The latest San Diego Comic Con may have finished, but the discussion concerning women in comics — be they behind the drawing board or in the pages — is far from over. Following the SDCC panel “Censorship at the Female Artist”, in which female panelists talked about their experiences depicting the female body in their work, Canadian artist Camilla d’Errico further discussed her experiences with being accused of obscenity and how it has affected her work in an interview with ImPrint.
Camilla d’Errico has more than ten years of comic artistry under her belt, with multiple published graphic novels, art books, and a variety of other products. Her work is dainty and colorful, and the influences of manga and anime can be seen in her character’s big eyes and round faces. While some of d’Errico’s work could be considered sensual (and even full of sexual tension, according to Australian comic book artist and illustrator Ashley Wood), her work is far from pornographic or obscene.
D’Errico previously refrained from painting nudity after her work faced criticism from people coming up to her table and calling her art pornography and telling her that it couldn’t be sold. “It made me realize that people can be overly sensitive to nudity… I pulled back from painting nudity and clothed my girls a lot more. I hate how that affected me; I’ve become very wary of painting nudity,” she told ImPrint.
But after SDCC, they may change. Her bestseller at the convention was “The Weeping Camel,” which was conversely the only print on her table with nudity this year. “I think now you can expect me to unshackle that fear and take back the power that those people seemed to have stolen from me,” d’Errico said.
The artist has some theories on why some people react so negatively to her work. One is that many of her characters appear very young, but d’Errico doesn’t put any ages on them nor does she see them as children; she sees them “just as girls” and is in fact proud that their ages are difficult to pin down.
In the interview, d’Errico also addresses North America’s issues with nudity and, at the same time, its relaxation with violence. “In Europe they have no problem with nudity, it’s just a part of fashion and seen simply as the human body. To them, nudity does not equal sex, but North America can’t make that distinction. The history of art in Europe is so rich, and its roots are in paintings depicting naked women, naked men, naked babies, because it’s just art. It’s an expression of the human psyche,” d’Errico said.
Several major projects lie ahead for d’Errico, including a two-person show at Cotton Candy Machine in New York City, a project with Dark Horse entitled Helmetgirls, continuation of her Tanpopo graphic novels, more Sky Pirates of Neo Terra webcomics, and many more books, including a how-to. Nudity or not, this artist isn’t letting criticism and attempted censorship keep her down. You can read the rest of her ImPrint interview here.
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Becca Hoekstra is a journalism student at City College of San Francisco. She thinks way too much about gender representation in media.
All images (c) Camilla d’Errico