What was the artistic purpose of the lines on the Human Torch(es)?

Back in the day, when ever the original Human Torch or Johnny Storm would flame on, they were always draw with dozens of straight lines across their forms. That particular aspect of their appearances has long since been retired, but I've always wondered what the purpose of the detail was. It didn't add to the illusion they were on fire, not to me anyways. Was it supposed to? Why? What aspect of burning matter was it supposed to be analogous to?

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Maybe the visual blurring you get from waves of heat?
Doctor Hmmm? said:
Maybe the visual blurring you get from waves of heat?

That would be a cool effect to create, but wouldn't that go around the figure, not on it?
Detective 445 said:
The original intent may have been to have the figure appear as hot coals or wood burning inside a fireplace.



That's probably what they were going for. Good call.

Of course, that doesn't create the illusion of being lighter than air. I've never seen a briquettes float up and out of my grill. :)
Rich Lane said:
Detective 445 said:
The original intent may have been to have the figure appear as hot coals or wood burning inside a fireplace.



That's probably what they were going for. Good call.

Of course, that doesn't create the illusion of being lighter than air. I've never seen a briquettes float up and out of my grill. :)

Then you haven't started on the beer early enough.
The thing I never got was why, in The Invaders, Toro always got far fewer lines than the Human Torch. Which you can see a bit here, but my memory says it was even more pronounced in the interior art, with Toro often seeming to have no "lines" at all.
http://comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=31646&zoom=4

Doctor Hmmm? said:
Rich Lane said:
Detective 445 said:
The original intent may have been to have the figure appear as hot coals or wood burning inside a fireplace.



That's probably what they were going for. Good call.

Of course, that doesn't create the illusion of being lighter than air. I've never seen a briquettes float up and out of my grill. :)

Then you haven't started on the beer early enough.
suedenim said:
The thing I never got was why, in The Invaders, Toro always got far fewer lines than the Human Torch. Which you can see a bit here, but my memory says it was even more pronounced in the interior art, with Toro often seeming to have no "lines" at all.
http://comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=31646&zoom=4


Jiminy, I don't think I want to know what happened to the poor Asbestos Lady...
"The thing I never got was why, in The Invaders, Toro always got far fewer lines than the Human Torch. Which you can see a bit here, but my memory says it was even more pronounced in the interior art, with Toro often seeming to have no "lines" at all."


This one is a little easier to extrapolate a rationale. In panels showing the Torches in flight, only a few positions (relative to each other) would make the smaller form of Toro distinct from the Human Torch. Otherwise, while flying, with nothing else to provide perspective, it would be difficult to tell the two apart by size alone. Thus, the artists rendered Toro's flame looking different,

To a degree, there is a rationalisation within the fictional conceit of the series for the different appearance of Toro's flame. During the Torches' adventure against the Hag, in Marvel Mystery Comics # 19 (May, 1941), Toro is seriously injured when he falls to the pavement after his flame is suddenly extinguished in flight. A side effect of the injuries is a drastic reduction of the boy's ability to flame on. In a bizarre "flame transfusion", the Human Torch transfers some of his "live fire", through asbestos tubes, into Toro. This revitalises the lad's own flame power. But, as the surgeon points out, Toro's flame, from now on, will never be quite as strong as the Torch's.

In theory, the difference in how their flaming bodies were rendered could be explained by the difference in the strength of their flames. It would be a perfect explanation, except for the fact that in this story, before Toro received his injury, his flaming self was also rendered without the lines used in the Torch's flaming form. So this in-fiction explanation requires a bit of mental revision.

Hope this helps.
I think the lines were meant to add to the illusion they were on fire, absent better ways of rendering a flaming being. From there, Detective 445 is right: Once Kirby started drawing it that way, everyone else copied. Likewise with Carmine Infantino's Flash; once he figured out how to draw a speeding being, few people tried to render it differently; it was a visual shorthand that worked.

In one of the text pieces related to Marvels, Alex Ross explains how he chose to do it: by using a photographic negative. The lighter portions of the negative image represented the flame, and the darker portions represented the shadow. And that, it seems, has been the model to follow from then on.
ClarkKent_DC said:

In one of the text pieces related to Marvels, Alex Ross explains how he chose to do it: by using a photographic negative. The lighter portions of the negative image represented the flame, and the darker portions represented the shadow. And that, it seems, has been the model to follow from then on.

Yeah, PhotoShop has made rendering fire much, much easier.

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