May 23rd, 2008

The Zombie

Hats The Way It Was

May 22 -  It's funny how a hat can make the "look."  Without a big, ten-galloner, Gene Autry was just an amiable crooner.  Without a Mercury-style winged helmet, the Golden Age Flash was just a guy wearing loose-fitting clothing that seemed ill-suited for a runner.  Even The Shadow, without his wide-brimmed black hat, would look more like a perturbed gravedigger than a spirit of vengeance.  As I've been looking over my list of hat-wearing comics characters for this month, it surprised me to realize that many of these "costumed" figures were just wearing street clothes with an odd chapeau.  So much can be said with a hat, mostly subconsciously, that picking the "perfect" hat is like defining a persona.  And I've been there.  While the hats I wear today have sort of found me, back in the day I spent many hours at a store called The Sacred Feather (an amazing hattery in Madison, Wisconsin), searching for own my wearable persona.  Even when I settled on a hat - one, as I've noted earlier, that was very similar to The Shadow's or the Fourth Doctor Who's - there was still the question of how, and even when, to wear it.  Should I wear it cocked to one side?  No, too artificially jaunty.  How about pulled down low in front?  No, too menacing...although sometimes handy in certain scary circumstances.  Kicked back on my head, then, exposing my hairline?  Hmm...that's more like "me," but still a little too Meet John Doe.  No, it took me hours of self-absorbed mirror time before I found, then memorized, the proper angle to compliment my fat head.  At the time, it was all egotistical folly, but such concentration on something seemingly so trivial has served me well in years since as I've drawn many behatted characters with some authority.  In fact, it might not show, but I really try to "speak" through my character's hats.  How they look, how they sit, how they tilt one way or the other; it's all important for presenting a character.  Heck, my main character basically wears nothing but a hat, so I've been working the "hat" thing for over thirty years!  And, believe it or not, I didn't even take that into consideration when I chose the "Hat-Wearing" theme for this month.  Speaking of which, I should get out of here, so I'll leave you with your Hat-Wearing Comic Book Character of The Day - The Scarecrow (DC Comics version)!