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Cartoon Network Pulls “Too Sexy” Powerpuff Girls Comic Book Cover

Cartoon Network has pulled the plug on a controversial Powerpuff Girls comic book variant cover that was intended to ship next month from IDW Publishing. The cover, drawn by Mimi Yoon, was planned for the sixth issue of the series.

According to ICv2, some of the controversy surrounding the cover began after comic book retailer Dennis Barger Jr. posted on Facebook:

“Are we seriously sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted writing fan fiction writers on the internet???? is that what this shit has gotten to? DISGUSTED”

IDW’s vice president of marketing Dirk Wood responded on Facebook to Barger:

“That was actually a Cartoon Network mandated cover, by an artist of their choosing. I think they were thinking of it more along the lines of ‘female empowerment’ than the kind of thing you guys are talking about, but certainly, we’re sensitive to the issues here. We love making comics for kids, and always want them to be appropriate. For what it’s worth, CN has been a great partner in that regard… I know an 8 year old and 10 year old really well, and always look at these kinds of things through their eyes… 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.”

Following that exchange, Cartoon Network Enterprises, the licensing and merchandising arm of Cartoon Network, confirmed to ICv2 in a written statement that they would no longer release the cover:

“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. We recognize some fans’ reaction to the cover and, as such, will no longer be releasing it at comic book shops.”

The controversy stems in large part from Cartoon Network’s own inconsistent branding of the franchise. They still describe the characters on their website as “three super-powered little girls out to save the world before bedtime.” But Yoon’s cover takes its creative cues from the officially licensed Japanese spinoff series Powerpuff Girls Z, in which the Powerpuff Girls are older and more provocatively dressed. CN’s attempts to extend the franchise has muddied the audience for the show with no clear sense of who the characters are intended for anymore.

  • Jose

    This is just sad. Very sad.

  • Brittany

    They could’ve made the skirts longer and more classy if they’re gonna age them, or make the tights cover all the way up, but it’d be nice if the faces had some actual expression & personality on them too. They definitely look way older than the japanese 13-year-old designs though, not as fun either..

  • Chris Sobieniak

    No doubt the truth.

  • Jason Breslin

    Um, we ARE talking about the Powerpuff Girls, right? The show that, next to Animaniacs, has a big track record of getting racy jokes past the censors?

    • rubi-kun

      PPG mostly sexualized adult characters, not kids. Big difference there.

    • tredlow

      It’s still a children’s cartoon. There is a difference between “children’s cartoon with adult humor that will go over children’s heads” and “something made specifically for adults”

  • Erik Butter

    I don’t think generic is really sexy…

  • Capital7

    They’re not showing any more skin than Josie and the Pussycats ever did, or for that matter, Betty and Veronica often did. I think the wailing is done by people who confuse cute teenagers with sexual imagery. The shrill wail of that comic retailer guy is creepier than the illustration.

    • Josie and the Pussycats weren’t in kindergarten either. Nor were they directed at small children . In edition to the fact the rampant objectifying of the female body be peddled to young girls shouldn’t be excusable because ‘other people did it fiiirst neeeeh.”

      • Capital7

        Well, these are aged up versions, obviously, of the ROBOT CARTOON CHARACTERS. I think that parenting should probably not come from ROBOT CARTOON CHARACTERS in the first place. Nice fedora.

      • Funkybat

        I also think Josie and the Pussycats inspired some “confusing” (or probably not all that confusing) feelings in a lot of the kids who watched the shows or read the comics. The “Teen Angels” who accompanied Captain Caveman were similarly sexy. I think the main problem people are having is that those characters were originally depicted as teens or young adults, and they also tended to not take “vampy” poses. The Powerpuff Girls were decidedly pre-teen girls (albeit oddly-proportioned and limbed ones) and the people complaining probably thinkt he primary market for the comics is pre-teens. I have no idea of that’s true, because it seems most comics based off of properties no longer being produced are usually bought by 20 and 30-something comic fans more than actual kids, but nevertheless, it seems more like something that belongs on a fan art blog than the cover of the official comic.

