Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Fantastic Four #253 and the Curling Iron From Space

Fantastic Four #253, v1 (April 1983)

It's one of my peeves that comic artists use model references. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that in the art world but there should be some attempt to make it their own and not just a photoshopped, cut and paste or outright copy.

The Curling Iron from Space that was from John Byrne's great run on Fantastic Four is an example. When you open up Fantastic Four #253 you are greeted by the sight of a huge multi-generational space-ship of refugees travelling through the Kirbyesque starscape of the Negative Zone. As you can see, the space ship is a health and beauty accessory.

I was always of the opinion that it's equal parts laziness and, I hope, humor. I don't want to put thoughts into Byrne's head but when I first saw that page I immediately felt that the artist was doing it out of contempt, thinking no fans would notice because he was JOHN BYRNE. Odd thing is, that opinion of mine was from someone who was probably the biggest and most rabid Byrne fan there ever was back in the day. I don't know why I thought that he was making fun at expense of his fans, but I did. I may have missed it in the letter's pages or industry magazines of the time but I never saw a reaction or comment about that page. I'll look at the following issues of FF later and see if anyone noticed it.

I'm still one of Byrne's biggest fans when it comes to his art and earlier writing. Others may diasagree because it's fashionable to dislike him now but I put him up there with Neal Adams, Kirby and Steranko for his positive effects of the comic industry.

While I still think the curling iron was an artistic slap in the face, I can see the humor in it and think it is funny.


  1. I think it's funny. And pre-CGI you did find that a lot of the models used for spaceships in movies and especially on TV (where the budget was so much lower) were built out of hairdryers with bits of model kits attached. And what about the objects in Kirby's photographic paste-up cosmic space scenes?

    Come to that I've seen book covers for SF novels with spaceships that are basically hair dryers with techno-detailing. Now that really is taking the piss.

  2. Yeah it is funny, I just wonder at his intentions. It may be that Byrne was doing just that...but I don't know how deep he is. He never impressed me as being that dimenional.

    Star Trek, even post-CGI was good for using bits and pieces. The ST:NG show used the left over bits from model kits to make alien devices and even the handles of disposable razors for shuttle engines. That is all about ingenuity and saving a FX buck, not sitting at a drawing boared and drawing what is in your bathroom.

  3. The sad thing is that I never even noticed it looked like a curling iron. I just thought of it as a cool state-of-the-art spaceship design. I'm so gullible.

  4. It's quite amusing and there's nothing wrong with that. It's not like FF is a Tolstoy novel, after all. It's a drawing of a SPACESHIP traveling through an ALTERNATE DIMENSION. If Byrne took more than two minutes coming up with a visual design for it, now THAT would be fricking hilarious.


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