Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bracketology: Dressed for Success -- 2nd Round, part 1

Doug:  You've arrived at the second round of our "Best Costume of the Bronze Age" polls.  On the sidebar you can find 32 superhero costumes going head-to-head in 16 polls -- choose your favorites, based on looks alone.  Save that love of hero and storyline for other discussions; in this little exercise, we're all about the duds!  Debuting on the brackets today are classic outfits like Batman and Black Panther, and some Bronze Age mainstays such as Adam Warlock and Nightcrawler.  The other half of the bracket is going to be fun as well, and we'll get to that on Wednesday.

Doug:  Today's question is for those of you who spent some time drawing characters and/or full comics when you were a kid.  Whose costumes did you think were especially fun to draw, and whose were a pain in the butt?  Were there certain artists' styles you tried to emulate?  What part of the anatomy gave you the most trouble -- hands, feet, or faces?  Were you good enough to draw from memory, or did you look at comics as you drew?  Thanks in advance for your comments today!



Dougie said...

Feet. I always had trouble with feet as a little kid. Apparently, it wouldn't have held me back, career-wise *Kaff!New 52!Kaff!*

William Preston said...

I had Buscema's book on drawing comics, so I spent time copying those figures, but there was something about his style that didn't work for me. (Though I did draw his Sonja a few times. It was the faces I didn't care for.) I vividly recall recopying a Byrne Iron Fist (the one where he's kicking toward us on the splash page): there was a smoothness to the art, and I liked the fluttering fabric behind his cowl. Romita's Spidey was also of interest. Getting the mask right was . . . impossible! You could see why Kirby never nailed it (except for that first cover) and why it gave artists trouble when he tilted his head back (I'm thinking of a cover by Pollard(?) that failed). Sal Buscema's Hulk was also a subject, though largely the face. That thing he did with the teeth, where they kind of dissolved into one another when gritted, and they were framed by black at the sides of the mouth, was wonderfully effective. I would also throw around any figure the corruscating balls o' power that you saw in Perez and Starlin and I forget who else. Lastly, I copied a lot of images of Cerebus the Aardvark. While's Sims's people work took some time to become wonderful, what he did with Cerebus was great almost from the start. I totally swiped the structure of his legs (and, initially, the vest) when I made a comic strip called Bard the Koala for the Daily Northwestern. (The human figures looked like grownup Peanuts characters.)

humanbelly said...

OMG-- yes, Dougie beat me to it. Feet, w/out question. They look so simple with a capable artist, but--- they're automatically at a right angle from the leg, so their perspective is different, AND they have to make sense relative to the plane of the ground, AND they have to have dimensionality, even though they don't have a lot of lines to define their shape, AND which-the-heck direction should they be pointing, anyhow?? I can't think of the number of drawings I'd make that had me swelling with pride until I added feet that looked like they'd been swiped from Wizard of Id. . .

Hands would definitely be next, though. Jack Kirby's hands were the ones I tended to try to emulate, 'cause they were so big and blocky and you could really see how they were put together (although, honestly, they looked very little like anyone's hands that I ever saw. . . ).

And yep, I was pretty much a "look at the picture and draw it" artistic wannabe. But to be brutally realistic, I never had the eye/hand relationship necessary to become even an artistically adequate sketcher. Them's the breaks---


William said...

When I was a kid I mostly wrote and drew comics starring my own original characters, but when I would occasionally draw the mainstream guys I found Spider-Man to be particularly difficult to nail down. I have also never been able to draw The Thing (especially his head and face). The established characters I enjoy drawing the most are Batman and Daredevil. For some reason, those two designs can be rendered in a variety of different styles and still look good.

I've always had difficulty drawing bare feet. This is why I could never be the artist on Tarzan or Kazar.

The artist I used to most try to emulate was John Byrne (big surprise). His style was so smooth and clean and perfect, it just blew my mind when I was a kid (and still does). I used to wish Byrne would draw every book I read. Say what you will about the man, but in my opinion, he is still the greatest comic book artist to ever grace the medium.

As much as I admire his art, Byrne is not the only artist that influenced me however. I also love Bruce Timm, Ron Frenz (especially his early Spider-Man work), Art Adams, Mike Mignola (most notably for his art on "Cosmic Odyssey"), and the late, great Mike Parobeck.

Steve Does Comics said...

I'd go along with William about the Thing being difficult to draw. Getting his rocks the right size and shape and giving them the right amount of shading is a nightmare.

I used to love drawing Batman and also the Son of Satan. The Shadow was a personal fave to draw, and I loved copying the skeletons from Weird War Tales covers.

I think the artists I copied most were John Buscema, Jim Aparo, Barry Smith and Neal Adams. I liked to feel I did a pretty good impression of all four of them, though if I saw those drawings now I might not be so certain.

Garett said...

HB's comment about feet: "AND they have to have dimensionality, even though they don't have a lot of lines to define their shape"--yeah that's right on. I had trouble also with backs. John Buscema's great with backs, so that helped. The front's easier with the chest muscles, abs, hero's logo.

