Sunday, February 12, 2012

Brysketch: Power Girl

Just a quick sketch today - I finished Monday's comic early yesterday and felt like doing a little something extra, but something different - a character I've never drawn before. Since the character's been redesigned recently, I went with DC's Power Girl (created by Gerry Conway, Ric Estrada and Wally Wood).

The funny thing is, I don't think I own a single comic with Power Girl in it. I haven't ever really followed the character that closely, despite being familiar with her... I just noticed the redesign online the other day and it got me thinking about the character for some reason.

Power Girl's probably most well-known for her "classic" costume. You... can probably see why. It's a pretty shameless look, and some artists (most successfully Amanda Conner) have embraced the cheesecake aspect in a fun, self-aware kind of way. Which is totally fine - that certainly has its place. But putting impractical, "sexy" costumes on female superheroes is incredibly widespread and overdone all-around, and it raises a lot of arguments about sexist attitudes toward women in comics that are pretty uncomfortable to say the least. I'm generally pro-practical when it comes to costume design for male or female characters, and feel that costumes are generally far more appealing -- and even sexier -- without tits or ass hanging out, or looking like they'd fall off or apart under any form of pressure.

But I'm not a huge fan of the new costume, either. It's... okay, but doesn't really grab me. It does away with the "cleavage window" but adds overly-busy gloves and boots with a lot of unnecessary lines (a common "New 52" design choice), while, as Comics Alliance pointed out the other day, looking a lot like the Image Comics character Supreme. And worst of all, the new Power Girl looks a bit... slight. The best part about her classic look was that she was a visually powerful woman. Unlike many/most superheroine designs, she didn't look anorexic or impossibly-proportioned; she was strong, healthy and curvy - often with a bodybuilder physique. That's a big part of what made her look so iconic, and now that's been lost.

I do like the covered chest/legs and exposed arms in the new look, though, so I took those aspects and worked them into the core of the classic design, and this is what I got.

Now, I did this really quickly while I was fairly sick, so it's... not great. I feel like the proportions are a bit off, but I didn't want to redraw it, so to hell with it, here it is anyway:

I know I'm not the first to draw something along these lines, and I'm sure it's been done much better elsewhere. But I think it's a solid tweak to the classic design that takes away a lot of the cheesecake factor while still remaining recognizable.


  1. I like that you replaced the breast window with hand ones ;)
    I do like the new costume as an improvement over the old, but yes, I also agree that the new version looks more Disney Princess than kick-ass. Aside from her being smaller, her face has changed - to big doe eyes that take away her credibility and a strong jaw changed to a soft round one.
    This is the first time I've ever seen or heard of her, btw. Are there any female characters that don't wear spandex?
    I've always wanted to see one wearing silk or something with movement - ala Flor from Harry Potter - weren't those girls amazing in the blue in the first scene they appeared at Hogwarts?

    1. I thought it'd suit the character better if the exposed-flesh focus was on the strong arms and hands instead of the breasts and the legs (often leading up to a thong, ugh). I came across a fairly similar (perhaps better) design elsewhere after I drew this, so clearly I'm not the only one who's had that thought. ;)
      Some writers have actually tried to explain the costume as her using her sexuality to distract male villains. Considering she's immensely strong (her name is POWER GIRL), that always seemed like a stupid justification to me - I mean, if Superman doesn't need to flash his bare pecs at villains to do his job, Power Girl shouldn't have to either.
      Spandex is usually the default, for male and female characters, to be fair. I'm trying to think of characters that wear something like you described - I'm sure some exist, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment. It makes sense for there to be more diversity in style and fabric in superhero costumes, but any change to a traditional look is usually met with huge resistance from the fans. *shrug*
      What you suggest would be cool. Maybe that should be a future sketch? :)

  2. I like your comic (and drawing style) -- and that's why I'm spying here, but I can't resist to mention some distracting details: girls have Y shaped ... you know ...instead of T, and they never have wilder shoulders, than hips. In marvel comics its the same seize, couse they are outstanding - manly - superheroines. Int he other hand, when the shoulder too narrow, you get the 'neighbour Jane'.

    1. Hey, it's not spying if I make it public. ;)

      Thanks for the feedback - I don't claim to be professional level or anything, I'm kind of learning by doing.
      To be fair, this one was pretty quick and loose, and there are a lot of things I'd do differently now, especially re: anatomy/proportions. I just didn't feel like starting over. ;)

      But getting some solid anatomy down is a top priority for me right now with the comic - I prioritized deadlines above all else, but I think I've hit a decent groove with that and can start working on the some fundamentals a bit more now.

      Thanks for the comment!