Eric Larsen is bringing up some ideas I had to struggle with during my animation course – namely consistency of character design. I think he makes a good point about it though. If we can’t recognize these characters without them being identified by name isn’t that a bit of a failing? It’s a tough nut to crack and I don’t think this is a blame game or anything. I never really thought about it before – why don’t we know what Bruce Wayne looks like? I’m guessing this is why we are seeing so many animators being successful in comics these days. It is drilled into the heads of animators to make all their characters distinctive in look and silhouette.
Then again this could also be one of those quirks that are simply inherent in the medium of comics. There are so many similar characters (in and out of costume) that they really are interchangeable. Nothing is wrong with that either. After all we want to read about Batman and Spiderman more so than Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker. These characters are still easily recognizable even when filtered through different artists. If suddenly Batman showed up wearing pink with a unicorn horn on his cowl then I’d say the artist doesn’t get the character but simply messing with the same colours, size of his “ears” and the oval/no oval conundrum doesn’t rob Batman of his, well, Batman-ness.
Same goes for Spidey, perhaps more so. Think about all the costume changes that went on with him and he was always recognizable. I never realized how clever that black costume was until now. It’s Spiderman at his most minimal. Large eyes, large spider on his chest – the rest was removed, even colour, and he’s still recognizable. Then there was something about a lot of clones…never read it. If he showed up with a uni-visor, a lime green cape and a wombat on his chest then he’s not exactly “spider” man anymore is he?
And since it’s making the rounds elsewhere and I love the site, here’s the link to the character design blog that I’ll sidebar at some point. Read the interviews too.