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Comic Dictionary – The Ron Frenz Rule of Costume Design

I thought I had this up here, but apparently, I only had it posted on Snark Free Waters, so I figured I might as well post it here, too.

The Ron Frenz Rule of Costume Design is a simple one. Don’t design a comic book costume too ornately. With every costume you design, always do so so that, if Ron Frenz were ever to draw it, it would look cool.

This is NOT meant to be a knock on Ron Frenz at ALL. His style is just geared towards simple designs, not ornate ones.

Therefore, if he can make your costume look basically the way you designed it, then you passed the test.

Examples of costumes that FAIL the Ron Frenz rule of costume design include the alien War Machine armor, a lot of Iron Man armors over the years, Metamorpho during Gerry Jones’ JLA run (that’s a slight exception, as it did not look good in JLA EITHER), Jericho’s costume, Namorita’s current look, etc.

Feel free to mention any costumes that you think break the rule!


sister superior of the JLA Elite, the lining on the inside of her jacket.

Does that count though? it was a mini series i guess.

And almost every one of those chinese government superheroes that are coming up in 52

You mention Jericho, but I think you should specifically state that the Ron Frenz rule of design runs counter to the George Perez rule of design. Most people taking on Perez’s characters in the 80s and 90s either sigh a whole lot or find a reason to change the costumes (or maybe kill off the characters). Again, as you say, this isn’t a knock on Perez; he clearly has the time/patience/ability/whatever to make ornate costumes look awesome.

I think the rule should be design a costume, that, if ever done in real life the wearer won’t look like a complete TOOL.

Frank Quitely’s NEW X-MEN designs followed that rule. So did some of the NEXTWAVE characters.

WOLVERINE? Sadly, no. Sorry, John Cassaday.

Jack of Hearts’ costume leaped to mind immediately!

And I agree with Craig’s observation “the Ron Frenz rule of design runs counter to the George Perez rule of design.” Come to think of it, Jack of Hearts looks like something that Perez would have designed. No idea if he actually did.

By the way, I also like Frenz’ art a lot. On occasion he rifts Kirby too closly, but other than that he’s a solid, dependable, talented artist. He’s doing fabulous work on Spider-Girl nowadays.


July 17, 2006 at 11:00 am

Jack of Hearts original costume ROCKED SO MUCH $#!T is wasn’t funny.

DAMN that was a GREAT costume!

SURE it took FOREVER to DRAW, but damn, it was WORTH IT!

I understand the RON FRENZ rule is geared for simplistic artists (Ron Frenz doesn’t REALLY fit into that does he?), but if you have a really good artist, ANYTHING looks GREAT!
Take a look at ROM # 12.
Michael Golden totally gets it!

But then again, he IS Michael Freakin’ Golden!

ANYWAY, a costume to ADD to this list is definitely:

The “golden ornate symbol on white shirt” for DOCTOR STRANGE, designed by Marc Buckingham towards the end of the Sorcerer Supreme run.

I mean, as costumes GO…I LIKED it, but HE was the only one who seemed to have that photocopied bit of design.

Almost everyone else just made squiggles.


Anything designed by Rob Liefeld has a place on the list of costumes that break the Ron Frenz rule.

What are some examples of well-done, simple costume designs? Ones I can think of:

The Creeper
Spiderman (original and black)
The Question
Havok (original one)

The Neal Adams’ designed Robin costume
The Fantastic Four costumes
Colossus’ original outfit
Nightcrawler’s original outfit
Hal Jordan’s GL uniform

Jack Kirby created some character and costume designs that he changed to make them simpler, consciously or not. Look at the early depiction of Triton of the Inhumans immediately after he came out of the all-concealing costume he briefly wore. Those green tufty things on his head were larger and more elaborate than they later became. Orion’s costume was more complicated – look at the designs for New Gods characters originally submitted to DC.

As someone who owns a couple of Frenz commissions, I have to say I think he can make anything look great. He’s a woefully under-rated artist. Sal Buscema thinks he’s one of the best comicbook artists in the world and someone like that has to be taken seriously when he makes a statement like that.

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