Bad Girl Art, despite what the name might imply, is not the opposite of Good Girl Art. In fact the two are closely related. While Good Girl Art features attractively-drawn (and usually under-dressed) female characters who are sweet or heroic in nature, Bad Girl Art features attractively-drawn (and equally under-dressed) female characters who have dark, scandalous, and violent edges to their personas. Unlike the term Good Girl Art, which once broadly described any form of comic book pinup art featuring sexy girls, the term Bad Girl Art is not as widely used and tends to pertain more specifically to certain characters and publishers. The art form was at its most prevalent during the initial explosion of Bad Girl characters, which began in the late 1980's and carried through the 1990's.
Common visual characteristics of Bad Girls include elongated and exaggerated physiques, well-endowed busts, long flowing hair, and revealing yet busy costumes resembling bikinis in design. They also tend to carry oversized melee weapons, often bloodied by their defeated enemies. Most, though not all, also possess powers of a supernatural nature.
It should be noted that most Bad Girl characters are not truly "bad" -- that is, villainous and evil in alignment. In fact, the majority of Bad Girls are presented as protagonists who are opposed to true evil. However, in contrast to traditional female superheroes, the personalities and methods of the Bad Girls can be nearly as dark and violent as the evil opponents they battle against. Unlike traditional superheroines, Bad Girls exhibit little or no compunction about maiming or killing enemies.
The first precursor to the modern Bad Girl appeared nearly two decades before the term was coined: The vampire-powered vixen Vampirella, who premiered in Warren Comics in 1969. Another precursor to the genre was the Marvel character Elektra, a sexy yet deadly female assassin who first appeared in 1981. With their skimpy red costumes, long black hair, edgy personalities, and propensity for bloodshed, these two women provided a template for the wave of Bad Girl characters that followed.
One of the greatest exponents of the modern genre of Bad Girls was Brian Pulido, the founder and writer of Chaos! Comics, which published a roster that leaned heavily on strong anti-heroine leads. The earliest and most prominent of these was Lady Death (created by Pulido and artist Steven Hughes in 1992), who is often considered to be the first 'official' Bad Girl in comics. Other popular Chaos Bad Girls were Purgatori (created in 1994) and Chastity (created in 1995). Despite Chaos Comics going bankrupt at the start of 2000, their Bad Girl legacy continued, with several other publishers snapping up the characters and continuing their stories. Another early exponent of Bad Girl art was Everette Hartsoe of London Night Studios fame. An independent comic book artist and writer, his Bad Girls were ultra-violent and their costumes ultra-skimpy, sometimes appearing completely nude. His most significant characters were Razor (created in 1992), Stryke (created in 1992), and Poizon (created in 1995).
Other notable Bad Girls to debut in the 1990's were Angela (created by Neil Gaiman in 1993), Shi (created by Billy Tucci in 1993), Glory and Avengelyne (created by Rob Liefeld in 1993 and 1995, respectively), Red Monika (created by Joe Madureira in 1995), detective Sara Pezzini as the sexy wielder of the Witchblade (created by Michael Turner in 1995), and Darkchylde (created by Randy Queen in 1996). Though the popularity of Bad Girls declined towards the end of the 1990's, notable Bad Girls to debut in the 2000's were Tarot (created by Jim Balent in 2000) and Cassie Hack (created by Tim Seeley in 2004).
Though the terms 'Bad Girl' and Bad Girl Art are usually specific to the above characters and publishers, certain mainstream comic book characters are sometimes thought of as 'Bad Girls' by fans due to strong similarities, both in appearance and temperament. Such characters include DC's Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman, Marvel's Elektra, Emma Frost, and Black Cat, and Dynamite Entertainment's Red Sonja (formerly a Marvel character). Sexy pinups featuring these characters could be considered either Good Girl Art or Bad Girl Art, depending on the artist and how the character is presented.