic bad girl stereotype when he created Elektra and gave her a complex relationship with the title hero Daredevil that went beyond the realm of mere villainy.[original research?]

Bad girls were common in the comic book market from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. During the heyday of the style, some fifty titles within the subgenre were being published, with Lady Death as the best selling title.[1] These books featured full-figured women, exuberant art, and supernatural themed stories.[citation needed]

Bad girl characters are the female embodiment of the "grim and gritty" mood of comic books in from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.[2][page needed]

The bad girl style remained popular until manga and anime became the latest trend in comics during the late 1990s, causing bad girls, along with antiheroes, to be seen as dated and unfashionable.[3]

Bad Girl characters[edit]

Bad girl comic characters differ from good girls in their characterization.[citation needed] Bad girls, unlike good girls, were seldom found in the role of a damsel in distress. Bad girls were "typically as powerful, violent, skilled, smart, and self-assured" as any male superhero.[4] Bad girls were motivated by background stories in which they had been the victims of abuse and domestic violence or had their loved ones murdered.[citation needed] Their motive was revenge against their abuser, making the character's moral code ambiguous and making it hard to characterize bad girls as either a heroine or a villainess, leading them to be classified as antiheroines.[original research?]

Magic, mythology and occult themes were also frequently found in their origin stories.[citation needed] Bad girls were depicted as either demon hunters, rogue angels, vampires, or wielders of a supernaturally bestowed power or weapon.[citation needed] More effort was often spent in creating the bad girl's complex backstory than building up the world around them, leading to a decline in quality after a title's debut.[citation needed]

What these characters shared above all was being cast in the role of dominatrix.[5] Their weapons and demeanor marked them as threatening, even as the style of their drawing marked them as emphatically female. Their allure and their dangerousness go hand in hand, both being essential parts of the sexual fantasy these characters are meant to embody.[5]

Bad girl visual style[edit]

Angela, drawn by Michael Turner, wears a skimpy and busty costume and carries a very large weapon. The elongated mannerism and pose of the drawing is typical of the style associated with Image Comics in the early 1990s.

The terms bad girl art and good girl art, while similarly constructed, are not directly oppositional: while "good girl art" means "girl art" that is "good", "bad girl art" is art of "bad girls": the "bad" refers to the personalities of the antiheroine characters, often portrayed as cruel, mercenary, or demonic, although it may also be intended to reflect on the crude mannerisms and exaggerated anatomy of the drawing style associated with those characters.[6] Bad girl art uses the flamboyant and anatomically exaggerated style of art associated with Chaos! Comics and Image Comics during the same period to draw those grim and gritty female characters.[citation needed]

The artistic illustrations of bad girls are closely linked with the highly manneristic and finely inked style of art that is associated with the original Image Comics house style.[citation needed] Image Comics was founded by a group of artists, most of whom had previously worked for Marvel Comics, and as a result the first Image comic books were created by artists rather than writers.[citation needed] The comic books published by Image at the time had a reputation for flashy art, with frequent splash pages, complicated page layouts and character designs, and highly stylized and posed figures.[citation needed]

As such, the Image visual style and the bad girl character coincided in time, and the Image heroines were violent, scantily clad, and frequently appeared in cheesecake poses.[citation needed] Male characters were equally stylized in the Image house style — male characters drawn by founding artists such as Mark Silvestri, Rob Liefeld, and Erik Larsen had "refrigerator torsos, elephantine limbs, and tiny pinheads"[7] — but these female characters were also depicted in a highly sexualized manner. The depictions of the bad girls of bad girl art showed them "perpetually bending over, arching their backs, and heaving their anti-gravity breasts into readers’ faces"; these images "defied all laws of physics."[8]

Some of the more extreme manifestations of the phenomenon showed women with big hair; extremely long legs, often longer than the upper body; breasts bigger than their head; in anatomically improbable or impossible poses; and thighs wider than their waists. Both the male and female stylizations of the period could be seen as common reflections of the "superhero genre's preoccupation with ideal bodies."[4] Bad girl characters were frequently drawn with torn or tattered clothing or spattered with blood.[citation needed] These characters frequently wield a large gun or sword, and wear skulls or mystic symbols in their clothing.[citation needed]

Marc Silvestri, along with the other early Image Comics artists like Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane were a large influence on the visual style of bad girls.[citation needed] Together, with the creations of writer Brian Pulido for Chaos! Comics, a new era started.[original research?] Artists like Michael Turner continued this visual style.[9]

During the peak of the period of the style's popularity, Mike Deodato drew Wonder Woman, a classic good girl, in a style that owed much to the visual style of the bad girl books; Trina Robbins called Deodato's Wonder Woman a "barely clothed hypersexual pinup".[10] Jim Balent's Catwoman was also revisioned in this style.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inness, Sherrie A. (1999). Tough Girls: Women Warriors and Wonder Women in Popular Culture. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press. p. 145. ISBN 0-8122-3466-9. 
  2. ^ Voger, Mark; Miller, Frank; Gibbons, Dave; Ross, Alex (2006). The Dark Age: Grim, Great & Gimmicky Post-Modern Comics. Raleigh, N.C.: TwoMorrows. ISBN 1-893905-53-5. 
  3. ^ Hart, Christopher (2004). Drawing Cutting Edge Anatomy: The Ultimate Reference Guide for Comic Book Artists. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 138. ISBN 0-8230-2398-2. 
  4. ^ a b Inness, Sherrie A. (2004). Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 63. ISBN 1-4039-6396-7. 
  5. ^ a b Inness, Sherrie A. (2004). Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 64–65. ISBN 1-4039-6396-7. 
  6. ^ Daniels, Les; Kidd, Chip (2004). Wonder Woman: The Life and Times of the Amazon Princess (1st Chronicle Books LLC pbk. ed. ed.). San Francisco, Calif.: Chronicle Books. p. 186. ISBN 0-8118-4233-9. 
  7. ^ Harvey, Robert C. (1996). The Art of the Comic Book: An Aesthetic History. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. p. 150. ISBN 0-87805-758-7. 
  8. ^ Jacobs, Will; Jones, Gerard (1985). The Comic Book Heroes: From the Silver Age to the Present (1st ed. ed.). New York: Crown Publishers. p. 341. ISBN 9780517554401. 
  9. ^ George Gene Gustines (2008-07-06). "Michael Turner, 37, Creator of Superheroines, Is Dead". Retrieved 2015-03-15. 
  10. ^ Robbins, Trina (1996). The Great Women Superheroes. Northampton, Mass.: Kitchen Sink Press. p. 166. ISBN 0-87816-481-2. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Maud Lavin, "What's so bad about "bad girl" art?" (Ms. Magazine, March/April 1994) p. 80 - 83.