5 Ridiculous Things That Show Up in the Art of Every Comic
Comic bookery is as American as boredom in Idaho. It's a tradition that dates back to the 1980s and possibly even earlier; I can't say, I wasn't alive then. But I can say that people love comics, and the fact that The Avengers has officially made more money than actually exists is proof of that. Everyone has a little comics nerd in them.
I collected comics for a long time until I went terribly broke one day and never returned. Since you can't barter sexual favors for comic books in most circles, especially when most of your bartering energy is spent on obtaining Slurpees and canned corn, I had to let that hobby go. But I remember it fondly, and a recent look at a list of terrible art by the comic world's answer to a chimp with a paintbrush in its ass, Rob Liefeld, reminded me of some of my favorite art cliches. Artists just eat this shit up, I can't say why.
Pained Corpse Gripping
Nothing is more traumatic in the world of comic books than destroying acres and acres of residential and commercial real estate for years on end, only to have one of your friends die in the process. Look how sad Cyclops is in this picture. He's so sad, he's lost control of his eye beams, which I think he controls in the way you or I might control a fart. Like it's there and he can hold it in most times but if he pushes, there it goes. He just grief farted out of his eyes.
Cyclops has an unfortunate life, though, because this isn't the only time the poor man's had to grip the corpse of a loved one in anguish. Here he is with his lady love, Red Haired Girl.
Oh God, everyone looks discombobulated here. Look at Wolverine, covering his face, and Colossus, recoiling in horror. Even Professor X has to weep into his tan action vest and plaid psychic-powered leg blanket. But at least there's no grief farts.
Oh God, there's more grief farts. Also, take a moment to open a new window and Google "grief fart." If this article doesn't make the number one spot for that search term, I'll be sorely disappointed. Not like grief fart disappointed, but I may kick a can in dismay or something. Lucky for Cyclops, artists sometimes give him a break and whack other characters who aren't even X-Men. Look here as both Spider-Man and the Daredevil have to deal with not just the death of someone close, but apparently massive cranial radiation.
See, it's doubly anguish-inducing because on the one hand, oh no, a friend is dead, and on the other hand, oh no, you have such an awful tumor in your brain, your head is literally emitting light. You should see a doctor as soon as your grief allows for it. In fact, maybe grieve in an ambulance.
Of course, the man who inspired this was Rob Liefeld, with this image, an homage, I guess, to that Supergirl cover.
I like that Liefeld, in updating the Supergirl image, took the bold move of not giving Deadpool hands. Apparently he's supporting Cable's body on his penis. Cable, meanwhile, has tragically died of lockjaw and Only One Thigh Sclerosis. It's a terrible disease.
So Much Utility
Batman famously has a utility belt that has come in handy in literally any and every situation in which just being Batman wasn't enough. He has Bat Shark Repellent. In modern Batman comics, he's a little less reliant on deus ex machina gadgets, but he's also known for being a guy who uses cool techy gadgets, so it's OK for him to have the damn belt. Not so much for other characters, but if there's one thing comics, especially in the '90s and early 2000s, proved, it was that artists love pouches so fucking much.
That's sort of Batman but sort of not, as this version of Batman took over for Bruce Wayne after Bane broke his back like you'd get broken trying to sneak Nutella away from Snooki. Notice how he improved on the old Bat design by including the ubiquitous leg bandolier full of who knows what. Guessing what they keep in their pouches is half the fun. Is it Junior Mints? Condoms? The keys to Gladstone's house? I'll wager all that and more! Mostly Junior Mints, though.
That's some kind of alternate storyline Superman who probably has a super interesting back story I'll be sure to research right after I write this. I have it scheduled in my Apple Newton. Up yours, iPad. Anyway, point is, Superman here has not one but two thigh belts, plus a right bicep belt. It's a good thing he's super, because for the rest of us it'd realistically cut off circulation if it was tight enough to stay put in such a bizarre location. You may also notice that he's wearing a traditional utility belt and a second belt over his utility belt. He potentially has a third belt under the utility belt as well, but it may just be the waist portion of that curious shoulder harness.
What does a nearly invincible Kryptonian carry in all those pouches and pockets anyway? Bullets bounce off of him and he can shoot lasers out of his eyes; what's he got there, sandwiches for the trip?
Look at this sad sack. Oh my goodness. You may be thinking "Shit, earthquake!" if your house is shaking right now, but some of you are likely wondering what happened to Spider-Man here. Well, it's not Spider-Man, it's Spider-Man's spiritual abortion. But his lame origin isn't required reading to appreciate that the man has ankle pouches. Comic books degraded so badly that they had to start including ankle pouches. Even bums don't carry shit around their ankles.
I think the biggest miscarriage of justice going on in that Spider-Man clone is that he wears a hoodie and, if he were a smarter shopper, he would have just bought one with that pocket in front that goes all the way through so you can hold your own hands. He could have carried snacks in there, the paper, a rat, anything. But he opted instead for ankle pouches, where he probably keeps his anal beads.
