I've been on the road with Henchgirl since Monday, driving from DC to a gig in Fresno, CA, which is why I haven't answered any comments from the past couple posts. I may not get to them for a few more days yet, if at all. But know that I appreciate every one that you guys give. Your responses are the lifeblood of this blog, one of the main reasons I post stuff here at all. So thanks. :)
So, a few weeks back, Project: Rooftop featured comic artist Nate Bellegarde's interpretation of the Joker
, which got quite a bit of attention:
Personally, I was torn on this piece. Yeah, it's horrific, but when people make the Joker look truly horrific--as Grant Morrison did throughout his current run--it makes me feel like people miss the point of the character. Besides, I just plain dislike a Joker who can do nothing but
smile. It reduces a character of hugely operatic moods down to one single, dark, flat note. Blah. Give me an expressive Joker any day.
That said, this piece made me want to track Bellegarde down at a con and commission a Two-Face from him, like, yesterday
. So fast forward to today, when yaseen101
pointed me to the fact that P:R had essentially honored my request:
Now, this is only half of the posted images, but I wanted to talk about these first. It's strikes me as being very inspired by the Harvey of TAS, which I think is particularly clear in the top right drawing. Henchgirl remarked as to how the top left made him look like someone out of Dick Tracy
, which in turn reminded me of Haf-and-Haf
, and how that character was actually more physically disturbing than classic Two-Face. So too is this take.
The most interesting part, naturally, is the eye. Presumably drawing from images of actual burn victims, the eye here is narrowed down to a small black dot, almost like the eye of a shark. This, in turn, brings to my mind Quint's line from Jaws
: "Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white." I wonder if this Harvey's eye could do the same.
That said, I don't really like the eye as a general thing. Classic bulging-eye-o-rage all the way. But I really dig the exposed teeth, and the generally realistic sense of stretched, warped flesh with no distinct line between scarred and unscarred sides. It plays off nicely with Harvey's TAS-style sense of cool noir-era sophistication. So, yeah, I liked this a lot.
But what I loved
was the second part:
How do I love this? Let me count the ways.
First, the fact that this sketch does more than actually depict Two-Face, but actually gives a glimpse into his character and psyche. As one person commented, it gives you a real sense of what Harvey Dent has lost. Notice how, in the reflection, Harvey isn't wearing a pinstripe suit. Ah, pinstripes: the short-hand style for gangsters, and a great fashion choice all around.
I love how he's not wearing a split-suit either, but dressing to the hilt of snazziness, letting the horror of his face do all the talking. Speaking of that face, I prefer his "bad eye" here to the shark's eye above. He kind of looks like skull-face Black Mask, only more disturbing and less like a Red Skull ripoff. If we could see this Harvey straight on, I bet his scarred eye would look sunken and perpetually cruel and cold, as opposed to the burning rage of the regular bulging-eye look.
The real kicker is the troubled glimpse into the Harvey Dent that was in the reflection. This is the only time I've ever thought that the Two-face of TAS Season 4--The New Batman Adventures
, with the streamlined redesigns--has actually looked good. What's more, he doesn't look like he's plotting evil crimes, sneering in vengeance, of being coolly aloof about something, which are the general personality traits of Two-Face in pin-up art.
At the risk of reading too much into this piece, it seems to me that this Harvey Dent is looking inward--the monster wondering what became of the man in the mirror--and is all too troubled at what he sees. Maybe it's the thought that the man is gone, leaving only the monster. Or maybe it's the possibility that Harvey's still in there somewhere. Even if the latter's the case, Harvey may only be able to see the former.
That's what I get out of this piece anyway. Your mileage may vary. I think it was the cigarette that really pushed me to that interpretation, another classic bit of cinematic shorthand for troubled thoughts. Another neat touch: the fact that he's smoking out of his good side. It makes sense of practical reasons, since that's the side with lips, but it raises some neat implications.
So yeah, this one's going in my all-time favorite Harvey drawings. What think you guys?