My opinion and it goes a little something like this:
The City of Townsville has stood against its fair share of monsters and baddies over the years but it seems that the city’s defenders, the Powerpuff Girls simply could not defeat the self-appointed morality police officer Dennis Barger, Jr. –
To recap: IDW’s popular comic based on the animated series The Powerpuff Girls recently came under fire when one man finally saw the variant cover for next months’ sixth issue. He raised a stink on his Facebook page, and somehow, was able to get Cartoon Network to pull the cover and deny the fans a chance to see some creative cover art. Of course, it must be said that this is how the events unfolded from my personal perspective and I talked about them previously.
Regardless, there are many points here that have been ignored that should be brought to light in order for this issue to be fully resolved in a fair way. First I want to again share the ‘offending’ cover:
The cover was done by artist Mimi Yoon. She was hand-picked by Cartoon Network and they approved the cover she did for them. At that time, no one was offended. The cover would have then have to go to IDW where, again, no one found it offensive. Now, I’m no expert on how these things work but I don’t think these sort of things happen over night and I’m willing to concede that there may not have been that many people who actually saw the piece. However in November 2013 IDW released its solicitations for books coming out in February 2014 and the supposedly offensive cover was featured in those solicits.
November 15, 2013 is the date I’ve seen on some sites that list full solicits. Now, in his ‘open letter’ to, I assume, comics fans and retailers he admits the following:
I am a huge supporter of IDW and especially their all-ages line of comics. It wasn’t until they released My Little Pony comic books, that I decided to dedicate almost 10% of my store to a kids’ section. Now when I say kids, I mean kids the age of my children, 6-12 years old. This is the pure age that if you get them into a habit of reading, they will read for a life time. I have been a huge supporter of IDW’s cartoon network licenses with Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls.
It was submitted through Diamond Previews to retailers, ordered by retailers and finally on Final Order Cut Off date seen by me for the first time. It was clearly missed by several people, because some didn’t find it offensive and other just simply didn’t look hard enough. When I finally saw it, I was floored, angry and dismayed.
Again between the release of the solicits in November and the Final Order Cut Off date he didn’t actually look at the comics he says make up almost 10% of his shelf space. But beyond that, he even says if anyone else saw the cover they didn’t find it offensive. By the way, the cut off date for that month was December 18th.
I’ll give him that maybe he didn’t think a cover like this would ever exist but even so there is little chance that no one came into his store and raised some concern about it after the cover image was released. All this tells me is no one but him had a problem with it. My question is why did it take this long for him to actually say anything about it?
Moving on, let’s take a look at what he claims is wrong with this cover:
Are we seriously sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted writing fan fiction writers on the internet???? is that what this shit has gotten to? DISGUSTED.
His issue is the supposed ‘sexualizing’ of the Powerpuff Girls. He has a problem with what he thinks is sexualizing children because, in the cartoon the Girls are in kindergarten and he simply cannot divorce that version from the older version featured on the cover. He later took issue with the ‘ latex bondage wear’ the Girls are wearing which begs the question of what makes it bondage wear? It’s nothing more than latex versions of their original costumes. Compare the skirts to the younger versions and you see they aren’t any shorter either.
The latex bondage comment got a response from the artist, Mimi Yoon:
DO KNOW THAT I AM DAMM PROUD OF THIS WORK OF MINE.
my objective was to illustrate modern, pop cultured, SASSY (not sexy), and humanized Powerpuff Girls who have just beaten the crime lord and have him on the ground. yes, the girls are wearing latex costumes… SO?!?!?! don’t all superpowered heroes wear latex?
unfortunately, the comic book will never make it to the stores… yes, i’m truely disappointed… because a perverted mind decided to see in this image what his dirty mind has conjured up, and barked loud enough. worse, he brought up kids and used protecting kids and kids’ perspective in his reasoning/excuse. does he think kids are dumber than him?
I have to agree with her on this. It seems like any time someone wants to ban or censor something they use ‘the children’ as their shield against any criticism. Barger himself referred to the criticism he’s received as being a ‘witch hunt’, but honestly, Yoon had no intentions of this cover being sexual. It seemed more likely that she was simply showing us that the Girls would still be kicking villain butt when they are teenagers. Even the poses they are in aren’t sexual, unless you really think teen girls sitting and standing is always sexual.
In his open letter Barger claims he’s no longer going to talk about this issue, a stance he reiterated on my Facebook page, and why should he? He managed to deny an artist exposure and fans a chance to own a great cover simply because he found it offensive. But I think both Cartoon Network and IDW Publishing need to revisit this issue and look at the full picture. The cover was approved and it was made public for months before Barger suddenly had an issue with it. No one else seemed to have a problem with it. It was a variant cover, which traditionally is not aimed at children and not always aimed at the book’s regular readership. I’ve picked up a lot of book only because of the variant cover and most of those are from series I have no interest in reading. Others became books I’ve added to my pull list.
But what does this say about an industry that claims to want more women involved and stronger female characters? Mimi Yoon had a chance to something major, was hand-picked and her art approved, but had it smashed to bits because one man, a man who himself has treats women in a questionable manner, complained about it. So much for supporting women in the industry, right?
