I’ve been having a hodge-podge of somewhat related comic thoughts bouncing around in my head this week.
This weekend, I finished reading the new Modern Masters Volume Three: Bruce Timm. Timm started out a mediocre artist, who was lucky enough to land in animation at the right time. Through constant improvement and several mentors later, he has a popular art style of his own with his own acolytes. His simple lines betray greater meaning and depth, plus extreme efficiency, which is why I’ve been studying his work for a long time. In animation, you can’t draw anything really detailed, and in Timm’s case, he took that weakness and turned it into a stunning design strength. You can see how it applies to comics; you need to produce, produce, and produce in a timely fashion. If you can design your style in such a way to quickly push it out the door like that, you could be successful. After a certain amount of volume, you learn what works and what doesn’t, then disregard the rest. How beautifully pure is that? To show only what is absolutely necessary, to design your art in such a way, it is an amazing feat. Another artist to look at is Frank Miller and the first Sin City; his work goes from lines to just black shapes at the end.
This is the sort of thing that comes with age and experience, I’m coming to find. Some of my favorite artists today have been practicing their craft for years, and truth be told, they are not that hot right out of the gate. Most of my favorites are in their late 30s and early 40s. It has been a focus on my work lately; instead of worrying about being the best now, worry about doing the best you can on the next project. The rest will come with time.
Back to Timm, if you are into superhero comics, I believe it is a great book for you. Timm and his talented crew created a better universe animated than the current comics that their animation is based on. Many people say that they like the comics based off the animated series these guys produced rather than the comic properties themselves. Flipping through this book is infectious; I want to draw superheroes suddenly. Not only that, but their work is enjoyable for kids and adult fans (crazy talk, I know, when we have raping a character as a plot device being thrown out for the kids to digest). Wait, these comics are still for kids, right?
As if on cue, Michael Chabon’s keynote at the Eisner’s this year hits all the right notes with me. We’ve done a good job making comics for adults, but we need to start making comics for kids again, also. A mature Batman book is fine, but when every Batman book is mature, well, I kind of have a problem with that. I want more books like The New Frontier or Jack Staff, or better yet, after reading the Timm book, these are the sort of books I want to produce .
Not that I still don’t want to do something as disturbing as Stray Bullets though; there is room for both audiences (children and adults) in my mind.
UPDATE: Seems not every comic professional agrees, as seen on the stellar Fanboy Rampage.
You can also browse through the Parlor archives.
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