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January 29, 2009

Comments

Chris Mullen

This was a basic narrative weakness of Silver-Age Superman comics. The writer would come up with an interesting idea, and then shoehorn a different color of kryptonite into the story to get that effect. And why was a radioactive meteorite so darn common on Earth anyway? wouldn't it have been dispersed throughout the galaxy, with only a little bit on earth?

Ian B

I agree about the shark jumping here- it's pretty ridiculous stuff! I read the article about the cover image though and just can't agree that it's a great cover. I think it's pretty awful. Adams hasn't pulled off a difficult perspective trick with that leg, he's shoved it off to one side to make space for the "Kryptonite Nevermore" (quoth the raven, heh). The rest of the figure has no perspective applied at all; it's flat on as if pictured from a very great distance with a telephoto lens, which is rather lazy from an artist's POV. If he wanted to pull the "camera" down lower, he would have given us some proper perspective.

As it is, Superman's right leg looks stumpy, and the stretchy left one meets it at the- um- gusset very badly, a common problem drawing characters wearing trunks. Without getting too adult here, there needs to be a bit of a gap between the legs where the body, er, curves around, and if there isn't it looks very curious. (Jack Kirby is one of my all time favourite artists, but frequently made this mistake, particularly with female figures). Of course too much emphasis gets us into rather unsuitable territory, but there needs to be some area where the legs meet to indicate volume.

Moving up into safer territory, if we were really looking from a low down camera position, his right shoulder would be much lower than his left and we'd see the underside of his jaw more, and so on. Sometimes incorrect perspective can work; I remember seeing a painting of an English king (can't remember which one, a Charles I think) where we're looking up at his majesty on his horse, but his head is depicted straight on- and very effective it is too, but it takes a master to get such stuff right and Adams isn't being one here. I get the feeling he just drew a dull sideways on picture then had to move the leg, resulting in the distortions.

After I'd thought of replying here, it occurred to me that talking about art is like, proverbially, dancing about architecture, and also if an artist is going to criticise another, he should at least have the decency to put up his own work for similar criticism, so I did this quick ten minute sketch to show what I mean about the consistent forced perspective from a low camera angle-

http://xs435.xs.to/xs435/09054/0901290100959.jpg

-so feel free to slag me off! :)

The other thing about the pic is I'm not sure what's breaking the chains. His arms are outside them, so he can't have been bound by them. Were they just wrapped around his torso and he's breaking them by puffing out his chest? I think it'd be more effective if he were breaking them with his arms, personally...

Brian

Can't remember if you've mentioned this before, but the "Kryptonite Nevermore!" storyline is being republished next week in a DC Library edition. As a big Denny O'Neil fan, I can't wait.

Hope you are surviving the cold! It's snowy and freezing here in Ohio, so I can only imagine what it's like your neck of the woods right now!

Pat Curley

Superman #233 was also the first issue under Julius Schwartz's editorship of the mag, which I suspect had more to do with "Kryptonite Nevermore" than embarrassment over Supes #226.

Schwartz was definitely a new broom kind of guy; look at all the characters he got rid of when he took over Batman--Batwoman, Bat-Mite, Bat-Girl (Betty Kane), Ace, Alfred (temporarily).

Weisinger appears to have allowed his writers to use Red K so much because it provided opportunities for what I call "Puzzle Covers". The puzzle of course (as in #226) was usually "How can this be happening?" There were an astounding number of these during his editorship of Superman.

The idea was to get kids to pick the magazine up off the rack out of curiosity and while it sounds laughable, Superman and his related magazines were consistently ranked among the very top titles in sales during the 1960s (the Weisinger era).

But yeah, that's really a lame way for him to encounter Red Kryptonite.

cmn

Would you agree that the Superman Fifty's TV show managed to do quite well without kryptonite? I can think of only a couple of episodes that featured it.

Brian Hughes

Did any comic book or cartoon character of the '70s miss the opportunity to do their own ham-handed "King Kong" pastiche? I think not.

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