    • Ignoranimus

      I mostly agree that the illustration is harmless, but I don’t like the objectification going on. Blossum, Buttercup, and Bubbles are all wearing the same blank expression, Bubbles even has her mouth slightly agape. Coupled with the way their posing, it just strips them of all character, reducing them to these sexual objects, nothing more.

  • Guest

    This cover was obviously inspired by the anime series Powerpuff Girls Z .. which is actually an enjoyable l’il show (if a bit derivative of ‘magical girl’ tropes). The anime’s take on Sedusa is especially fun.

    Though, I doubt PPG-Z would ever see distribution in the U.S., if this ‘controversy’ is any indicator .. oh, well; WHV’s loss.

    • StephaneDumas

      I liked PPGZ too, however I listened to the English dub clips posted on Youtube and why they changed the background music? (They did it for Sailor Moon but the results was different) If it ain’t broken,….

    • rubi-kun

      It’s been years since it came out in Japan so I don’t think the US has any interest in it.

      I watched the first couple episodes way back. The robot dog made me want to shoot something and the action scenes were actually animated worse than the original series. Had no interest in continuing.

  • James Stanley

    Did the people who created this shocker forget that the girls are technically pre-schoolers age wise?

    • Justin

      It was one person, and her name is Mimi Yoon: http://mimiyoon.viewbook.com/

      • Claire

        No. Mimi Yoon completed a brief given to her by a paying client. She was selected, presumably researched, given the brief, and the final artwork was approved by professionals in charge of the PPG brand. Mimi Yoon painted a picture; she did not create the shocker.

        • James Stanley

          Then who did?

          • Crispy Walker

            One individual created this “shocker”, and it was the one indignant comic book store owner, Dennis Barger Jr. , who was pervy enough to read into this image the sexualization of little girls. Sexualizing little girls is dressing them up for pageants and putting them in bikinis to compete against each other, not taking totally fictionalized characters and creating alternative teenage versions of the characters. Mimi Yoon is a decent painter and illustrator, and it’s sad that one person’s hissy-fit over the cover has lead to the firestorm that it has. It’s disappointing that the industry is allowing itself to be policed by a concern troll. I understand that people see the PPG as seven year olds, and that the target readership of the comic is likely about 11 years old… But this was a variant cover — not the main cover, and these depictions are really no more sexualized than any other comic book cover featuring female characters out there. It feels hypocritical to take aim at this one specific cover when the issue has run rampant through comics since the inception of the medium.

  • DJ

    This is a variant cover for people that want it, I don’t see what the problem is. If a kid walks into a store chances are they’ll want the cover with the cool action scene that actually looks like the shows designs anyway. People getting upset over this seems to be more of a case of exposing their own warped views more than anything else. Considering some of the comic covers that the big two produce I don’t think this is even close to sexual.

    • tredlow

      Showing little girls a cover like this at a store will make them think “This is what people want us to be.” and that’s a terrible message to send. Especially when it’s seen in the Powerpuff Girls, who have always symbolized female empowerment. Yes, there are different cover choices, but it’s still a mindset that can instill children’s minds easily.

      And yes, DC, Marvel and countless others has done worse to their female characters, but that doesn’t excuse Cartoon Network to do something just because it’s tamer, much like how you can’t have the Care Bears say “Hell” just because there are movies out there who use worse swear words.

  • Mister Twister

    Oh Amid, animation news would be so boring without you!

  • Julia Braid

    This is like PPGZ? PPGZ wears puffy vests and sneakers. Where did latex minidresses and thigh-high boots come from?

    The cover does make me kind of uncomfortable (their dead expressions…), but it’s not as bad as the headline had me believe. I’m disappointed in how boring the grown-up designs are, honestly.

  • Roberto Severino

    Generic, babyish heads placed on top of slightly sexualized women’s bodies. I’ve seen stuff way creepier than this.

  • SarahJesness

    Eh, it’s not so bad. I’m mostly freaked out by their faces.

  • I’m ashamed on how Bullies get their way :(

    • rubi-kun

      Wait, who’s bullying anyone here? I just see a fair criticism (that sexualizing 5-year-olds is creepy), and a fair response to said criticism.