I'd be remiss if I didn't include this glorious monstrosity, brought to us by, of course, Rob Liefeld. This was earlier in his career, too, when he had yet to figure out just how many pouches one person could carry. Later in his career, it became obvious that the answer was "ALL DA POUCHES!" But this image is a good example of how every character he draws needs lots of compasses and tape measures. Maybe they're all diabetic and those pockets contain puddings. I like to think Cable stopped shooting bad guys every so often to just sit and have a few dozen puddings.
So Many Weapons
Any good comic book character actually has a superpower and isn't lame ass. Less creative or well thought out ones need 15 guns, a machete, ninja stars, a bat, a bit of wood, a pouch full of sharp stones, a lathe, some poisonous dice and a dildo with a razor embedded in it. His name is Crimson Dildo, and he'll love you. TO DEATH! Yes, I used caps lock twice in this column.
I didn't intend to start this entry with a Rob Liefeld piece; in fact, I only wanted to include him at the end of that first one to point out how well he did it, but he keeps popping up. Like here, in which he put a damn gun in the hands of Barack Obama, who is 6'1" in real life, making that dude behind him like 9 feet tall or something. It looks like if one of his nuts was dropped from an appropriate height, it would give the president a concussion. It also looks like he has at least five large, assault-rifle-sized weapons on his person. This must have been when Secret Service was banging a hooker.
It was hard for me to include this one. Get it? Ha! No, that's not what I meant, and you're a terrible person for thinking of me in an erectile way. I realize this is obviously a kitschy character here, but it represented something wonderful to me, and that was the creation of a new location to house guns. Obama's buddy up there had them on his back, and you'll see hip holsters and thigh holsters and knives on arms and legs and whatnot, but this may be the first time I've ever seen Gatling gun boobies before, and it's really something. It really is.
You can't tell from the picture, but this comic was actually made out of Polyvinyl Hydrofoilithographic Resin Based Nerdgasms. They did that all the time in the '90s. You might think it's pretty unimpressive otherwise, and you can barely even see a weapon in the image, so what the hell is the point? The point is that the character you're looking at only has two hands. I can't explain what's happened, I honestly don't know if he's being shot at or shooting here, and it doesn't matter. What matters is he's strapped with projectiles, he has two swords, and at first glance it appears that he's flying, in a squat, while totally enraged, and his knee pit may be shooting a gun.
In lieu of another Liefeld drawing, of which there are hundreds, I'd like to offer this delicate little chestnut. Is that an ape with an automatic weapon equipped in each of four appendages? Glad you asked, friend. It is indeed a machine-gun-wielding monkey, and the helpful "brakakakaka" lets us know that those are some pretty snazzy weapons. Unless that's the sound of being fisted by a robot, because it seems that's also happening.
Y'all know me, I don't roll with pants. I think that shit's oafish at best. But they are a necessity in life when in mixed company. In comics, though, they seem somewhat less necessary. Consider if you had the power to blow buildings up by looking at them -- are you wearing pants if you're not in a pants-wearing mood? Fuck no. You'll blow up Jean Machine if they try to convince you otherwise. And yet, even as we've progressed beyond the comics code and curious rules of decency, we get this:
Oh my God, look at the pants. Panties. I'm not sure of the proper vernacular for superpeople. Point is, do any of these characters need pants or panties? If the Hulk is a mindless green rage monster (and he used to be), where did he get modesty from? He should be using his big green crank to smash mailboxes. I would. And realistically, the Thing's wiener is only going to look like a brick, so what the hell does he care?
This is taking the need for pants to ridiculous new heights. This joker's name is Fin Fang Foom, and he's probably as racist as Mel Gibson's Hanukkah special. As you can see, he's taller than buildings, but he still has on a dapper pair of bloomers. Where the hell did he get those things? Where's the giant ass seamstress in the Marvel universe making pants for giant asses? Equally weird is the prevalence of purple pants in comics. Last time I saw someone in purple pants, he was also wearing a fur-trimmed hat and drinking from a goblet.
I can't claim to know for sure if this is something foolish that artists do or something totally reasonable, having never been in a life and death struggle with superpowered foes before. But that aside, I can tell you that, with stunning regularity (that was a shit pun, make a note of it), artists indicate intensity in a scene by drawing characters to look like they're losing a battle against dysentery in the most brutal possible way. Have you noticed how often I write about bathroom-related topics? Huh.
This intense cover shows Wolverine and Hulk for what could easily be mistaken as a scene in some privacy-free military bathroom where both titans are coming to terms with the reality that Spider-Man spiked their chocolate milk with Ex-Lax and all they can do is stare at each other and scream.
Here's a collage I like to call "Rage Dump." Wolverine clearly gets this treatment a lot, but go ahead and try this expression yourself, right now. Grit your teeth and then pull your lips back until you can just start to see your molars. Now envision the set of circumstances that need to occur to force you into making that expression naturally. You need to be either tripping balls on bath salts or trying to maintain your balance on a toilet that's traveling at subsonic speeds.
On the other hand, for all I know, comic book artists lose bowel control when they're fighting and it's just been a big conspiracy to keep it a secret all this time. You and I may have just learned something together.
For more from Ian, check out 6 Bizarre Real World Versions of Fictional Monsters and The 6 Ballsiest Scientific Frauds (People Actually Fell For).