Friday, July 03, 2009

Wayne Boring's Superman

Mike Fontanelli says he hates superheroes because they don't make sense.

Unlike talking rabbits who walk upright - which makes perfect sense.

I disagree with Mike. To me superheroes are an American tradition and the more preposterous they are the more I like them. Superman has to be the most preposterous of them all and he deserves the most preposterous artist to bring him to life with absolute stiffness.
Wayne Boring is the best Superman artist in my opinion because he draws everything so wooden. The whole concept of a Superhero is crazy. Men with god-like powers who run around in long underwear taking the law into their own hands. - and normal people completely accept it!
The fact that you can't recognize the secret identity of a superhero just because he takes glasses on and off can only work if every character in the comics looks exactly the same - and you can't hear their voices. It helps if no one ever opens their mouths to talk and also never opens their eyes.
All emotions have to be treated exactly the same. Here is deep romantic love. Can you feel it?
One thing I love about Wayne Boring is that he draws the cranium smaller than the jaw.
I made a cartoon once that celebrated the stiffness of Wayne Boring's poses, and made these model sheets from his comics to inspire the animators for once to be stiff on purpose - but in a certain way.

Look how relaxed Superman is in repose.
I really love how thick Boring draws Superman's torso. Very appealing.

The flying poses kill me too.

I think that Superhero comics were ruined when the artists and writers started taking them seriously in the 70s. The drawings got really serious too. Some artists like Neal Adams even took the bold revolutionary step of opening Superman's mouth!When you try to hard to explain preposterous ideas, they lose their charm - and it's even worse when you try to make silly things socially conscious. Didn't the Hulk have a gay friend in the 80s who died of Aids or something? Jesus, that's sure what the kids want to read about in their long underwear stories.

No, to me the art and stories and concepts have to be as insensible as possible to make Superhero comics work. Like I said, everything about Superman is unbelievably illogical and the writers in the 50s and 60s had their tasks cut out for them. They had to keep coming up with ways to get around the fact that you can't hurt Superman, because he can do everything. How do you find conflicts for that? They had to contradict all their own premises to be able to continue writing millions of stories about God and his friends. And they did it!

The only other comic character that comes close to the preposterousness of Superman is Batman - a character who can afford the colorful long underwear - BUT HAS NO SUPER POWERS AT ALL! And we're expected to believe that you can't kill him. Isn't he the most popular character too? It's because it makes no sense that he's so beloved.

I made a cartoon with a character based on Wayne Boring's Superman and I'll get a clip from it to show you soon. It was hard to make because I had spent all my previous time on the series trying to loosen up the animators' drawings. Now I had to tell them to draw stiff on purpose - but with style.

At the San Diego Comic Con, I'll show a cartoon I made that parodies Batman. Hope you will be there!