Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Superman's gone through drastic design changes in the last 25 years. Here's a few of them...

First of all (above) there's the stocky, Robbie-the-Robot, bag-of-grapefruits Superman. Photoshop highlights abound.

Here's (above) a prissy Superman, done in purple.

Here's a long-haired Superman.

Here's (above) a Jack Kirby-meets-Bruce Timm-style Superman. It's fun to imagine what the comic would have been like if the whole story had been posed as extreme as the cover.

Here (above) is the German Expressionist Superman. I'd have bought this one, just for the weirdness of it.

Here's (above) the Superman-as-Stud Superman. It looks a parody of Wood and Frazetta. If the story inside had matched the cover I'd have bought it.

For contrast here's (above) my favorite old-school Superman artist, Wayne Boring. Boring took the stories very, very seriously. His Superman was manly and heroic, a guy not to be messed with. John K is a big Boring fan. I wonder how many other fans are out there.


LĂȘA said...

Long haired Superman is the best/worst...Ey you, good-and-old -allknowing Uncle, I hope you make an update of others heroes and cartoon characters(I really don`t like the superheroes-stuff, but it's always educational to see the changing of the characters

Craig D said...

Gotta love those silver age Dcs!

I particularly like the illustration that was used for those Pallisades Park coupons. Which artist drew that, I wonder?

David Germain said...

John K is a big Boring fan.

Uh oh! You've openned yourself up to a whole slew of smart-alecky comments. I won't give one because it's too easy. ;)

Eddie, I can't believe you left out the infamous Doomsday issue where Superman is actually killed. I'd say that's a much more significant milestone in his career than getting a mullet.

will said...

Interestingly, starting interest in Superman in the late 80s I've seen pretty much all these cycles in my lifetime. I do not like the anime/Joe Maderiera/bag of grapefruit guy. He looks like seventy-two water balloons, tied together like a bunch of grapes. That style was neat for a while until one realizes "oh. that's all it does and they can't turn it off."

Wayne Boring is a crucial discovery to the Kent fan. My favorite was the 'burly' superman of the Doomsday series(Mr. Germain, I believe that is the one Eddie posted), but my REAL favorite is Tim Sale's, because I goddamned love Superman For All Seasons. If you haven't discovered the magic of the Tim Sale & Jeph Loeb partnership, your life is empty!

They did the best Batman too with 'Long Halloween.'

Anonymous said...

the only superman i have is from 1995, and its really obvious its from 1995

will said...


Charlie J. said...

hey Eddie!
are you shure that's superman in the first one, and not Ralph Bakshi?

mike f. said...

My favorite is one I consider the epitome of comic art in America, even after more than 50 years -
Kurtzman and Wood's brilliant and still unsurpassed MAD masterpiece, SUPERDUPERMAN! from 1952.

It's all been downhill ever since.

Kent B said...

Wayne Boring drew Superman as a big, chunky muscular guy, but in real life, Boring was a scrawny little bespeckled milquetoast of a guy. It's funny how sometimes an artist's style matches their personality (like with you, Eddie, or Jack Kirby) and other times the style is the polar opposite (I always imagined Don Martin as a wacky goof-ball kind of person, not the cool, biker/Big Kahuna person he realy was)

It would be interesting to match these versions of Superman with the artists.

NARTHAX said...

Mike F. is right. Nobody can touch Wally Wood. Though the German expressionism example does catapult Clark Kent into the pure depravity he needs to be really interesting.

The Kirby and Timm styles don't really go together in the example you posted. Timm's limited animation superhero design (heavily influenced by classic Fleischer Superman model sheets)looks too flat when straining to showcase volumetric, Kirby-esque foreshortening. Kirby's work became really abstract only in his old age and that may not have been entirely intentional.

Anonymous said...

Kent has a good point. Preston Blair was, in his prime, a roly-poly chubbo who animated the daintiest of dancing females. Sometimes one wants what one can never be. Whatever the impetus, art gets created. Or did, in a time when corporate rule was less relentlessly narrow.

The Jerk said...

i never really cared for the uber-buff supes. He is strong because he's from Krypton, not because he spends all day in the gym. besides, how would he seem like the mild-mannered dweeb clark kent if he splits his suitcoat everytime he puts his hands together?

Kali Fontecchio said...

All the new ones are unsettling.

HAHA- MIke, you conveniently have been looking at your Mad dvd-rom. You should scan the Don Martin panel that looked like John!

Lee-Roy said...

howzabout frank miller's superman?
a cover from 1985

and from dark knight returns (1986)

Anonymous said...

frank miller has lost his way

Jeff Pidgeon said...

