In setting up my web site graphic, Searching for Light in the Darkness, I put a lot of thought into the graphic art to fit the brand (translation: burned-up days surfing the internet for artists and sites). It was by pure luck I stumbled on Lori Nix’s “The Library” (thank you Google Search). I get numerous positive hits on my profile page on about.me because of Lori’s unique dioramic photography.
I put the same amount of effort when working on characterization for my stories. I’m always on the hunt for that perfect face to fit a character; that unique combination of setting and portraiture that might even make a good book cover. Sites like Pinterest, DeviantArt.com, and other graphic artist sites offer a plethora of ideas. When I find one I like, I collect them on my Pinterest Characters Board for future reference.
I’m in the middle of rewriting a fantasy; contemporary gal crash lands in a dark-ages alternate world, almost hanged as a witch, has to fight an ancient darkness, death, dismemberment, general mayhem – good wholesome fun. In my search for concept character art to fit the story setting, I discovered a disturbing trend.
What is with graphic art portrayals of warrior women in outfits befitting a harlot?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a little eye candy now and then, but holy Conan the Barbarian, why are warrior men covered head to toe in metal armor, and the intrepid swordswoman, protected by a loin cloth and brassiere ten-times too small for her … assets? You would think that with all the video gaming and resurgence of graphic comic books, a little realism would prevail. Apparently not.
I’ll admit, it’s not a new concept. Marvel and DC comics for years, have always ensured their female superheroes (or is that superheroinnes?), be beautiful, curvaceous, and flaunt it. The aerodynamic drag on Supergirl’s upper deck has to be inefficient as hell. The classic romance novel is famous for shirtless hunks and scantily dressed lasses, but that’s the genre. The girl of interest isn’t locked in mortal combat against armored demons with little more than a thong bikini. I’ll credit the movie Avatar for gender equality in battle gear (or lack thereof, which is pretty much what they wear everyday).
Check out my Pinterest Character Board, and you’ll see I prefer protags in tune with the story setting, not by how little they’re wearing. You can find lots of inspiration for science fiction and fantasy character concept art on Tumblr and Pinterest. Google search is a great place to start when looking for something specific, as it will lead you to the artist who created the work. Many of the amazing artists who post their work are often found on DeviantArt.com, a great place to shop artists for custom book covers.
A tip of the old fedora to the artists who create characters for Applibot’s Legend of the Cryptids. Stunning artwork, but for heaven’s sake, give the female warriors some body armor.
Update by DT Krippene – October 7, 2014:
Great commentary on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers, Readers, and Artists Facebook site, a couple commenter’s referenced additional reading, including one very funny YouTube video by CollegeHumor, “Female Armor Sucks“.