In August of this year Dynamite plans to bring back the 1990’s Topps character “Lady Rawhide”. Having only appeared in 27 issues, including her own title and appearances in Zorro, she definitely wasn’t a winner for the then failing Topps comics division (1993-1998) but since Dynamite has done fairly well with the reintroduction of several “classic” characters (The Shadow, Green Hornet, Sherlock Holmes, the Bionic Man, and Bionic Woman) maybe they’ll have some luck here as well. I must admit though when I saw the promotional image I began to wonder if this was a good climate to bring this character back…
No one would say Dynamite shies away from sexy outfits but this is a little much even for them. My curiosity got the better of me and I sent the question to What’cha Reading’s comic book crazies, here’s the resulting conversation. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below…
Me: So with the constant back and forth about what constitutes sexism and what a “good” depiction of a comic book heroine should be, how does this book [Lady Rawhide] fit in. Will it even be noticed?
Rosemary Kiladitis: I’m sure there will be the requisite blog post or two about it, but I’m pretty sure it will be business as usual. Did Red Sonja give up her chain mail bikini? Nope, and Vampirella’s still got her red one-piece (and, clearly, very strong two-sided tape). As long as Lady Rawhide is depicted-like Sonja and Vampi-as a capable, intelligent character, I’m fine.
Rob Base: Don (McGregor) was my comic book writing teacher at SVA (School of Visual Arts) and he was always pimping his Lady Rawhide character. If it’s done right she could be a useful hero. But her costume has always been more (um for a lack better term) sexy. definitely form over function!
Never quite knew how she rode a horse like that.
Bob Lazauskas: If comics are the modern mythology it’s no surprise how characters of both sexes are displayed. All the old gods were handsome and beautiful, just like the idealized superheroes of today.
The woman will always be sexy, and dress revealing and the men will always be 6 foot 4 with square jaws and Baywatch pecs.
As long as the characterization is there and a good story I’m cool. Plus when someone draws more realistic people ( you know someone with a B cup or lack of a 8 pack ) it makes that book/character standout.
Just like real people, characters can be great to look at but boring as hell to deal with.
Rob Base: I agree but at the same time Lady Rawhide never blew up the charts. It seemed like a last-ditch effort from Topps to stay in the game.
It was not successful, Don tried his hardest. But in the ever-changing climate of comics having just some super sexy hero doesn’t make a comic great. Don’t forget she was created out of either a Zorro book or Lone Ranger (not sure which one it was.)
Rosemary Kiladitis: It was Zorro; I think I may even have one of the Topps issues somewhere.
Me: I just find it funny that the big two get attacked constantly for this stuff, but pretty much every Dynamite title (as Roe mentioned) almost relies completely on the use of skimpy (to put it mildly) costumes.
Nancy Mathews: I think indies get a pass on things like this because they tend to do slightly out of the box characters. Even if they’re complete stereotypes they’re done with a wink. The problem with the big houses is that they’re female characters often pale in comparison to the males so things like costumes take on more importance as they’re so little substance to them generally.
Edward Gambichler: Hey say what you will about comics and comic geeks, but they are one of the few mediums that never had a problem seeing women as both sexy and empowered beings…
Nancy Mathews: Truth!
Rosemary Kiladitis: Yup
So there you have it, if the character is strong and well written does it matter if the outfit is skimpy?
Should it matter whether or not this kind of a design comes from Dynamite or the “Big Two”?
By the way, here’s what Lady Rawhide looked like back in the day
As a comic fan(atic) and a father of a 7 yr-old girl I can tell you that neither of those issues would be found in my house. I too enjoy escaping reality but this is a little much.
When you take a character described as “a masked vigilante who’s good with a sword, a gun, or her signature bullwhip” and dress her in an outfit that if it were on Catwoman the internet would go insane, well it just smacks of a double standard. Remember when this cover sparked a whole mess of backlash?
At least her outfit could be considered cat-burglar-ish, cat-burglary, whatever…
So why do the smaller companies get a pass? Do they? Is it writing? Can you say that characters like Red Sonja or Vampirella are better written than say Batgirl, Batwoman, Psylocke? If not then why can’t DC or Marvel get away with some of the same costuming choices (without getting called out constantly for it)?