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  1. #1

    Default Can the Trunks work or is it too late?



    So I heard Superman is going back to the classic costume for Action Comics #1000. I guess It makes sense to go back to an iconic style for such a monumental occasion. When I heard the news I was really excited, it's like DC was finally embracing their history for once instead being embarrassed and reactionary like they usually were.

    Yet, when I looked up people's reactions I was surprised to find so many mixed responses about the whole thing. Some hated the idea of the trunks coming back believing that it somehow regresses the character instead of moving him forward. Some were happy about the iconic red briefs making a comeback believing that the trunks were as essential to Superman's look as the cape and S-shield are.

    I don't necessarily mind if Superman wears the trunks or not, but I mostly disagree with both sides trying to prove the other wrong. Most "legit" criticisms against the red trunks don't really hold any water, (how can the trunks be outdated but the cape still be relevant?) Most of the real criticisms come to the idea that the trunks are "just too goofy" which is somewhat true, but honestly I've always felt Superman should be goofy and his outfit should reflect his fun, ridiculous life. The trunks have been around longer than Superman's iconic S-shield which has gone through numerous revisions before finally looking like the one we know. Yes, they were added to emulate the circus strongmen of the 1930's which isn't really a thing anymore, but I feel superheroes have become such a huge pop cultural phenomenon that the trunks have been more synonymous moreso with them and especially Superman.

    But the Trunks are "too goofy". This really bugged me to say the least, that people are too shallow to look beyond a pair of pants. And it ain't the opposite on the other side of the argument. Some believe that a Superman without the trunks is merely a shadow of the true Man of Steel. I won't say that the trunks aren't iconic, but to say that the Superman costume can't work without them isn't really true in my opinion. The problem is that the original costume works so well because it's easy to draw and simple to understand. The trunks break up all the blue and gives it an overall ruggedness or "homemade", makeshift feel that really fits for the character. The trunks also gives the overall design a core/center allowing the viewer to look exactly where they need to get the full effect of the design. Taking the trunks away makes the costume very top heavy and shifts the color balance in an off-putting way, which is why DC gave Superman's current costume a red belt, which kinda makes sense. Unfortunately, the belt doesn't have much going on to give it the amount of balance and "emphasis on the core" effect the trunks had.

    But just because the current costume doesn't have it yet, doesn't mean it can't be done. So I spent hours trying to come up with redesigns on both sides to try and challenge the criticisms that either side had for the other. I partly hated the idea of messing with the classic costume in any way, but I wanted to see if I could "modernize" the trunks for this day in-age. After all, if the trunks are as essential as the 'S' and cape, then why not update and revise them just as the 'S' was constantly revised.

    As for the traditionalists, I wanted to find a way to make a Superman costume without the trunks work. I personally don't think the current costume does a good job at selling the concept, though it certainly tries. It's mostly that metallic belt; aesthetically it doesn't work, and logically it looks uncomfortable. So I tried looking at what made the original so good, which was it's simplicity, color balance, and importance on the center. It's important to have the costume draw the viewers eyes all over it. I'm mostly happy with the results of how these turned out, and I'm really curious how people might feel about them.

    Trunks Row:

    1. Just the old suit but the trunks are slightly stylized. It was my first attempt at changing the classic look, and I hated every second of it. This went through numerous changes before I was finally somewhat satisfied with the look. I played it real safe and didn't try to go too crazy, like I said before the classic look is great because of it's simplicity. But yeah, as a first attempt go; it's my least favorite one.

    2. I love old sci-fi, Buck Rodgers, Flash Gordon type aesthetics, and I somehow wanted to incorporate that into a Superman costume. So I came up with really sleeking up the trunks and belt, I also changed up the boots as well. This is my personal favorite of the trunks bunch mostly because I felt the old sci-fi nature and aesthetics really work for a character like Superman.

    3. This was more of my tribute to the bygone eras, this was an attempted fusion of all of Superman's Golden-age costume elements to create something very familiar yet new. I took inspiration to lengthen the trunks from the late, great Darwyn Cooke (RIP). I also looked to the Fleischer Superman serials to give him a black belt instead. To compensate for the length in trunks, I had to shorten the boots a little. I wanted to bring back that tough, ruggedness that those early designs and the classic costume were known for.

