Dear Zenescope, Please Stop.
I have constantly been bombarded with the pandering covers from Zenescope for months now, and it seems just when I think that they can’t get more exploitive, they just continue to find a new benchmark. I’ve never ventured past the covers until Zenescope visited HeroesCon this year and I felt the urge to walk up to their booth, while they waited for someone to stop and show an interest and just tell them, “There’s nothing good about what you do.” However, that wouldn’t have been fair, as I’d just be judging a book by its cover, literally. So I did what any fair person would do, and I read some Zenescope books.
I will never get that time back. I read Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Werewolves: The Hunger #3, Grimm Fairy Tales #86 and Grimm Fairy Tales Presents Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole #3. I will also never get back the time that I spent trying to do mini-reviews of them, when it became evident that the same issues came up with each comic. The art is inconsistent, the storytelling is muddy and confusing and I don’t think that I found a single character that I could relate to, much less one that had more than one dimension to their personality. If that wasn’t enough, the covers are misleading and exploitative, and the way they treat female characters is offensive.
One comic had two artists with entirely different styles, and it appears that the house style is to draw every woman as a supermodel, and to do this with as little storytelling as possible. In the Werewolves issue, I actually could appreciate the moodiness the first artist was trying to add with heavy shadows, but apparently in the middle of a fight scene is the place to switch to a substandard artist with little understanding of how to caricature anatomy. The Grimm Fairy Tales issue has a female prisoner wearing her costume under her prison jumpsuit, nearly causing my head to explode. The Wonderland comic even pulled out the extreme close-up of the eye trick, making the 90’s bad comic theme complete.
The characters are unrelatable, the female characters are either clueless, victims, clinging onto stronger male characters, or a combination thereof. They dress in ways that can be considered sexy in some way, with cleavage on display at most times and if not, then clothing is damply clinging to bra-less bosoms. The male characters are villains, victims, or helpless dupes. Because of the horrible storytelling, primarily by the writers, I even had trouble telling what role a character had in the story. Sometimes it just hurt to read any more, but I persisted.
Then there’s the covers. A cover is supposed to give you some sense of what you’re going to read. Based on Zenescope covers, I’m about to read porn. Every cover for the comics I read depicted scenes not in the comics and featured at least one character that didn’t show up in the comic. Grimm Fairy Tales was the least exploitative of the female form but they make up for it with the next issue, featuring a woman dressed in sheer, translucent fabric baring her buttocks to the reader. There are retailers out there trying to draw female readers into their shops and stuff like this on the stands are the type of thing that makes them turn around. It’s also the type of thing that turns parents around, hurrying out, to take their kids to buy a toy instead of comics.
So, Zenescope, for the sake of comics as a whole, please stop. There’s nothing good about what you do. It even looks like if you get someone out to put some polish on what you’re putting out, you stop them and go back to what you figure the formula is to put out a successful comic. After reading three of your books, I wish I had stopped by your table and just told you how awful you really are, but then again, it probably would have fallen on deaf ears.