Monday, February 21, 2011

Learn to draw the Thing! RIGHT NOW!

Early on in the Thing's first solo series, written (and sometimes drawn) by John Byrne, the above page of artistic instruction was published.  I always thought that it was a fun little "extra" added into a book that was initially itself a fun and worthwhile book.

Around a year into the series the Thing got involved in the Secret Wars crossover event and, suddenly able to change back to his human persona in Ben Grimm at will, he made the decision to stay on Battleworld, where the Secret Wars took place.  While this storyline was at least a curiosity, the quality of the book soon took a nosedive before a mercy cancellation at a point when the Thing decided to join both a circus and a professional wrestling troupe.  I don't like to think about that half of the book.

The first year of the book, though, was a treat.  It was classic Thing at his best, and extra material like this (and the fact that classic Fantastic Four inker Joe Sinnott worked on many of the issues) made it seem like the creators involved were having fun putting it together.  Regardless of how John Byrne's personality rubs some people the wrong way, his enthusiasm and love for the Fantastic Four has never been in question.

I've often wondered what exactly this page of instructions was really produced for.  Was it produced specifically for the issue in question?  Or were they running one page short at the time, leading Byrne to say "oh, what the hell, I'll toss a page about how to draw the Thing in there"?  In any case, I've always enjoyed his take on the Thing - he comes off a bit more stocky than you'd expect to see today, but I like that he doesn't have just an overexaggerated Mr. Universe build like the Hulk does.

If there's one aspect of Byrne's rendition that I'm not quite fond of, though, it's the arms.  It doesn't look like there are any joints in them.  How does the thing wave hello or flag down a taxi without any elbows or wrists?  Byrne always drew the Thing's arms a bit too rounded for me as a whole.

According to the notation, this guide was based on Kirby and Sinnott's iconic cover to Fantastic Four #51, and the similarity is fairly obvious.  But the arms...the arms!

I also enjoy the speech balloon stating, "Don't gimmie no lips."  This is especially funny to me because regular series penciller Ron Wilson ALWAYS drew lips on the Thing.

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