Sunday Mailbag- Caricaturist Superpowers?

August 3rd, 2014 | Posted in Mailbag

Q: As a caricaturist you are analyzing thousands of faces. So I am wondering if you have got super-powers in the following sense: Can you better than other people see, if two persons are relatives: father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister, cousins, etc.?

A: I wish. My only super-power is the ability to procrastinate until the very last second and still pull off a deadline.

Actually I think the opposite of what you describe might be more true, at least for me. I think as a caricaturist I recognize things like expression and subtle facial or body language nuances related to personality more than anything else. When I see a person who reminds me of some celebrity or another person, it’s often because of the way they hold their head or squint their eyes or their smile curls up or some such expressive element. I might say to someone “That person looks a little like so and so”, and then get an odd look because that person doesn’t really look much like so and so, but just has some of his/her mannerisms or presence and that’s why I get the association. Other people often don’t see it at all.

This is sort of hard to explain… the best way I can do it is to use a celebrity impersonator as an example. The really good impersonators don’t just sound like the person they are impersonating, they adopt the facial expressions, tics and mannerisms of the subject. When they do that, they somehow start to physically resemble the subject even though their actual features do not match at all. That’s what I mean… seeing those elements of a person and recognizing that they resemble someone else, even if the features do not.

Sometimes family traits include mannerisms and expressions like I described, but as far as physical features and family resemblances go I am no better than your average bear at seeing them, and probably worse than most.

Thanks to Dominick Zeillinger¬¨‚Ć for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!



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