    4. Probably the closest to the original costume, I magnified the belt and stylized it to give it some much needed emphasis. It practically takes up half the trunks. I also shaped the belt to that of the S-shield, because why not.

    Trunk-less Row

    5. Just the Reborn costume, mostly used as a comparison. I personally don't like this outfit, like I said it's that belt. It just doesn't make any sense, how does Superman put it on? It's metallic and is pointed at the bottom always over his crotch. Thankfully Supes is invincible, otherwise everytime his sits down that belt will always be stabbing at his crotch. Another reason I really don't like it is that it's too top-heavy, it might look alright when it comes to his upper body at first but you'll start to get bored with the suit as you go down. It's that color balance; you need to add more either to the belt or boots, through color or design, to keep us viewers interested to continue to look around. (Plus: the shield belt buckle is redundant and unnecessary)

    6. I kinda took inspiration from the Smallville season 11 comic costume for this one. I personally found the yellow trim on the belt works really well as it makes the midsection pops out. but like the Reborn costume it wasn't enough to draw your eye down, luckily I decided to put some yellow on the boots making them pop out as well. Now my eyes were going all over the place. This is probably my favorite out of the trunk-less bunch, because it looks like something DC might be able to reasonably pull off sometime in the future, if they decide to permanently retire the trunks.

    7. So obviously, the midsection was kinda a problem when it came to trunk-less Superman costumes. Belts weren't gonna cut it, so I wanted to try a different way to make the costume core work without resorting to a belt, I tried using a different shade of blue on the sides to distribute the focus of the costume. Usually, I'm against the idea of having more than 3 colors when designing a superhero costume unless it's minor or for a good reason. Surprisingly, in this scenario it works pretty well.

    8. The biggest issue of taking the trunks away was that there was too much blue. So why not make the belt huge? That's basically the mindset I had when making this costume. I even added a stylized redundant shield on the belt to add appeal. It honestly has a WWE champions title belt feel to it.

    So yeah. This happened, I really want to know if anyone thinks it's possible to find a compromise to this debate. Is there a costume you like the most? Dislike? Which one would you tweak to make it better? Where do you guys fall in the debate? Are the trunks still relevant, and can they be modernized? Or are they too stuck in the past and it's time to let it go?

  2. #2
    Mighty Member
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    Impressive!

    My favorite is 8.

    I like the boots of 6 but not the belt. I think the darker blue shade of 7 looks real appealing too.

    I don't know if this question has been addressed: Why did Superman and Batman have trunks in the first place? Their creators based the costume designs on circus performers of the late 1930s. Those were the people who did athletic feats in costumes. It was an era that most of us could not imagine: no television; only movies and radio. All books were made of paper.

    Of the trunks, I think 1 and 4 look good. I also think that it was too late for the trunks a few decades ago.
    Last edited by scary harpy; 01-21-2018 at 10:28 AM.

  3. #3
    Amazing Member Deku's Avatar
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    honestly, out of all those concept drawings, I think the one with the normal Trunks looks the best. As for the question, I don't think it is too late to bring the trunks back.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member DragonPiece's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deku View Post
    honestly, out of all those concept drawings, I think the one with the normal Trunks looks the best. As for the question, I don't think it is too late to bring the trunks back.
    Same, all of the alternatives in op's pic look bad and not even worth being a option.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member Phoenixx9's Avatar
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    Very nice creative work!! I enjoyed looking at them all.

    Hated #3!

    Liked the rest. But really liked 2 and 6.

  6. #6
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    while the Trunkless look can work, the look with the Trunks has an inherent advantage

  7. #7
    Mighty Member Thor2014's Avatar
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    Without the trunks there is just too much blue, unless you give him a hulk hogan-style yellow belt or something.

  8. #8
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    As I said in the other thread, the trunks themselves are mostly a non-issue. It's the way the costume as a whole is drawn that makes it work or not.

