Tuesday 11 October 2011

The way they draw women's feet in comics has always been a mystery to me. they look like plaster casts of the insides of high-heeled shoes. Here's a couple of typical examples from way back in the 1940s:

We might conclude that these renditions are the product of a culture in which men only ever see women's feet encased in shoes, and that the bare foot is forever unknown. But I once read an American book on anatomy that recommended a falsification of the evidence, that the female foot should be reduced in size as much as one can get away with. I wish I'd scanned the page. Even when faced with actual photographic evidence, somebody like Milt Caniff still chooses falsehood over truth.

To my eyes, Summer Canyon looks deformed in that Steve Canyon promotional picture from the mid-1950s (scanned from RC Harvey's excellent biography). I won't even try to get into the psychology of reducing the female to such a flimsy thing. Frank Frazetta on the other hand was a fifties man. He knows how to get that big and bold style of footwear down confidently. His girls look strong and vigorous, with their feet planted firmly on the floor:

Today, Craig Thompson is the man who draws feet right. They are muscular appendages that can conceivably do the work that is normally asked of feet.

In getting them down he may occasionally give them more space than they are entitled to, but that's okay with me. It's such a relief to see them done correctly. In an online interview somewhere a few years back, he mentioned that James Sturm had criticized this, the size of them, and I felt very annoyed with James Sturm. 'Mind your own business!,' I shouted at the computer.

ps. I apologise to James Sturm, who has done only great things, for using him as the punch-line in my balonious rant about feet. (smiley face, etc.)

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Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

The very excellent james Sturm just emailed to clarify:


I was referring to a specific drawing for a project Craig and I were working on together at the time. Those feet he drew for that were distractingly large. Other than that example I have no problem with the way Craig draws feet—or anything else for that matter.


James is one of the important people in comics. Hope he didn't see my remark as anything other than friendly joshing.

12 October 2011 at 16:24:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous AJA said...

Wow, that's a great way to review the art of a book.

13 October 2011 at 00:17:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

I'm trying to figure out if that is straight or sarcastic... let me know.

13 October 2011 at 00:21:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Michael Avolio said...

Caniff also shrinks her waistline and increases her bust size while he's at it. Sharp illustration, though.

This all connects in some way to foot binding and the wearing of high heels in the first place (the opposite side of the coin that exaggerates a man's muscles in drawings and puts shoulder pads in their jackets)...

Michael Avolio

13 October 2011 at 16:46:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Milo George said...

In the craft interview with Craig that I'm sending to press at the end of the month [fingers crossed], he says that James' hand/foot/limb critique was solicited, greatly appreciated and focused on the audition art he drew to convince Marvel to let him work on the UNSTABLE MOLECULES project. The kids in Marvel editorial these days hate big hands/feet if they've never heard of you, you know. Anyway, Craig cites the critique as one of top-five best pieces of advice he's received in his career.

13 October 2011 at 21:49:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

thanks. Hope that gets me off the hook. I felt like I'd done one of those 'Let's you and him fight' things.

which isn't what I meant to achieve.

in fact, god knows what I meant to achieve.

that's twice today you've caught me quoting without the evidence in front of me.

(passers-by see next post)

13 October 2011 at 23:59:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

still, at least I didn't make it all up.

14 October 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Gerry said...

This is a very interesting subject for a blog post, because ever since I made it to the Frazetta museum in PA, and having an opportunity to view so many of his paintings side-by-side so to speak, I became obsessed by Frazetta's habit of concealing women's feet in like 70-80% of his paintings! They are artfully hidden behind logs, boulders, panthers, fading into the mist, underwater, etc., etc. Not disputing his fantastic ability at drawing and painting women by any stretch, but if you have a chance to view a number of his paintings together, check it out for yourself!

14 October 2011 at 13:40:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

you're right of course. My pals and I used to joke about that way back in the late '60s when the Conan books were coming out

14 October 2011 at 15:15:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous AJA said...

I just came back from a trip so I'm looking through the archives, but I didn't mean that comment to be sarcastic. I sincerely thought that this was a good way to review the art of a comic.

21 November 2011 at 23:22:00 GMT-5  

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