Welcome to Cover Girl. Each month, we gather a team of WWAC contributors to analyze a new and notable comic book cover featuring one or more women. This month, Claire, Nola, and Louis discuss Paul Pope’s cover for Faithless #1 from BOOM! Studios.
Nola Pfau: Look, I like Paul Pope art a lot. I have a few oversized hardcovers of his work. It’s great stuff! Ideally, this seems like it might be my kind of jam; I love a good dirty crime book, and the cascading blood around these women certainly gives the impression that that’s what we’ll get. But the way this is framed; the way they’re both presented as skinny, conventionally attractive feminine women, combined with the fact that it is Paul Pope art on a Brian Azzarelllo book, makes me nervous. I know that we’re supposed to take just the art on the cover into consideration for this exercise, but well, Azzarello’s name is prominently displayed at the top of that cover and it’s hard to miss, with all the connotations it carries.
Louis Skye: This cover looks quite stereotypical, in the sense that it’s obviously made to attract a specific kind of audience. I would have liked the idea the artist was going for if there was some level of subversion but, as Nola said, it’s two conventionally attractive, thin women bathed in blood. Haven’t we seen this exact same thing a million times before?
Claire Napier: Good grief, we have come back around to a state of fashion in which men can draw the pulled up thong straps over a pair of firm hips and be technically accurate. The devil is laughing and I feel so worn.
I would MUCH rather see a Maria Llovet cover for a Maria Llovet comic. Plus, honestly, the neon yellow highlight that Wendy has given the cover in this opinion-collation document is really interesting and I’d rather it was part of the actual cover now that I’ve seen it this way. I like the colours and how they’re weighted on the page; it’s neat how the cover design looks fashion magazine-y. I’ve definitely seen more uncomfortable, overtly objectifying covers before. But I’d rather see a Maria Llovet cover on a Maria Llovet comic.
What do you think the artist is trying to achieve?
Nola: “Hey, sexy violent lesbians want to have sex in front of you!”
Louis: The artist was legit thinking, “Let’s do something sexy, but edgy. Ooh, blood, let’s add blood, so it looks like I’m not making something overtly sexy. It’s also gritty. This is a great idea. Ten points to me, the artist.”
Claire: I feel like there’s more aspiration towards Coolness than necessary sexiness, but mixing coolness up with sexual display is its own kind of “hmm, I’m not sure.” Don’t you wanna be a cool girl? OK, so do this for me then. It’s too easy a reminder. I guess the fact that there’s (implicit) blood all over them is an indication that there’s supposed to be some sort of uncomfortability factor in play. I don’t get a lot of “faith” out of this image, though “sex” and “the devil” are easy to spot connotation of. Basically, it’s a big “hey, think about bloody intimacy”—there’s not a lot more to it than the literal.
What do you think the intended audience is for this cover?
Nola: Cishet men, for all the reasons I listed above. A story about lesbians (or queer women, we don’t know specific identities here) covered in blood from the writer of DC’s New 52 run of Wonder Woman, wherein all the Amazons were painted as rapist murderers so that Diana could run around with a pantheon of male gods. I am … not inspired with confidence here, and not particularly looking forward to another book wherein conventionally attractive women parade hollow, generic “girl power” ideals for a male gaze.
Louis: If someone told me, verbally, what was on this cover, I would totally think it was a queer comic. But looking at the actual cover, this does not appear to be made for anyone but the conventional cishet white dudes, aged 18-40. I’m super annoyed at how othered this cover makes me feel. If this book is about two queer women, the cover should cater to that audience. As it stands, this cover does nothing of the sort.
Claire: I can see it being an easy sell for Cool Girls. Girls with the Cool Girl haircut, you know? Man, I really wish the yellow edging was a legit part of this piece.
Faithless No. 1 will be available in April from BOOM! Studios.