I thought I’d post some sketches of Ridley I did while I was still getting acquainted with the cast. Since my training at the Kubert School, I’d always felt more comfortable inking with a brush. It yields a lush and juicy line (usually) and is the preferred tool for classic comic book rendering. So the early attempts at continuity with these characters were drawn with a brush, in fact the first few days of “Whither Thou Ridley” were drawn with a brush, particularly as I was mimicking the size and format of old timey syndicated comics, and I needed something that would give me a steady line while outlining Ray’s clean, oval head. I soon realized I needed to reduce the scale of the originals to increase my comfort zone while inking. I also abandoned the brush – dramatic pause.
I switched to pen and ink when I realized it provided a more textured and interesting line- at least for my silly purposes. Anyhow, the sketches above are an example of me trying to answer questions about Ridley …. “Does his glasses rest on his ears like normal folk?” and “Does he have breasts?” or for that matter “nipples?”. I just realized he looks a little naked without a pipe. I ‘m glad Ridley doesn’t have nipples.
I recently bought another IDW imprint- “Big John Buscema“(sorry, son, it looks like community college for you). While it highlights Buscema’s long and prolific career in comics, it also features examples of his partially inked “warm-up” sketches. These sketches reminded me how much I loved John Buscema’s inking. Like Gil Kane and John Romita, Buscema was the best inker of his own work.
Buscema spent most of the ’70′s and 80′s at Marvel penciling multiple titles per month. This meant that for most titles, he was essentially producing rough layouts; any detail was the responsibility of the inker and most left a strong aftertaste (Ernie Chua, I’m looking in your direction!). This is unfortunate since I think Buscema’s inking ranks with Hal Foster and Alex Raymond in its rich texture and bold thick-to-thin brushwork. Buscema’s brushwork over light, loose pencils are particularly enjoyable for me as it gives an insight into his thought process. It’s clear that Buscema was drawing during the inking stage, instead of coldly recording the decisions that tight pencils had already made.
The other night I was watching a You Tube video of John Buscema sketching and inking an image of Captain America. I was trying to show my son, who’s getting into drawing (quite well!) what I meant by loose drawing. It struck me while watching, that Buscema held his brush the way people hold a pencil. Most inkers of the current generation (that I’ve noticed) hold their brushes low on the ferrule, their hands sideways over the page, flicking backwards with the wrist as the pivot point. It makes for a clean, precise line- but not necessarily an interesting line. I think I’ll try that method the next time I’m noodling with a brush …. I’m sure it’ll look like I used a tater tot instead of a brush.
According to Florentino Florez, who provided the biographical data in Big John Buscema, Buscema was never satisfied with his work in comics. Working on so many titles simultaneously, producing rough layouts, left him wishing he could take his time on some of his projects. His favorite title was Conan and over the years, in his spare time, he plotted and drew his own Conan adventure. He took his time with this one and in the end he published it with Roy Thomas through Marvel as a graphic novel called Conan the Rogue. Naturally, it’s out of print- but I’m biding my time, haunting ebay and trade shows for a chance to enjoy Buscema at his best.
The Riverfront Times (St. Louis’ weekly Village Voice owned publication) is publishing a special “Comix” issue this week, Nov. 29, and yours truly will be included! “Holiday Disasters” was the theme, and since I really didn’t have any epic holiday disaster tales to relate personally, I borrowed a chapter from my brother-in-law’s wretched childhood and submitted a tale called “Dreams Die Quickly!”
While Ray and Ridley and the lads will not be appearing in the strip, it will be full of obsessive pen and ink hatching and plenty of run on sentences you’ve come to expect from my particular …. eh, brand.
The issue hits the stands Thursday the 29th of November for all you Eastern Missourians, and should be available online soon. Riverfront Times Comix link.
Joe Kubert died yesterday, August 12, and frankly I’m still stunned by the news. Above is the cover to the first comic book I owned- given to me because of my childhood obsession with Tarzan. That issue, in turn, began an obsession with comics and an undying love of Joe Kubert’s work. His beautiful pen and brush style bonded permanently with my “aesthetic DNA”. Decades later, my long-boxes are bristling with DC comics I bought only because they had Kubert covers. Decades from now, they will use various words when referring to Joe Kubert: Giant, Legend, Innovator, Teacher, Father, Artist- and they’ll all be true.