Famous Cartoonists Drawing While Blindfolded
July 10, 2007 6:51 PM   Subscribe

"In 1947 Life Magazine asked some famous comic strip artists to to draw their famous characters while wearing a blindfold. The results are interesting..." Via
posted by jonson (38 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Curse you, jonson!
*Deletes really cool bookmark I was totally going to FPP after finishing the dishes*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:53 PM on July 10, 2007

I WIN!!!!!
posted by jonson at 6:55 PM on July 10, 2007

From the last scan: "Dick Tracy... looks... as intelligent as a slab of granite."

That's not very nice.
posted by JDHarper at 6:59 PM on July 10, 2007

*Deletes really cool bookmark I was totally going to FPP after finishing the dishes*

May I suggest paper plates?
posted by eriko at 7:07 PM on July 10, 2007

If mefi had avatars we'd be fighting over who gets to use these. I'm gonna use cubist x-9 somewhere else. Dibs!
posted by fleetmouse at 7:13 PM on July 10, 2007

Steve Canyon has a pretty serious alter-ego problem. Wow.
posted by snsranch at 7:14 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Great link, jonson. I like how in Steve Canyon and Dagwood's drawings, the artists have features (both in the hair; Canyon's squiggle and Dagwood's parallel cowlicks) that they've done so often that they can quite literally do them blindfolded.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:18 PM on July 10, 2007

Well, I tried that and I ended up clicking out of Photoshop into Safari and ordering a pair of crotchless pantyhose from Amazon.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 7:19 PM on July 10, 2007 [6 favorites]

Don't blame that on the blindfold, Lore.
posted by jonson at 7:20 PM on July 10, 2007

Fun! Thanks!

jonson always wins.
posted by The Deej at 7:21 PM on July 10, 2007

I liked this a lot. Thanks.
posted by serazin at 7:27 PM on July 10, 2007

Thanks, the article and the blog are very interesting!
posted by watsondog at 7:29 PM on July 10, 2007

"If mefi had avatars.."

Please don't start - oh now it's too late. The cat's out of the bag. Great.

People are gonna start posting requests and suggestions in MeTa for 'avatars' and complain when Matt doesn't implement. I honestly don't care what you guys think I should pretend you each look like.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:29 PM on July 10, 2007

Intriguing. Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 7:38 PM on July 10, 2007

The commentary on each drawing isn't very charitable. Most of them seemed pretty precisely drawn to me, though sections of the faces may have gotten moved around. Secret Agent X-9 turned out pretty well, especially for such a detailed character.
posted by lostburner at 7:44 PM on July 10, 2007

Oh please no avatars. I already have enough of a problem believing any of you really exist.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:45 PM on July 10, 2007

That was really interesting. Particularly in that, with almost all the artists, you can see that they are proficient at all the individual elements that make up their character; the eyes, the hair, the nose and chin-line, but they almost universally lose their orientation.

Sort of like me trying to mow the lawn after a bottle of bourbon. I know where all the controls are, and how to operating the riding mower, but damn if the grass doesn't keep jumping around and making itself hard to catch.

Yeah. It's sort of like that.
posted by quin at 7:47 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Fun link!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:02 PM on July 10, 2007

Great stuff! The blindfolded Skeezix looks like a Picasso sketch.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:06 PM on July 10, 2007

Pretty damn awesome, really, as it's very difficult to do blind contour drawing with these kinds of images.

In regular contour drawing, you attempt to draw the model as a series of lines defining the external contours and the most important internal contours. You look at the model closely, then draw a portion of the contour on the paper as if you were touching the drawing media directly to the perceived edges of the model's body. You're looking at the model for long stretches -- often until you forget to blink -- and sneaking glances at the paper to verify your orientation.

But in blind contour drawing, you must only look at the model and never at the paper. This is obviously a lot harder, but with practice, you can do some surprisingly good work.

These cartoonists were doing a variation of blind contour drawing by holding their memory of their character in their mind's eye, and attempting the same tactile/perceptual task. But because their characters were drawn in a specific stylized way, often with many disconnected lines, they couldn't retrace their steps from internal to external contours as blind contour artists do, which means that you often get those key bits of face floating off into the ether.
posted by maudlin at 8:37 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

Neat! I like how revealing of the physical process of a drawing a character it is—a real sense of how, and in what partitioning, they did their work on these, and who was drawing with their eyes vs. with their hand.
posted by cortex at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2007

This was great. Thanks!
posted by spec80 at 9:05 PM on July 10, 2007

jonson, you are my favorite mefite, hands down. Please keep up the great work.
posted by tomharpel at 10:13 PM on July 10, 2007

what a nice thing to say, tomharpel, thanks! And thanks to you too, The Deej
posted by jonson at 10:29 PM on July 10, 2007

Chester Gould did a great job of recreating his signature.
With all that that implies.
posted by maryh at 12:08 AM on July 11, 2007

I originally read the post and interpreted it that the characters themselves would be blindfolded, which sounded weird, but intriguing. As it is, this is still intriguing, and the results a bit weird.
posted by mach at 12:33 AM on July 11, 2007

posted by Poolio at 12:51 AM on July 11, 2007

I typed that blinfolded.
posted by Poolio at 12:52 AM on July 11, 2007

Very cool.

jonson, if you ever, perhaps, want to get married and move to southern France or perhaps Marseille and have lots of kids and spend the warm evenings on the porch talking about this or that then, well, I think that would be just awesome.
posted by nixerman at 2:09 AM on July 11, 2007

What a great find. The deconstructed Dagwood is my favorite.
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:39 AM on July 11, 2007

As soon as I saw this I was reminded of the "clock drawing test" used to document neurological and neuropsychological decline, for example in patients with Alzheimer's disease, or patients who have suffered brain trauma such that they have lost function on one side of the brain (unilateral neglect).
posted by scblackman at 4:19 AM on July 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks SCBLACKMAN, Now I know why my boss keeps asking me to draw clocks.
posted by Gungho at 5:44 AM on July 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Reminds me of the LSD sketches that appeared on MeFi many years ago (bonus points if anyone can remember where the hell it is - I've been looking for ages...)
posted by longbaugh at 5:55 AM on July 11, 2007

Do you mean these sketches, longbaugh?
posted by Acetylene at 7:16 AM on July 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

jonson is teh awesome. I love that dick tracy is the closest, since he's almost always drawn in profile.
posted by shmegegge at 8:24 AM on July 11, 2007

I love Brandy. She looks like my kind of gal! [from the linked site]

This is a wonderful post. It also brought back memories of the time long ago (May 1970) when — neither on drugs nor drunk, who knows what I was thinking — I decided to write to Steve Canyon’s cousin and ward Poteet — named for Poteet, Texas — and ask for a date.

Two weeks later there came a nice personal letter to me, with Milton Caniff’s bold signature, saying among other things, ”On behalf of POTEET CANYON may I convey her pleasure and sincere thanks for your thoughtful message of May 5th... At the moment POTEET is off on another assignment and I am adding your letter to her mail pile.”

I couldn’t decide if he was trying to keep me from cracking up in case I found out she wasn’t real, or if he himself didn't realize this.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:36 AM on July 11, 2007

Really wonderful find! Fascinating stuff for sure. I wish there were more. Any mefites in the comic artist community now? I would love to see some current artists do this.

Comics are already such a stylized form, I really wonder what the difference would be between comic artists and non-comic artists doing this.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 10:06 AM on July 11, 2007

Acetylene - sorry to get back to you so late - but yes - those are the ones. Nicely done.

/pins flashing gold star on lapel
posted by longbaugh at 9:25 AM on July 13, 2007

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