Judd Winick Finally Answers ‘Catwoman’ Critics

"I never once thought what we were doing with the character would be lopped in with the idea of sexism," the writer says.

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Catwoman #4

Many critics, myself included, jumped all over Judd Winick and Guillem March for the obnoxiousness that was Catwoman #1, wherein her boobs are hanging out half the time and she ends it by banging Batman. Catwoman #2 began with some creepy sex faces and I couldn't get beyond that.  Winick's Catwoman was held up alongside Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 as being What Is Wrong With The New 52.  The fact that all he could say about his book back at Comic-Con was that it was "sexy" 12 times seemed to indicate where his head was.

However, I'll admit that I've peeked at a few issues since then, and March had pulled off some very striking images of Selina Kyle's horror at seeing that her reckless behavior has gotten her best and one of her only friends killed, and it really brought home a mood.  I was tempted to try it again, to get past the really awful first impression. For his part, Winick hasn't said much about the brouhaha until this interview with Newsarama, and he hopes that, after six issues, people are getting that he's not what he seemed at first.

 

On the longtime Catwoman fans missing their wonderfully-developed character:

We're being given that liberty that these characters aren't supposed to be stuck in amber the way they used to be. We really want to tell inventive and interesting stories. And to do that, we have to take risks with the characters and then let them learn and grow from their experiences.

That's something I want to emphasize: This is not the fully formed Catwoman. For the last decade or so, people have been reading about a Catwoman who is wiser, older and much more experienced. In our comic, she is not that woman yet. This is someone who is younger and less experienced, and also more reckless.

And that recklessness probably won't go away overnight, and it's certainly not going to go away from one issue to the next. She's a very reckless person. She's got a problem, and she knows it, but she just can't control herself. She has certainly learned some lessons in this story arc, particularly with Lola's death, and those types of things will start to add up. And we'll see some changes. But it's going to take time for her to evolve.

 

On the sexism controversy:

I know this is the first time I've spoken about this series in any kind of length since the first issue came out. And that was by choice, for everyone involved. I kind of just wanted to shut up and let the story tell itself, so readers could see that, in my opinion, she's a very multi-dimensional character.

Assumptions were made right away that this was going to be an over sexualized book and an over sexualized character, but those who stuck around for the entire first arc got to see that she's enormously tough, really smart and at the same time unbelievably careless, and really resilient and self-destructive at the same time.

All the way through issue #6, which wraps up our first arc, you see that she's got more than one side to her. And if people come back and read all six issues, whether it's in the individual comics or the trade, they'll see how it's all supposed to fit together.

And:

I did billboard it. I did let people know. And even the cover should have given a clue. It wasn't like we were working in a vacuum here. It was always planned to be a sexy title, a violent title, and let's be honest, this character has always led with her sexuality. But she's also intelligent, and tough, and so many other things.

 

And furthermore:

Do I think there's sexism in comics? Yes. I'll go even further and say there's sexism in most media. Well, in all media, really. And that's mind-boggling, since women are the majority of the population, and they consume more media than men.

And honestly, it pained me to be lobbed in with something I find to be deplorable. It really did. It's something I've always made a point of avoiding — no, beyond avoiding. I always tried to put lots and lots of strong women in my books.

But I just always approached this character, Catwoman, as a sexy character. I always saw her that way. As a thief, with her feline movements and her lack of self-control, she's less inhibited about a lot of things, and so she's sexy. But I never, ever approached her as a sex "object." She is so much more than that. Yes, she is sexy, but she's smart and tough and so much more, so I never once thought what we were doing with the character would be lopped in with the idea of sexism. And I hope the first six issues have proven that.

And one more thing:

There might be a lot of cleavage in our books, but I try to show off some sexy fellows too. But believe me, there's going to be plenty of sexiness in this comic that isn't just about Catwoman's costume. We'll still be pushing the limits and taking risks. And DC is encouraging us to do that in this book. Like I said, there are limits, but everyone has been trying to really push these comics into directions we haven't seen before, and take some risks.

 

So I ask you, dear readers – particularly readers of Catwoman – do you concur with this assessment? Does Judd Winick's Catwoman balance overt sexuality well enough with depth of character to give it another shot, or is it a continual chore to ignore obnoxiousness to get to the good parts?  Were we all wrong and too quick to judge? Sound off, let us know what you think.