Thursday 30 June 2011

Blurring the line between creation and homage?

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Thursday 23 June 2011

Setting the Scene

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Friday 17 June 2011

Covering the obsession

This blog post is now only available in print form in Images Degrading Forever Collected Volume 1 on sale now

I would like to send a big thank you to Dan Nadel of The Comics Journal for dropping in a mention of this blog and for sending quite a lot of viewers this way and for saying "I don’t entirely understand this" (blog) but he "will check it out again for the sheer obsessiveness of it."

Dan N and all - hopefully the above does give you all a bit more of an idea of what I am attempting:-

To recreate an original and recognisable work of comic art by hand and see what I bring to the table in that recreation be it inadvertently or otherwise – I am using this as a way to learn to draw, which I have not actually been doing for that long (2 years now)

While I might not go as far as Daniel C. Parmenter and compare what I am doing to "Borges’ “Pierre Menard Author of the Quixote”, wherein a writer attempts to rewrite Cervantes’ Don Quixote word-for-word" (Thanks Dan, that's a big compliment!) I can see the parallel between that and what I am doing.

Yes comics is an obsession, you do have to be obsessed to a degree to be able to spend the amount of time and dedication it takes to make a good comic, particularly if you are doing the drawings.

It has to be something you really love, but as Alan Moore might say, it is a Mad love.

It is either something you feel and can’t resist trying yourself or its not and you can only find out by trying.

All of you reading this love comics as well, to different degrees certainly. But I don’t think anyone has to be remotely obsessed to try a drawing or two. 

If I can draw then I pretty sure anyone else can as well, so why not give one drawing a try why not do you own favourite cover, I would love to see it here!

The next drawing and blog posting will be next Thursday, but don’t be shy in the meantime, post a comment tell me what you think, talk about covers, email me a drawing of your own, why not?

And El Tio Berni Thanks for the comment – I have most certainly gone!

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Frank Miller Klaus Janson Daredevil Starts Here

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Friday 10 June 2011

Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings, and the night-raven sings

That is actually a quote from Milton’s L’Allegro  and appears amongst references to Cerberus and Cimmeria - but neither a creation by Robert E Howard or Dave Sim appears below

The above quote formed a part of the inspiration for - Night-Raven... and literally became his calling card - after a few word changes...

Night-Raven first appeared as you can see from the above in UK only Hulk Comic.  This was a breakthrough comic here in the UK - as it featured (amongst many other things)

Dave Gibbons drawing the Hulk....

Steve Dillion's (best known for his outstanding work on Preacher and The Punisher) first published work (at the age of 17!) drawing Nick Fury

John Stokes Black Knight

And David Lloyd on Night Raven

All of these UK sourced strips where great, but Night Raven was something else, the story that appeared in issue 2 "blind justice" won a eagle award - and it was only a three page strip!

It takes a very skilled writer and a virtuoso artist to be able to make a 3 page strip that good and evenly paced and Steve Parkhouse and David Lloyd delivered in spades

the level of artistic craft David Lloyd put into this strip simply can not be overstated enough, particularly the expression on the faces of anyone he drew -

Each one a real living breathing person that has lived, you can see the life they have led and how it affected them on every line on their face - it is a incredible skill, its little wonder David Lloyd is somewhat of a legend over here

It was this ability and the teaming with Alan Moore that went on to make the masterpiece that is V for Vendetta (which David says is inspired in part by his Night Raven work ), again the faces tell you everything you need to know and then some

Night Raven was a very much a success and even when the strip finished in Hulk comic, the character kept on coming back for more - morphing into text stories accompanied by brilliant large illustrations

Some of which (once again) was written by none other than Alan Moore (you can check them out here )

Beyond this point we was finally treated to "the house of cards" by Jamie Delano and David Lloyd

After which Night Raven's history gets rather murky... But I obviously think that to see this creation come back to life or just David Lloyd do a new comic would be nothing less than fantastic

But that's unfortunately rather unlikely as the character is owned by Marvel USA c/o The Disney Corporation as Marvel UK ceased to be quite a while ago now

And while I wouldn't says that its impossible for a someone who is not british to write stories for this character (witness for example some of the better Marvel :Noir titles, Night-Raven would fit into one of those perfectly as thats actually the era and location he came from originally, prohibition period new york) it wouldn't be the same

Certainly not without David lloyd doing the art - which is a shame as I bet he would love to give this character his due

I could not possibly even pretend to think that I could remotely have much of a chance of doing David Llyod justice artwise, so I deliberately chose the biggest drawing I could find of night-raven by him and that's the one above accompanying the text story...

