Ever since 1997 and the twin threat of Sephiroth and Alucard, dudes with long white hair and beautifully chiseled features have become something of a video game cliche. Where did this trend start? Who decided pretty boys with long white hair were a handy shorthand for “totally dangerous warrior”?
The earliest example I can recall was John Doe from The Nth Man. He was the ultimate ninja! Ultimate as in final, not as in Real Ultimate Power. That comic dates from about 1989. Surely someone predates John, yeah?
Curiously, Nth Man was written by Larry Hama, a guy of Japanese descent (though not actually Japanese). Does this meme stem from some shared cultural memory or something? The more I think about this, the more mysterious it becomes.
15 thoughts on “Let’s solve a mystery”
Does Magneto play a part in this mystery? He seems to share Sephiroth’s desire for planet-controlling dominance.
Good call! I didn’t even think of him, but yeah, he’s kind of the O.G.
I thought Magneto didn’t get the flowing white hair until the 90s when Jim Lee took over? I know it was short during the 80s at least (http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c74/TheSL/80sMagneto.gif). Lee is Korean, though.
Apropos of nothing, here is a picture of Jim Lee riding a camel.
It’s rather likely Square borrowed stuff from Kentaro Miura’s Berserk(1989-), what with the pretty boy nemesis Griffith and the protag Guts carrying an enormous sword.
Fist of the North Star started in 1983 and featured Toki and Raoh. (Raoh was platinum blond in the original manga, so he totally counts) I can’t think of anything from the 70s, but I only really know robot shows going back that far and every single 70s robot hero had spiky black hair thanks to Kouji and Mazinger.
David Eddings’ “Elenium” novels (the first of which was published in 1989) feature a villain who has long hair that’s been white since youth, and is the only one considered to be equal to the hero (a former friend and fellow-in-arms) in his swordsmanship.
There’s also Kain from the Legacy of Kain and Roger “Race” Bannon from Johnny Quest. Any Japanese folks involved with them?
I should add that my own uncle went gray early, and he’s a bit of a superhero in his own right, what with his Air Force officer career, soccer coaching and globetrotting.
The earliest I’ve found is Michael Moorcock’s Elric, who is albino, if that counts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elric_of_Melnibone
Ooh, good one.
I’ll second this, with a side helping of Gygax’s Drow. By the time the 90s rolled around white haired bad ass elves were the ultimate in Dungeons & Dragons bad asses.
So, Geralt of Rivia, the titular Witcher, seems to fall along the same lines. Of course, he was invented in 1986 by polish man Andrzej Sapkowski.
Edgar and Johnny Winter
Uh, hello, it clearly all comes back to Santa Claus.
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