In this week’s Retro Review, I covered a notorious 60-year-old comic book that was once pilloried for it’s…  Umm…  Let’s euphemize it as “exuberant” depictions of the female form.  These days, it’s commonplace for our favorite characters to have adult sexual relationships, urges and attitudes, and they’re generally not expected to curve the spine, warp the soul or cause hirsute palms among the audience.  The Japanese, always ahead of the perv curve, have a specific term for it:  Fanservice, literally giving the fans what they presume they want to see.

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) is simple:  Do pop culture cheesecake/beefcake moments make you smile or make you cringe?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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9 Comments

  1. Ricco
    May 7, 2012 at 11:52 am — Reply

    It’s somewhat expected now days, some are capable of integrating it into the storyline and some don’t, but I don’t really have a problem/bias towards it. We live in the internet world, you can find much worse if you just look for it…

  2. Russ Catt
    May 7, 2012 at 12:03 pm — Reply

    During my teen years, it was definitely more of a smile (even though all the X-women had the same basic body design)

    These days, it’s definitely more cringe. I really want comics whose art accentuates the story and not drowns it out.

  3. Xian
    May 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm — Reply

    Depends on the larger context and a number of factors including, but not limited to:
    – Was I expecting it?
    – Has this historically been a typical source for it (irrespective of my expectations)?
    – Is it gratuitous or graphic in fact or just in concept?
    – Is the tone playful, fun, a non-issue… or intentionally lustful?
    – Are there any elements of subjugation, non-consensual, underage, incest, etc.?
    – Would the subject object to being objectified / how empowered is the subject?
    – “Smell test”: Do I feel dirty afterwards? Is it creepy? How comfortable would you be sharing the material to a random sampling of your acquaintances?

  4. May 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm — Reply

    Honestly it all depends on the context. Artists like Amanda Connor who can integrate cheesecake into the story & do it with a sense of humor are far more likable than the types who just decide to draw someone in that “I’m fixing my car by humping it” posture just because they can.

    Oh, and beefcake fanservice people? Same applies, but all the examples I can think of are bad. Not every girl has a thing for guys with Cable’s questionable anatomy, thankyouverymuch.

  5. Ryan
    May 7, 2012 at 5:15 pm — Reply

    Remember Vartox from Amanda Connor’s Power Girl? I laughed out loud when he was introduced.

  6. B.V.K.
    May 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm — Reply

    I smile, then cringe at myself for doing it.

  7. Oldcomicfan
    May 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm — Reply

    You know, it really just depends on the comic. All the cheesecake in Dave Steven’s Rocketeer? Hubba Hubba! The ridiculous scanty costumes worn by just about every female Marvel character. Ho hum. The depictions that really annoy me are those showing a woman wearing a blouse or sweater where every single curve shows. Have these artists never seen a clothed woman? The fabric drapes from the edge of the “porch” (as it were) down to her waist. It doesn’t follow the underside of the boob in defiance of gravity! The other thing I find completely ridiculous is swords-women in chainmail bikinis. Having so little on competely negates the value of the armor in the first place. If getting it on or some cheesecake advances the story, I am all for it. But when it’s just gratuitious, or the artist doesn’t even get the anatomy or fabric right, then it annoys me more often than not. I expect Little Annie Fannie to run around au naturel, that’s the whole point of that comic. Frank Miller used gratuitious nudity in his Dark Knight saga to emphasize how degraded and depraved Gotham society had become. That was okay, too. And then there’s characters like Witchblade who was clad in nothing but boogers. Yuck. Hand me a kleenex, quick!!!

  8. Michael
    May 7, 2012 at 8:14 pm — Reply

    I always have to take things like this on a case-by-case basis citing things like context, the artwork itself, the costume design and so on.

    For instance, reading a story where the Legion’s Cosmic Boy is running around in a costume that was basically Jean Grey’s Black Queen outfit minus the cape did and still can make me feel a touch odd if I were to be reading it out in public. However, I’d be fine with reading Starslayer (before the addition of the body stocking) in public.

  9. MaximusRift
    May 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm — Reply

    Cheesecake/Beefcake moments do not make me smile.

    Cheesecake/Beefcake moments do not make me cringe.

    Cheesecake/Beefcake moments make me go “Meh”.

    In all seriousness it all depends on the amount and the context where it is portrayed.

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