If you have sharp eyes you will probably notice I have actually decided to go in for the "whole hog" and do a kind of parody text story.. which doesn't feature night-raven - I have done this more as a nod and a wink to Mark Roberts who's seminal blog It came from Darkmoor inspired this blog entry and the text story - if anyone is remotely interested in Marvel Uk head on over to his blog and thanks Mark

for everyone else (And possibly Mark as well) here is my attempt on its own without the cheeky text!

oh and there is one more thing -

voting is now closed on what I should do next - if you remember Kirby's 2001 and Frank Millers Daredevil got 2 votes in, while Steranko covers had just 1

So what i am going to do is both !

I will start with a issue of Frank Millers Daredevil on Monday

and once that is done I will do 1 issue of kirby's 2001 ongoing comic title, not the actual movie adaptation as I think that would be much more interesting (certainly shorter as well!) and thanks to Douglas Noble for suggesting this!

I have done at least 1 drawing of each of the choices already so no-one has really lost out!

Hope that was okay and have fun - see you next week!

Thursday 9 June 2011

Parody parity

So I have already had a brief look at the line between "swiping" and comic art

But how about a Parody - where someone would be deliberately copying a art style and then exaggerating it

The parody actually proceeds most modern comic forms of art by quite some years, with punch magazine starting way back in 1841...

And this is more or less where topical / political cartoons started - certainly in regularly published form - but here its normally real people  which where drawn in exaggerated caricature form

But once actual comics as we know them started - a parody of those and their art wasn't far behind - with Harvey Kurtzman defining the field with "tales calculated to drive you... Mad"

As the years went on the importance of the parody became less important - mostly down to photographs now being a lot more readily available and cheaper than paying someone to draw

These days its kind of light and throwaway - that doesn't mean its unfunny its just not as sharp or incisive

But is this a good thing? I am not entirely sure - it seems at least to me something important has been lost as someone can actually learn a lot about things via parody things about themselves and the thing being parodied

It's constructive criticism combined with comedy in a entertaining way if done right, you don't have to rely on allegory as much to make your point

Sometimes a parody is a place where a up and coming writer can learn their trade

So I wonder where we should place this parody --- done by none other than Alan Moore...


And yes, there is even an official entry for this on the marvel wikia...


and here ---- at the risk of causing some upset (parental advisory) - is page one

This was a one off strip which appeared in issue 8 of Marvel Uk's Daredevil's...

and has since become rather infamous  - as page one will probably clue you into!

I think I will let you decide on which side (or area) this parody belongs ...

If you really want to see the rest of it - it's here...


Now the next question is the below (finally finished!) a parody / a "swipe" / a "homage" / a reproduction or something else entirely.... or maybe just a degraded image...

Matthew J Brady - If you would like to receive the original hand drawing above, please just send me a email!


Oh don't forget to vote everyone, I will be announcing the results tomorrow -!

Wednesday 8 June 2011

A man without fear - is a man without hope

The above title comes directly from Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's seminal "born again" story line ...

which unfortunately we are not going to discuss directly (at least not today at any rate)

But I will bold enough to say I do have a degree of fear with regards to doing anything creative, which is good in a way as it means I have hope for improvement...

Which is even better as I certainly need a lot of improvement!

NEWSFLASH - I just got a vote in - let's hear from Matt Seneca - who hopefully needs little introduction (but just in case please, please check out his AFFECTED )

I vote for... 

Some Miller Daredevils! But not TOO early in the run... do some of the ones where he really has his drawing style down.  Like, no earlier than maybe 175.  

Whatever wins, it'll be awesome.

You got it Matt - right with you on the issues you mention, as I am doing the cover of 181 as a example of what to expect

Speaking of which - how is that coming along:-

Should be done by tomorrow !

Remember anyone can vote - and voting closes Friday - I will announce the winner Friday and will start work Monday 13th June

Current score

1 Miller DareDevil - 2 votes
=1   Kirby 2001 - 2 votes
2 Steranko covers - 1 vote

You can vote by posting a comment or sending me a email

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Ape slayer - a plagiarists dream?

Hi Before I start on todays post - Just a reminder on a couple of things

The time for making any more suggestions as to what I should draw next has now closed, thanks to everyone we have three suggestions on offer:-

  1. Kirby's 2001 film adaptation
  2. A series of Steranko covers
  3. Some early Frank Miller Daredevil

Voting for one of these choices, however is very much open - until the end of this week

Now I am willing to go for whichever one of the above gets the most votes, but as there hasn't been many votes as of yet I may just chose which one I prefer - so get voting please

I want this blog to be appealing to at least a few people!

Anyways - onto todays topic - Apeslayer

Now I can understand why someone might think I am just "swiping" art when I redo an original drawing - well that's not quite right as I represent the work as close to the original as I can manage and I always clearly state where it came from, I never pretend its mine or change the faces or something similar

But this and of course this blog entire kind of brings into focus the question of where does art begin and tracing / copying end?

