Reposting from That Other Social Network a response of mine to a fellow named Brian Clarke.
1. This is censorship.
2. Artists will now be afraid to show sexier work in their portfolios to publishers, which is bad for art.
Thus sprach ZaraFoxy:
The more I think about it, the more I'm ready to cede the point that this is a form of censorship: If a publisher bowed to conservative consumers' demands to withdraw, say, a cover depicting a gay wedding, I would be mad. Censorship by mob is still censorship.
And we do agree in general: I don't think this piece should have been pulled. After all, it's a variant -- purely optional. And it's only a slightly-worse version of the objectification that goes on constantly in comics.
Likewise, I think the months-long campaign to humiliate and denigrate Milo Manara, a respected artist in his field, was ugly and unfair, and a typical example of the Left doing the exact shit that gives the Right ammo to say, "Though Nazis! Nanny state! PC Police!"
As for your sketchbook concerns, however, I'm not sure that's the worst thing in the universe. What if your sketchbook contained a bunch of Tin Tin in Africa minstrel pictures?
Once upon a time, that woulda been just fine, but the times, they do a-change, and public sentiment shifts. Public outcries are actually a good way to make artists reevaluate what sort of art they want to make.
Are sexualized female figures important for you to draw? Then you should be willing to stick with that and at least mention to a publisher that you can do that kind of work. And if publishers don't want it, or don't want you because of it, blaze your own trail. I promise, pictures of hawt bewbs will always find a market. But at least you're aware that the public might be hostile to your work. If it's important or even fulfilling work, that shouldn't stop you.
But this should have been a case study for Marvel: the public is now more hostile to Milo Manara-style, openly porny covers. Lesson learned. They should have given people the chance to buy the controversial piece if they wanted, and then evaluated profits vs. PR, like any company, to determine how to move forward.
Instead, the mob won. Even if it's a mob I kinda agree with, it's still a mob.