Un-supering the Supers

Artwork by JunMing // Reference No.: JM0184

It’s might be one of the oldest trick in the sacred bible of cartooning, if there is even one to begin with.

The ‘un-supering’ of the supers (I am pretty sure there isn’t such a word). Making godly beings and heroes normal not by taking away their powers but by giving them everyday problems faced by you and me. Like the above piece where Superman unknowingly tucked his cape under his tights. A pretty common wardrobe malfunction with boys. If you apply this concept further, it could be The Flash panting slightly after climbing the stairs to his apartment, or Batman picking out leaves stuck on the Batmobile’s windscreen. I can keep going indefinitely but I think you got the point I am trying to make.

The idea is to understand the characteristic of a particular ‘celebrity’ hero and to partner him with the relevant everyday challenges. It doesn’t have to be a super hero, you can also apply this to any person of authority or powers. Most editorial cartoonists transform their presidents or ministers into the everyday Joes of the world. How about celestial beings, gods and angels? Immensely powerful but hassled with the less divine problems and habits of mere mortals. Imagine one day you are looking up in the sky, you spot an angel at a corner cloud. He looks around for a while and does a full back stretch before disappearing back into the clouds again. What does that tells you of his day, or job? Is this something you would expect to see from an angel? Or is it what a normal tired blue collared worker would do whilst he takes a short break at the pantry.

The back stretch itself is such a common action that it becomes invisible to us everyday. But once you associate it to a godly being, immediately that expresses something very different. It might be good to start accumulating a list of everyday household problems or mortal actions that can be applied to ‘heroes’ when the need arises.