This week we learned just how close the world was to receiving a new collection of sexy pinups à la Marvel Swimsuit Special style, from creators Kristafer Anka and Kevin Wada. Many were quick to condemn Marvel for saying no to a proposed sketchbook from Anka and Wada, but it turns out the creators walked away from the project before they even pitched it to the publisher. We here at WWAC were equally titillated and disappointed to hear of the project-that-may-never-be, but here’s why we still think Marvel should take the initiative and spearhead the project anyway.
Wendy: Was I not just talking about how much I missed Marvel swimsuit issues? It would be like a dream come true if Marvel brought them back. What I liked about their swimsuit issues was that they weren’t just about showing off sexy bodies in equal opportunity. They were filled with lots of quirky fun, out of the context of main stories. Anka and Wada’s images promise me more of the same. I would definitely sign a petition to get this project back on the table.
Megan B: For me, the best part of these books is that they fulfill fans’ desires to see the characters sexualized, without that goal distracting or minimizing the content of in-continuity stories. The context actually makes sense! Marvel’s favorite characters collectively going on a sexy vacation to Madripoor is all the story I needed to make this seemingly ridiculous concept work. There is no wondering if the poses or clothes are practical, I am not thinking about how in character it is for Cap to give that come hither stare. This is fan service without pretending to be something else, and even better? The male characters are as ridiculously over sexualized! Plus they are just crazy amounts of fun, and Marvel could use a little universe-spanning ridiculousness between the never-ending cycle of event comics and character deaths.
Now, Anka and Wada may have decided to walk away from this project before bringing it to Marvel, but I would love to see Marvel commission a whole bevy of creators to work on a new swimsuit special. How awesome would a Jenny Frison pin-up of Captain Marvel be? Or for something equal parts sexy and funny, Chip Zdarsky might be the only artist today that could top the original “skull bikini” pinup of Punisher.
Claire: If there’s one thing that Marvel’s loudest readers’ demographic needs, it’s an education on what pictures of men drawn to look sexually appealing look like. And if that’s backed up with learning what it looks like when women draw women looking happy about feeling sexy, dang, all the better. With the right editor at the helm, Marvel Swimsuit Issues could be a blast of progression to rival the forward-thrust of Ms .Marvel, Captain Marvel, America Chevez, or Kate Bishop.
Sarah R: I second everything Megan said about the context of sexualization in comics. The swimsuit special was incredibly tongue in cheek; everything about it was ridiculous and over-the-top, and that was the whole point. The men and women are treated as equals with various combinations of playful and pouty poses, and it’s fun because the “models” are obviously having fun. I don’t believe it was ever featured in a swimsuit special, but my favorite example of this is Joe Jusko’s gorgeous poster of She-Hulk on Muscle Beach, where she’s featured in a bikini and lifting what I estimate is a kajillion pounds over her head while reading a romance novel. It’s empowering and sexy without feeling exploitative, and her muscular body is seen as attractive and feminine.
Also, a swimsuit issue would also be extremely collectible. Give us some sexy variant covers (*cough*Namor*cough) and I will buy every single one of them.
Megan B: Marvel, the ball(s) are in your court. Let’s make this happen.