Thursday, June 20, 2013

Discuss: Facially Hirsute Heroes and Villains

Yes, even Doug was a facially hirsute hero, back on his wedding day in 1988! 
All comments and insults are certainly welcome, and deserved!


Rip Jagger said...

One of the comics I got into early was Charlton's Hercules series, and he oddly begins clean-shaven but soon enough gets a beard. The beard was needed to sell the charcater, and it was fun to see what Sam Glanzman did with the facial hair as his designs for the book became more and more stylized. Hercules at Marvel had a beard because Steve Reeves had one, and I have to say for that time when he shaved it, he looked downright goofy.

Beards on mainstream heroes were suspect in the early days. A clean-shaven faced was the sign of an open honest fellow, while a beard indicated secrets and suggested a lack of clarity.

When heroes were on the skids they got a beard to show not only the passage of time but to show that a lack of personal care both physically and possibly spiritually.

Namor had his beard famously burned off by Johnny Storm to begin his return to the Marvel Universe. Mr.Fantastic's five o'clock shadows were code for his distracted state, and implied danger. Doc Strange is shown with a scruffy face to show is dissolution. The only guy that comes to mind with a five o'clock shadow which didn't reflect a personal lapse was Nick Fury.

Old guys could have beards though. That was okay, as it visually separated them from the younger modern men. Odin, Zeus, Ancient One, etc.

You want to know what a beard meant in the Silver and Bronze Ages, all you have to do is remember Mr.Spock in the classic "Mirror, Mirror" episode. The beard was the totally the stamp of evil.

Rip Off

Fred W. Hill said...

I recall (from Marvel Triple Action reprints) the period when Hercules joined the Avengers and was beardless for most of that duration. Personally, I thought he looked better with the beard and hardly seemed to be the same character introduced in Thor.
As to the Chief, one of the funniest Doom Patrol stories involved an anti-beard fanatic who killed the facially hirsute and collected beards in his crusade for a clean-shaved America!
Of Marvel's most famous mustachioed heroes, in Tony Stark's case it was largely due to his being modelled on Howard Hughes (when he was a reasonably sane, famous aviator, inventor and fabulously rich ladies man rather than the deranged recluse he became!). Stephen Strange, on the other hand, was modelled on Vincent Price and it added to his otherworldly mystique.
Meanwhile, I've got to get my mustached self to work!

Humanbelly said...

Wait, wait-- that bottom photo isn't a dashing, young Douglas Fairbanks?? The resemblance is uncanny. . . (Quick, Doug, let's hear you say, "Welcome to Sherwood!")

I know it was a bone of contention during its tenure, but I REALLY liked Thor wearing a beard. It completely gave him a sense of age and gravitas that was much more in line with an active, millenia-old warrior. Conversely, have we ever seen Tony Stark w/out at least a mustache? That's certainly a high level of facial-hair devotion!

IIRC, DC had a brief HERCULES series as well (running at the same time as Marvel's CHAMPIONS!), but the demi-god was clean-shaven in that one, as well.

Rip's right on the money-- beards are generally a visual short-hand for "egotistical bad-guy" or else "high authority with a deep agenda". Imus Champion, Black Tom Cassidy, Moses Magnum, Graviton, Nefaria, Mordo, Mandarin, the Maestro-- I'm sure I'm only scratching the surface. Whereas the only couple of other good guys I can quickly come up with are the Warlord and Green Arrow (both w/ a very similar, roguish look).

The one that has ALWAYS amused me, though, is the Leader. 'Cause his human identity (Sam Sterns) is clean shaven (and blond) on the very few times he's been transformed back. But as soon as he re-gammifies, his upper lip mysteriously sprouts that arrogant pencil-thin mustache. . . along w/ the attitude to match. A few years later, w/ further mutation, that mustache expanded to more of a Robert Redford-esque wraparound (circa 1975). The inability to rationalize this at all is hilarious to me. The gamma radiation, here, enhances brain cell division AND output of upper-lip hair follicles? Heh.

Oh, heyheyheyhey-- I'm gonna go out on a limb (if no one else has already) and wish our own much-admired co-blog-leader (Doug, that is) a very Happy Birthday! Why, I'm sure that photo above was just taken at LAST year's birthday party, yes?


