Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cooke's Power Girl

Dirk Deppey originally posted this cover to the upcoming Comics Journal #285 at his ¡Journalista! blog several weeks ago, and although Darwyn Cooke's magnificent drawing has been widely disseminated 'round the web, I wanted to post and briefly comment upon it here.

Although Cooke references the Power Girl's breasts, I think it's wonderful that he does so without actually depicting her characteristic "cleavage window." In fact, her mirror pretty much obscures her chest, something which enables the artist to make her eyes a focal point of the image.

Cooke's deployment of a mirror brought to mind two paintings by Velasquez. In "Venus at her Mirror" (1649-51), the painter reveals Venus' face through its reflection in a mirror; we're not able to see the godess' features directly "from life." Similarly, in Cooke's drawing the mirror obscures one of the subject's features, rather than reflect or reveal it to the viewer.

However, I think the trick that Velasquez pulls in "Las Meninas" (1656-7) is closer to the spirit of what Cooke does in his drawing.

Like PG's hand-held, the mirror on the wall at the center of the painting reflects an image back at the viewer. In Velasquez's case, we can actually see what's in the mirror: it's the king and queen of Spain.

In a metaphorical sense, though, the mirror actually depicts whoever stands to take a look at the tableau in the painting: if we entered that room, we would be reflected in the mirror. "Las Meninas" is about lines of perspective, points of view, and our ability and desire to look.

Cooke's drawing reveals him to be interested in the same things.

What you can't see in that scan (but can be seen on the published cover) is that the mirror has white lettering which reads "Objects in the mirror should grow up and move on."

Presumably Cooke's opinion of those whose eyes immediately seek out PG's cleavage.
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