Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Case Study: Superhero Comics and the Plastic Chicken Leg

Over the last decade (at least), an entertaining nomenclature has sprung up around mocking bad art in superhero comics, especially art of the cheesecake variety that bears little resemblance to reality, or even the airbrushed version of reality presented in soft-core pornography. Writers have coined terms like "boob sock" and "brokeback pose", and pointed out the ridiculous, and downright un-sexy, distortions brought upon the female gender by artists who understand little about anatomy and less about using art for storytelling purposes.  Upon perusal of some images recently released by a major superhero comics publisher, I believe I've coined a new addition to the lexicon: the Plastic Chicken Leg:

Ignoring any other deficiencies in the picture (the Goku-style hair is a particular favorite), the central character's upper leg and hip is drawn as though it were composed of one solid chunk of PVC (it certainly reflects light as if it is something synthetic), one smooth curve from the upper hip all the way down to the back of the knee. It resembles nothing so much as a piece of plastic food from a children's play set:

This seems to be a common sight in superhero comics art, if not one that is usually remarked upon, what with the oft-hilarious depictions of breasts receiving the majority of the mocking attention. But this is certainly an egregious assault on decent anatomical depiction as well, perhaps brought on by the ever-rising swimsuit cuts that come with the proliferation of crack-snuggling thongs, as well as a difficulty in drawing realistic posteriors, or attractive curves of any sort, really.

There's nothing wrong with a shapely leg, but whoever is creating these assaults against eyeballs seems to forget that legs have musculature; they don't just look like balloons puffed into somewhat human proportions. One need only glance at a beach, or, say, an underwear catalogue, to see what an attractive appendage is supposed to look like:

So, please, artists, inflate breasts if you must, and bend spines to display tits and ass simultaneously, but please pay attention to the way legs work. It can't be that hard, can it? After all, if you're going to ogle a drawing, it would be nice if it appeared to be human.


  1. much = must, right?

    Freudian slip? (inflate breasts much...)

  2. Gah, stupid typo. I hate it when those slip through.

  3. pretty exagerated remark, and well most of the time great art is ruined by colorist who have no idea of anatomy or light and shading, there are exceptions indeed but i have seen more examples of great art ruined by bad colorists than viceversa.