"Heavy Metal" Artist Finds Breastfeeding on 'Saga' Cover Offensive

5 years ago

[Editor's Note: While we believe the image being discussed in this post is not offensive, some photos in this post may not be suitable for work.]

Dave Dorman is an artist whose work has been featured in Heavy Metal, the European adult comics magazine which frequently features erotic art and comics.

Here are samples of some of his covers:

Here’s the image he’s objecting to:

Cover credit to Fiona Staples.

His excuse seems to be that he was under the impression, given something writer Brian K. Vaughan said in an interview about today’s comics being inaccessible to the younger generation, that Saga was meant to be an all-ages book. However, that does not excuse the bulk of his reaction to the image of a mother breastfeeding her infant:

It seems that in today’s desperate-for-sales comic book market, nothing is sacred. In the midst of world-saving adventures, today’s modern heroine breast feeds her child with zero modesty…What a wholesome, family-friendly image!

I find this image offensive, not only for promotion of a comic book, but specifically for a comic that Brian clearly states that he would like to see today’s younger generation pick up and read as he did when he was kid. Rather than a family-friendly heroic saga, this promo art is telegraphing to the world that it’s a series I cannot share with my 7-year-old son.

Is the comics industry really so dead that they have to stretch to these desperate, shock value measures to incur readers? Really?

Jill Thompson immediately responded, “Breast feeding NOT offensive as Comicbook T&A.” Saga artist Fiona Staples has responded with grace and confusion.

”I find it a little hard to fathom why anyone would object to a depiction of breastfeeding, even if it were on a kids’ comic, which it isn’t. I have yet to hear a line of reasoning that makes sense to me. That said, anyone who wants to be grossed out by our comic is of course free to do so.”

Meanwhile, I’m weaving back and forth between wanting to cry and wanting to punch Dorman in the face.

My sister recently had her first child. Sometimes when I’m over at her house, the baby needs to eat. Sometimes my sister can’t be bothered to take the baby elsewhere in the house, or sometime I’ll go with her to my niece’s room so we can keep talking, and my sister breastfeeds her daughter. Every time it’s happened, my reaction to the scene has been one of awe, setting me on a contemplative path of how beautiful, powerful, and oddly efficient nature and life can be. There is something so primal and natural about breastfeeding that is so easy to forget in today’s mechanized world. Watching my niece suckle at my sister’s breast to me is like having a window into the past 100,000 years of hominid history, and for a brief moment makes me think that even with all the horrible things going on in the world today, ultimately we’ll be okay as a species, because most of us can be born, create more life, and sustain that life if we so choose.

In addition, there was some debate yesterday about whether the use of the word “ladyparts” is unforgivably cis-sexist. I don’t have a real answer to that, but as a cis-woman, I do feel the need to feel empowered in my own body, and by how my body is tied to my identity as a woman, because on the whole, society does what it can to take that empowerment from me.

So to hear some cis-male T&A/BDSM artist call breastfeeding a “desperate, shock-value” image that he “can’t share with his 7-year-old son,” makes me want to cry and punch him in the face at the same time.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why we need more of a female perspective in comics.

(cross-posted from Ladies Making Comics)

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