Everyone’s heard that you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. I think that’s supposed to be metaphorical though, and to apply to not making assumptions about people based on their surface appearance. You know, like ugly people might have really great personalities, or that handsome Christian Bale might be a rude, scary guy to work with on a set. Like that.
When it comes to actually books, it’s not always a bad idea to judge them by their covers. Particularly if you’re talking comics, since the cover is one of the few things retailers have to judge them by when deciding whether to order them or not (along with the creator credits, and a paragraph or two worth of description provided by the publisher. And, perhaps, whatever press the company or creators do).
The direct market’s two biggest publishers each announced a new series debuting in the summer that a lot of folks have judged by their covers and the little info so far available, and ended up judging them pretty harshly.
These are, of course, Marvel Divas, a four-issue miniseries by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Tonci Zonjic featuring four random characters and being promoted as a sort of ensemble superhero soap opera (albeit a soapier one than all the other superhero soap opera’s Marvel publishes), and Gotham City Sirens, a new ongoing series by Paul Dini and Guillem March featuring a trio of Batman villainesses.
The criticism of each is, for the most part, fair, and certainly anyone with an Internet connection or soap box and megaphone are entitled to pre-judge the hell out of them. That is why DC and Marvel release the covers and solicits, and then promote the books through media interviews and through in-house press efforts: To get retailers and readers thinking about buying their books.
Since the books were announced, I’ve heard an awful lot of criticism about the work of Siren artist Guillem March, based on the cover for the first issue that was released, and some of his other cover work for the Batman office.
I just wanted to take a few minutes today to defend March from some of the criticism, which seems to focus on how sexy he draws female characters, and whether or not it is somehow exploitive or inappropriate for the comics or the characters within them. While the effects of such art in general is certainly up for debate, I would just like to point out an important difference between March and a lot of the more established and popular here’s-a-drawing-of-a-lady-posing type artists: March is a really, really great artist.