Hah! Made you look. No, I’m not getting married yet. I hear the first step to doing that is getting a girlfriend, but I haven’t had one in years. Comics and art (the mean mistress!!!) have been eating up a lot of my time lately, so the social life has gone out the window. This entry’s title isn’t totally inaccurate though, coz I’ve been spending a lot of time technically marrying my two stylistic influences into something I can call my own. Or trying, at least.
Realistic vs Abstract/Cartoony. Which is better? Which sells? Which makes for better storytelling? It’s taken me this long to realize that the answer is neither. Realistic adds a lot of believabilty to a scene, that’s a given, but the abstract style can pull off fantastic exaggerations in mood. Mignola plays a delicate balance between the two and it works exquistely in Hellboy. Realistic allows for your characters to be more relatable in whatever outlandish situation you put them in, but being able to rubberize their expressions and gestures makes for an incredibly broad spectrum of emotion and dynamism. Stuart Immonen plays with this and kicks serious ass every time a new issue of Ultimate Spidey hits the stands. Then I read it, cry in my bath tub, then slash my penis with a razorblade.
These are just two of the points as to why a stylistic marriage would come out awesome, and I’m pretty sure there are countless others.
Having said that, I’ve been trying my best two fuse the two sentimentalities into something I can call my own. I’ve talked about this in a previous entry, Shapes, and I doubt I’ll stop talking about it anytime soon. Been re-reading a lot of old MAD magazines to study Mort Drucker’s great caricature work. Good stuff.
Anyway… here are last week’s dailies:
MONDAY: Kicked off Marvel week with my favorite X-Man, Nightcrawler. He’s always been visually interesting and there’s never a shortage of cool poses to use on him. Spooky and athletic, in my head he’s like Batman and Spidey combined.
WEDNESDAY: Well I had to do something to counter Power Girl from last week, right? And Spider Woman is hands down the hottest superlady in Marvel right now. Never mind that she’s a Skrull Queen bent on enslaving us, still teh hawt. I might’ve oversized her boobies though — complaints?
FRIDAY: Fridays are always hectic for me coz that’s when I tend to fill my page quotas for the week, plus I do the podcast with my buddies. So from now on, I’ll devote Fridays to pose studies and the like. I’m sure you all can tell from looking at the logan sketch that my anatomy in the arm area could use a bit of work. but yeah, doing things like this every once in a while will definitely help make my poses more dynamic and shit.
Lastly, any Zuda lovers in the house? Even if you’re not, it’ll be good for you to head on over to their site and vote for my buddy Justin Jordan’s comic, Rumors of War.
He died on the battlefield, giving his life for God and Country. Johnny died a hero, but he didn’t stay dead. He’s been taken from his dying place to another world, another place, where a war has raged since the beginning of time. Resurrected for a fight that he can barely understand, much less hope to survive. Here, even death is no end to a soldier’s fight, the dead and dying returned to fight again and again. The Enemy is monstrous and the Ally is worse.
Remember that X-Files episode “Shapes”? If it was a FRIENDS episode, it’d be called “The One with the American-Indian Werewolf.” No, really.
So I have a couple of pages of my Thor set done. Asgard was a bitch, but I think I pulled it off… after a fashion. Posting those when page three is in the can. Here’s the thing though: I get about half way through the loose pencils of page three when I start feeling like my art style is becoming contrived. Choked even. I prop it up on my desk, take a step back, and I swear I feel like killing something. Then I flash back to what a friend said about the faces of the characters in my Next Wave set. Apparently I have this bad habit of, maybe not changing characters’ faces, but changing the styles with which those faces are drawn from different angles. D’ya get me? And she was right!
I start to remember that in the nineties, as I was just starting to get serious about my sequential art, I needed to really have a solid foundation in drawing the face from different angles. But instead! Me being the total hack that I am, I looked at so many of my favorite artists for reference that I subconsciously incorporated too much of their face styles into mine. Madureira’s distinctive side views. Hughes’s front shots. You get the picture. Along the way, not only did I become some sort of clone — WORSE! I became a mishmash of different styles that were in constant flux and conflict with each other. I became some stylistic ersatz Frankenstein.
I can draw, sure. But it’s not me drawing.
So I tear my third page into bite-size bits (It takes a while, it’s 11×17 after all) and spend three days finding it—finding the convergence of everything i have ever absorbed from every artist I have ever admired. Fine, it probably didn’t all happen in the past three days… they might have simply been the culmination of this, for lack of a better way of putting it, artistic digestion. And it’s still happening to me.
I craft a sort of mission statement for my style, realizing that since my influences are mainly of the cartoony sort (Madureira, Campbell, Pearson, Drucker, Frezzato, Ramos, Immonen, and Adams), it makes no sense to contrive it with the “serious” sensibilities. All this time, I’ve been trying to do a Jim Lee piece with Campbell’s hand, know what I mean? Yes, I know I’m no J. Scott Campbell, but come on. It’s a metaphor.
I remember some concept art videos I saw. Some cool Gnomon shit. And I remember the importance of creating strong, defined, and unique silhouettes. And then I wake up and see that my strengths have always been in shapes. Spheres. Cubes. Cylinders. The whole shaboodle. And I’m focusing these insights into a conscious effort to create a style that is more cartoony than my past work, but not overboard. Coz the way I figure it, the only real way my stuff is gonna look consistent from page to page, panel to panel, is if it’s really my stuff. It’s high time I ditch my crutches and grew some sea legs. So there, as far as figure and face work goes… I’m going with this more rubbery, animated feel. The serious sensibilities will be maintained only in the other details. Shadowplay (Mignola), camera placement (Hitch), figure dynamics (Frazetta), that kinda stuff.
That said, here’s some of the stuff I just did. And I love ’em.
Thor (current style)
Thor (Shitty older version)
And lastly.. Logan and Emma
I am happy now.
On with page three.