Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thou Mayest Approach The Headgear

I've never heard Odin, the Lord of Asgard, referred to as "Majesty"--but where artist Jack Kirby's full-page portraits of him are concerned, the word fits him like a glove. Odin strikes an imposing figure, to be sure--as seen here in his element, flanked by his warriors and vested in Asgardian raiment, his word regarded as law by all who stand in "the Presence":

Small wonder that most of Kirby's portraits of the All-Father are close-ups of his face, where that full beard of his takes prominence. Yet no face shot of Odin would be complete without that incredible headgear that Kirby is known for. It's almost as if the more incredible and majestic the subject of the portrait, the more Kirby felt he or she needed headgear that would leave no question as to the person's status. In Odin's case, his headgear not only gives us a sense of Odin's stature, but of Asgard itself:

It was the rare full-body shot of Odin that could compete with the striking impression of just his face, so the context of the shot probably had to be carefully considered. Take the following two portraits, for example:

In my opinion, one works much better than the other. In the first, with Odin firing his "power scepter," look how difficult it is to fit, well, all that Odin is into the shot. The headgear, as usual, is beyond awesome--but even though Odin is issuing a dramatic proclamation and is at the peak of his lordly power, he comes off looking like a very short character with no distinguishing characteristics apart from being an elderly warrior. His boots seem disproportionate to his legs, and his height doesn't scale correctly with the size of his feet. Maybe that headgear is actually compacting Odin down from his full height. I bet his counselor in the background rigged it with extra weight--he can't be happy about the competition with his own skyscraper headgear.

By comparison, look how nicely the second pose works for Odin--regally sitting in judgment, every inch the ruler. Just about 95% of him fits in the shot, yet we really don't feel deprived of any of his presence or impact. And Thor is certainly approaching with caution, and no doubt reverence.

In another post, we'll see that Asgard, like her liege, has much to offer Kirby's full-page renderings. And you can bet a certain God of Evil is going to insist on preferential treatment.

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