    I've been saying for years, but the trick to making a classic costume look contemporary is in the texture work and details. You throw a glow effect in there, a little depth in the texture of the material, maybe a small tweak in the lines (maybe, but that's situational), and it'll look fine whether the trunks are there or not. Barry, Hal, and Diana have been wearing their classic costumes for ages and make it work because of those small adjustments. Diana in her leather and bronze armor, Hal with his glow effects, Barry with that metallic sheen.....no one looks at those costumes and says they're dated, even though they're really the same thing those characters have worn since the 60's.

    The Reborn costume worked for that reason; the boot cuffs and belt had a metallic sheen that made them pop and gave them depth. Some artists drew the shield with the same metallic look, which from a design standpoint should've been standard anyway, and that tied the costume together even more. The belt, when drawn correctly, was on the thicker side and broke up the blue, achieving the same effect the trunks do.

    The same mentality could make the trunks work. Devil's in the details, yknow? In the Jim Lee art that brought this announcement, he's doing it wrong. He's drawing the costume like plain cotton, and it's not going to look half as impressive when Clark is standing next to his peers. Its going to look old fashioned. That's a marketing problem, as the visual of a costume is a huge factor in getting non-fans to pick that first issue up off the shelf. But that's a problem with how he's rendered the costume, not a problem with the costume itself.

    But to answer your question.....yes, I do think its too late for the trunks, as a business matter. At least when the costume is drawn as if it's still 1980, without those small changes (which are stupid easy and quick to add with even the cheapest art programs). For whatever reason, trunks have a stigma attached to them that capes and skintight costumes dont. People who do not already have an established fondness for the visual tend to dislike it (who do you think starts all the jokes about them?) So I dont think the return of the trunks will satisfy anyone who wasn't already missing them....and that's unlikely to bring in new fans. And that's a terrible business move.

    Of your designs, 8 is my favorite but I'd drop the red lining around the wrists, as well as the secondary, thin yellow line on the belt. The boots already shadow the angle on the belt, which is great, but that thin yellow is out of place and not repeated elsewhere on the costume, and the red wrist cuffs make his hands get lost against the backdrop of the cape.
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  9. #9
    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    The look itself will always work in a drawn medium. The only thing I think was proven in the last 7 years was that a non-trunks look works just as well. But like Ascended said, that doesn't mean you have to draw the whole thing like it was the 80s. If they want to be that retro with it...hell if that's any indicator of wanting to go retro in a larger capacity in fact, Superman's screwed.
    Last edited by Sacred Knight; 01-21-2018 at 07:32 PM.
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  10. #10
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    The only trunkless costume I ever liked was the Smallville comic. And maybe Eradicator in ROS. It's not an issue of "can it work", it's pretty easy to come up with an in-story explanation to bring them back, it's a legal issue. As long as the Seigels continue to fight for the rights, DC, and more specifically Warners, won't bring them back. The more we can keep the classic look, the better.
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  11. #11
    Death becomes you Osiris-Rex's Avatar
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    Trunkless 8 looks best of the revised ones because there is still a lot of red. 3 just looks silly and I don't really care for the thigh cut ones either. Honestly the original one looks best of all.

  12. #12
    Fantastic Member jimmy's Avatar
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    Number One with a bullet, by far - everything is laid out perfectly - no need to go any further.

    Keeping with the fact Superman wears One Pair of form-fitting Pants, that are Two-Toned in Colorfixed with a Yellow Belt;
    Top Brief Area is Red, while the Bottom Legs are Blue


    JAK - had a great illustrations that showed just how good the "Belted Trunks" would be showcased and close it would looked the "Iconic Costume" restoring much of great image! - Cavill's "Movie Suit" can be easily modified to accommodate the "RED" brief area along with a functional "Gold Belt" and you'd be good to go.

    Can the Trunks work or is it too late?
    Back With Vengeance - The Belted Trunks (aka the Two-Toned Pants) look should have never left in the first place, as there was nothing wrong with the "Classic Look" to begin with!

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