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Bad girl art
An exaggerated female with pale white skin and hair wearing a black bikini top, thong, opera gloves, and solid stockings and a black and red cape with a gold broach. She is standing in a pink mist with a broadsword stuck in the ground beside her.
Lady Death, created by Brian Pulido.
This topic covers comics that fall under various genre.
Publishers Image Comics
Chaos! Comics
Publications Vampirella
Lady Death
Creators Brian Pulido
Related articles
Good girl art

Bad girl art is a superheroines art form genre coined after the analogy of good girl art which also includes strong female characters in comic books. Bad girls are typically tough and violent superheroines.

The two terms, bad girl art and good girl art, while similarly constructed, are not directly oppositional: while "good girl art" means "girl art" that is "good", "bad girl art" is art of "bad girls": the "bad" refers to the personalities of the Anti-heroine characters, often portrayed as cruel, mercenary, or demonic, although it may also be intended to reflect on the crude mannerisms and exaggerated anatomy of the drawing style associated with those characters.[1] While the Good Girls were common in the 1940s and 1950s, Bad Girl Art was common in the comic book market of the 1980s and 1990s.[2] During the heyday of the style, some 50 titles within the subgenre were being published, with Lady Death as the best selling title.[3]

The bad girl characters are female embodiments of the "grim and gritty" mood of comic books in from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.[4] Bad girl art uses the flamboyant and anatomically exaggerated style of art associated with Chaos! Comics and Image Comics during the same period to draw those grim and gritty female characters.[5]

Bad Girl characters

Bad Girl comic characters differ obviously from Good Girls in their characterization. It is possible that the original comic Bad Girl - before the term was coined - was Vampirella, whose comics started in the 1970s. When Frank Miller created Elektra, and gave her a complex relationship with the title hero Daredevil that went beyond the realm of mere villainy, he also influenced the comic bad girl stereotype.[6] Some popular early examples of the Bad Girl trend include Brian Pulido's Lady Death and his Chaos! line of comics. These books featured all typical characteristics including full figured women, mystical backgrounds and exuberant art.[7]

Bad Girls, unlike Good Girls, were seldom found in the role of a Damsel in distress. Indeed, the Bad Girls are "typically as powerful, violent, skilled, smart, and self-assured" as any male superhero.[8] Instead, Bad Girls were typically motivated by background stories in which they had been the victims of abuse or domestic violence; others had their loved ones murdered by the villains. Their basic motive was revenge against their abuser and against those who had abused others in a similar way. These themes of revenge made the character's moral code ambiguous, and often made it hard to characterize the character as either a heroine or a villainess leading "Bad Girl" to become the female equivalent of "Anti-hero".[9]

Magic, mythology and occult themes were also frequently found in their background stories. Typical backstories for Bad Girls depicted them as demon hunters, fallen or rogue angels, vampires or wielders of a supernaturally bestowed weapon or power. Often, more effort was spent in creating the character's complex backstory than in the ongoing story, resulting in a decline in quality after a title's debut.[10]

What these characters shared above all was being cast in the role of dominatrix.[11] Their weapons and demeanor marked them as threatening, even as the style of their drawing marked them as emphatically female. Their allure and their dangerousness go hand in hand, both being essential parts of the sexual fantasy these characters are meant to embody.[11]

Bad Girl visual styles

Angela hunter.jpg

Their artistic illustrations are closely linked with the highly manneristic and finely inked style of art that is associated with the original Image Comics house style. Image Comics was founded by a group of artists, most of whom had previously worked for Marvel Comics, and as a result the first Image comic books were created by artists rather than writers. At the beginning, the comic books published by Image had a reputation for flashy art, with frequent splash pages, complicated page layouts and character designs, and highly stylized and posed figures. This coincided with a liberalizing of the U.S. Comics Code Authority standards in 1989.

