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QUACKCAST 205 - What about Bodyshape?

ozoneocean at 12:00AM, Feb. 10, 2015


Photos by Howard Schatz.

This week Banes and I were inspired to talk about body shape in the depiction of figures in comics, inspired by some famous images from photographer Howard Schatz's 2002 book, Athlete. In it there are photos of many athletes who're at the peak of their sports and yet their bodyshapes are vastly different, subverting the idea of an “ideal” bodyshape or what it means to be a top athlete or even fit. too often bodyshapes in comics follow a very narrow range, not getting much past what we think of as the current popculture ideal. We all know that idealised model shape is a problem and yet we all still perpetuate it, most of the time you can only tell most “realistic” characters apart by their hairstyle or costume, especially in superhero comics. And that invents a second problem: the myth of the “normal” shaped body as opposed to the ideal- there IS no such thing as normal, and even the ideal is always changing throughout the ages. There's even a lot more to body shape than the famous categories: Mesomorph, Ectomorph, and Endomorph, or Skinny, Pear, Athletic, Hourglass and Apple. We also have a beif mention of how stylised characters (Sponge Bob, Calvin and Hobbes etc) are exaggerations of these shapes and differences.

Topics and shownotes

Featured comic:
Onward -

Some of the athlete photos here -
and here -
(The images, taken by photographer Howard Schatz for his 2002 book, Athlete)

Bodyshape pics taken from here -

Typical DC superheros -
Typical Marvel superheroes -

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace, guitar shaped musician -
Banes, mesomorphic muscleman -
kawaiidaigakusei, hourglass shaped featurer -

The theme song by Gunwallace this week was for:
YOUR CHOICE - - by VinoMas



VinoMas at 9:40AM, Feb. 16, 2015

I swear I responded to this...yet don't see it. Forgive me if I sound redundant! #1 GUNWALLACE!!!! I was BLOWN away with your theme for YOUR CHOICE...I'm actually working on a Youtube video of stills from my comic set to music and if you let me use the theme I will be indebted for you credit of course! It was so much like how I want YOUR be seen. Very dramatic, very mysterious, yet with this clear sence of fashion and hip-hop / pop culture. You NAILED it! Thank you Thank you Thank you! Banes and Ozone. A great stream of reflection on body image. You always come up with great themes to explore. I think we need a Body Image Part 2. Skype in some popular artists and have them discuss how they use body image in their comic. I know I'm very conscious of it as are a lot of artists here. Would probably need to edit the interviews in though like you do music and short segments since artists cant all Skype in at once. Still would be fascinating.

bravo1102 at 1:14PM, Feb. 11, 2015

All I'm saying is walk before you run. Be able to depict one body type consistently well before trying to include every body style in your comic. Have obvious differences that you as the creator can easily remember. Work on portraying them all well and consistently from page to page before running off to vary everything just for the sake of variety.

ozoneocean at 4:15AM, Feb. 11, 2015

Lots of variation in comic character shape is a great thing, it really does help to define character. I can't TELL you how effing bored I am when I see comics where everyone has the same bod. And the look of a lot of modern superhero comics where everyone has etched, sculpted muscles, no matter who they are or what they do is beyond silly.

bravo1102 at 9:28AM, Feb. 10, 2015

Let's say you do follow the variety of the human form in your comic. Your next great hurdle to leap is continuity. All those figures looking the same is because that way you don't have to remember who is the pear and who is the apple. Comparative heights fluctuate in many comics and then add perspective and the poor artist throws his/her hands up in disgust and goes back to being a trash hauler.

cdmalcolm1 at 7:14AM, Feb. 10, 2015

I try to get away from the standard superhero body type. Thats why I wanted to create a superhero that is plus size woman. Her body changes rapidly from 165 - 350 lbs. Plus she going from bad gal to good gal and hopefully have a love interest with someone who changes shape often. I came up with this idea from the adverse type of heroes & villains created in the Heroes United/Heroes Alliance Universe. I thought "My, what strange bunch." I started thinking what are they missing from this group of people but is a standard body type in the real world. It hit me....big people. There are not enough big people as superheroes. I wanted her to be powerful, but I want her do something out of the superhero norm. so, I looked up Gluttony. Comes to find out he has 6 daughters. Almost all of them were too nasty but 2. So I took 1 of them & created my character. As she use her powers she gets bigger and little when she projects/purges. Like what lungs does with air, she does with light.

KimLuster at 4:45AM, Feb. 10, 2015

Very interesting subject... We really should strive to get away from the 'ideal' (I'm notorious with not doing so) - there's just so many interesting body shapes... I found all of them appealing...!

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