Don’t Be So Superficial About It

The League of Incredible Gentlemen, as I understand it, is not your typical comic book. Its satirical nature allows it to go into societal issues that the superficial nature of comic books ordinarily does not. Some of the most important points made in The League of Incredible Gentlemen are not learned from reading the dialogues but instead can only be understood with close examination of each panel and its social and historical significance.

When reading the graphic novel and later deciding what panel to analyze this panel kept sticking out to me. When I first read the novel, I stared at this panel for a while trying to understand how it worked, because it was different from most of the rest. At that time, I wasn’t analyzing it for meaning but instead, it stuck out to me because everything seemed to be scaled incorrectly.  Now, looking at it I can see that these miscalculations in scaling are one of the first expressions of sexism seen within the novel. In this image, Mr. Bond is holding up the trap door that he and Miss. Murray have apparently just walked through. While, Mr. Bond is undoubtedly above average in size, the image makes him appear abnormally large and powerful. In the panel, Miss Murray can hardly be seen as she is already as ways down the path. Therefore, there is no apparent reason for Bond’s continuous holding of the door except for the artistic representation of his strength and size. Bond stands with one arm extending to the door at an angle and the other extended downward at an angle so that his two arms create a diagonal line. This makes him seem as large as possible. His bottom hand is also in a fist increasing his appearance of dominance and strength. Furthermore, in the panel, Miss. Murray’s head appears to almost as small as a button on Mr. Bond’s shirt, and his position on the higher level makes it so he is towering over her more than usual. A couple of panels previously, it is obvious that Bond can see Miss. Murray’s carriage approaching and her walking towards him, however, he chooses not to acknowledge her until she speaks to him. That panel, pared with this one shows how much more Mr. Bond values himself than his female companion.

And what of the dialogue?  Mr. Bond’s words seem to go against the image that his physical structure portrays. He tells Miss. Murray, “as we see, England has a place for you, in the employ of my superior. “ The fact that he uses the term “superior” was surprising to me as previously I believed him to think he was the most superior of all. However, his use of this word creates a sense of mystery and fear regarding the identity of this “superior”. This in turn adds to Bond’s mysterious nature because he works for this important mystery man. Furthermore, the fact that he connects having a place in England to having a place in his company shows how important he finds himself and his employer. Miss Murray’s response highlights that fact that she is not a typical submissive woman, as it appears Bond is trying to make her. She quickly counteracts his attempts at creating a mysterious and fearful atmosphere around the identity of his employer by stating that everyone knows who he is and even using his full and shortened name.  Furthermore, she responds to him while continuing to walk and look out over the bridge so that her back is towards him. She makes no attempt to turn and make eye contact, which would be a sign of respect. Miss Murray clearly understands Mr. Bond’s persona and the type of appearance he tries to portray but she dismisses his attempts to belittle her and to inflate himself. She does this previously by saying that calling her Miss. Murray will do just fine when he requests to call her by her first name. Furthermore, her facial expression throughout their encounter is stern and serious if not angry.  She is not oblivious to the fact that he is blatantly ignoring her approach in the beginning and she makes no attempt to secure his ego by acting below him.

Overall, this if looked at closely this panel can do a lot for explaining the typical interactions between sexes at this time and how Miss. Murray defies them. The superficial appearance of the two characters would play into the domineering man submissive woman stereotype. However, when looked at more deeply it is clear that those are manipulations of the true relationship. It is clear that Miss Murray respects herself too much to succumb to the usual inferior position of women.



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