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Cat ears, Cat-Tales, and Catwoman’s costume on and off

September 26, 2011

You know that old zinger flung at Trekkies “Get a life”?   I have a life, and I spent the weekend with it.  Apparently while my life and I were enjoying some quality time together, All Living Hell broke loose on the internet.  So for the convenience of those people who are just finding this blog and Cat-Tales and the fan art gallery and the forum, I’m going to take a moment and direct traffic.  There’s 10 years of Catwoman stuff around here and you’ll never find what you’re looking for on your own.  I know just how frustrating it is to be googlng for information on a bicycle race and, for reasons unknown and unknowable, you get links to oil rigs in the North Atlantic.  So I’ll be linking like mad to all the recent posts that may have brought you here…

The Dark Knight Rises Catwoman Costume

Costume Spoilers ahead

A couple weeks ago Warner Bros. released the first picture of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, the Internet took one look at her goggles and zip-up biker chick outfit and said with one outraged voice “That ain’t Catwoman!”  This despite the fact that she was riding a motorcycle, which is the one instance where goggles are kind of appropriate – curiously for the same reason they’re not appropriate in any other context.

Mask 101 – real quick, this will be fun – from Van Helsing’s Diary in Cat-Tales Capes and Bats:

“The eyes, windows of the soul, are where the vampire make his bid to take the mind, and control the mind.”

Or from my Red Room piece on Italy and why so much of Selina’s origin story is set there.

“The eyes are the windows to the soul” as the saying goes, and the purpose of masks at Venetian Carnevale, Mardi Gras and Masked Balls has always been to reveal, not to hide.   The mask conceals the face, but leaves those windows to the inner person exposed.  The effect—and this has been the experience of those wearing masks for centuries before Batman and Catwoman arrived on the scene—is to release a part of one’s personality that one often didn’t know was there.  It is an incredibly freeing experience.  It is incredibly right for a Selina Kyle or Bruce Wayne to discover these hidden parts of themselves in that way. 

That’s why such a big deal is made of Catwoman’s first mask in her origin story Cattitude.

That’s why one fan didn’t even like one of the Cat-Tales poster I made up for this year’s Comic-Con, because it created a purple film, a goggle-esque barrier, between the viewer and Catwoman’s eyes.

And while that makes goggles completely inappropriate for a regulation Catwoman costume, subverting the very notion of what a mask is and what it’s for, it is exactly what you want on a motorcycle.  It shields the eyes, not from the VIEWER but from SHRAPNEL!

Now, Mrs. Nolan obviously didn’t raise no fool, because yesterday (or the day before, I don’t know, at some point recently while I my back was turned), we have more pictures of Anne Hathaway in the Catwoman costume.  And the loathed un-catwomany goggles—in an act of satiric fashion-dadaism fusing form and function in an act of ironic symbolism that challenges the viewer to imagine Coco Chanel at an exhibition of Marcel Duchamp—the goggles slide up onto her head forming the cat ears.

Catwoman Costume from The Dark Knight Rises: Cat ears, Stiletto heels and No Goggles

Bene.  With that lovely long hair and the cat mask, she looks just like Julie Newmar doesn’t she?  (And speaking of Julie, she is featured in the History of the Catwoman Costume which has brought so many of you here, along with Practical Cats: Reflections on the Catwoman Costume.)

So, Googlers, while there are fun snippets of TDKR news and commentary in this blog, it’s not really my raison d’etre and you may want to bookmark these guys for a regular stream of news.

Cat-Tales

What this blog IS about, overall, is Cat-Tales.  That’s a Catwoman Metafiction Series I write based on the simple principle that most of what you read in comic books is wrong: the lies and distortions of a sensationalist tabloid called The Gotham Post.  Cat-Tales is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year, so there are “Look Back” entries to be found highlighting a favorite tale from each year.  Currently up to Year 8.

