by Alison Flood)
A Powerpuff Girls cover which "sexualised" the pre-teen characters has been withdrawn following calls for retailers to boycott the issue.
The American comic book retailer Dennis Barger highlighted an image which gave the trio breasts and dressed them in latex on Facebook earlier this week, asking "are we seriously sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted writing fan fiction writers on the internet"? The Powerpuff Girls, Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup, are "three super-powered little girls out to save the world before bedtime", according to the Cartoon Network, where they appear. But they are considerably older than "little girls" on the cover of their latest outing in comics form, which was due to be released next month.
"They are wearing latex bondage-wear mini dresses, which on an adult would be fine but on the effigies of children is very wrong," wrote Barger of the cover. "I think I am more disappointed than anything else that we are pandering to a very small perverted segment that unfortunately exists and will consume this cover, I supported the brand without question … that ignorance has changed."
Barger, who runs Wonder World Comics in Detroit, said as a "responsible parent" he wouldn't be carrying the comic in his shop, and would be asking other retailers to join him. His comments were picked up by comics news site Bleeding Cool, with the controversy quickly spreading through the comics community.
Publisher IDW's Dirk Wood responded to Barger online over the controversy, saying the artist – chosen by the Cartoon Network – was "thinking of it more along the lines of 'female empowerment' than the kind of thing you guys are talking about". He added: "Half of the employees have kids here, and we pride ourselves in making comics they'll enjoy and not give them a warped view of the world (except, you know, in a good way). Anyway, I certainly see your points, and we'll be sensitive to these things, as I think we mostly have been."
Now the Cartoon Network has said that following reactions to the variant cover, it will no longer be selling it at comic shops. "In conjunction with our licensing partners, Cartoon Network Enterprises from time to time works with the artist community to reimagine and reinterpret our brands using their talents and unique points of view. This particular variant cover for The Powerpuff Girls #6 from IDW was done in the artist's signature style and was intended to be released as a collectible item for comic book fans," it said in a statement. "We recognise some fans' reaction to the cover and, as such, will no longer be releasing it at comic book shops."