After seeing so many fantasy characters/creatures being stripped of originality for the old "sex sells" (which always seems to equate to a super model-esque human with just a strange skin colour slapped on top) I thought I’d talk about The Spiderwick Chronicles amazing Field guide of mythological creatures and characters as a positive example of fantasy designs. Most of the humanoid creatures in this book don’t have armour per se, but outfits and clothing are used for various things such as camouflage, identification and to aid in magic as most of them do not use physical combat.
Here’s one of the female Elves from the book. For a start the art by Tony DeTerlizzi is lovely and very detailed, and even the Elves, the typical visions of beauty are not over sexualised, as shown below:
The outfits often creatively reflect the trees and flowers various fairies and elves represent too, and again, not in a overly sexualised way.
Some are also have over exaggerated features in a more interesting way, like the trolls as pictured below. The book also adds commentary on their outfits, which gives the reader more insight to the habitats that various of them live in, such as on this page- ‘Here, she has used the pelts from her meals as protection against the bitter, chilly environment’.
Without the whole “sex sells” aspect the designs can also be a bit more adventurous and otherworldly too, like the Caribbean mermaids with stinging tentacles for hair and toxic barbs.
All in all, this book showcases the more interesting ways you can portray fantasy creatures/women without resorting to “sex sells”. I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants to see a more interesting twist on the mythological and fantasy genre!
Thank you for this wonderful submission. It really does showcase how creative and fun designs for female characters can get if you drop the requirement of “must be sexy” (or even “must be pretty).
This is also really well juxtaposed in the artist’s online gallery, particularly the games section where you can see the creative designs and ideas behind monster… provided they don’t have to be identifiable as a human-like woman.
While certain demographics keep insisting that it is critic blogs that murder creative freedom, in truth – it’s the demand to adhere to worn out tropes because of myths about sex sells and people can’t like a female character unless she looks like a Barbie doll.