The View From A Board
Artist Mike Perkins discusses the challenges of drawing Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman’s a tricky one. From an artist’s viewpoint she’s a visually arresting character to illustrate – with or without the star-spangled knickers. There’s the classic brunette beauty, muscular and tall; statuesque but not a body builder… her power comes from within – blessed by the gods. The costume itself lends itself to subtle and personal interpretation.
Aside from the bodice, boots and bracelets one can add Greek flourishes and warrior-like accessories depending on the tale. A small pleated skirt? Not a problem. Leather-studded straps hanging from her golden belt? A useful adornment to administer a shorthand visual nod to Grecian warriors. The lasso? Hmmm… probably more of a cowboy influence there but as a handy lie detector it probably says more about the creator of the device than the readership of the character or the lady herself.
I’ve followed a lot of the recent Wonder Woman stories after being originally enticed by the remarkable Pérez run in the mid-’80s that plunged Diana into the mythology of the Greeks her birth place of Paradise Island was based upon. It’s a truly incredible run that lends itself to constant rereading and which, in turn, contains elements which have helped to inspire some of the more recent runs. Pérez wasn’t the first to entertain the notion of the character’s pantheonic past but he centered and grounded the character within it and still made it fresh to the newly-aware nuances of the readership that had just experienced Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and John Byrne’s Man Of Steel.
The current, engrossing Brian Azzarello series has also squarely placed Wonder Woman amongst a rotating group of worn out, conniving deities and determined demigods, making Diana a daughter of Zeus, rather than originating as a clay sculpture, in the process.
One of my favourite recent runs on the book was written by Greg Rucka. After opening with the gorgeously illustrated The Hiketeia, he and artist JG Jones reintroduced a Diana who faced her responsibilities to both the here and now and the
I was originally enticed by the Pérez run that plunged Diana into the mythology of the Greeks
distant past on an equal footing. This was then reflected in her ongoing title when a lot of her time was taken up with her seemingly humdrum life as a foreign ambassador which aided Rucka in introducing a strong supporting cast and ultimately led her to facing down the Gorgon, Medusa. It was the kind of run I’d have loved to have illustrated.
One day perhaps I’ll get the chance to put my own stamp on the character. I have some solid ideas about where to take the costume – appropriate to the script, of course – and I’ll probably have some contributions to where to take the story; borrowing liberally from the mythological past but with an eye to the intriguing future, just as the finest runs have done so successfully before.
She’ll still be tricky, though.
in the New 52.
Rucka’s WW debut:
Nothing gets past the golden lasso.
Byrne’s seminal ’ 90s run.