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.