Alex Ahad calls the initial Skullgirls sexism interview “disrespectful” and “misleading.”
Alex Ahad, the artist responsible for much of Skullgirls’ art style has responded to Reverge Labs’ lead developer Peter Bartholow’s statements regarding the game’s alleged sexism. According to Ahad, the quotes that implied Skullgirls wasn’t sexist because a woman had animated them were taken out of context from “a conversation” instead of an “actual interview,” a statement which Eurogamer (who took the initial statements) vehemently denies.
The interview “shouldn’t have been taken as an actual, serious argument against sexism,” Ahad has argued on his Deviant Art page. “It’s rather disrespectful to both Kinuko [lead animator] and her work, as well as the company as a whole.”
For those curious, here’s a quick summary of events thus far: During a recent interview, Bartholow claimed that people accusing his all-girl brawler of sexism were displaying “misplaced and shallow chivalry.” He also went onto argue that “[the game’s] lead animator was a woman” and that “all the people who seem bothered by it are guys.” These comments put some people on the offensive, not about Skullgirl’s roster of oft scantly clad anime babes, but instead, regarding the argument he made against those calling it sexist in the first place. Now, due the sudden kerfuffle, Ahad has decided to attempt clarifying the situation.
“I wish it was made more clear that we don’t support the female-animator argument as a valid point against sexism at all,” Ahad wrote in response to Bartholow’s interview. “It has an incredibly misleading tone since the very first quote is ‘our lead animator is a woman.’ It’s also in poor taste to call out another game/character by name as an example.”
“Ultimately,” he continued, “the things you see in Skullgirls are there because it just happens to be stuff that I wanted to do. There are elements in the world that are just here because it’s cool and was fun to make. I enjoy drawing girls and monsters. I particularly enjoy drawing monster-girls. There is something more exciting about a design that is both twisted and cute at the same time. It’s more interesting than just an overly aggressive monster, or something totally saccharine.”
The artist later went on to define his feelings on sexism in general, separate from Bartholow’s specific quotes on the subject.
“The real issue comes from what their role and actions are,” Ahad wrote. “If a character is a side-line character and their sole purpose is to be a sex object, then it is sexist. If the character is a competent contributor to the story, then it is not sexist, even if they look sexy. Looking at a screenshot by itself, or judging by the artwork alone is extremely shortsighted. People who make knee-jerk reactionary judgments should have never been acknowledged.”
It’s interesting to see this supposed controversy evolve into a somewhat two-pronged debate. On one hand, there still exists a faction of those who believe the game itself to be sexist, and Bartholow’s comments as weak justification. On the other, there seem to be those completely fine with the game’s art style, but in disagreement with his justifications in general. Even Ahad himself seemed to think some comments as regrettable, describing at least part of them to be “in poor taste” while attempting to defend them. With the game set for release early next year, it will be interesting to see how this back-and-forth affects sales. What do you think, Escapists? Will this recent attention drive publicity or just turn gamers off from purchasing it?