Ugly women are not a myth. I have seen them. They need to be drawn just as well.
Today’s comic idea came to mind while I was looking at some stuff during the weekened and I came upon a tumblr called “Escher Girls”. It’s a blog about how anatomically incorrect women are depicted in comics, and while I don’t necessarily agree with all the points they try to make it’s hard to deny that they more often than not make a ton of sense. Take the time to scroll through the place (regretfully, some tumblrs have horrible layouts but are worth your time if you plow through them), it’s a good read.
This got me thinking about my adolescent years, growing up in the 90s, when I first started to read comics and decided that it was something I’d like to do. While I was already familiar with the typical DC and Marvel products, when I really got into comics it was through 90s era Image comics. It’s kind of hard to admit, but my first steps into the world of comic art where taken by the guidance of Liefeld, Silvestri, Lee, Valentino and MacFarlane. Some of them might be at very different levels today than where they were back then, but in retrospect I see that they were horrible examples for a young artist to learn anatomy from.
I remember one specific issue of Youngblood where Superpatriot appeared and got into a fight with Diehard (seriously, what was wrong with us all?), and I remember wishing I could draw anatomy that awesome someday. Wanna guess who did that one? Yup. Liefeld. Now, I didn’t grow up to be the reincarnation of DaVinci, but I can safely say that when it comes to anatomy, I’m at least better than Liefeld at it. And I seriously don’t think it takes much ego to say so.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t take this as me saying that Rob Liefeld is a bad artist. While I seriously believe that his anatomy is beyond twisted and wrong, I also think that there is a certain point to Liefeld’s exaggerated proportions that says a lot about the world of superhero comics, how they work and what they represent. He most certainly isn’t the only artist to throw anatomy out the window and go for weird proportions that help him make a point, and I think that there’s a certain value in that form of artistic expression, and the reactions this generates has a merit that goes far beyond the mere visual results. If Liefeld does this on purpose or not is not for me to say, or any of my business – but if he does then I’m inclined to believe the man might be a genius. I’ve also read that he’s incredibly nice)
So now I’m all grown up and I look in other directions for guidance when it comes to anatomy, but it’s hard to get rid of years and years of thinking that’s how beautiful comic women were supposed to look. It’s weird, because when it comes to my own drawings I find that there’s a tiny part of my brain still pushing to give every babe balloon boobs on a teeny-tiny frame, even though in real life my tastes in women go nothing like that.
All-in-all, I guess I’d have to thank Terry Moore, because during those times when women had legs like a mosquito’s, waists like a bee’s and breasts that could fit extra brains (they were like insects with tits!) it was my discovery of his Strangers in Paradise that pushed me into a fascination with artists that can draw beautiful women that look like actual people you could meet on the street. They still looked beautiful, but they also looked like people.
Need a conclusion and perhaps even some advice for those of you that (like me) are looking to improve the way you draw anatomy and more specifically beautiful women? Just draw people.
NOTE: Oh, and let Liefeld have his fun. Seriously, the guy looks like he has a blast with each image he draws. You gotta respect that.