I have been lucky enough to find that a few people have liked the idiosyncratic parts I add to a drawing just by it being done by my hand - these are not delbriate they are either unintentional or I have to do something slightly different because its physically impossible for me to draw to the same degree of accuracy

But is that art? Well i personally wouldn't necessarily make that claim - but maybe it could be seen as something along the lines as an engraver for a metal plate printed book illustration - the engraver didn't create nor draw the original drawing - yet they have to painstakingly recreate it as accurately as possible onto metal so it can be printed accurately many times - I would say having that kind of skill is an art of itself

To clarify:-  No I don't think I have anywhere near that level of skill

But what does any of this have to do with Ape slayer?

Ape slayer for those who did not know made his (rather unwelcome) appearance in the Marvel UK Planet of the Apes comic issues 25 -30, and never in any US comic

The reason for this was quite simple - the Ape Slayer stories was actually a few "Killraven" stories, with all of the protagonists replaced by redrawn ape heads (and bodies) and a light editing of some of the dialog to match

Think I am kidding? - here is the 3rd page of issue 25 - where someone clearly forgot to white out Killraven and replace it with Ape Slayer in a dialogue box even though the rest of the page has been substantially altered

Well you can probably guess how well this idea went down with the readers of the comic, needless to say this was never repeated again and that was before the original Killraven strips where actually published in the UK to make the situation rather more obvious

As to why this happened, simply enough the UK comic was actually in front of the US one (and in a lot of cases the USA was actually reprinting what had first appeared in the UK) so much so that there was no strip for next week - ape slayer was the solution to this problem, albeit a far from elegant or fan pleasing one

A solution to this day which remains unknown as to whom chose it, who did the drawings and who re wrote the script

But is that being far too harsh?

Is this a far more obvious example of swiping in its negative sense or do the people who tried their best under ridiculously limiting situations to make something (lemons out of lemonade as it where) deserve some attention for their efforts?

Its not as cut and dried as you might think - in reality what you want to do is always limited by physical limitations, the skill of the artists, the amount of time they have to do it in and so on and at Marvel in those days you did the best you could in the circumstances

Sometimes quality suffers at the mercy of a never ending ongoing publication - which is why some comic book companies try and limit their involvement in them

speaking of limitations - the daredevil cover below is a work in progress - see below - as usual my hand lettering could do with some improvement

Thursday 2 June 2011

My Very First Comic

If you remember not that long ago, I told you all about my first American comic book purchase

Well the first comic I ever convinced my parents to get for me was not either The Beano or The Dandy (as yes, I am British).... it was...

Star Wars Weekly, Issue 22 July 5th 1978:-

As for why I chose that comic , even at that young age - the answer was not as straightforward as you imagine, I did even even see (as it eventually became to be known) the 4th Star Wars Movie, "A new hope" until it was finally shown on TV quite some years later

No what it was is I had seen the comic before at a friends and I wanted to read it for myself.. I particularly remembered the cover to issue 13 with its exciting cover copy "Beyond the Movie Beyond the Galaxy"

So after some persistence I got my 8 year old hand on issue 22 inside of which was:-

"Whatever Happened to Luke Skywalker?" by Archie Goodwin, Carmine Infantino and Terry Austin

"To Save The Empire" (part of a "Starlord" story) by Chris Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin

"Sinister Secret" (a "Tales of the Watcher) by Stan Lee, Gene Colan and Paul Reinman

and I was lucky enough to get a run of some 10 or so issues

To my 8 year old mind these comics where exciting vibrant and action packed and I must have read them quite a lot

As soon as I was able to purchase my own comics I set about getting these back (as they had long gone by the time I was earning my own money) 

Looking at the issue now the amount of sophistication in these stories as well as the quality of the art are something pretty special, they set the bar pretty high for me in terms of what a good comic should be in both areas, but I have never lost sight of seeing comics as being entertaining first and foremost

Every comics book fan probably has a different comic, but a similar story - like a first love - you never forget your first comic

Wednesday 1 June 2011

It's Miller Time!

We have a brand new suggestion in - this time from Matthew J. Brady who says:-

For the next thing, how about some Frank Miller? I think it would be interesting to see his earlier, Daredevil-era stuff in your sharp, high-contrast black and white. Not necessarily a whole issue's worth, but a cover or interior page or two would be cool. 

That's a good suggestion as it would allow me to cover Frank's Career as well as discussing the difference between a penciling and doing breakdowns as well as a inker and doing finishes - as Klaus Janson and Frank shifted positions as the Daredevil run continued with the last few issues being more Klaus than Frank..

Sorry I am a bit short of time so I have not been able to do a drawing (but i do normally allow myself a week per page!)

But I will try and give the cover of Daredevil 181 a go - probably next week

So to keep everyone up to date we now have a 3 horse race, with 2 votes for 2001, 1 for Steranko and now 1 for Miller

Anyone can vote, just post a comment on my blog telling me which of these you would prefer to see and whichever thing gets the most votes is the thing I will do first - voting will close Friday 10th June 2011