Doug: This series of images is certainly a feast for the eyes, and I'm sure many of us spied several renderings we've seen on various products. Say, did you notice Superbaby and Wonder Tot, along with Batbaby and whatever the heck they called Lil' Robin in the cover above? If memory serves, in the late 70s Mego or someone else was making baby dolls of these characters.
Karen: There's a whole bunch of Super Juniors in the character color guides towards the end of the gallery. I do remember seeing ads for sort-of Beanie Baby style dolls like that. What's fascinating to me is the window back in time the art provides. Heroes are shown smiling at the viewer (mostly -Batman is still a little glum); colors are all bright and vibrant. There's a sense of excitement and fun here. These were comic book heroes for a very different era -yet the whole 'grim and gritty' phenomenon was only a few years off.
Karen: It's hard to single out particular images but we'll pick out a few.
Doug: One of the things I noticed while I was saving all of the images (yep, all 194 of them - there were actually a few more that just showed the binder) was the difference in Mera between the B&W and color images of the Aquaman family. Take a peek below and see for yourself. There's is another B&W image of Aquaman and Mera that shows her feet the same way; regrettably, I'm not savvy enough to know which is the "correct" depiction. But as I was clicking back and forth this jumped out at me for some reason.
Doug: I don't know if I'm any more qualified to talk about this than is Karen, but another thing that struck me right away was Garcia-Lopez's treatment of women. While each of the women dealt with in the Style Guide is certainly pretty, none of them (in my opinion) was overly sexed-up. Even Wonder Woman, scantily-clad as she is, looks like a normal, fit, woman. I may have said this before, but one of my colleagues when speaking of the modern fashions of teens often invokes the phrase "cleavage in two places". Well there's none of that here. Garcia-Lopez's women aren't falling out of their tops, and everything else seems to be contained as it should be. So in regard to Karen's complaints about "butt floss", you won't find that here.
Karen: Compare how any of the women here are portrayed next to a modern comic. There's just a level of respect evident here that you don't find in current stuff. The women are beautiful, but they are allowed to be adequately covered, and they are not forced into strange contortions to ensure that their busts and behinds are both prominently displayed at the same time. They also don't have outrageous proportions. I look at Wonder Woman here, or Batgirl, and they are super-heroines, not stand-ins for porn stars. I like that.
Doug: However, I did remark to Dr. Oyola on Twitter (thanks for being my tip-off to this collection, Osvaldo!) that I thought it was slightly sexist that we see Batgirl's rear end and not other caped characters. But after having seen the entire Style Guide I know that's not true -- it was only true in the samples I saw from a comics news website.
Karen: As we discussed putting this post together, we both noticed that Garcia-Lopez re-creates some classic Neal Adams' Superman poses, as seen below. I wonder if that was specifically requested by DC or if he did it himself as an homage?
Doug: Not only did I find that particular image to be an homage to Neal Adams's iconic cover to Superman #233, I felt that Garcia-Lopez was up to something on a few other characters. I think if you look at Batgirl's face in the furthest left image above, you'll get a sense of regular Batgirl artist Don Heck. I also think if you check out the wonderful picture of Superman and Lois Lane below, you may get a George Perez vibe. What sayest y'all?
Karen: There are a number of images with big groups of heroes for the Super-Powers line, which I believe came from 1984. But for some reason I really liked this shot of the Justice League. I think it's because it's such a great grouping of characters and Batman is almost smiling -or at least, he's not scowling.
Doug: I'm not sure why J'onn is giving Barry the stink-eye. Maybe because Barry has Zatanna by the hand? I also liked all of the New Teen Titans pix, and some with the villains. I like how colorful the image below is, but I have to ask -- what the heck is Luthor doing?
Karen: Holding up the frame? No, wait, Brainiac might be doing that! It's a little awkward. And hey, it looks like Penguin is giving Sivana the boot! Also, I didn't realize that Zod, Non, and Ursa were so popular -I assume that is them in the mid-right.
Karen: Doug mentioned how colorful the villain image was -and all of the images really are colorful -how about this color guide? Again, I'm struck by the bold, bright, crisp color. There's nothing dark or gloomy here!
Karen: And how about the Teen Titans? They're splashed all through this, with several group shots too. This particular set of Titans was from around 1985, when Dick Grayson had transitioned from Robin to Nightwing, and included Jericho, one of the goofiest-looking Titans, in my opinion.
Doug: But Jericho wasn't goofier looking than Terry Long, that's for certain.
Doug: You mentioned above that there's nothing dark or gloomy here, and that was exactly my sense as I looked through the Guide. I think this is where DC has lost their way today. Yeah, yeah, I know this is a business and not necessarily just an art form. But Archie doesn't try to be Marvel. So what's wrong with telling action stories without all the gloom and doom? And the movies, for crying out loud... I think Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy have proven that some four-color fun can even be had on the silver screen. Perhaps the masters at Time-Warner would be well-served themselves in leafing through this Style Guide from the pre-Dark Knight days.