Saturday, February 23, 2013

How Jose Ladronn sees Cassandra Cain

Very linear.  I'm not hugely familiar with Ladronn's work, but I find this a very compelling image.  It's like a strange mating of Jack Kirby and Moebius.  And the grouping and poses are largely successful.  The capes and extremities create interesting silhouettes and negative space.  I absolutely prefer these covers where the artist poses the characters dynamically and facing the viewer. Three-quarter views are lazy and so are covers with black backgrounds no matter how nicely the artist renders the characters.  I also like to see some hands and feet in there, too.  I also admire the coloring technique, which adds body to Ladronn's organic, minimalist line stylings. It's moody and textured and not at all garish or off-putting.  Nice subtle gradients.  I much prefer it to the pointy stuff inside the comic.

Now let's tak a closer look at Cassandra Cain because this is a blog all about her.  On the plus side, Ladronn gives Batgirl some well-muscled arms so she looks like the capable martial artist she's supposed to be, and adds seams to her super-suit so it doesn't look like it was painted on.

Which is one of my least-favorite superhero art cliches. Have you seen any of those Photoshop jobs where people take porn pics and spray paint superhero costumes on the women? The funny thing is, they're not that far off from the actual intent of a lot of superhero comic book art when it comes to female characters-- "Look at me and touch yourself, you wicked voyeur, you."  Yes, male characters also have painted-on costumes and can cause arousal as well, but the main point of a male costume is to show off musculature and enhance the character's powerful image.  If you don't believe there's a difference in gender presentation, go do a Google-search for some of that clever art where male characters sport female-style costumes and poses.  Male or female, though, I prefer when the artist indicates these are clothes and not a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue feature.

On the other side, unless Batgirl's had some of those super-sized implants-- the large globular kind strippers and adult industry performers going for a certain niche market prefer-- there's some anatomical dissonance going on. You don't generally see this kind of coupling of slender physique and mammalian endowment in nature. Or that shape.

Batgirl's bat-girls also play a little havoc with the way our eyes move through the composition. In the extreme foreground, Ladronn draws us into the image with the large spotlight thing in lower right and from there, our eyes go to... Cassandra's boobs where they just sort of linger. The colorist (Ladronn again?) emphasizes them even more by making them look as though they're specially illuminated. Evidently, those lights in the foreground are the portable boob-spots Batgirl carries in her utility belt. They're powered by long-lasting Waynetech 9-volt batteries she buys with her family discount.

Ultimately, we have to conclude the artist's message for this cover is Batgirl recently went through a Las Vegas phase.


  1. I like how the non-Cass people look though. Helena is wearing her stupid suit with the open midriff, but it's not immediately obvious. It looks like Manhunter has a combination bostaf flashlight. I don't recognize the guy in the back with the torn cape, but he looks really cool.

    I also much prefer when the supersuits have visible seams and/or creases.

    1. That's Ragman or Rag Man. I'm not sure what his deal is. Wearing rags? Bare mid-drifts are fine for a fashion statement in warm weather, but we all know they're hardly practical for combat gear. And yeah, as someone who enjoys drawing all kinds of superheroes, I've spent time studying athletes who wear skin-tight competition suits-- swimmers, skiers, gymnasts-- and there are always creases. You also never see their musculature as highly defined as in the comics. Drawing cut muscles is kind of traditional, but I really prefer a less "clothing optional" look.

      It's pure personal preference, but I'm more impressed by artists who take the time to figure out how costumes work and what their purpose is rather than just coloring a nude body and adding boots and glove lines and slapping a logo on the chest.