Sunday, May 31, 2009

More ART Discussion

Hi -
This thread of conversation is making for an interesting run on the blog, so I'm going to copy pieces of a couple of the comments from the previous post and add to them. Here goes.

From my illustrious former student Andrew Sides, this was said:
I don't buy the argument for a lack of backgrounds though, and especially using Manga or any other non-American comic art as influence. As sad as it might be, the level of expectation is probably a lot lower than we expect. Manga art has lack of backgrounds? Some of it might, but a lot of has as much detailed effort put into it as anywhere else.

Andrew's comment about the lower level of expectation is one of the things that has been on my mind the entire time that I've been teaching. I think that the low level of pop culture influence has had a "lowest common denominator" influence on the current generation to where they settle for less and get enjoyment from that lesser material that I just cannot find.

I love certain Manga material, by the way. GON is extremely fun and fun to look at. There are others, but that is my current fave.

I am constantly striving to raise the bar of expectations from students, partly so that the material will become consistently better and then maybe we can all make what we're worth.

I have some comments on Derek Diaz's post from my last one, but I've got to finish grading, so more on that later.

In the meantime, here's another layout page.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More stuff about ART!

I've got some lively commentary going here.
Thanks, Melanie. Nice comments. I'm going to comment in detail about one comment post and I hope he doesn't mind, but I'm going to paste it into the body here. So, here goes:

I think the lack of backgrounds is really attributed to the influence and influx of manga over the last decade, and you coming up and making your career in the hayday of the "american/image" style comics puts you on kind of the other end of the spectrum. You said something to Cornell today about how he wanted to do something so bad he didn't see it was hurting him. I know your playing one side hard because of the review so I'm just playing devil's advocate as you do for me, but as I mentioned - "dated" does not imply bad, just not-modern. All your mentors/idols would probably like your work because they holds similar values to you when it comes to sequential art, but if those same artists that influenced you (that I know of) made comics today they would be considered dated too. I saw a addendum mini-issue that james has in the new printing of BWS weapon-x and its digiatly colored. His style doesnt work with the times, its great in it's element but seeing it now a days is a little "fish out of water" for me. Still like your art Tom, and get where your coming from, these are just my thoughts. Even major players around the same early-90's point like McFarlane, Joe Mad! and Miller were influenced by Manga/Anime so more than a decade later and with Manga giving American Comics a run for their money, and market - even a different demographic entirely - and the fact that your marketing to at least one entire generation after your 90's work - this is the "Manga generation." Any negative connotation with "dated-look" probably comes from all the hacks who got jobs using all those "American" pseudo-Jim Lee rendering techniques everyone got burnt out on. I get that much of their "style" comes form cutting corners and that aspect you should stay away from, but there are some powerful things you may be missing out on by not letting it influence you. But backgrounds are a small thing in the overall scheme of "east vs. west" and I dont see them as being distracting or detracting from your art, so... Phew.

I think that he makes some good points here. I keep pushing my students and it's nice to be pushed back. I'm really tired of drawing the same stuff, so I am trying to modify what I do. I think also that Xaq makes a cogent comment that maybe the reviewer didn't mean "dated" to be as negative as I took it. 10 years doesn't seem like much to me now at 55, but it's an eternity in the publishing business.

There are things about layouts and drawing that I do garner from looking at the eastern influence (and, oh yes, I do look at it despite my reputation as a Manga-hater), but I'm still very cold on many aspects of it and lack of backgrounds is my biggest pet peeve.

So, I'm actually trying to decide if this is all pushing me to try and work on something that would challenge me and help me to change ... and what is that project, eh?

I still have never started my slightly fictionalized memoir/autobiography story even though I've planned and plotted a great deal of it out. Does that challenge me ... to do something with "normal" people?

Well, keep the comments going and in the meantime I'll post another page of layouts from issue #6 of Vigilante.

I do know, by the way, that some of this angst that I'm feeling is the result of getting older and feeling a bit like a dinosaur. I do think I have something to offer still (as do my students, thank God), but I feel a little like I need to raise the bar and figure some stuff out.

It'll all happen. I've had nothing but good in my life for a long time now. I just like playing the devil's advocate and it's kind of fun to have a student do it back at me.

Later, folks.


Sunday, May 24, 2009


I figure you've all guessed that the visit to DC was more successful (so far) than the visit to Marvel. I just had issue #6 of VIGILANTE come out from DC this week and it was okay. I must admit that I think my layouts looked much better than the finished piece, but everything was SO rushed I am surprised it looks anywhere as close to good as it does.

Here's my rant for this post. I've read the reviews for 5 and 6 (my two issues for now) and I am irritated and amused that in one of the recent ones my art was classified "dated" because of the amount of background detail I have in the panels.

Yeah. Heaven forbid we should actually be able to tell where we are in the story.

I'm kind of torqued that you guys settle for crappy storytelling and lazy, pin-up art instead of a solid, well-drawn story.

Now, I admit, I think that there are aspects of my storytelling that need updating, but BACKGROUNDS!!

Gimme a break.

I'd love to hear about it from you.

I'm posting a layout for you to compare to the finished art.

See ya soon, I hope.