Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In the Studio, Part 3

Todd Hignite’s In the Studio: Visits With Contemporary Cartoonists puts me in mind of Ron Goulart’s valuable 1975 book, The Adventurous Decade: Comic Strips in the Thirties. As Hignite picks the creative brains of today’s cartoonists at the top of their game — Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Jaime Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Seth, Chris Ware, Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns and Gary Panter — Goulart tracked down writers and artists who launched a new approach to newspaper strips.

Goulart talked to — or found professionals who had worked with those who’d since died or vanished into obscurity — Milton Caniff (Terry and the Pirates) and Noel Sickles (Scorchy Smith), Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), John Dille and Dick Calkins (Buck Rogers), Hal Foster (Tarzan), Roy Crane (Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy), Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie), Ham Fisher (Joe Palooka), Will Eisner (The Spirit) and many more. It’s chockablock with discussion of technique, inspiration and opinion, and you still can find copies in hardback and paperback.

The Adventurous Decade, in turn, makes me think of — hold on, this isn’t too much of a stretch — Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists. Born in 1511, Vasari studied painting under, and became friends with, Michelangelo in Florence. The Michelangelo.

As time went on, he gathered notes on other Florentine artists, which he published, in two editions, in 1550 and 1568, to much acclaim. (Influential ArtNews magazine has long called its briefs section “Vasari’s Diary.”)

Vasari’s subjects included, along with his pal Michelangelo, Titian, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Fra Angelico, Botticelli and Fra Filippo Lippi, among others.

All three books serve as receptacles of great artists musing on great work — theirs, their contemporaries and their predecessors.

Read my earlier posts on In the Studio here and here.

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