Orbit Books Creative Director Lauren Panepinto regularly blogs about art on the Muddy Colors blog, but in her latest post, “What Women Want in Women Characters,” she’s given us a special treat. Panepinto called upon members of the hundreds-strong Women in Fantasy Illustration group to redesign famous sci-fi/fantasy, comic book, and video game characters in ways that honor their narratives and keep them properly clothed.
Explaining that most of these characters have had their bodies and outfits created through the lens of what male creators and consumers want, Panepinto shows how her fellow female illustrators have highlighted the most important aspects of characters including Princess Peach, Samus, and Emma Frost:
Each woman’s point of view is different, and the redesigns reveal what is most important to that woman, whether it’s realistic body armor, or it’s making sure the woman has a narrative and agency of her own. There is no one right way to depict a woman character, and it is not as simple as “cover her up more” because, as you’ll see, some of these redesigns are sexier than the original. And I have found through my own work that you CAN absolutely have a single depiction of a character that is sexy and empowering to all genders.
For instance, Melissa Gay gave Red Sonja an outfit she could actually fight in. The artist explains her reasoning:
There is no reason a stone cold badass has to be stone cold. I went back to her roots in the 1930’s fiction of Robert E. Howard and her native Hyrcania, pulling in Persian and Iranian elements for her clothing, armor, and weapons. Still had to give a nod to her iconic silver scale mail bikini, though!
Similarly, Iole Marie Rabor took freedom of movement into mind when redesigning Chun Li’s garb—keeping the iconic Street Fighter look while making it something one could actually KO her opponent in:
Chun Li with her amazing legs and high kicks looks uncomfortable fighting with a thong, so I mixed Boxing shorts together with her Chinese Cheongsam. Thank you, Bruce Lee, for the belt!
For X-Men’s Storm, Alice Meichi Li came up with an easy equation that tells us more about the character than her original look:
(Nature Goddess + Weather Witch) X Punk Badass – Random Bikini
There are so many amazing illustrations on Muddy Colors that we had trouble picking which ones to include here. Be sure to check them all out.
Images: Muddy Colors