pl2363: (Default)
When did being feminine become a bad thing? Did I miss some big meeting of the vaginas? There is nothing wrong with being more feminine or being more masculine. There are a million shapes, sizes, and looks for both female and male of our species. So what does this have to do with robots?

With all the bitching and moaning I see everywhere; boards, tumblr and twitter, I've just reached the point of needing to think this all out for myself and to decide how I feel about these female robots being added to the Transformer canon as well as address bigger issues I feel are being ignored about female fans in the Transformer fandom.


A lot of the complaining I see is about lipstick on robots, which is a precedent set by the 80s cartoon when all the fembots had lipstick lips. It's something that is associated with being feminine. Why? Because of human biology. Richer colored lips (naturally mind you) indicates a woman is ovulating. So why are they on robots? That's a good question. As humans drawing and designing these fembots they were assigned indicators that signal 'female' for humans to make them into 'female' robots.

But the fembots aren't the only ones to get noticeable lips. Orion Pax, ala G1, had some pouty lips going on, as does Overlord from the comics.

Body shapes:

There is a general frowning upon when it comes to how fembots are portrayed with breast plates that resemble breasts. This is not a design element from the 80s cartoon. They were rounded shapes (but then, most of the Cybertonian designs were, look at Kup & Wheelie for example). If anything, Starscream, Jazz, Shockwave and all the Praxians were shaped more like a female with their protruding chests and small waists, which are traits typically associated with being female. On the other end of the scale, Optimus, Megatron, and many others are drawn like body builders with their large pectoral shaped chest plates, and Optimus even has a grill of abs.

Transformers are a set of fictional characters created by humans. They vary in shape and size just like we do, drawn based on the human experience and combined with the shapes of the vehicles they transform into. That's what they are.

Why am I babbling on about this? Well, because of Windblade. Theoretically in a vacuum perhaps these robots could be non-gendered sentient beings that procreate asexually. If the writers in the 80s had spent lots of time researching and philosophizing about the true nature of what a sentient robot might be or should be then we'd have a completely different cartoon and subsequent 30 years of canon and fandom built now. But they didn't. They wanted to sell toys, so they are what they are. Flawed but perfect at the same time in my eyes. Bendable to whomever takes the helm to give us more canon. Is that such a bad thing?

I'm going to set aside the whole Kabuki part of the new character, and we have yet to see how Scott will explain the fembots in the canon world of the IDW comics, so I can't even really look at that either. But, I would like the address the fact females are writing and illustrating these fembots.

In general the comic book industry seems to be heavily male influenced. Scott and Stone are the first females to be put into the forefront for the Transformers comics. The only other female artist IDW has hired for the Transformers is LaFuente as a colorist (who does beautiful work!). Stone is not only drawing but coloring her artwork, too. From the small pieces we've seen, it's gestural and beautiful. But most of all? It's got what can be referred to as the 'female gaze'.

Above are the covers for Windblade from my favorite three artists. In order: Coller, Milne, and Stone. All gorgeous covers in my opinion. But looking at them together I see how different Stone's take really is. Both Coller and Milne focus on Windblade's body shape, her rounded breast plate is especially prominent. They are also both in static poses, each holding items. Then there's Stone's cover. Windblade is in motion, her hands freed to be expressive and her one hand placed at the center of the frame. The focus in her cover is the face and Windblade's expression, and she feels almost like she might fly at you.

As a female consumer of the Transformers franchise, having a female gaze added to the canon is something I'm excited about. This doesn't mean I want all the men to go away, not at all. I adore Milne's work on MTMTE, I own a ton of prints and original work from Coller. All I really want is for some of the females that are part of this fandom to be allowed to help shape the canon, too. When I put together that fanbook I was proud to showcase amazing female artists. Artists that could easily be hired by IDW if they broadened their world view. And Scott and Stone are the ones breaking through the male dominated wall. This is something to be celebrated, not criticized.

Transformers are fictional. Their universe complex and dynamic, just like all the people who have had a hand in creating it's canon over the years. Personally, I'm thrilled to have a female influence entering the main comic canon. I hope this trend continues.

I'll leave you all with the beautiful panel that Ryall posted from the first page of the Windblade comic.

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Date/Time: 2014-03-10 15:15 (UTC)Posted by: [personal profile] eerian_sadow
eerian_sadow: (Default)
This. All of this.