The first hero I drew was Batman, from imagination--no feet though! I did copy a few characters, some from our costume poll: Falcon, Golden age Flash. I loved drawing lightning bolts and Batman's logo. Early on I had 2 styles: a cartoon style that was easier, and a superhero style to attempt more anatomy. I'd look really hard at the drawing when I'd read through a comic, and then later draw from imagination. Spiderman was a chore with all that web pattern!

Daredevil, Moon Knight, Master of King Fu--good acrobatic poses. When I inked I'd put in tiny dots like benday and whatever was used for shading in American Flagg. Slow to draw! I copied the Huntress's pose from the cover of DC Super Stars #17, with her hip out, by Staton. Great comic if I remember right!

For the vote, I noticed that white and green affect me differently on different characters. Love it on Spectre, hate it on Kree Captain Marvel! Fits Spectre's eerie mood.

I also remember drawing block letters as a kid, like SUPERMAN with 3 dimensions. Loved the comic strip Zeus! as we were learning about Greek mythology in school at the same time it was out. Found a sample!

Fred W. Hill said...

I recall reading that someone criticized Ditko's rendering of feet and he had a bit of fun with that in a scene at a museum in issue 22 of Spider-Man. But among professional comics artists, it appears Rob Liefeld is the champion of badly rendered feet.
As for Spidey's costume, it looks deceptively easy to draw, but of course that webbing is very difficult to get right as demonstrated by nearly every Silver Age artist except Ditko, Romita and Gil Kane. Even John Buscema didn't get it quite right, in my estimation.
Then there was the Thing. Even when drawn by Kirby, ol' Ben Grimm didn't look quite right until he was inked by Sinnott.
Seems by the Bronze Age, more artists & inkers were taking the time to render Spidey's webbing & Ben's rocky hide properly.
The one character who I'm sure most artists would consider a royal pain to draw (and ink & color!) due to the complexity of his costume is the Jack of Hearts. When I was a teen I thought he looked cool, but I really wouldn't want to have to draw all those details in his costume over and over again.

Doug said...

I just loved to draw when I was a kid -- haven't picked up a pencil with that in mind in over 20 years! I used to draw exclusively looking at sources, and if I was really in a groove could be a decent mimic.

That being said, hands and feet were always my downfall -- hands because of their intricate nature, but feet because I usually did a poor job of centering the figure top-to-bottom on the page!

I rarely drew scenes, opting more for single figures. And by the time I was in college I could turn out a picture that looked like McFarlane, or Miller, or Byrne. But I always knew I was never good enough to do anything more than doodle -- no aspirations here of ever making a living drawing!


Karen said...

I agree with others, the Thing and Spidey were the hardest to draw for me.

I would draw pages -never a whole book - and I liked Thor, Iron Man, Beast, Nightcrawler, Warlock, Capt. America, and Colossus the most. But I probably tried to draw just about every Marvel character I ever saw!

Garett said...

I teach art now, and I get many many people coming in who drew as a kid, and then stopped, or drew until they had a bad high school art teacher, then stopped, or until they got married. Usually they take my class because they don't have enough time to draw, but if they pay for a class, they'll make time!

I encourage all of you who drew to pick up your pencils again--it's good for the soul!

Anonymous said...


Regarding your agreement to P Girl in the other Bracketology post-- "Here, here!" That's a point or more for you.

As far as the Government thing goes- that's unfortunate, to say the least. Guess somebody has to do it- or does somebody?

Anyway, I think Power Girl is neat- costume and all!

Oh, am 'A Non Mass' as I don't belong to any social media related stuff- don't care for it. Happen to like Bronze Age comics, and this blog is pretty cool... otherwise, most likely wouldn't be commenting.

And- thanks for having an interesting blog, Doug and Karen. It would be a lot of work; appreciate it. Take care, you two.


Edo Bosnar said...

Just like everyone else here, I used to scribble comics characters (quite endlessly my parents would probably say), usually free style. Besides all the typical difficulties mentioned (like Spider-man, etc.) and certain anatomical details, nobody really covered the one that bedeviled me as a child: women. I could not figure out how to get the curves and proportions right for the life of me and Wonder Woman, Scarlet Witch and all the others always came out hideous. Anyone else have this problem? And no, back then it never occurred to me to just trace over the pictures from my comic books...

humanbelly said...

There's been a bit of back & forth over in the brackets, hasn't there? Sad to see that some of my personal favorites are fading a bit after a strong start (Mysterio & Ghost Rider, to name two).

My one thought on the Phoenix costume is that, while certainly unique at the time and quite eye-catching-- the primarily green & gold color scheme seemed to have very little to do with the "bird of flame" motiff that was normally associated with the legend (which, granted, may have been somewhat incorrect as well. . . ). But that's a quibble, at best.

Boy, and Ant-Man's beating the High Evo! Talk about yer cosmic mismatches!


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