Finally *phew* let’s look at Barger himself. Now, certain things were brought to light about his, shall we say, questionable business dealings and certain situations at conventions but all that was a long time ago and I feel not relevant to this situation, same with certain items he once had in his basement, but let’s look at what this champion of female empowerment does at his own show, Detroit Fanfare:
Also, those panties in the pictures above? Yeah, they sell those at his show. They are on the same table as Detroit Fanfare t-shirts, variant comics, prints and other items. Not hidden away from the eyes of children or people who may not be interested in seeing panties at a comic book convention. It’s also interesting how he’s opposed to older versions of cartoon characters being drawn in a certain way, but when an actual sexually charged character gets a book that is specifically aimed at kids he has no issue with it.
So, what’s the point of all this? Simple: if we let one person think their feelings are more important than everyone else’s, and this stands – then what’s to say someone else, or even Dennis himself, wouldn’t begin to complain about other covers and books and demand they get pulled? It’s admirable to want to make things ‘child friendly’ but there is a point where it becomes too much. This cover was not sexual in any way but because his mind, for some reason, was already there he pitched a fit and it got pulled. During all this people like me, who liked the cover, became ‘perverts’ because we saw it as it was, not what he wanted us to see it as. We have to understand that if something offends you that you just need to learn to deal with it. There are no laws that protect your feelings and there shouldn’t be. The best way this situation could have been handled was for Barger to refuse to offer the book to his customers and return the book to IDW in hopes of getting a refund or credit.
I guess this is a long-winded way of saying Dennis Barger, Jr. may have seen the cover as being sexual but considering that he was apparently the only one for months who thought it… well, I’ve seen others ask what kind of person looks at such a cover and instantly thinks sex? I call on Cartoon Network and IDW Publishing to reinstate the cover or, at least, offer it as a limited edition print and maybe send some of the proceeds to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a group that fights censorship in comics. Follow those highlighted links to join me.
great questions! keep on stirring the pot, skott! 🙂
It’s tempting to caption one of those butt images with “this is the face of family values!” Maybe make a demotivational meme out of it lol
‘There are no laws that protect your feelings and there shouldn’t be.’
Isn’t this whole article about YOUR feelings? Your insisting that these companies sort this so its ‘fully resolved in a fair way’ have you maybe considered this is fair and YOUR opinion doesn’t matter?
Yes there were huge oversights on CN and IDW’s part, its not like you would commission an artist that specialises in side boobs and open mouths to illustrate a children’s book and she was a poor choice in artist for a comic book aimed at children.
But if this TRUELY is not sexualised and completely appropriate for children would it have found its place in say the children’s section in a public library? Or be acceptable to bring in for quiet reading time in a primary school? and also begs the question how many of her ‘supporters’ are parents? teachers? nursery assistants? healthcare professionals?
As a parent I wouldn’t let my daughter read this, and if I myself is branded a ‘pervert’ for feeling this way over my daughter, well then so be it.
“He managed to deny an artist exposure and fans a chance to own a great cover simply because he found it offensive.” – I’d argue that she got more exposure than she could have ever hoped for in this case. I never heard of her before yesterday and I’ve read comics of all types for 30 years.
“It was a variant cover, which traditionally is not aimed at children and not always aimed at the book’s regular readership.” WHAT? Who is it for, if not the regular readership???
“So much for supporting women in the industry, right?” – I read a release from IDW that stated that Mimi Yoon is working on another project for them right now. I’m certain she got paid for this cover. She’ll get paid for the next art she provides. Providing steady work to a freelancer seems like support to me…
On the flip side though – It does suck that one man can impact the industry by yelling loudly and pounding his chest. HE totally frightened IDW and backed them into a corner. They could have done more to stand by their artist rather than fold like that.
It should also be pointed out that the pantie shot was taken, I believe, at a strip club. But if we’re going to stretch the issue like he has….
Ps. Why you reading this book anyway. Are you a brony, too
Great read. As for those saying that only Mimis “diehard fans” are defending her… I think the majority myself included didn’t know the artist or this comic shop douche before he started this bs. When I found out about this story all I saw was some comic shop owner getting free publicity for being a fake ass whiny shit. I wish I lived near his shop so I could tell him off. But might be for the best as I would have been disgusted to know I bought from this chump.
Good article. Mimi Yoon is an amazing artist. Her variant PPG cover is a very impressive example of graphic art. Such a shame Cartoon Network backed down so easily over such a ridiculous case of hysterical nonsense. Dennis Barger Jr is a hypocrite and, judging from the tasteless photos he’s pictured in, probably suffers from sexual repression; which leads to the real issue here: If we, as a community, allow ourselves to be lectured on Decency by people who are proven to have a questionable sense of decency themselves … that’s not only painfully ironic (and tragic) but it’s also, quite frankly, very sick.
I wonder what Comicbooked’s culpability is if Dennis were advised to seek a libel suit against Skott?
Specifically, the combination of the libelous article submitted or the libelous nature of the ensuing discussion thread. I’m pretty sure Dennis was helped in the creation of his comic empire by successfully winning one lawsuit. Can’t see how pursuing another would hurt him at this point. Almost everything Skott has written in various location amounts to personal attacks on Dennis.
These actions by Skott makes any website hosting said libelous viewpoint as a possible co-defendant in a libel suit.
Comments are closed.