Monday, March 12, 2007


Many comic artists draw hair in a kind of shorthand. They select from a menu of 3 or 4 basic styles they once learned, and modify the color or hairline for a little variety. Highly regarded artists such as Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby were all guilty of this timesaving practice (and as for George Wunder's Terry and the Pirates-- let's not even go there).

One reason I admire Mort Drucker so deeply is that he didn't take such things for granted. In each of these pictures, he looked with fresh eyes for the best way to capture hair with line. It's hard work-- the essence of traditional drawing-- but it really pays off.

Obviously, Drucker isn't relying on any formula here. In the pictures below, Drucker has analyzed and mastered the 3 dimensional structure of each hairstyle. Once he understands it, he can rotate it on an axis in his brain just as if he was born with a CAD CAM software program.

Drucker did not just haul this approach out for wild, eccentric hair. In the following picture, notice how he captures even plain, straight hair with a master's sensitivity.

Although Drucker is justly famous among professional caricaturists who recognize the measure of his achievement, in my view he remains the single most underrated comic artist.