Short film about Chris Ware: "I distinctly remember being told by my teachers, if you draw women, you're colonizing them with your eyes"


Would love to get more into Ware, but I tire of holding a magnifying glass. It’s drawn/published too small for me to enjoy. I know that’s supposed to be part his style/charm but it hurts. I’ve clipped his New Yorker covers to add to my Awesome Artists collection of same, however.


I envy this chap his brush control. That is a nice tip he’s keeping there, and a very light touch.


For what it’s worth…I grew up in a family, an era, and a region in which sex was THE forbidden subject. What messages I got about sex were about “girls” and the message was: “Danger! Hands off!” Women=sex=forbidden. This programming was so effective that when I began drawing comics in elementary / middle school I was literally afraid to draw female characters. I feared I’d get in trouble simply drawing a woman. I suppose this is partly why I’ve always had trouble drawing women. The only point to the story, I guess, is that even random comments during formative periods can have an oversized influence on artistic development.


Chris Ware literally spends almost the entire video talking about this exact topic?


If you sketch naked models, are you planting exploitative resource mining operations?


“Oh, you know what Bill’s doing? He’s going for that anti-feminist dollar. That’s a good market. He’s very smart.”


Everyone has their own perception of the people and things around them. The White gaze, or the orientalist gaze, or the male gaze seems to me like it is primarily a way to criticize people not for what they are doing, but for what you assume they are thinking. It would be easier to take the argument seriously if it were evenly applied, and not subject to fashionable trends in perceived oppression/victimhood status.
For me, some of this still goes back to the Kimono controversy, where the act of touching or looking at a piece of silk, if perpetrated by a White person, was considered to have been done in an “orientalist manner”, and as such, is terribly offensive.
The most recent graphic novel I purchased was one that was recommened here, The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui. I admit that I am a huge fan of both Jacques Tardi and Edward Gorey, but the vast majority of graphic novels in our house were not authored by White males. We have a whole shelf of Shigeru Mizuki.
Before I responded to this post, I looked to see what the top selling and most recommended Graphic novels are today. There really do seem to be a wide diversity of authors. I don’t know what percentage of aspiring graphic novelists are female, but there do seem to be quite a few that have seemed to overcome the

And find themselves in most of the top 10 lists. When I do a google search for “best graphic novel”, the first one that pops up is Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel.


Maybe before sharing a trite, boring, ignorant conservative opinion on this topic, you should educate yourself. That’s not what “the gaze” means when people use it to describe disempowering objectification.


This is not as great an example as you think it is, since Alison Bechdel is older than and began her artistic career before Chris Ware, but did not achieve wide success until the last decade… whereas ten years ago Ware was covered in my university sequential art classes. Give that a good think.


I appreciate your linking the article. It is at least a concise explanation of the phenomenon. I feel a bit skeptical of her argument to exempt herself and all women from similar criticism:

“But I’d argue that there is no direct female equivalent of the male gaze. The male gaze creates a power imbalance. It supports a patriarchal status quo, perpetuating women’s real-life sexual objectification.”

That seems to be repeating the tenets of modern gender studies enthusiasts. I understand that it is a popular worldview, but not universally accepted. But thank you for posting it.


Of course it’s not universally accepted. If it were, there’d be no point in making it.

You continue to demonstrate no willingness to truly understand what “the gaze” is, nor to offer any explanation of your disdain for it as a concept.

Thus, what you do express instead – gratitude – can only strike me as feigned.


I have zero interest in getting into the details of this discussion which has been tread countless times across the internet and recent history. But I do feel it’s important to correct one thing in particular in your comment. While some people ignorant of the historical context involved undoubtedly think the male gaze is simply the act of a male looking at a female, this is to remove it from the context in which it derives its original and still scholastically accepted meaning. The male gaze is, generally speaking, the social pressures that act to conform women to very specific roles, behaviors and appearances. In the original context it refers to the way in which filmmakers would frame, dress, cast and script actresses in mainstream cinema. In the expanded context, it’s the director’s eye - meaning the visual language used to show the story the director seeks to show the audience - applied to the culture at large. Film theory isn’t some wishy-washy abstraction. It’s how movie get made, how they tell a coherent story instead of presenting their audiences with unstructured chaos.

As such it’s absolutely something any artist, filmmaker or otherwise, should be aware of. And not only for social justice purposes, but also because only by being aware of the biases through which we tell stories can we as artists make conscious decisions about when and where to question or break out of those biases. Even I, who haven’t a visual art bone in my body, pursue and value this awareness as a writer.

If an art teacher really did tell Chris Ware not to draw women, that would be ridiculous. But by his own recounting, he was given advice that echoed the actual idea of the male gaze, not told never to draw women. Like others, I suspect he was too young at the time to contextualize it. Why? Because while it stands to reason that there are bad art teachers out there giving bad advice, pretending that any anecdote of an art teacher giving advice such as this was probably not referencing a well known idea in art is disingenuous and assumes the majority of art teachers are ignorant of their own field. Which is silly.

So either those who make that claim are simply projecting their own (quite possibly unconscious) prejudices onto the art world, or they’re being intentionally dishonest. Even though I suspect the former is probably more prevalent, I do understand the frustration directed at those who, even once presented with the actual context of the idea, decide to simply redefine the term so that it suits their own narrative, a particularly ironic response to this idea especially. Frankly, it shows patience to gopher the knowledge for someone the first time when the knowledge is readily available and has been rehashed ad nauseam across the internet, and a wise person learns what a term means before they bandy it about. That some still refuse to aknoledge the context once shown is understandably confounding.


Okay, got a chance to watch the short, which I made sure to do because I loved Jimmy Corrigan and Building Stories. I thought that in those two, he handled his female characters well, and his black characters pretty well. I didn’t think he dealt much though with what being black meant in black lives. It often struck me as liberal multiculturalism – let’s be sure to include some POC, basically treat them like the white characters, and then we’ll have that box ticked. He handled ethnicity better in J Corrigan.

Anyway, his memory of censorious art teachers does strike me as suspect. He clearly fancies himself an iconoclast as an artist, a maverick, and in some ways he is one. So I can easily imagine him setting himself up here, even to himself, as an artist who yet again flouted the “rules.” However, he’s either mistating what someone told him, or he wound up being taught by an outlier.


as a narcisistic, self-centered egoist, i fully endorse the idea that one cannot and should not say, draw, or even think about any person other than themselves


Mussels in arrabiata sauce is my secret weapon for that.


Recipe plz


For terrifying flatulence? Put mussels in arrabiata sauce inside a Gilbert and leave for 2-3 hours.


I guessed that much … I meant the food not the “how to create a bioweapon”-recipe.



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