Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sabbatical, Day Ten (A Thing or Two About Solidity)

Prepare for some rambling conjecture. You've been warned.

I think most mainstream comic-book artists fall into one of two categories: graphic or naturalistic (what some might call "realistic"). There's a lot of fuzziness there, because so many comic-book artists - primarily pencilers and inkers - work together with their own varying styles, meaning there's all kinds of weird amalgamation that takes place. Regardless, the most graphic artist should possess a command of natural body dynamics and anatomy, and the most naturalistic artist should recognize the graphic nature, freedoms and limitations of what he or she does.

I mention this because throughout the day, I happened to browse some of the work of a couple of artists who made me reconsider elements of my own style. Dave Sim and Jerry Ordway.

I used to love Ordway's run on the SUPERMAN titles, first as artist, and later as writer/artist. My understanding is that he started his art career in illustration and graphic design and segued into comics. It shows. He has always had a solid understanding of anatomy and individual character that I felt worked extremely well in the SUPER-books back in the day. After that, he did work on the SHAZAM! characters that similarly gave the characters a grandeur they were previously missing.

His figurework is rock-solid. When he draws characters, they are tangible, believable people. Not necessarily photo-realistic like say Alex Ross' painted work (although Ordway was tapped for one of the KINGDOM COME follow-up comics, utilizing characters and designs created by Ross), but far more real than many comics artists. Ordway drew the adaptation of the first Tim Burton-directed BATMAN movie, and he was the perfect choice. He understands likenesses, and his characters are instantly distinguishable from one another.

And not to brag too much or nuthin'...but I looked at his work, and saw where his style had influenced mine. I owe a degree of my figures' solidity to Ordway.

Sim on the other hand is someone who I've always been aware of out there, but never really followed. I chanced to glance through the first volume of his celebrated run on CEREBUS today, and what I was most struck by was how primal his artwork was in its infancy. He admitted in the foreward of his at that point ten-year old stories, he had a lot to learn then, which showed. Still, I can appreciate someone who was burning to tell a story, even if he didn't quite know what the story was.

The thumbnail artwork for page 12!
Sim grew more confident with every element of his craft with each turning page, slower at first, but you can see him figuring things out. The only way a creator can learn what they're capable of in this field is to simply get ink beneath their fingernails and crank out pages, and that's what he did.

And that's what I'm trying to do.

I got today's page done. I love drawing The Pro. How can you not love drawing a character that allows you to kick the snot out of bad guys twice your size without blinking? His innate quirkiness (and by extension, the quirkiness of the entire cast) cracks me up, because I know what's coming. And I gotta tell you, when The Pro punches the bad guy on page twelve and sends him flying, he does it with such glee it becomes readily apparent...he ain't Superman. Superman doesn't gloat.

Yup. The Pro's right cross is damn solid. Good thing I learned a thing or two from Ordway about solidity.

More to come...!

Today's Music: Stevie Wonder

No comments:

Post a Comment