‘The Strange History of Blank-Eyed Superhero Masks, Explained’ written by Brian Cronin for CBR.com, explores the history of why some comic book heroes contain ‘blank-eyes’.
Brian is asked by one of his readers:
“Why are superhero masks drawn with white eye slots? And Who/where was this first done? I’m guessing Lee Falk’s The Phantom strip. But WHY did he draw it that way? It looks cool, sure, but is that the only reason?”
Reading through the article, Brian quotes Lee Falk as to why he created the Phantom with a mask containing blank-eyes:
I built a world for the Phantom and characters. The Phantom has a place in this jungle and he has several houses in America, Europe, one at Golden Beach, and so forth.
The Phantom comes out of the world of classical heroes, which was my world as a boy. All the great heroes of the Greek and Roman myths. And my answer to The Phantom’s world-wide popularity is that The Phantom touches on the mythology of all cultures. That was not accidental. I tried to make him that way.
In fact, I didn’t give him eyes. That is, you can’t see his eyes. When I first created him I was thinking of the Roman and Greek busts of heroes, whose eyes were blank. If you put eyes in the Phantom it changes the whole appearance. The lack of eyes gives him a god-like image.Lee Falk
Brian goes on in his article that Greek busts did in fact initially have eye’s, which were painted on by the artesian who created the bust and sites artblot with the following information:
“Although whiffs of debate floated about during the twentieth century, it is now scientifically certain: the Greeks actually painted the pupils on their sculptures’ eye. Not only that, they painting the entire sculpture”.
Brian concludes the article noting:
“Now, it is important to note that Falk was not necessarily mistaken. What I mean to say that it is very possible (likely, even?) that Falk knew that the statues were not originally without eyes, but the important thing is that the statues appear to us in pop culture as eyeless, so if Falk wanted to play on the power of those designs, then it still makes sense for Falk to go eyeless, even if he knew that the originals had eyes on them”.
Lee Falk certainly pioneered the blank-eye look when he created the Phantom. This look has been carried through and used on popular comic book characters we know and love today, including Batman, Spider-Man, Deadpool and etcetera.