  • Joseph Patrick

    Wow. I thought this was drawn by Tara McPherson.

  • After looking at the rest of Mimi Yoon’s artwork, weren’t they expecting this?

  • Kitter Bunny

    the guy who complained owns a comic shop and by doing this nonsense got free publicity… seems the artist got some publicity as well. and lets be honest, im freaked out by seeing the PPG’s with FINGERS?!?!

  • Ben A. Varkentine

    I’m usually very sensitive to the sexualization of children’s pop culture and I gotta say, for what it’s worth, this isn’t tripping those wires for me. The only thing I might object to is the sitting on Mojo Jojo’s face, and even that seems at least as much about ownage (did I use that right) as any kind of sexual imagery.

    • Crispy Walker

      That’s what I thought — the only sexual thing I could really garner from it was it felt like Jojo might be looking up Buttercup’s skirt.

  • Trevor White

    Skin tight PVC skirts, and a bit of backside on display? No wonder.

  • HalSolo

    “CN’s attempts to extend the franchise has muddied the audience for the show with no clear sense of who the characters are intended for anymore.”

    The Power Puff Girls animated series for kids was so loaded with sexual innuendos and references for adults that if anything “muddied” the waters of who this series was for, it was Craig McCraken’s original vision – which was AMAZING.
    Besides, Dennis Duffy said it best:

  • mick

    tangents, two ears, one face… composition favours left… or is that just me?

  • Guest

    The real story is here: THERE’S A POWERPUFF GIRLS COMIC BOOK?!

  • Ness

    I think it’s a fair enough criticism. Exposed shoulders and thigh high boots aren’t exactly prudish.

  • Justin

    I would have removed it on the basic grounds that it’s just soo poorly drawn and over-rendered. Tangents everywhere on this mo fo’. Also, creepy plastic faces??

  • fbt

    Just wanted to say, isn’t this how Tinkerbell and her friends look like?

  • KH

    It’s not just the “sexy” bodies or dresses that’s the problem. Look at their poses. Look at their facial expressions. They’re completely blank, lifeless and submissive, weakly holding their arms taut as a pathetic attempt at aping “female strength”, almost making fun of it. I absolutely cannot stand these poses throughout the media. They have no soul, no emotion, no passion, no ambitions, they’re not even human. They’re just there to be stared at and lusted after. That is BY FAR the most dangerous message they’re sending girls. To be passive, submissive, brainless, inhuman sex objects, regardless of what they’re wearing.

  • IcyTea

    Seems like whoever bought this PPG #6 in this cover will make lots of money in the future.

  • Henry Cohn

    I think of it this way: sex was just an excuse to pull a frankly rather shoddy cover.

    • Scan

      Kind of like how this is on the featured CartoonBrew list when there’s a bunch of other articles that come after it?

  • jhalpernkitcat

    Exactly what I meant. While the girls themselves were adorable, there were tons of jokes that a younger child wouldn’t be able to understand.

  • tredlow

    I think it’s less about the content and more about it being an official decision.

  • tredlow

    I’ve never watched Powerpuff Girls Z, but aside from them being taller PPGs, I don’t see any similarities.

  • Rodan Thompson

    A bastardization of a totally innocent but edgy cartoon… ruined it for me.. I hope they drop this approach completely. I’d rather they just leave the girls alone…

  • ddrazen

    “I’m too sexy for my spice, too sexy for my spice, and everything niiiiice.”

  • sanfranita

    I don’t seen an ounce of “female empowerment” in this illustration!!!!

  • For poops sake, what did anyone expect from Mimi Yoon? CN/IDW commissioned the piece, Mimi delivered, and it was light on the Yoon’esque tones mind you, and everyone loses their minds. It was a variant cover for comic collectors that are sometimes, you guessed it, in their late teens (with this book at least.)

  • Claire

    You’re infantilising her by saying “it might be the only way she knows how”. Don’t be as bad as the company you’re criticising.

    • Patches

      Just because an artist is good doesn’t mean they’re good in all areas. Her blog, portfolio, site, basically all the work she’s showcased online shows her drawing the same type of girl with a very lackluster, emotionless face.

