In America, we love our superheroes — pop culture icons that reflect our inner struggles and insecurities, but reconcile these common dilemmas with fierce determination and dedication to the greater good (as well as a superpower bonus), as they rise above their own flawed state of humanity.

These types of characters took permanent residence in artist Joe Phillips’ imagination back in high school in Atlanta, Georgia, through the original format from which they sprang: comics. But they didn’t stay there for long, as he began to help shape the world they’d occupy on paper — drawing for comics such as “X-Men,” “Justice League,” and “The Incredible Hulk.”

As comics had, up till recent times, commonly fed traditional male fantasies of dominance and female sexuality, Phillips began crafting analogous characters for less empowered communities. Hence the birth of his Joe Boys, beautifully formed men gracing the pages of books like For the Boys and Cali Boys, and the calendar series, “Boys Will Be Boys.”

“You always see these scantily clad girls running around in their outfits,” Phillips says. “So, the girls and the gay boys always want something too. So, I thought, why not go ahead and be bold and do something totally different, and show the other side of what it could possibly be?”

He continues the artistry apparent in the “Joe Boys” series — the vibrant colors and impeccable pecs — this time in a hurrah to classic female superheroes, right in time for Comic Con.

“Joe’s Boys,” follows in the footsteps of last year’s “Beefcake Heroes” that officially brought superheroes (a fantastical community in tight costumes who have always drawn suspicion about their sexuality from the general public) out of the closet. But this time, he’s taken powerful female superheroes and morphed them into men; men with an attitude inspired by pin-up girls of the 1940s — a boldness that says, “Hey, look at me.”

He discusses the intersection between super-heroism and sexuality in his work, currently available for view by appointment at the Alexander Salazar Fine Art Gallery in downtown San Diego, CA. “Joe’s Boys” will soon relocate to the House Boi Gallery in Hillcrest, CA with an opening reception on August 16.

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