Friday, July 31, 2009

For the Art Process Junkies

In this thread at Canadian Geek, the Future of Comics (I) Fiona Staples describes her process in developing the first cover image for the Brian Wood/Rebekah Isaacs revamp of Wildstorm's DV8 comic. I'm constantly amazed by how she and artists like Frazer Irving manage to create such rich, painterly work entirely digitally. On the one hand, I like the idea that the printed cover is itself the finished piece*; on the other, it just feels wrong on some basic level that there isn't a physical, real-world artifact to show for the effort.

*While I like artists having access to as many revenue streams as possible, I've heard it argued that the rising value of original comic art has had a negative effect on comic storytelling. The argument is that artists supposedly use various means to push for full and double-page spreads that are more valuable for an art collector than the boring old multi-panel storytelling pages, at the expense of the story. I don't really know if that's actually the reason (or one of them) for the overuse of such pages (especially the one-panel double-page spread, which I will go to my grave insisting only works in saddle-stitched format and therefore ought to be banned for any story that's going to see print in a bound paperback or hardcover format), but it's hard to look at what's on the comic shop shelves in any given week and not notice that it's taking six issues to tell stories that took 22 pages or less when I started reading comics.

Which isn't to say comics back then were better-written--they weren't. But I do think a lot of the tools that were developed over the first fifty or so years of North American comics' development, like descriptive captions, thought balloons, and sound effects to name just three, elements that are almost entirely unique to the medium, we tossed aside a little too eagerly in the late '90s/early '00s. Happily, most of them seem to be making something in the way of a comeback in the last few years, but we're still seeing way too many double-page spreads...


No comments: