Word Balloon Podcast

Word Balloon – Sex In Comics With Vaneta Rogers

Show Notes

The comic news blogosphere has erupted this week in editorials and op-ed pieces over the depiction of Starfire in the DC Comic Red Hood And The Outlaws and The first issue of Catwoman, which ends with a sex scene involving Batman. Too much for mainstream comics? I debate the subject with comics reporter Vaneta Rogers. We also talk about the overall success of DC’s New 52, and their recent move employing the Nielsen Company to conduct reader surveys.


Get Involved

Doing the podcast is fun and all, but let's be honest, listening to the 2 of us talk to each other can get repetitive, so we look to you, the iFanboy listeners to participate in the podcast! "How can I get in on the fun?" you may ask yourself, well here's how:

  • E-Mail us at contact@ifanboy.com with any questions, comments or anything that may be on your mind.

Please don't forget to leave your name and where you're writing from and each week, we'll pick the best e-mails to include on the podcast!


  1. Great discussion. As someone who works in the library field I probably pay attention to comics rating systems more than most. Red Hood and the Outlaws was actually rating T (ages 12 and up). I have to wonder if the rating will change to match the content, or if the content will change to match the rating.

  2. excellent podcast! What i notice and i don’t think anyone said it yet is that DC when for already existing audiences of other publishers, it was very clear to me that the Catwoman book was directed towards a Aspen kind of reader.
    Frankestein and the Agens of shade was clearly a Hellboyesk/BPRD kind of book. The Blackhawks book was a try to take the GI Joe audience , they brought Mike Costa.
    Redhood and the Outlaws i think was a try to the Top Cow audience, Kenneth Rocafort was brougth in, and that line is known for their sexual content.

  3. Great convo! Would of loved to hear more on your thoughts of VOODOO, being that it was my favorite book this week. I personally thought all this hoopla was much to do about nothing. But I also recognize that as a thirty-something male who is not timid on the topic of sex (and studied plenty of sexual identity in literature during grad school), that these books where geared towards my liking. Obviously the heightened attention via the reboot fueled the flames, and blew most of it out of proportion.

    As pointed out in the podcast, it’s kind of a “what did you expect” moment. Chicks in bikinis were in comics long before the reboot, and they will be in comics long after. Anyone thinking that DC–or any publisher for that matter–was suddenly going to have their superheroes drinking milk and handing out bible tracts was in fantasy world. Look at Morrison’s ACTION COMICS. A lot of that book will be aimed at making Supe’s origin modern and more appealing. In other words, edgier and darker. The podcast also made a good point on how going digital may have influenced the direction for the new world. Digital DC has to compete with 24/7 free porn on the internet. Can you blame them for wanting to make a character or two sexy? There are more sexually suggestive photos in any number of magazines on any given newsstand, than there were in any of these comics. I understand that most of the criticism comes from good intentions, but a lot of it is unjustified.

  4. There’s a a big problem when “modern” and “more appealing” mean “edgier and darker” by default. Morrison was brilliant on All-Star Superman, but there was nothing dark or edgy about it. It was what comic books do best: appeal to our imagination and our sense of wonder. That’s the kind of book I would give to a new comics reader. Not melodramatic soft-core porn.

  5. The comics rating system on these DC books is kinda lousy. Besides the obvious vauge-ness, they are really an after thought on the covers of the book. Its one of the last hierarchical pieces of typography you’ll read on the cover and lumped in with other “barcode” stuff. Its really quite hidden and one could argue its not even meant to be noticed.

    They could/should have integrated it up in the numbering area so its fairly apparent. A good designer could have figured out a solution to that problem.

  6. I was dissapointed by this episode. The discussion of the Starfire issue was focused on fanboyism (fangirlism) and people not wanting edgy, inventive books. There has been lot of ink about why people took offense to the characterization, why her character appeared misogynistic, why the story was poorly written and the sexual politics regressive… These points weren’t refuted and were barely discussed. The whole conversation felt like a strawman argument that was poorly researched. If this episode was was inspired by online arguments why not go in depth? Because they are competition?

    Too often I’m embarrassed by comic books, and it isn’t because I’m a prude or because I want to clock rolled back,(I keep Gilbert Hernandez’s Birdland on my bookshelf.) It is because I have reached sexual maturity and comics are often written for an audience that never will. With sophomoric sexualization that is meant to arose 12 year olds.

    • I think the Red Hood book is like The Expendables, Road House, Walking Tall, XXX, or any meathead action film you can think of. Comics by nature are an exploitation medium. They don’t all have to made with lofty ambitious stories or art. Some have been and can be very base stories filled with cheesecake art and over the top stoies and characters. Comics should be for everyone, and that includes having a book for those who want a 16 yr old male’s wish fulfillment of dumb sexy action stories.

      Don’t forget Some Heavy Metal stories, or Marvelville, The Boys, Mark Millar’s Trouble. Even Penthouse Comix had the nerve to do sexy T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents for a few months.

      Totally fine that you don’t like those books, there are plenty of others for you to read. Leave these fans and books alone and let them rise or fall on their own merit, or lack thereof.

    • @wordballoon: Marvelville? Do you mean Marville from 2002?

      If so, isn’t that kind of a bad example? The book used cheesecake covers to draw people’s attention, but you realized it was ironic after reading it, given that the whole series was a satire of the industry and it’s tropes. It basically dangled a carrot in front of you and mocked you for chasing it.

    • @360Logic My point in including Marville (you spell better than me) is that despite the parody motives behind the inside of the book. People were still compalining that the cheesecake covers were too sexual.

  7. I’m so glad it’s becoming more and more apparent that COMICSALLIANCE is the only group with an ax to grind. I thought the world had gone crazy for a minute.

  8. Is it me or are people forgeting that these books(The new 52) are aimed at Teenagers? Not Children, Teenagers. In every sense of the word. These aren’t for the kids or for adults to read to kids or w.e else. They’ve been pretty clear at who the target demographic is and its not the same as it was 20-30 years ago and old fans have to understand that. Not to say that their isn’t books for kids or adults, just not everything (or the majority) is.

  9. Thanks for this John. 🙂

Leave a Comment