Thursday, August 4, 2011

Musings from the Navel Observatory

The manager of my friendly local comic-book shop asked me a pretty good question yesterday about the cover of a comic book that showed just about every anatomical detail *except* for the title character's belly button. It set off an exchange on navel arcana that I thought might be of interest to folks who have a belly-button of their own.

In an attempt to boost my hit count with the Google image crowd while pumping up my PG-13 street cred, I present the salacious-yet-belly-button-bereft cover in question for Warlord of Mars: Deja Thoris, issue #5:

Gretchen: Why does Dejah Thoris not have a belly button? I was looking at the cover for today's issue and no belly button. But then on the inside art she does. Then looking at a lot of older covers she has no navel. Is she not supposed to have one since she's an alien?


John Magee: That's a really good question. She's not human, that's for sure. (I've seen human anatomy, and what's on those covers ain't quite human.)

I've been meaning to go back and re-read my old Edgar Allen Burroughs John Carter books -- it's been a couple of decades -- and I'll try to see if there's anything in there on Martian birthing or umbilical cords.

In semi-related belly-button viewing information, I know that the costume designers on the original Star Trek had a lot of issues because they were prohibited from showing belly buttons during a prime-time broadcast in the late 60s. (Oh, the navel-gazing issues they had in the sixties....)


Gretchen: Whoa! my husband and I are watching the whole original star trek run; we just finished the first episode of season 2. Now i'm going to have to look for that. Strangely though, there was one episode with this girl wearing overalls and nothing more, and there were definite side-boob shots. Weird that they'd allow that but not navels...


John Magee:I came across another good nugget in the same interview with that costume designer for TOS. He said that what they tried to do for those sorts of outfits was to create the appearance that something could slip and expose more. That *that* was much sexier than just exposing the skin in the first place. It's something I've always noticed in costuming since then, and it's quite true.

Also on the navel observatory front, the possible exposure of America to Barbara Eden's belly button was rumored to be a constant challenge for "I Dream of Jeannie." And supposedly Mort Walker used to always include Miss Buxley's belly button in panels of "Beetle Bailey" specifically because his comic syndicate forbid him to draw her belly button, so it always forced his editor to remove them from the panels with an exacto knife. He allegedly had an entire jarful of Buxley belly buttons by the time he retired.

I have no idea how I've picked up this much belly-button trivia over the years. Just imagine if I had spent that time putting useful knowledge into my head!

1 comment:

  1. And thanks to Project Gutenberg, it's a snap to add to my navel knowledge. In this case, there's a clear answer to whether Dejah Thoris should have a belly button.

    "A Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs ( in which John Carter tells of his love for Dejah Thoris:

    "So this was love! I had escaped it for all the years I had roamed the five continents and their encircling seas; in spite of beautiful women and urging opportunity; in spite of a half-desire for love and a constant search for my ideal, it had remained for me to fall furiously and hopelessly in love with a creature from another world, of a species similar possibly, yet not identical with mine. A woman who was hatched from an egg, and whose span of life might cover a thousand years; whose people had strange customs and ideas; a woman whose hopes, whose pleasures, whose standards of virtue and of right and wrong might vary as greatly from mine as did those of the green Martians."

    Martians -- including Dejah Thoris -- are hatched from eggs. Therefore, no umbilical cord, and no belly button!