Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Hernandez brothers get super

In the early days of The Comics Journal - before the publishers started spitting on all things  mainstream - they would break up the text of their long, rambling and massively entertaining letter pages with spot illustrations of all sorts of classic heroes and villains.

It's an enormous amount of fun to go through them now and find sketches submitted by artists that would be huge names working on huge comics in just a few years, but the best were always those supplied by Los Bros Hernandez. They were only just starting out on their long and gorgeous comic careers, and filled up space in the Journal with unbearably charming pictures of Marvel and DC superheroes.

Those pictures will never get reprinted anywhere, and I've only got a handful of these old magazines, but I just have to share what I could find so far. Love and Rockets comics are the best comics, but these guys could do superheroes as good as anybody.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Mike McMahon's Batman doesn't look like anybody else's Batman

There is only one thing that is sweeter than Mike McMahon's typically gorgeous and gonzo art on an early 90s Batman book like Legends of the Dark Knight, and that's reading the letter column four issues later, which is 99% 'what the fuck is this shit?':

Friday, June 22, 2018

Barry Linton goes to the movies

Barry Linton is a deadset Kiwi comix legend - producing stories and art full of stony dreamers, punk rockers and an ultra-thick line for more than 40 years.

His comic output isn't as prodigious as it once was, but his art has shown up in a lot of different places, including local screen industry magazine OnFilm, which used his pictures to make a regular column look a whole lot prettier.

I ended up with some his original art from these OnFilm cartoons through a convoluted series of events, and I gotta get them back to him soon, (in this country, you can track down somebody like Barry with a bit of mild e-mailing). But before I do, I had to share some of my favourites here, because they're so goddamn beautiful, and after seeing so much of his art in glorious black and white, his use of vivid pastels is extraordinary.

Some of the subject matter of these cartoons is pretty obscure and full of weird in-jokes about the state of the NZ film industry a decade ago, but who cares about that when they look so spunky?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The moment Keith Giffen blew up everything

Most comic book artists with evolving and ever-changing styles take their time about it. Some barely change at all, just get more polished or refined, but some artists can produce work with a strikingly different look and feel during their careers. It usually takes years, or even decades, for their style to change like this, to become something new.

Most artists aren't Keith Giffen. When he blew up his own comfortable style of art, he did it in three pages:

This is from Legion of Super-Heroes v4 #39 and it's the last issue Giffen would do for the 'five yeas later' Legion. And in just a few panels, he goes from the familiar blocky shadowing that he'd been doing for most of the past decade, and takes a sudden leap into a style full of scratchy detail, comical exaggeration and strange pastel colours.

He might have changed everything on a sudden whim, but Giffen would stick with this distinctive style for a while, producing Lobo and Trencher comics full of extraordinary gore made palatable by his gonzo scratchings. His current style is somewhere inbetween the two extremes seen in these few pages, but who knows if he's going to blow it up again?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Be pure, be vigilant, be Torquemada!

I didn't learn about the glorious nightmare that is Hieronymous Bosch's 500-year-old Garden of Unearthly Delights in an art history class, or in a thick textbook, or by seeing his art on the wall of some great art gallery. I learned about it from a choose-your-own-adventure comic by Pat Mills and Bryan Talbot that featured in Diceman, a title that was spun out of 2000ad in the late eighties, where I got to pretend to be a xenophobic despot – one of the truly greatest arseholes to ever grace the comic page – in a hallucinatory journey through an alien landscape based heavily on Bosch's masterpiece.

Everyone should learn a bit of art history this way.