|Helena Janečić "Zgodne žene spašaju stvar"|
PRETTY WOMAN SAVE THE DAY
20. 4. – 4. 5. 2011.
How does Horny Dyke take over Superman's place in contemporary comic iconography?
Through appropriation, modification and a new introduction of the modified material of the main-stream comics, Helena Janecic subverts the medium which is, by using a clear code of stereotypical language, becoming very popular, and therefore acts as a strong catalyst for social change especially when it allows itself a slight turn from the code. By creating Horny Dyke, Helena’s alter ego and the central character of her narratives, she replaces the common hero of comics with Horny Dyke without much change in the code. Horny Dyke is a butch lesbian that doesn’t push the norms of gender, but instead takes on traditional male characteristics, putting a person of the female sex in the center of the narrative. Focusing on that one alteration from the code, her point becomes very obvious. In that way Helena communicates with a wider audience and so has a bigger activist potential. Furthermore, by shifting the language of comics into the painting medium, she can now occupy a prominent spot in the rooms of teenagers as well as on the walls of their parents.
Bringing us into the character of Horny Dyke, Helena is visually representing the term coming out with a classical comic book geek to superhero or super heroine transformation. The series continues by giving us a subjective view of her most important and popular comic heroines who in some way intrigue her imagination. Through the act of choosing, appropriating and presenting it in context, she offers us information about the changes to the paradigm of main-stream comics; from including active female characters to synthesizing the LGBT culture and including the latter in the dominant culture.
Let’s start with Wonder Woman, inaugurated in 1941 so that young girls would have an active female role model. Wonder Woman’s sexuality, because of her stereotypically feminine layout, generally goes unquestioned, and she is therefore considered to be heterosexual (although Helena wouldn’t agree with this attitude). Batwoman, who was created in the beginning as a love interest for Batman, and appears in two of the paintings of the show, becomes a declared lesbian according to recent incarnations. Here we also have Maggie Sawyer, a police woman and a supporting character in both Superman and Batman comics, and the first known lesbian character in main-stream comics, who appeared not too long ago in 1987. However, it seems that Helena could not find a double for a gay Superman, and so she decided to create one according to her own image.
Nevertheless, so that we don’t sin against the foundations of pop culture, we have to point out that Horny Dyke is the main character who likes to do her hero work in comfortable jeans and a t-shirt while the other heroines of the story, dressed in attractive but uncomfortable costumes, admire her. Batman, Superman and Spiderman also admire her although they don’t much tickle the author’s imagination, so we’ll talk about them next time.