Doug said...

Thanks, HB! Today is indeed Birthday #47. Celebrating by having a plumber come to the house and root out our kitchen sink. Life is unforgiving...

Good observations on the characterization potential of facial hair. Personally, I loved the Star Boy suit I stole for today's post, but wasn't crazy about the beard. In regard to facial scruff showing stress, etc., Kirby was always good for having Reed Richards forget about personal hygiene...


Edo Bosnar said...

Wasn't a fan of Star Boy's beard, either (but like you, Doug, I loved that outfit). It seemed out of place for a supposedly teenage hero - even though I know quite a few teen boys are capable of growing full beards (there were always a few seniors in my high school sporting beards).

Otherwise, I tend to agree with Rip's analysis, especially about the Silver Age. Note that the already mentioned moustachioed Dr. Strange has as arch-nemesis the bearded Baron Mordo.
By the '80s however, Herc wasn't the only good guy with a beard: HB mentioned Thor, and there was also Puck.

And happy b-day, Doug! Just ushered in #45 myself 11 days ago...

david_b said...

Ah, whaaat a nice topic today, so much to cover, so many cups of coffee for my frenzied intake..

I liked the Kirby/Richards facial scruff reflecting stress. I don't recall that being done much in any other mags (like Avengers or Defenders...), must have been a Reed Richards thing.

I don't recall many heroes becoming 'mustachioed' in '67 with the 'SGT Pepper' look unless they already were, like Stark or Strange, but you saw the change on television and music occassionally; geez, even Charlie Watts had a thin caterpiller in late '66.

I like the distinguished look for beards, like Dr. Quest and later Cdr Riker on Next Gen.., Frakes himself looked much better with that pirate beard especially around the 3rd and 4th Seasons.

And again for Trek, NO ONE carried off beards or mustaches better than the beloved TAS Klingons. So much so that the Mego Klingon's still nearly my all-time favorite Mego, next to Spiderman and 1999's Cdr Koenig.

Rip nailed it on the alternate universe Spock. I LOVE whenever shows today use that, like South Park.. Just sends me into giggles. I'm waiting on some weird Big Bang Theory episode to have an 'evil Sheldon' or something.

Although I will admit that in the late '80s/early '90s I was getting SO SICK of those stooooopid goatees, gaaawwd, I hated seeing 'em on the various Trek movie bridge crews.. (I believe CPT Sulu had a guy with a cheezy goatee..). I didn't like Scotty's mustache much on Trek:TMP, but it got much better looking when he added grey to it (or I'm assuming AGE did that all by itself..).

The well-coifed goatees on the two gents who played 'The Master' on Doctor Who were done stylishly, primarly to signify them as the 'classic villain' mode.

Some folks just shouldn't wear mustaches or beards. I recall Bob Crane with that look in the '70s. Uggh.

I even tried it in high school in '79. My chorus teacher insisted I shave. He said emphatically that I 'looked like a cheap lawyer'.

Doug, may congrats on your birthday. Love that wedding pic.

Anonymous said...

Doug! You looked like Keith Hernandez!

Doug said...

Osvaldo --

Loved the Seinfeld episodes with Mr. Hernandez.

He was a particular thorn in the side of my Cubbies back in the '80's, both with the Cardinals and then of course the Mets.

I was 3 weeks shy of my 22nd birthday in that photo -- way too young!


William said...

HAPPY B-DAY DOUG!! I just turned 48 myself about three weeks ago. The big Five-Oh is looming ever closer. Brrrrr.

In that photo above, I think you kind of look like Howard Stark from "Captain America: The First Avenger". :)

My favorite bearded hero was always Green Arrow. I thought Ollie Queen's forked goatee was coolest facial hair in comics.

Garett said...

That moustache gives you a dashing yet devious look Doug...1930s movie villain?? Happy birthday Doug and Edo...just had my 45, 4 days ago.

Doug said...

Wow, lots of birthdays close together. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I bought myself a used (allegedly "like new" -- haven't gotten it yet) copy of Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore. For Father's Day/birthday, my wife got me a Kindle Fire HD 8.9" tablet with a whopping 32GB of storage. So that's been fun to mess with. How about you other folks?


Doug said...

