Software didn”t exist to replicate images when comics began their meteoric rise to popularity. Cartoonists drew everything by hand, staying consistent with their style and technical skill to make characters and scenery look the same every time. After repeatedly drawing the same characters, some cartoonists opted to see if they could continue doing so with their eyes closed.
In 1947, a group of cartoonists decided to blindfold themselves and attempt to draw some of their best-known characters. With no way of seeing what marks they were producing on paper, they had to use muscle memory and a rough approximation of where they thought they were drawing. Cartoonists from across the country rose to the challenge in a sort of proto-Ice Bucket fashion, and had their results published in the February 3, 1947 issue of Life magazine.
The resulting pictures are pretty interesting, giving an insight into how the artists composed their characters. The drawings also point out the features cartoonists thought were the most important in making these characters recognizable. Take a look at the images below. The “eyes open” versions are on the left, and the blind drawings are on the right. Some of the characters lasted in time and exist today. Some…not so much, but the original captions will let you know who they are. Take a look!
Major Hoople, from Our Boarding House
Steve Canyon, from Terry and the Pirates
Brandy, from Johnny Hazard
Dagwood, from Blondie
Secret Agent X-9
Skeezix, from Gasoline Alley
Some of them are pretty close. Some of them are, well… interesting abstract pieces, I guess.