There is a fan art gallery, and if you love the glorious purple sex appeal of the Jim Balent Catwoman or the fabulous curves of The Brave and the Bold Catwoman in her classic skirted costume, GO!  Click the link, click it now.  The gallery will be expanding at some point soon, so if you’re an artist and a fan of the Tales or just have some nice pieces in these costumes that you’d like the world to see, you can get in touch through the forums, on deviantART, Facebook, etc.

Oh, and speaking of Jim Balent, in all the fuss about the ears, not everyone has noticed that The Dark Knight Rises Catwoman is also wearing stiletto heel thigh boots.  I believe all fans of the Balent costume know where those came from.

Catwoman #1
aka The Reboot Catwoman
aka The New 52 Catwoman
aka “Most of the costumes stay on”

So, Cat-Tales basically began back in 2001 when The Gotham Post (aka DC Comics) went too far, wiping out all Catwoman was and was supposed to be and “reinventing” her to the point where she was no longer recognizable as the character we all knew and loved.  They still called her Selina Kyle and had Catwoman on the cover page, but as in the case of that Anne Hathaway goggle picture, all sane and sentient fans took one look at it and said “That ain’t Catwoman.”

Now, it’s been a bad decade for DC Comics.  The Catwoman blunders were not an isolated case, and they’ve lost a lot of readersa lot of readers.  The LA Times reported that Dan DiDio was at a comic shop in New Jersey and over the course of an hour, 2 customers came in.  That’s not a typo.  Two.   As in 1+1.  “And this was a Saturday, the busiest day of the week for most retailers.”

So, a couple weeks ago, they took a very brave and difficult step: they wiped out all the crap that has happened since Crisis on Infinite Earths, rebooted every character and relaunched every comic.  From what I understand, Catwoman #1 which came out last week goes a long, long way in at least trying to restore the sexiness and fun of the Volume I comic that was decimated by the ‘new direction’ 10 years ago.  In fact they have a huge advantage over the original Volume I Catwoman #1, because the Bat-editor at that time didn’t even want to acknowledge Selina was in Gotham City let alone – God forbid – allow Batman within a city block of her.

Apparently, as of issue #1 of the new Catwoman comic, that policy is now flushed with the rest of the post-Crisis refuse.  Depending on where you work, this picture may not be worksafe, so I’ll just say this for those who fear to click through:

1) The title of the issue is “Most of the costumes stay on” and if you think the rest of that sentence is “when we fuck” you’d be right

and

2) Oh THAT’S what they meant by “practical.”

Um,

Well, gee…

Now that they put it that way, yeah, a costume that zips up the front definitely IS more practical.

(The goggles, however, still have to go.)

Okay, seriously, is this the big turnaround for DC Comics?  I don’t know.  I’m one of the readers they lost, remember?  I haven’t been inside a comic shop for more than 4 years.  So I’m really not in a position to judge if any of this is real or if it’s another cheap stunt: a mean-spirited attempt to lure back fans so they can punch them in the stomach one last time.

I will say this to both sides, both DC and the ex-readers like myself:

Ex-readers,  we need to be patient.  The DCU took 25 years to break, the dysfunction took a quarter of a century to create, it can’t be fixed in 3 months.

DC, see above.  It took 25 years to break – not just the FUBAR of your universe but the trust of ex-readers like me.  You’re not going to fix that in 3 months either.

One of my readers who knows I’m a huge Aaron Sorkin fan sent me this, framing “The New 52″ in the spirit of Studio 60.

A Commentary on DC Comics "The New 52" as an homage to Studio 60

And that’s a great quote, but there’s a different line from that same pilot episode that came to mind for me:

“I have no reason to trust you and every reason not to.”

I know it sounds ominous, but it’s not.  Not really.  Trust is earned, and what’s broken can be fixed, and heroes press on even when it gets hard…

Hey, Winnick, psst.  <insert sexy double entendre here if you dare>.

Meow.

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