As I was working on the designs for an upcoming project ( Trial of the Red Death ).... I could not help but wonder how some design elements have been reused through out the years, and how certain elements have become part of the visual language of comics.
Some of those design elements often get associated to specific character, and when another character has the same elements.... it is often seen as a copy.
For example..... Marvel's Wolverine (and DC's Timber Wolf) both have haircuts which have been used throughout the years as a visual tool to establish that a character is a feral/wolflike character.
Although people don't seem to realise that Wolverine was NOT the first character with that haircut. Too many times have I seen people complain that Marvel's blue furred Beast is a lesser copy of Wolverine because he has the same haircut as Wolverine.
Sadly too many people fail to realise that Beast, but in this case more specifically the blue furred version of the character pre-dates Wolverine. That it is in reality Wolverine that has the same haircut as Beast.
Although to be fair.... the haircuit most likely comes from the wolfman from the 50s movies. Which might come from an earlier character that I fail to recall.
But since Wolverine became so popular.... and also most people are often not aware of what existed before their time, it is automatically assumed that a character with the wolfman's haircut is a copy of Wolverine. Now that haircut is so associated to Wolverine that it is dificult to use it on a character and not have the character being called an obvious copy of Wolverine.
The same with any characters with a skull on his chest. The skull has been symbolising death for a long time, but now it pretty much became associated with the Punisher even if for decades.... heck centuries before the Punisher even ever existed, that symbol was already used for example by pirates.
But now... making a character with a skull on his chest means that at least some people.... if not many... will keep on comparing it with the Punisher..... even if the character is not even remotely like the Punisher....... or does not even look like the Punisher excepted for the skull symbol on the chest.
But as I was thinking about various design elements and how certain characters seems to have a familiar look..... I could not help but think of a design that I kept on seeing through the years.
The design of the original Daredevil.
When I was reading the adventures of Marvel's DD masterfully drawn by the great Wallace Wood..... little did I know how there was a DD character that was pre-dating Marvel's version.
But even more.... as the years went by.... I kept on seeing design elements of the originals DD look on various characters.
I learned of the original DD when I read "The Great Comic Book Artists" by Ron Goulart. The section about Jack Cole shows a page of the original DD comic as an example of his work.
Then in retrospect.... I realised that I had already seen a similar design before.
First in the Avengers with the Zodiac members called Gemini, a good one..... and an EVIL one. ;).
Essentially the same design without the color red, and a slightly different belt.
And also in the pages of Marvel Premiere and the Incredible Hulk with the character called 3D-Man.
Loved that character. Sadly I only saw him once or twice after that. The last time was in Avengers Forever by Busiek and Pacheco. Loved that mini-series.
Although in the late 90s early 2000, Busiek and Perez came up with Triathlon.
That character was somehow linked with 3D-Man.... but Perez managed to design it so that it would be visually different from 3D-Man. You can tell with the color palette used and some elements that this character has something to do with 3D-Man.... but in a subtle enough way that I am sure that many never realised it until it was mentioned later in the Avengers series.
With Gemini and 3D-Man, it seemed to be used as a way to visually establish the duality of a character.
Then I saw the pattern once more with Peter Cannon's Thunderbolt.
When I saw this character in his own comic, I could not help but notice the similarities with the original DD's costume. Although I only got the first issue. So I have no idea if there is some sort of duality with the character as with the previous two.
After a while.... I realised that I had already seen the character in Crisis of Infinte Earths. The bare legs does modify the costumes pattern somewhat.
Although with the hundreds of characters in that series... I only realised it later as I was re-reading CoIE.
Then not too long ago as I read Image's Gemini comic..... I saw a pretty cool variation of that look.
It still seems to suggest the duality of the character.
I probably should have included Marvel's In-Betweener...... but I forgot to included it.
And I am sure that there are others that I failed to include as well.
Will that look still be used in years to come??
Will it officially be seen as the visual device that symbolises a character's dual nature??
Or will it just be seen as a copy of the Golden Age Daredevil??
We will have to wait and see.
Heck I would not be surprised if someone said after seeing Dynamite's "Death Defying Devil" that he is just a cheap copy of 3D-Man. ;)
Until next time.