If you peruse the website ComicsAlliance daily, like I do, then you’ve stumbled upon the increasingly controversial work of webcomic artist Aaron Diaz.
Starting in early October, with his post on tumblr Rebooting the Justice League!, Diaz has gone from being the creator of webcomic Dresden Codak to becoming the supposed saviour of the comic book industry. Featuring his own personal take on DC’s super hero team, he redesigned everything from costumes to origins.
This spawned a few other posts, such as Rebooting DC’s Villains!, in which he recreates the Legion of Doom as the “Secret Society,” and Rebooting Batman!, where the Caped Crusader is recreated to fit his new alternative DC canon [his earlier incarnation of the Dark Knight can be seen here]. Beginning with his take on the Justice League, each post has been featured on Comics Alliance, much to the delight/irritation of its readers.
Diaz states clearly that his reboots were spawned by DC’s own “New 52” [which I discussed, in part, here]. Their new designs for Starfire and Harley Quinn, in particular, were targeted in their elevation of sex appeal over utility. Diaz gets downright aggressive in his post DC Comics Reboots Dresden Codak!, where he imagines what it would be like if the company redesigned his own webcomic.
As you can see above, the female characters are overly curvaceous and barely dressed, while the men are very obviously the same male body type with different costumes and hair colour. While a point is being made satirically, he single-handedly slams the work of an entire publishing company instead of the individual artists or writers responsible for the designs he dislikes.
As one would expect, the comments on his tumblr consist almost entirely of praise for his work. One particular question asks “Can you just, like, take over DC and make this happen for reals? These redesigns actually look like superheroes I WANT to read about.” On his Justice League reboot Stephanie Charette admits that “I have never before commented on anyone’s Tumblr, but I must. This is what the comic’s industry needs to do. THIS. THIS. THIS.”
Leaving his tumblr for more balanced opinions, the comments on his features on ComicsAlliance provide a happy medium between blind adoration and outright disdain. Paying no heed to the ones about the rate he updates his comic [which is neither here nor there], there are comments which were written calmly and logically.
On one of ComicsAlliance’s latest features, Aaron Diaz’s ‘Tales of the Uncomfortable’ Takes a Halloween Look at Harley Quinn, a commenter states that “The message of DC has been beaten like a dead horse (particularly on this site) and I really don’t know what else to say anymore.” Thankfully someone else does, and they bring up a post on the tumblr of webcomic artist Amanda Lafrenais. The commenter even pulls a direct quote:
And I REALLY enjoyed, save for minor nitpicks, Aaron Diaz’s redesigns, criticisms and praise of costumes. However his newest post on the subject about cleavage and crimefighting kind of made me wanna talk about it. A friend pointed out that, yes baring your breasts is very impractical in fighting. But so are capes. And spandex. And having no padding or armor.
In her post Lafrenais goes on to push the idea that costumes aren’t really intended to be realistic [their utility further broken down by Edna Mode]. While she admires what Diaz has done, she implores artists not to “take the fun away,” and that there is a point where “practicality ends and fantasy begins.” Even though her post doesn’t address part of what Diaz is railing against, the overt sexualization of women, she does attempt to soften the extreme logic from which many of his designs were birthed.
On a personal note, I liked many of his redesigns, particularly his take on Batman and Robin. Conversely, I strongly disliked some of his ideas, primarily taking Gorilla Grodd and making him more “Planet of the Apes” than “Mighty Joe Young.” The man has some great ideas [their originality contested by many commenters on ComicsAlliance], and he aims for a creative revitalization of the industry, which I can agree with.
My issue would be with the apparent bitterness his work gives off. His reboots were all well and good, but his portrayal of DC rebooting his own characters was unnecessary and extreme. I can understand in part why he’s doing what he’s doing, but he could cut down on the vitriol.
Lastly, I was very confused with a particular question I read on his tumblr. When a reader asked if he would be willing to redesign the entire DC universe, similar to what Marvel did with Brian Michael Bendis and their Ultimate line, Diaz responded with “I’d do it, and only if they paid me five times whatever Marvel pays Bendis.” I’m unsure as to whether he meant it sardonically, or if he actually believes he deserves five times the money Bendis does. Either way, I found it difficult to take.
Tune in next Thursday, when I write on Christopher Bird, aka “Mightygodking” [or “MGK” for short]. His titular blog is one of my all-time favourites, and his opinions on comics [and one character in particular] are deserving of some exploration. Particularly when viewed opposite of those of Aaron Diaz.
[follow-up post can be read here]