As such, the Image visual style and the "bad girl" character coincided in time, and the Image heroines were violent, scantily clad, and frequently appeared in cheesecake poses.[12] Male characters were equally stylized in the Image house style — male characters drawn by founding artists such as Mark Silvestri, Rob Liefeld, and Erik Larsen had "refrigerator torsos, elephantine limbs, and tiny pinheads"[13] — but these female characters were also depicted in a highly sexualized manner. The depictions of the bad girls of bad girl art showed them "perpetually bending over, arching their backs, and heaving their anti-gravity breasts into readers’ faces"; these images "defied all laws of physics."[14]

Some of the more extreme manifestations of the phenomenon showed women with big hair; extremely long legs, often longer than the upper body; breasts bigger than their head; in anatomically improbable or impossible poses; and thighs wider than their waists. Both the male and female stylizations of the period could be seen as common reflections of the "superhero genre's preoccupation with ideal bodies."[8] Bad Girl characters were frequently drawn with torn or tattered clothing or spattered with blood.[15] These characters frequently wield a large gun or sword, and wear skulls or mystic symbols in their clothing.[16]

Marc Silvestri, along with the other early Image Comics artists like Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane's early work are a large influence on the style. Together with the creations of writer Brian Pulido for Chaos!comics a new era started. Artists like Michael Turner continue this style.[17]

Bad Girl comics had their heyday in 1990s. During the peak of the period of the style's popularity, Mike Deodato drew Wonder Woman, a classic Good Girl, in a style that owed much to the visual style of the Bad Girl books; Trina Robbins called Deodato's Wonder Woman a "barely clothed hypersexual pinup".[18][19] Jim Balent's Catwoman was also revisioned in this style.[20] The books and style remained as popular as ever until manga and anime grew becoming the new industry-wide trend, causing the old trend of bad girls and anti-heroes to be seen as dated and no longer fashionable.[21]


The following are examples of bad girls on the market.

See also


  1. Les Daniels and Chip Kidd, Wonder Woman: The Life and Times of the Amazon Princess (Chronicle, 2004: ISBN 0-8118-4233-9), p. 186.
  2. Bad Girl Art (comic book concept) at comicvine.com.
  3. Inness, p. 145
  4. Mark Voger, The Dark Age: Grim, Great & Gimmicky Post-Modern Comics ([[wikipedia:TwoMorrows Publishing|]], ISBN 1-893905-53-5).
  5. Larsen, Erik (September 1, 2006). "One Fan's Opinion". [[wikipedia:Comic Book Resources|]]. http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=15347. Retrieved March 10, 2009. 
  6. Burrows
  7. Black et al.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Brown, p. 63
  9. See, e.g., [[wikipedia:Brian Pulido|]], Lady Death: The Reckoning (Chaos! Comics trade paperback, 1994: ISBN 0-9642260-1-4)
  10. Van Domelen
  11. 11.0 11.1 Brown, pp. 64-65
  12. [[wikipedia:Connecticut Historical Society|]], "Comics 101": A (Brief) History of Comic Books in America, accessed Mar. 12, 2009
  13. [[wikipedia:Robert C. Harvey|]], The Art of the Comic Book: An Aesthetic History (Univ. Mississippi Press, 1996: ISBN 0-87805-758-7), p. 150
  14. Gerard Jones and Will Jacobs. The Comic Book Heroes. Rev. ed. (Prima Publishing, 1995), p. 341
  15. Van Domelen; De Puy
  16. Van Domelen; Bad Girl Backlash
  17. Gustines, George Gene (July 6, 2008)."Michael Turner, 37, Creator of Superheroines, Is Dead". The New York Times.
  18. Robbins, ch. 7, p. 166
  19. Daniels and Kidd, above
  20. Robbins, ch. 7
  21. Christopher Hart, Drawing Cutting Edge Anatomy (Watson-Guptill, 2004: ISBN 0-8230-2398-2), p. 138



  • Jeffrey A. Brown: "Gender, Sexuality, and Toughness: The Bad Girls of Action Film and Comic Books", in Sherrie A. Inness, ed., Action Chicks: New images of tough women in popular culture (Macmillan, 2004; ISBN 1-4039-6396-7)
  • Sherrie A. Inness, Tough Girls: Women Warriors and Wonder Women in Popular Culture (Univ. Pennsylvania, 1998: ISBN 0-8122-3466-9)
  • Trina Robbins, The Great Women Superheroes (Kitchen Sink Press, 1996) ISBN 0-87816-481-2
  • Maud Lavin, "What's so bad about "bad girl" art?" (Ms. Magazine, March/April 1994) p. 80 - 83.


  • Femforce: Bad Girl Backlash by Rebekah Black, Stephanie Sanderson, Leah Adezio, Bill Black, and Mark Heike. (AC Comics, 1996) A comic book making fun of the Bad Girl trend, by the publishers of the Femforce comic book series.

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