Sunday, 25 September 2011

Comic Artist Alphabet Introduction

Nothing overly original about an A-Z list of...anything. This will be nothing more than my list. My dirty laundery of likes guilty in places, not so much so in others. It will reflect my time reading comics (starting in '92 going back 20 years or so and up to current day). You won't see an appreciation of greats like Wally Wood, Will Eisner or Walt Kelly as they're not what got me reading what I read today.
The above is from Sean Murphy's warm up excersise featuring Wolverine plus date, in a compostions reflecting each letter of the alphabet. See them close up at his Deviant art page.

A is for...Art Adams

The first time I became aware of the work of Art Adams was the above image from the first part of a three parter replacing the Marvel's First Family with the four big Anti Heroes of the time (with Punisher turning up for a cameo in the last part).
Clearly over-ordered, London's Fantastic Store above the Virgin Megastore had decorated the walls with it (and wouldn't sell me a copy).
Art Adams could take all these grimacing, smoking, swearing, violent character and always keep it fun.
Adams' first big break into comics was the 1985 series Longshot which made a big splash stylistically but was still fairly wonky. The level of detail and texture at the time matched by awkward anatomy and psychotic facial expressions (which evidently sent the message to Rob Liefeld that there comes a point where you can just stop practicing).
At seven issues long to this day it still represents Adams' largest body of work and for many his most memorable.
The time needed to get the finish that Adams wanted and became known for straight away led to him becoming a cover and annuals kind of guy. The list of special projects and annuals includes 1xAction Comics, 1x Excalibur,1x New Mutants,4x Uncanny X-Men, 2x Gumby and 1x Spder-Man.
For my part I'm going to have to stick my neck out and say my favourite is Monkeyman and O'Brien which kicked off as back up strips in the original long time friend Mignola's Hellboy miniseries (the plan being that Hellboy would be the back up in the M&O'B mini series which took so long to come out that Mignola had to move on to other things).
The series is so clearly a labour of love, infused with everything that Adams loves, monsters, apes, cosmic sci-fi, Kirby comics that I find it hard to resist although there are in total 3 issues, a two part Gen13 crossover and a few short strips. The work, particularly the short strips in black and white, is pretty spectacular.

I can only assume that after experiencing no massive success with the property Adams returned to covers for the rest of the 90s only returning to sequential work for a few
pages here and there.
His next major return came working in Tom Strong's Terrific Tales with Alan Moores mentor (but no relation) Steve Moore on Jonni Future. Again getting to draw everything he loved but with the added selling point of Cheesecake and T&A. For me this part of Art Adams' repertoire has had is currency devalued by the sheer number of imitators of his women. While Adams seems to have strived to toe that fine line between realistic and cartoony, caricature and accuracy, most of his copiers don't have the good taste to know where it lies.

Jonni Future wasn't a gripping character but the stories were certainly beautiful, Adams' line benefiting from a lavish top end colour job.
Today you can See Art Adams' work on Ultimate X, a series written by his brief Hulk collaborator, Jeph Loeb. Loeb writes "to the strengths" of the artists he works with which is another wasy of saying he exploits what they're popular for and in know way pushes them to do anything new or challenging (exhibit A above: what could be cooler than someone else with Wolverine's claws). This means that that while the book is certainly very pretty, for me it lacks the soul and love of Monkeyman & O'Brien.
nb: I'll still end up buying it in some form.

Today if you want proof that while the comic output seems thin on the ground Adams is still in fact pretty prolific you only need a quick Google image search to see the vast number of comissions and covers he's done over the years, just a few found examples below:
Next up..."B"

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Mucha Do about nothing!

Good ol' Freaks in Barcelona. Just when you think you know everything that's coming out and what you want they surprise you. The new book published by Prestel serves to my mind as being the definitive Mucha book I've seen. The posters make up the first part of the book but it goes on to highlight the rest of his career as demonstrated in an exhibition doing the rounds.
Beautiful stuff and a collection that pretty much has everything you could want in a book about a guy who (along with Gustav Klimt)inspired so many graphic oriented illustrators in comics and made Hughes' Wonder Woman, JH Williams' Promethea and Quesada's Daredevil what they are today.
Find it here