Marvel’s editorial staff knew they were heading for trouble when they hired Milo Manara. There’s no way they’re so out of touch that they thought that hiring a guy known for his extremely NSFW illustration style was a good move at a time when the company is actively trying to expand its female readership, right?
Well, maybe they are. Because they did.
Manara’s Spider-Woman #1 variant cover (“But it’s just a variant!,” cry the horny, unwashed masses) was released online last Monday, featuring our heroine crouched in a position best described as a child’s depiction of a “butt lady.” The cover immediately sparked heated online criticism, with Salon saying it looked “more like a colonoscopy than a costume” and io9 quipping that Spider-Woman’s position “is known in the animal kingdom as ‘presenting’.”
Issue writer Dennis Hopeless has distanced himself from Manara’s illustration, writing on Twitter, “I don’t have any input at all on covers. You have my word that our story treats [her] with the utmost respect.” But what of Manara himself?
Manara has now responded to the controversy via an interview with the Italian comics website Fumetta Logica, which—thanks to the unpredictable nature of Google Translate—resulted in some pretty weird quotes on HitFix. Though even without the language barrier, his thoughts remain baffling.
“On the incompetence in the drawing I don’t know what to say…Nobody is perfect,” he said, before showing how not perfect he is by comparing his critics to Islamist extremists, and also shouldn’t Americans be worried about Ferguson or ice buckets or something anyway?
“Apart from the fact that there is a compulsory prerequisite to do [erotic art]: It seems to me that both in the United States and in the rest of the world there are things much more important and serious you have to deal with. The facts of Ferguson, or the drama of Ebola… unless there is, in these times, a hypersensitivity to images more or less erotic, due to this continuous comparison that we are called to do with Islam.”
“After that, it’s not my fault if women are like that,” Manara added, ignoring the fact that most woman are nothing “like that.” “Women’s bodies have taken this form over the millennia in order to avoid the extinction of the species, in fact,” he said. And indeed, what is one Italian illustrator to do in the face of millions of years of evolution? When we say, “Hey, can we please concentrate on something besides T&A for once?” are we secretly advocating growing humans in labs, with the male fetuses flushed and used for food like some sort of lesbian separatist Soylent Green?
Finally, The Mary Sue reports that perhaps the worst consequence for Manolo is the bitter taste of his own disappointment: “Also, do not consider it one of the covers most erotic I’ve done…You do not see hardly anything,” he said. “We see that only has an ass, drawn like this. And it’s a girl with a nice ass, that yes, from my point of view.” So let’s leave the poor man alone. He’s already punished himself enough.