Thursday, April 22, 2010

In the Studio, Part 1

One of the best things about In the Studio: Visits With Contemporary Cartoonists is how the likes of R. Crumb, Jaime Hernandez and Seth tell you what and who their influences were and what struck them about those earlier works, then — bam — you can see a sample of that inspiration juxtaposed with the work of the artist.

Crumb, for example, waxes on about the strong crosshatching used by 19th century newspaper illustrator Thomas Nast (the guy who drew the image of how we’ve come to see Santa Claus, among other achievements), and there’s a sample of a Nast 1879 Harper’s Weekly magazine cover on page 19. On page 20 are two black-and-white pieces by Crumb, and we can see for our own eyes how Crumb took the cue.

Hernandez mentions a 1952 cover for the comic book Canteen Kate he especially liked, drawn by Matt Baker. It’s reproduced on page 142, showing a closeup of smiling, plucky Kate herself, hair tussled. On the previous page is Hernandez’s own 1986 Love and Rockets number 15 cover, depicting an equally close image of Rena, one his characters. She, too, is joyful and her hair is even more mussed.

Seth cites illustrator Doug Wright — in particular Wright’s choice of “beautifully evocative” color — who worked from 1948 to 1980. Chris Ware acclaims Frank King’s “masterpiece” Gasoline Alley, deeming that newspaper strip “a 50-year-long comic strip novel that captures and distills the ineffable passage of time through the regular touch of an artist’s pen to paper.” Everyone familiar with Ware’s own books knows of his consuming interest in measuring that “passage of time.”

More to come ….

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