The Fall of Pryde

In 1980, the long-established Marvel Comics team of mutant superheroes, the X-Men, got a new recruit: teenage Kitty Pryde, whose special power was the ability to ‘phase’, making her intangible and able to pass through solid objects.

Kitty was closely associated with one other X-Man, the irascible Wolverine with his super-hard adamantium exo-skeleton, as played by Hugh Jackman in countless (well, nine) X-Men movies. He became her mentor and they shared a comic-book mini-series together.

And she duly span off into the subsidiary objects and activities that are an inevitable element of modern comics fan culture. There were Kitty statuettes:

Kitty cosplays:

And lots of Kitty fan art:

Some of this imagined her in awkward situations:

And one female fan artist with a particular interest in Wolverine imagined a scene that had a lot of young women picturing themselves in Kitty’s awkward situation:

In the summer of 2018, the long-running X-Men artist and Kitty’s creator, John Byrne, began work on a possible X-Men ‘alternative history’ sequel, entitled Elsewhen, and began posting the pencils on his website as he completed them. On the sixth page, the X-Men are traveling back to base together, and Kitty is in the doghouse for some misbehavior. She won’t keep her seat but insists on looking out of the window at the fantastic landscape – whereupon Wolverine’s short temper comes into play. Here’s the page as Byrne first drew it:

And now with the speech balloons:

So Kitty escapes being spanked by ‘phasing’ downwards through Wolverine’s adamantium lap – only to find herself falling out of the plane altogether!

There are certain drawbacks associated with presenting work in progress to the public at large. The fall of Pryde led to the rise of prudes: a vocal segment of Byrne’s audience, who declared themselves to be ‘literally everyone’, found the incident ‘creepy and sexual’, and said so loudly. The drawings were described as ‘horrifying’, Kitty’s age was slyly talked down to impute an unintended dimension of pedophilia and Byrne himself was called a ‘hateful old man’ – which sounds to me like a prime example of projection, or at best the pot/kettle relative blackness syndrome.

Byrne showed just how hateful he was (or rather wasn’t) by changing his mind and choosing to redraw the page so that Kitty’s fall comes about for an entirely different reason:

Alas for him, this seems to have counted for nothing with the neo-Puritan ‘inappropriateness police’: he continued to be rebuked for the intention even after he’d accepted the criticism, conceded the point and binned the first draft in favor of something far less witty and inventive. Which I guess only goes to show that some unpleasant people are never satisfied!

2 thoughts on “The Fall of Pryde

  1. Holey Socks, Harry!

    John Byrne has been one of my favorite artist/storytellers for decades, for lots of reasons! His female characters, young and old, weak and strong, gay and straight, have always been done wonderfully, with great depth of personalty, and beautifully rendered, especially when seen from behind!

    I just looked at the thread about this proposed X-Men story on his blog, Byrnerobotics (oh, I see you included the link up there, thanks!), and John wrote, with a growl, that all his “gal pals” read something sexual into Wolverine’s attempted Kitty-paddling that he didn’t intend. But he said if Marvel does publish this tale, he’d give them a choice! (Although I’m pretty sure they’d choose the “revised” version!)

    Thanks very much for this heads-up! And while I’m at it, for all the work you do on these extremely entertaining posts!

    Like

  2. Harry says:

    I just noticed that this article was referenced in the forum of another site. I’m afraid I won’t link to it because the site in question contains much that is against my values: there is a lot of child spanking and X/M, and it seems to make no clear distinction between mainstream material and porn. The only reason I feel moved to mention it at all is that someone in the forum made this comment:

    ‘Gotta love his complaining how outrageous and ridiculous it is that people found this sexual, in a blog where he is featuring it because he finds it sexual.’

    Does my article really come across like that?

    If it does, then either I haven’t expressed myself very well or the commenter hasn’t read it properly – which I can understand given that they are probably much more interested in the spanking itself than in anything I might have to say about it. But since the result can be taken as an insinuation of hypocrisy, I guess I ought to clarify.

    I find X/F spanking interesting both sexually and culturally, and both are reflected in the articles on my site. In this particular article, I don’t mean to criticize anyone for seeing a potential sexual dimension to the intended spanking scene, only the resultant overreaction that makes it ‘creepy’ and ‘horrifying’, and the disingenuous (or perhaps quasi-totalitarian) assumption that such a response must be universal, that ‘literally everyone’ thinks about it the same way.

    I do get that some people find it hard to understand the appeal of spanking scenarios, and that some have a strong negative emotional reaction that means they are unlikely to be motivated to remedy their ignorance and prejudice. But I don’t accept that these extreme individual sensitivities take precedence over what anyone else should be allowed to create or read, and should therefore be protected by censorship; nor the premise that stories and pictures and other works of the human imagination are so dangerous that it justifies hurling hateful abuse at the creators; nor the belief that the sexual side of life, especially in its more playful manifestations, is something that has no place in general public discourse, and must be kept confined to the nether world of pornography.

    What I deplore above all is the supposition that you can make the world a better place by being unkind. That is something I do find ‘outrageous and ridiculous’.

    Like

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