      Sometimes an artist will get an assignment so different from their usual commissions, they try to go outside their comfort zone. Mimi did not at all. She drew the girls the same way she drew Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn for a DC illustration. There are more indicators that say she chose NOT to challenge herself for this job.

      Just because a company asked her to do the work doesn’t mean she couldn’t put some variety in to fit the characters. Poses that better tell their personalities, perhaps longer dresses to avoid sexualizing young girls.

      I know you think companies are big bad people, but sometimes artists don’t do a very good job either. Just because the company accepted the art doesn’t completely negate Mimi’s decision to draw the cover like this.

      Unless I see previous sketches or versions of this cover to show that she DID challenge herself and the company wanted the girls to be shown like this, I’m going to believe, also supported by her current work, this “might be the only way she knows how”.

      Artists aren’t sacred things to be shielded from criticism, sorry.

  • Michael Hunt

    What is so damn sexy about them? America what is your problem guys take a chill pill. They are wearing a damn dress and smiling. If that is TOO sexy then Idk what to think anymore. This world is getting ridiculous.

    • IJK

      I guess you think a woman’s privates are all the way up to their torso? Those skirts are ridiculously short. Literally, if they start walking, something will be revealed. Not to mention the eyes and mouths are colored in a way that gives them a very “make-up”-esque face. Who naturally has eyelashes that thick? Or a natural eye liner?

      They’re basically drawn like supermodels. Not as busty, but still supermodels.

      • Michael Hunt

        All super hero girls are drawn like that when they draw then older. You think they look sexy then. It must be this sexiness is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Funkybat

    The cover art is well-executed, but kind of creepy, and not just because of the “sexuality.” It reminds me of the work of Mark Ryden, which is a good thing artistically but a bad thing if you’re trying to sell a kid’s comic. It has been clarified that this cover was not destined for “general distribution” but only for comic shops, but the fact is these days, comic shops are about the only place you CAN buy comic books! I haven’t seen one of those racks of random current release comics in 7-11 in like 20 years, and Waldenbooks and the like have pretty much all gone bye-bye. I don’t think this cover is a travesty, but I do understand why it makes a lot of people uncomfortable given the characters involved.

  • For real, they are suppose to be kids. Not teenagers, or whatever that’s suppose to be.

  • Guest

    I can see why people may think that judging by the posing. But can you really call this “sexy”?

  • Mark

    Really? That’s offensive ? . . . I don’t see it. There’s nothing sexually provocative here. Yes they look older but so what?

  • Yikes. Well, that is definitely sexualized. Looks to be directed at an older audience, because the characters are (I’m seriously hoping) supposed to be older.) I don’t know…the Powerpuff Girls are such extremely cartoonish, stylized, cute little-girlish characters that it hardly seems appropriate or necessary to portray them in a scantily-clad, more-realistic style. But of course some folks are going to imagine those versions of them, and this cover would’ve been perfectly acceptable if they were dressed in a manner suitable for the youngest fans. Comic book females have always been generic-looking, with tight and/or skimpy outfits and stereotypically “hot bods”–but a PPG comic directed at least partly toward young girls isn’t really the best place for that kinda stuff.

  • Elissa

    I’m Ok with this… I was like 8-9 when PPG aired on TV. Now i’m 25.
    I think people is over reacting… I child won’t see any “sexualization” in this cover. Only Adults do, why? Because we are a bunch of hypocrites :) Chill out ppl… Instead go Yell DC for wonder woman. Haha :) Like… If when you where little you didn’t enjoy Sailor Moon, or X-men, She-Ra… C’mmon!

  • Natalie

    Aren’t they just kids…?

  • Azgodeth

    congrats. one curmudgeon cries on facebook, and everyone else has to loose a rare collectors edition by a talented young artist.

  • ImperialFists

    honestly, I’m kinda sick of this whole censorship BS

  • Cloud

    Isn’t this normal in Japan? Heck, isn’t this censored in Japan? XD

  • Daniel Lee


    Yes, I can totally see how PPGZ is much more provocative. rofl