Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Run

Working like a crazy man these days. Lots on the plate. Mainly focusing on getting Me2 done and out to MTV. The story turned out to be more difficult to draw than expected. Another situation where the writer side of me is writing checks that the artist side of me is having trouble cashing. I wouldn't say that the drawings themselves were difficult to do but it was more about choosing the right shot to get the story across. For me the storytelling is what makes comic books so labor intensive. I find creating the layouts are a lot of fun but executing them with the level of nuance needed to sell a particular aspect of the story or character is what takes the longest for me. Than again that's where the magic happens.

Like most artists I'm distracted by pretty things. I'll be trolling around DA at 3am and find some artwork that will inspire me and I'll think "maybe I should draw 25 different Steampunk pieces. Yeah that's a good idea." I have to fight the urge to just spend my days chasing the single image and ignoring any sequential art. Of course there is an aspect of storytelling in single images Drew Struzan and Leyendecker, Rockwell mastered it. I recognize those masters but I can't help but think how difficult it is to sustain that level of energy over the course of a page, let alone an entire comic. It's a challenge no doubt. There is a puzzle element to it that I think peaks the interest of the problem solver creator. Maybe this is why although there are many great artists there are not that many artists that can tell a great story with beautiful art.

Many comic artist eventually fall into a "drawing system". Which means they distill their style down into certain styles of lines and lighting. In some cases they begin to use the same angles and poses over and over again. This worked perfectly in the era of the monthly artist. Artists like John Byrne mastered it and for a time he was able to keep his work fresh while simplifying it over the years. The only problem is that more often than not the system overwhelms the artists core drawing abilities and the art suffers. Not to mention the landscape is different for the modern comic artist. Artist's less and less do long runs on comics and they don't often have a stable creative team surrounding them. There are still artists that have a style system but we see more and more the cartooning aspect flowing out of mainstream American comic art and new focus has been given to a illustrative approach to the art. Alex Ross and Bryan Hitch personify this in modern times. It's ironic that so many artists chase a style system and when they find it, it is usually the thing that pigeon holes them or undoes them towards the end of their career.

As the stories in modern comics have become more cerebral so has the art. It seems every artist wants to prove they know the finer points of the medium vs capturing a moment or portraying the energy of a scene. The combination of a dry story with what I would call naval gazing art has made for less accessible comics. Comic books work best when they are visceral and flawed. When the art shows off it's hand made human qualities is when it shines and more importantly connects with the viewer/reader. That emotional connection we share through the art and the story is something unique to this art form and it is what sets it apart from stills of CGI art floating across a screen. Embracing that quality is something I would like to see more of. Bring back the life. Bring back the energy. Don't be ashamed to use every tool available.

Which brings me back to my battle between focusing on sequential art or single images. It's not like I can't make time to do both but what is more important to me? What do I see myself as? I see myself as a comic book creator. A storyteller through sequential art. That's why I have dedicated this year to only drawing comic book pages.

I'm committed. I'm excited.

I'm ready to make my run.


Karl

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