Wednesday, November 21, 2007


First of all, let's establish the meaning of the term "swipe." I'm looking at this from the point of view of a graphic artist. "Reference" or "inspiration" often means "knocking off" in the trade. You take an image and futz around with it - change things, move things around- until you come up with something new. The action lines and placement details in this piece seem out of the realm of coincidence.

Well, rather than argue semantics let's go to the overlays:

This is how swipes usually work. You don't outright copy the pose, especially when you are drawing in a different style. But here are the basic facts in evidence:

• The characters are at an almost identical forward angle.
• The position of the legs is reversed but in very similar poses.
• Likewise with the right arms.
• Both are holding an oblong object which is at roughly the same angle.
• The orientation of the heads is essentially identical.
• The torsos meet up at the chest, but Shuster's left arm is anatomically incorrect. This would be expected if he were working from reference like that.

• The body and foremost head of the Hydra match up with rock in a way that makes coincidence unlikely.
• The tire hits at the same spot the segmented belly of the Hydra is located.
• The car is coming in at the rock at the same angle as Hercules approaching the Hydra.

Here is a simpler diagram of the Hydra and the rock:

I wonder if this was done on a dolly (opaque projector), which would allow Shuster to play with the sizing. The spatial relationships on that diagram directly above might argue in favor of that. That very clip-art looking car also argues in favor of a dolly. It's a bit too well drawn in contrast to the very awkward upper body of Superman.

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