Boring is fun for me because his torsos are so thick, but my favorite is Peter Poplaski. He takes the purity and charm of the original Joe Shuster design, and plusses it with extra technique.

He usually does the covers of the Superman newspaper strip collections - check 'em out at Amazon!

J. J. Hunsecker said...

I never liked Superman. I always thought he was a dull character.

Like Mike F, I prefer Kurtzman's MAD parody of Superman, as well as the one he did with Bill Elder starring Goodman Beaver. Jules Feiffer also wrote a funny one act play ridiculing Superman.

Jorge Garrido said...

I like Joe Schuster!

Eddie, what about Jack Burney? He died like two weeks ago. He was way better than Boring.

Ed Mcguinness, who did the first one and the German Expressionist one, is also amazing. The photoshop highlights really distracts from his work, so does the colouring . Look at these two versions of one of his drawings:




Check these two out:



And this classic:


The Fleischer black shield is way better than the yellow one!

Superman works way better when he's an icon, realism be damned.


Kent: you're right. Ed Meguinness is a tiny scrawny 20-year old but he draws everyone HUGE!!

drunk crazy said...

I was lucky enough to take a class with Sal Amendola, who drew superman in the 70s. he had some interesting comments to make about the arguments between the writers, artists, inkers, etc. about superman should look. he wanted superman to have a "manly bulge in his panties" and was told "superman dont got no balls!"

I don't really care said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I don't really care said...

Except for the missing man-bulge, the first one reminds me of Tom of Finland, only not as good. Interesting storylines could come from that...

The 5th one looks like Clark is being fired by SPIDERMAN'S boss.

I never got into the DC universe. Back in my comic buying days (early 60's) they had nobody to compete with Marvel's best. Ditko, Romita, Kirby built the silver age. Too bad I didn't bag up some o' those for my retirement...

Gotta love the expository dialogue on that last one. Too funny.

P.S. - Superduperman! Just remembered complete MAD is on DVD! That's gotta be more important than the complete PLAYBOY interviews. I'm going to order it right now. That'll keep me happy until the electricity runs out.

Anonymous said...

If the complete mad stopped at 1975 it would still be complete

Thad K said...

I have absolutely no interest in superhero comics.

The funny animals were always much more true to a wide range of real life (except for being cartoon characters) and the superheros were
simply pandering to the most unimaginative wish-fulfillment desires of their readers, even while the artwork was such an unimaginative and shallow imitation of everyday commonalities.

Davis, Barks, Gottfredson, Turner, Gordon, Bradbury, and Hultgren forever!

Shawn said...

I'm with Mike F on this one. I like Superduperman the best.

I also prefer Bat Boy and Rubin over Batman and Robin.

Anonymous said...

Superman belongs in boxers, not briefs.

Ollie said...

Mike Mignola, Bruce Timm and Darwyn Cooke all draw a great Superman.

Anonymous said...

im kind of sick of silly animals

Ape Lad said...

Bag of grapefruits! That's hilarious.
I too like Ed McGuiness's Superman over some of the more recent hyper-realistic versions. That coloring is out of control though. Is he supposed to be a Macy's day balloon?

Anonymous said...

Superman is great because he can be drawn a million different ways


I want to see your take on the big guy, Uncle Eddie.

Anonymous said...

no 3 looks like conan obrien

PCUnfunny said...

"The funny animals were always much more true to a wide range of real life (except for being cartoon characters) and the superheros were
simply pandering to the most unimaginative wish-fulfillment desires of their readers, even while the artwork was such an unimaginative and shallow imitation of everyday commonalities."

Ouch,pretty harsh there Thad. You should give comic books another shot.

I knew you would pick the old-school Superman Eddie. Definetly the manliest version of them all. Personally I am more of a Batman fan with my favorite design by Mrashall Rogers and Terry Austin.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anonymous: Nice drawings! I think I'll decline to draw Superman but I might take a crack at SuperUncleEddie.

Mike: Superduperman? Good for you! A man of taste!

Wil: Superman for All Seasons won a lot of awards. I haven't read it.

Jeff: Poplaski? I'll look him up!

Lee-Roy: Miller? He's good but something about his work doesn't gel with my personality. Maybe it's because I like funny stuff and even the the most serious stories I read have have to lend themselves to parody. I can't get a handle on how to parody Miller. Boring on the other hand...

Thad: Who is Turner?

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jorge: I can't get through to your links! I'll try again later.

Jorge Garrido said...

>>Wil: Superman for All Seasons won a lot of awards. I haven't read it.

