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.
“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.