Thursday, March 17, 2005

No Nose Is Good News

Here's an interesting bit from the Shrewsbury Chronicle. A reader wanted to know why Cathy lacked a nose. Staff writer Deborah Gauthier sent Cathy Guisewite a letter, and got this reply:

"My first drawings -- in 1976 -- were scribbled self-portraits. I had no art training and when I drew my face, which -- at the time -- included big glasses, I didn't have room for a nose. The drawings were so cryptic the people at Universal Press Syndicated mistook my rendition of glasses as giant eyeballs, and only wondered why I had drawn lines sticking out on either side of them (they were supposed to be the sides of glasses). They thought the giant eyes, while unusual, were "expressive." So I got rid of the lines, but never got back to figuring out the nose.

Though Cathy lacks a nose, I wonder how many people notice? Cartoon faces can be very spare, but they'll almost always need two things: eyes and a mouth. (I say almost because the Henry strip did well for a good long while, without speaking a word, or cracking a smile... and as you'll see from the link -- and to my surprise when I Googled for Henry -- it continues to do well, if longevity is any measure.) As long as the reader has eyes to connect with, and a mouth to study for emotional cues, the character is as real as a mirror-image.

I'm not dismissing the nose, of course. After all, I wear glasses.