Follow TV Tropes


Uncanny Valley / Comics

Go To

Return to the main page here.


  • If you have ever wondered why certain characters e.g Batman have Blank White Eyes in their masks, it’s actually meant to invoke this. Dating back to Lee Falk the artist behind the The Phantom who claimed he was inspired to give The Phantom white eyes thanks looking at Greek statues. Falk said there was a “inhuman” effect which suited a masked vigilante.
    • Ironically this trend has stuck so well, that it’s actually more uncanny to see the likes of Batman having normal eyes.
  • The original Little Orphan Annie comics feature horrific, pure white eyes utterly empty of soul or emotion, on every character, for no apparent reason.
    • The current Gasoline Alley does this in the opposite direction - every character has pure black eyes, and it's utterly unnerving.
  • Spider-Man also hits this trope, which is why he's a case of Creepy Good; the costume is just startling, even compared to other super-heroes' costumes, since it basically gives him a round, blank face that's featureless save for two huge, white, ever-staring eyes (even creepier when Doctor Octopus put the glasses lens on the mask). The garish red and blue costume is creepy enough, even despite the bright colors (or perhaps because of them, since brightly colored, in nature, typically means "Danger! Poison!"), but when he wears some of his darker costumes, like the black-and-white one that eventually became The Symbiote, it's only heightened. To this unsettling appearance is added his inhuman flexibility; if you look closer, you'll see a lot of the poses that Spidey so casually strikes are extremely awkward, if not impossible, for an ordinary human to achieve, which further makes him look like a monster.
    • Add to this the Paranoia Fuel his Wall Crawling abilities give him (meaning, he can come at you from anywhere, at any angle), and it's surprising just how spooky that is. It's also worth noting Spidey initially had a traditional hero design by Jack Kirby which Stan Lee rejected and choose Steve Ditko's (bizarre at the time) design for a more "dangerous" looking character.
    • Advertisement:
    • Still this trope has backfired a lot with Spider-Man as his design is near universally loved being the most marketable superhero. It's extremely common to see children dress up as Spidey in and out of universe, so it’s more likely because Spidey is distrusted by the public (since he doesn't look like the archetypal superhero) that he causes the Uncanny Valley effect on people. However out of universe, he's the flagship character of Marvel universe so he generally avoids this trope.
    • The Symbiote characters, unlike Spider-Man, completely fall into this trope especially Venom and Carnage with the former's Overly Long Tongue and the latter having more More Teeth than the Osmond Family.
  • In the early issues of her book, this was Jessica Drew the original Spider-Woman's curse, such that the comic's early tagline was "To know her is to fear her!" and later, "Marvel's Most Misunderstood Heroine!" Biologically part spider and raised among the High Evolutionary's beast men, there was something subtly but indisputably "off" about her body language and demeanor that made most people instinctively afraid of her, making it almost impossible for her to find a home or earn an honest living, let alone have any friends. She eventually learns that she's been emitting a pheromone that creeps everyone out — though some men find it very attractive. She learns to control it by medical means and is then able to live a much more normal life.
  • Scott McCloud's Making Comics had a few pages of faces showing various basic facial expressions as a guide to how that kind of thing works. And as McCloud himself admitted, they were creepy as hell.
    • His drawn face with big blank glasses could sometimes look fairly soulless.
  • The "photorealistic" painted style of Kingdom Come and Marvels falls into this sometimes, more so with the latter.
    Captain Marvel mills about, his eerie smile carving a swath through Batman's ranks. No one breathes in his presence "what is thinking?" they wonder "what will he do next?". To them he is shark trawling for prawn. I have heard called the world's mightiest mortal. No doubt. The intimidation his mere presence exudes is uncanny.
    • Sometimes Ross paints over someone else's pencils. If the penciler's style is too different from Ross', the resulting combination of their styles can look weird. Example: Ross painting over Jim Lee's art. It goes to an extreme when Ross painted over a Bruce Timm protrayal of the cartoon versions of Justice League, here: It's an hyper-realistic style over a very un-realistic, cartoonish style.
  • In-Universe the X-Men and Mutants in general have this effect on people which is another reason why they're ostracize by the public. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby while creating the X-Men wanted to invoke racism while keeping to the comics code of ethics.
  • Advertisement:
  • If Alex Ross's artstyle makes you uncomfortable, don't look at any of Lee Bermejo's art, as it’s also photo-realistic but somehow even more creepy. Bermejo is so entrenched in the uncanny that he can even make someone like Superman look like something out of a Slasher Movie, though this works wonders when drawing already creepy characters like The Joker or Green Goblin.
  • Silent Hill: Sinner's Reward is guilty of this, too.
  • Alfred E. Newman. Especially seeing his creepy grin pasted onto other popular culture icons.
  • Speaking of creepy grins, look at The Joker. Nearly every single incarnation of the character.
    • The New 52 Joker takes the cake, since he had his own face sliced off and wears it like a mask, often using it to make himself even more unsettling.
      • But hey do you know what's even more disturbing than Joker grinning? The whole Justice League getting infected by the Joker gas and grinning evilly. It's especially uncanny in Batman: Endgame because the League (minus Batman) don't instantly have the smile on their faces but it's clear there's something wrong with them. And when Superman does crack a grin like a madman, Batman knows immediately who's behind it.