Apparently, the idea behind it was that if Superman was invulnerable, he'd be completely relaxed and at ease at all times. He would never be tense, but to me it distracts from the paternal fantasy to see Superman relaxing instead of saving the world.

Eddie, Thad meant Gil Turner.

>>Maybe it's because I like funny stuff and even the the most serious stories I read have have to lend themselves to parody. I can't get a handle on how to parody Miller. "

Eddie, did you know the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book was a parody of Frank Miller?

I'm gonna start using more HTML.

Ed Mcguinness

Ed Mcguinness 2

Ed Mcguinness 3

Ed Mcguinness 4

Ed Mcguinness 5

Jorge Garrido said...

Sorry, Ed McGuinness 2

Anonymous said...

Kali, you talk waaaaay too much.

Jorge Garrido said...

^Listen, anonymous, you little faggot who's too much of a pussy to post under his real name, if you don't like Eddie's "regulars" get the fuck out of his bar. Kali always has something relevant, funny, or interesting to add to the conversation, unlike you "anonymice" who always post completely retarded comments.
I swear to God, my IQ goes down about 15 points everytime I see an anonymous troll.

Steve Craig said...

has anyone here from Canada had to deal with Madeleine Levesque at teletoon? Shes exactly what John K is talking about in that moron executives article

PCUnfunny said...

Ah Ed Mcguinness, he's great. Really manly character designs. And Jorge, how do you do those HTML links ?

mike f. said...

WAYNE BORING is one of the all-time great cartoonist names, along with MIKE MANLEY, DING DARLING and DICK SPRANG.
(Also UB IWERKS, which is “screwy-bu” backwards.)

I love when real life imitates cartoons, or when someone’s actual given name predetermines their profession.

If there was ever a cartoonist character portrayed in a Three Stooges short, he’d probably be named something like “I. Sketchum”. But these real-life handles are almost as cartoony.

Jorge Garrido said...

Mike, you forgot "Fred Osmond" When his parents were naming him they must have known he'd be a cartoonist.

It's not a literal adjective, but it sounds like a cartoonist's name, doesn't it?

And what about "Grim" Natwick?

Jorge Garrido said...




RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

Boring is Great! He did one of my all time favorite stories. I can't remember the name of it, but Braniac manages to attach a supertimebomb to Superman's belt that will destroy the Earth in 24 hours., then places a forcefield around the planet so Superman can't leave! Earth is doomed! It's great!
I also enjoy 50's to 60's era Curt Swan.

PCUnfunny said...

Thank you for the info Jorge.

Thad K said...

Yes I was indeed referring to Gil Turner, the writer/artist of the fantastic "Little Bad Wolf" feature in WALT DISNEY'S COMICS & STORIES for about 10 years.

mike f. said...

Thad - I can't believe you left Walt Kelly off your list! For shame!

Anonymous said...

walt kelly was an asshole from what ive read

RoboTaeKwon-Z said...

What have you read Anonymous? What are your sources?
From what I read, he was a good guy that liked to drink a little too much.
Not that it matters, as he was the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century, nice guy or not.

Anonymous said...

he used to wave his wang in the middle traffic every morning to get his creative juices flowing

Thad K said...

Mike - Sorry! I can't believe I forgot Kelly either! I'm a bastard.

Joel Bryan said...

I've always liked Wayne Boring's art, but for me, Curt Swan was the Superman artist elite. I wrote about him here:


But I made sure I name-checked Boring because he was just supercool.

Joel Bryan said...

I take exception to the comment about Kirby's art only becoming abstract in his old age. It became abstract when he got away from Joe Sinnott's slicking him up over at Marvel and DC finally allowed him to put Mike Royer on inks.

Only then did you get prime, unalloyed Kirby in all its powerful glory and strangeness. And that's when he was in his 50s. He lived another 20 years or so after that.

Get DC Archives' "Kamandi" volume 1 if you don't believe me. Or their "Fourth World" reprints, any of the post Vinnie Colletta. Or anytime they weren't letting Neal Adams or Murphy Anderson paste over the Superman and Jimmy Olson heads!

Thad K said...

Oh and I can't believe I forgot the following funny animal artists either:

- Al Hubbard (great Disney stuff)
- Tom McKimson (Bob Clampett's layout man and drew the BEST Bugs Bunny comics ever made)
- Phil DeLara (Animator for Bob McKimson, did some great offbeat Daffy Duck comics in the 50s)
- Marty Taras
- Steve Mufatti (both were great Famous Studios animators who did equally great comic work)

Kris said...

Hi Uncle Eddie, I host a Wayne Boring discussion group on yahoo at this address:


All are welcome.