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.



Andrew said...

Wow, I decide to check in one day and you're doing stuff for DC again? Congrats Tom! I'll swing by my local shop to check it out.

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.

Heck, look at European comics! Those things are all about world-building and making the environments count.

Plus, I think you might be a little jaded from the Manga stuff because (at least from what I remember) a lot of the people that touted it in class refused to consider anything else, and it hampered them probably more than if they lost a hand.

And my last part of my rant...critics are whiny, unhappy creatures that are hardly ever pleased unless they see more of something that they already like. I trust critics who aren't working professionals about as much as I trust crack addicts, simply for the fact that if all they do is read the stuff and never attempted it themselves, what ground do they have to stand on?

Derik Diaz said...

I read the online comments a while back before I read this post and had some time to think about them myself. I think part of the reception comes from the fact that your team-up with Hanna is a throwback and causes people to think its "dated" simply because they haven't seen your name in so long. Comics are just as nasty as any other media when it comes to moving on. Hardly anything is considered timeless. In one day, out the next. And I think that it doesn't have as much to do with the artwork as when you saw the guy last. Its a topic I've wondered about concerning my own work, wondering if I'll be able to stay "current" and "relevant" throughout my career. I would definitely assert that the guys who stay working as popular conventions evolve, have it much easier, they adapt naturally as time goes by. You're coming back into the game at a time when the focus has shifted from storytelling to "pretty pictures". Which is a bummer. And it leaves people looking at your work through blurred vision. I think there's just a different expectation now, good or bad as it might be.
Where it concerns the use of backgrounds, my theory is that you have to establish the environment no questions asked. I want my reader to know where the characters are within it, as well as where they are in relation to one another. As long as I can meet that standard I feel ok about utilizing some "open" panels, especially where it can be used to enhance pacing or emotional impact and I think there's a certain art to that as well. Unfortunately people seem to be pushing this tool past its limit to a point where I no longer know what's going on. I have picked up many comics recently that leave me asking questions like "wait, where's this taking place?" or even more frequently "where are these characters supposed to be within the environment, or each other?" Its frustrating to see and it really turns me off to buying a lot of newer stuff. That being said, I'm glad to see your stuff out there right now. Here's hoping that some other guys out there will remember what the real goal is supposed to be here: To communicate in a clear, exciting, and memorable way.