Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Do You See What I See?

Due to popular demand (Fraser once said he’d like to see it), my article on the all too common difference between what we see as viewers and readers, and what gets described on the page.
Some things can’t be drawn; ‘most beautiful woman in the world’ ‘it would drive you mad if you saw it’.

I’ve seen this, and I’m not mad. I’m not, I tell you!

Sometimes movies can’t afford the effects – or the technology doesn’t exist – to realise what’s described in the script.

This is not about that.

This is about all those times that what you see is so completely different to what the characters are (apparently) seeing – and the people creating the visuals could easily have either made it differently or changed the script, that you have to look at it and go ‘hmm.’

I’ve come up with many more examples than this, but who needs that long an article? (Plus, I’ve forgotten most of them.)

In Spectacular Spider-Man #28, Hector Ayala gets covered in red dust.

What’s black and white and red all over?

“I’ll put it all on black, please.” Heh heh… I’ll win either way!

Here it is in the next issue, just to show they can do it:

Speaking of Spidey, I’ve posted this recently, but here’s a ‘silent’ figure from Amazing Spider-Man #100:

Silence is golden. Also, loud.

This is a weird one. It’s never said in the movie itself, but in The Making of’ Jurassic Park (which, oddly, is seen in the movie) and on the special features on the DVD, they boast about how they’ve got away from all the old ideas of grey dinosaurs. (Sorry, I can’t find specifically where without taking a lot more time than this is worth.) They’re so pleased with all their colourful dinosaurs.

Grey. All the animals in the Park are grey.


Or brownish grey. The dilophosaur has a colourful frill, but is otherwise grey.

If you need a more tangible example from the same series, here’s a gem from The Lost World; this girl is saying ‘what are you, birds?’ to these lizards.

Who’d look at these animals and call them ‘birds!’?

It’s just like how that kid from A Nightmare On Elm Street 5 and The Addams Family calls a raptor skeleton a turkey in the first movie. I don’t buy it.

Here (in Tomb Of Dracula #16), they say the man rips the necklace off her; it’s described that way several times in later issues as well. What we see is her pulling her necklace off calmly.

This is a trashed dashboard in Uncanny X-Men #193:

Here’s a clearer view later:


Everybody who gets attacked by this:

Nice doggy. Put down that arm.

says they got mauled by a dog. Would you look at this biped and call it a dog? (This is from Buffy, by the way.)

From The Flash #105 (first appearance of the Mirror Master):

One of my ‘favourites’ is from Young Avengers. It was a good series, and the artist was mostly good, but he, uh, wasn’t great at drawing different characters. Which leads to this:

It’s an actual plot point that two – and only two – of these characters look alike.

There’s a bit in Justice League #19, where the team gets buried in a ‘globe’ that’s shaped like a rectangular prism.

It also gets called a globe at one point.

Even prose works aren’t immune to this.

In Shardik, Richard Adams spends a lot of time describing an antagonist’s scar. The way it’s described, it can only be a burn mark. When you finally see how he got it, he and a bear a fighting next to a campfire and… the bear scratches him. It isn’t a burn, it’s a scratch.

What about you? Do you see things differently to how characters see them?


  1. I wonder how they screwed that up on Jurassic Park? It would have been nice to see something like the T. rex with an iridescent throat, as in Clifford Simak’s “Mastodonia.”
    Thanks for this one. While I’m used to comics writers and artists ending up at cross-purposes, these seem like they should have been caught and fixed easily.

    1. Le Messor

      I suspect the movie makers had all these designs in mind, and even made their models that way, but then the demands of film-making and lighting and all that overwrote everything they did. If you look really close, you can see that they were supposed to be more colourful.

      And, not a problem. 😀

  2. Alaric

    It’s a minor point, but I read that Tomb of Dracula caption as indicating that after she removes the locket he rips it out of her hand.

    A particularly interesting example to me is the 1941 movie The Wolf-Man (with Lon Chaney Jr). Throughout the film, everyone who sees the transformed Larry Talbot describes him as a wolf- not a wolf-like humanoid, not a hairy man-like creature, not even a wolf wearing clothes, just a wolf. I can’t help wondering whether the script was originally written for a more (at the time) traditional werewolf story, with Talbot transforming fully into a wolf. Maybe someone realized that he’d be a more memorable (and marketable) monster if he was a human actor in makeup.

    1. Good guess. The original concept was to keep it ambiguous: was Chaney truly transformed or was all in his mind? A couple of weeks before shooting they did a major rewrite to confirm that yes, it’s real. I don’t know if that explains the discrepancy (I noticed it too when I rewatched it last) but it seems likely.

    2. Le Messor

      I read that Tomb of Dracula caption as indicating that after she removes the locket he rips it out of her hand.
      That does make sense of it all.

      It’s been a while since I watched it, but Wolf Man sounds the same as the Buffy example. That must be where the show got its ideas.

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