  • Fall of Cthulhu introduced a brand new character to Lovecraft's mythos: The Harlot, a keeper of all men's secrets, whose giant green head houses a nose too flat and a pair of juicy red lips a little too big. She's a wonderful example of what a Humanoid Abomination would look if it took up burlesque fashion.
  • Beautie from Astro City fits this trope; she is a living, life-sized Barbie doll, so it makes sense.
    • She's also painfully aware of it, and deeply disturbed when men find her attractive.
  • The caricatures from the 19th-century political satire magazine Puck can come across as this, on account of the photo-realistic style.
  • This happens whenever Gary Larson tries to emulate the style of more serious cartoons (to parody them, usually) that they get creepy.
  • Brian Bolland's art style is (intentionally) just plain creepy a lot of the time, while his character design is cartoony it's also surreal and life-like. Of course he was perfect choice for Alan Moore's The Killing Joke.
  • Steve McNiven has penciled some of Marvel’s most well known comics and is a great artist, but there’s no denying his style tends to make characters (even heroes like Captain America) look like serial killers. This works well in gritty stories like Old Man Logan, but not so much in Avengers comics.
  • Quite a few mainstream comic publishers have been using Poser for some of their comics. It always looks terrible.
  • Some of the earlier Winx Club comics have hideous panels, with an unhealthy side order of Off-Model.
  • Any attempt to make Archie Comics realistic looking falls into this. The artists infamously tried it out circa 2005, but got completely negative reactions.
  • Ultimate Marvel
    • As good as Sara Pichelli's work in Ultimate Spider-Man is, the artwork can sometimes fall into this with the extreme detail of the facial expressions.
    • Ultimate FF: In-universe, Sue find it disturbing to see Reed twisting his body into several arms, and asked him to look "normal" for a moment.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man: In-universe, the thief that killed unce Ben is scared out of his mind when he is attacked by Spider-Man: a man with a full body costume and weird eyes, who can stick to walls! Have in mind that, at this point of the Ultimate Marvel universe, the only superhuman that people knew about was Captain America, back in World War II.
  • The National Lampoon ran an article showcasing the 'real' people who were inspirations for newspaper comics - featuring lovingly rendered, realistic pictures of the subjects who were dead ringers for the likes of Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Popeye, and the Nightmare Fuel that was Henry.
  • Discussed in Basil Wolverton's "Robot Woman!" where, despite being billed as the perfect mate, Fozzmo's creation makes people uneasy with her caricatured features and wide-eyed glare.
  • Rob Liefeld gets ragged on a lot for his stylistic choices, but the problem sometimes goes beyond Off-Model and into this trope. For instance, there's Forearm, a four-armed strongman. His design could have been acceptable if not for the warped placement of limbs and features that makes him positively inhuman and grotesque. His left ear is both lopsided and appears to be coming out of his cheek, while his chin and jaw look more like a goiter. The placement of the lower left arm also suggests that its 'shoulder' sprouts out from below his ribcage and his upper right forearm appears to be the length of his fist due to bad placement. Still, just enough things look vaguely right for everything else to look terribly wrong.
    • Liefeld's especially got flack for his infamous drawing of Captain America which is just completely unnatural and actually hard to look at for how awful it is. Cap's tiny head sitting a massive bloated torso, the fact the insignia is facing towards the reader despite Cap's pecs are pointed ridiculously far forward. Some have argued that the shield is just hiding the curve of Cap's back since otherwise he's abomination, people have even removed Cap's clothes and showed his bone structure to showcase what a freak Liefeld has drawn.
  • In a meta example in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, this would be a big reason why Empurata victims are shunned by society: The amputation of their faces and hands strips them of their Cybertronian identity, while they can still speak, move and transform. For Cybertronians, Empurata victims would be horribly disfigured, while to us, since Cybertronians are already on the far side of the valley, they're still just robots.
  • Ken Penders' unreleased graphic novel series, The Lara-Su Chronicles, that uses uses echidna characters from the Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic series, contains highly humanized and realistic animals that are sure to creep anyone out.
  • As with many Hanna-Barbera–based comics made by DC Comics, the reboots for Snagglepuss and The Flintstones decided to go for a more realistic design instead of the original Hanna-Barbera design. Unfortunately, though, they tried to make the art style look WAY too realistic, with hideously designed characters and expressionless faces on the characters.
    • Because of this, many fans re-created the panels with their own style or even the original Hanna-Barbera style.
  • Similarly, when DC decided to do crossovers of Looney Tunes characters with the main DC universe, this kicked in—particularly with the Lex Luthor/Porky Pig Special #1. Behold and shudder. (Lex's Unmoving Plaid suit isn't helping, either.)
  • The Vision is noted at various times to cause this In-Universe, particularly both him and his family in his 2015 miniseries. They have emotions, but their emotional responses seem "off" compared to most people (sometimes muted to the extreme, sometimes well beyond what would be considered normal), and their bodies feel "off" when touched (one character likens the title character's handshake to a warm sandwich bag).

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: