Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Is This Gratuitous? Cover of Red Sonja #19

Originally uploaded by Heidi Meeley.
This week the picture in question is the cover of Red Sonja #19 by Adriano Batista. It is one of four covers available this week for the issue. Obviously Red Sonja is always right on the border line of taste due to her sexy chain mail bikini, but what caught my eye was the very graphic beheading pictured here, so I guess we are going for gratuitous violence this week.

I can tell you right now that if this comic cover showed up in my comic shop it would immediately be stowed behind the counter, no questions asked. Consumers would have to specifically request it to get their hands on it for sure. Yikes.

My jaded eye is a bit surprised at the graphic nature of the violence being portrayed, but I am not really offended. I am simply shocked at the rage behind the beheading, and didn't expect a cover like this.

While I ponder this a bit more, I would like to hear your opinion.

Is this gratuitous?


Carl said...

Welp, not to me, of course. I've been collecting Robert E. Howard fiction since roughly 1970 or so. Ssssssoooo, I've read the originals with Red Sonya, the Rus Pirate swordswoman, to Roy Thomas, the paperback novels, avoided the movie and to the current revival. In one short story alone, something like a 100 soldiers sent to escort Sonja on a treasure recovery mission all died horrible gruesome deaths, leaving her and a handful of survivors. Yep, it's grotesque but part of the REH story-telling, "blood and thunder" and it's typical of all his tales. So, put it behind the counter, but there's been a lot worse before...

Anonymous said...

I think in the context of an all-ages retail environment, yes, it's definitely gratuitious.

But...I'm from the Olden Times, when adults all seemed to be on basically the same page when it came to protecting wee minds from imagery they aren't ready to process yet (whether overtly violent, sexual or "adult" in nature).

But, I've noticed that now there's a good percentage of adults who want nothing of that. Instead, no matter how disturbing or inappropriate, they're all for it. You see, it's all about FREEDOM, man!

I guess so. But at what point did responsibility completely detach itself from freedom?

I must have missed the memo.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

well, yah, that is totally gratuitous. Shouldnt' even be a question. Perhaps you should file it under, "is it any good?" or "does the beheading actually add anything?" and , in this case, no I don't think that it does.

Gratuitous is a relative term, one that I'm running into drawing a book with 4 teenage girls, one of whom is gorgeous. I don't have to have her pose too much to end up on the list, and yet I'm trying really hard not to sexualize her, even though a eighteen year old female can be a sexual being.

If I was drawing sword and Scorcery, I hate the idea of having to draw swords clashing without blood: its stupid. But it has to be good, and part of the story to work. A REH adaption should be bloody, and, done properly, not for children. Sanitized, as in the old Marvel Conans, perhaps.

Swinebread said...

It’s like Manga but with western art. Violence is no big deal in Japanese comics, that’s the way it should be here. Of course the market for this should be teens and adults.

The question “is it any good” is the best question to ask.

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl, I didn't find this nearly as gratuitous as the Raven butt shot. To me it fit in with the Sonja mythos as well. You have it pegged, my friend.

Heidi Meeley said...

Mark, I love your comment. You have it right. It is sad that my comic shop owner will worry all day about this cover, knowing that is will most likely offend someone, rather then being able to spend his time selling comics.

Jim and I have the conversation about personal responsibility all the time. We aren't parents, so we try not to judge, which makes it tough. I watch my sister and learn from her.

Anyway, I just want to add an "amen" to your post!

Heidi Meeley said...

Ink- I think one of the main reasons I have polled people about this picture is as an opportunity to see how violence is viewed as opposed to just showing "sexy" pics.

I empaphise that it would be very tough to portray a character just right as to not "cross the lines". You are in a tough position and I don't envy you!

Your comment is insightful as always!

Heidi Meeley said...

Swinebread, that is a valid point. So let me ask you, is it any good?

Personally, the shot hearkens me back to old school Red Sonja issues and it isn't personally offensive to me. However, sitting on the counter at the comic shop, it is hard for me to judge.

Swinebread said...

Yeah, I thought it was pretty good. It had some fantastical races which is unusual for a Hyborian Age comic.

It is part of the huge return of Kulan Gath storyline, so it might lose new readers.

Red Sonja keep improving