You know, another curiosity of the brackets would be to know which work of a specific creator are our voters thinking of when they make their vote. I would guess that Bernie Wrightson is best known for his work on Swamp Thing. So is that the measuring stick for his anatomy, storytelling, animal drawing, etc? Similarly, for me I had to go with Joe Staton's work on the All-Star revival and the Huntress.


david_b said...

I didn't get much, which is nice.. Gift cards for iTunes and Best Buy, a 'stressed' retro looking Green Lantern T from my nephew, a 'disappearing TARDIS' mug from my niece, a 'Holy Grail' DVD plus the new blu-ray '78 Galactica movie.

What's nice is my wife gave me slide guitar lessons for this fall, so I can work with someone else more, than just havin' to do everything myself. More discipline goes a long way, especially in music.

I also think she's sick of me pickin' 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire' on my classical guitar... I do that for relaxation in the back yard..., it's a finger-picking monster when done right.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Doug! As for today's topic...I dunno, Stan Lee had a pretty funky beard back in the 70s (pun intended).

Mike W.

Edo Bosnar said...

Not much in the gift department for me, but since I've been pretty swamped with work lately, working weekends and nights as well, my actual birthday was nice: it was on a Sunday, I didn't have to work and the weather was nice, so I took the dog out for a long hike and then just spent a quiet restful afternoon/evening with the little lady.

As for your question about voting, Doug, I can't say that I normally think of specific work on any title when I make my choice, just the overall style and how much I like it. By the way, I also voted for Staton (just love the guy's work), but I understand why the voting seems to be going in Wrightson's favor.

Graham said...

Happy Birthday, guys. I turned the big Five-Oh a few days ago. So far so good and it beats not turning 50, if you know what I mean.

I didn't really think about heroes with beards so much. I was sort of envious that somebody was able to do that. I had one sideburn for two years during puberty. I tried to grow a mustache and sideburns in college, but I was symmetrically challenged (couldn't make sideburns or mustache even).

I didn't really care for Star Boy's beard, however. Of course, I guess they had to do something after they ditched his crew cut. His uniform was probably my favorite 70's LSH re-do.

Anonymous said...

Happy 47th Birthday Doug!

Man, you look like a Latin lover in that pic! What a'stache - you coulda given Tony Stark a run for his money! Give my regards to your wife too. I'll hit #43 in December myself.

Yes, like Humanbelly I actually preferred Thor with a beard; it's more in line with what a Norse warrior would look like. Some of the ancient Vikings had elaborately pleated beards. My favourite has always been Hercules, though. He just ain't the Prince of Power without the beard! HB, I think the Warlord and Green Arrow had the same look mainly due to artist Mike Grell, who sported a very similar goatee in real life at the time he did these two characters!

Hmm, where's Karen? Oh yeah, I forgot, she's not into the hairy heroes ....... :)

- Mike 'two whiskers only' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Humanbelly said...

Yarks! I'm not usually one to stump too conspicuously in these bracket exercises, but. . . .

Oh, SURELY there must be enough love out there for beloved Sal B to pull him victoriously ahead of the highly esteemed Mr. Aparo?? A deservedly close contest, sure-- but this is our Pal SAL we're talkin' about, here! The nicest, most dependable & consistent, and EASILY most long-enduring at a high level of proficiency of pretty much any artist out there! Plus, just a nice guy and great father (well, from what I've heard second hand. . . )!

HB the Unabashed

ChrisPV said...

At least you had the excuse of it being fashionable. I had a VERY similar mustache in my late teens early 20s. Which, for those keeping track, was somewhere in the early 2000s range.

Happy Birthdays one and all, from a man who suddenly feels like a snot nosed punk!

(Oh, and there is no substitute for the Prince of Power. None.)

Redartz said...

HB- afraid I'm one of the Aparo voters, but it was a tough call. I applaud your loyalty to Mr. B!

As for facial hair, one wonders how Peter Parker has remained clean-shaven. He has been cloned, grown extra arms, been blond ( okay, that was Ben Reilly), been turned into a monster spider, been killed numerous times, and been taken over by Doc Ock. Never a moustache, though?

Oh, and happy birthday to all you June arrivals! i always enjoyed those summer birthdays...

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