Marvel’s new Ironman protege, Ironheart, was celebrated for being a very progressive move by the comic book giant. With few black women as superheroes, Ironheart was considered a huge win for diversity advocates.
Well, now that the comics are actually being made it seems illustrators are walking on egg shells attempting to depict the 15-year-old Riri Williams in a way that won’t offend anyone.
The latest victim of online outrage is illustrator J. Scott Campbell, whose variant cover is seen below. He was accused of “oversexualizing” a teenage girl, but claims he was just being true to the original artwork.
After virulent complaints online Marvel decided to cancel the variant artwork.
The crusade against the drawing was lead by the usual suspects at The Mary Sue and Hitfix, who maligned Campbell as a “pinup artist” despite his years of experience drawing comic book covers.
Campbell took to Twitter to defend his artwork.
— J. Scott Campbell (@JScottCampbell) October 19, 2016
I gave her a sassy "attitude"@lilpochaco "sexualizing" was not intended. This reaction is odd. The crop-top was in the existing design.
— J. Scott Campbell (@JScottCampbell) October 20, 2016
These kind of controversies over sexualization are not new to comic books. In July artist Frank Cho quit Wonder Woman after his variant covers were denied six times for being too sexual. It was part of a longstanding beef with Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka, who Cho described as having a political agenda.
The ironic part about these new demands to crack down on sexualization is that they so closely align with puritanical rules on comic books enforced in the 1950s.