One of the things I love about Fanwork Friday is showing off how smart fans can be as well as talented. My pal Hayley is here today to talk about an awesome fan initiative to expose misogyny and misrepresentation in comics

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“How to fix every Strong Female Character pose in superhero comics: replace the character with Hawkeye doing the same thing.” Gingerhaze 

I love comics. Marvel’s my main bag, but my affection for the medium stretches from The Avengers and Batman to Scott Pilgrim by way of Adventure Time and Hark! A Vagrant! I tend to eschew the major titles for the most part, preferring X-Factor to X-Men (I’m sorry, but a mutant-run film noir detective agency > Wolverine’s numerous dead ex-girlfriends.) Likewise, my favourite Avenger is not Iron Man or Thor, but dear old Hawkeye.

But I’m also a woman, and as a comic-reading woman, it’s pretty hard to ignore the blatant misogyny inherent in the depiction of women in superhero comic art. I’m not the only one. A group of tumblr artists have decided to illustrate this issue in the most hilariously excellent way possible: with the Hawkeye Initiative.

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Started up by a bunch of amazing tumblr artists, all of whom you can find out about on the Initiative’s Origins page,  the purpose of the Initiative is a simple one:  “A blog with Clint “Hawkeye” Barton being placed in the same provocative, female poses that are featured in superhero comics.” As a Hawkeye fan, it’s hilarious, but as a woman and a feminist, it’s also pretty horrifying to see. What is wrong with these women’s spines? I have a curved spine and some days it hurts just to get out of bed, never mind fight crime provocatively in a thong.

One of the major targets for ridicule is Rob Liefeld, whose art is so horrendous that there have been entire articles dedicated to how awful he is. (It also makes me sad that he invented my favourite superhero after Hawkeye, Shatterstar, now one of the highlights of Peter David’s X-Factor but once the height of 90s ridiculousness.)

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Check out this contribution to the Initiative. What are those legs I can’t even.


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Sometimes artists make the misogyny extra-obvious by drawing the Black Widow in the “masculine” pose. This one made me choke with laughter.

(The other Avengers get involved too. Any appearances by the Hulk or Captain America are highlights.)
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You could spend hours laughing at the fantastic contributions, but good art can change the world and the Initiative started making waves within hours of its inception. Here’s hoping that this and projects like it will eventually stamp out these sexist images, or at least lead to male superheroes fighting crime in just their y-fronts too. It would make The Avengers 2 very interesting indeed.

While I’m on the subject of Hawkeye, a recommendation: Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye series, which began in 2012, is one of the best comic books you will ever read. It’s hilarious, with awesome art, great dialogue, and the female Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, presented as an actual person! Clint also owns a dog who eats pizza, leading to this final, disturbing contribution from the Initiative.

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Hayley works in children’s literature by day, and is a freelance writer and photographer by night. When she’s not reading comics. You can find her at hazzachaz.wordpress.com

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Speaking of being smart, apparently I’m not because the coding on this just about did my head in. I’m sorry, Hayley, that it looks such a wreck!

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