Illustrator Reacts to Comic Book Artists’ Style Evolutions

It’s genuinely blowing my mind a little
bit that these two pieces were done by the same artist. The art reflects the
personality of the character. I think there’s only really two possibilities of
what was going on here; one they were trying a really big style
experiment or two they made it terrible on purpose. Every working professional
artist will grow and change over the course of their career. Whether that’s
their own style just evolving and becoming more refined or if they’re
actually actively changing their style between different art projects. And this
episode talking about different artists evolutions is actually inspired by
someone who changes up their style a lot between projects. A lot of the time
that’ll end up giving us some of the most iconic comic book artwork in the
history of the medium, but there’s also one case where it gave us some art that
will probably be remembered for a long time but not for as good of a reason. So
Frank Miller has made a bigger impact in the world of comics than almost any
other creator out there he saved Daredevil from falling into obscurity he
gave us one of the most iconic Wolverine runs with Chris Claremont he gave us 300,
Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns, he’s a powerhouse in the history of comics and
he got a start by working on Daredevil. And back then you can see he was kind of
working in the sort of house style of Marvel in the 80s it’s not very Frank
Miller looking it just looks like normal late 70s early 80s comic art. I really
like this page in particular and I noticed looking at a bunch of his work
on Daredevil and Wolverine that he really likes this kind of page layout
where he has one big tall vertical panel on the left side of the screen and then
on the right he’s got a bunch of smaller panels. And I really really like it here.
Our eye kind of goes up through this arch to Daredevil who’s framed by this
big orange moon and then in the next panel Daredevil’s framed by the sort of
gap between all these buildings and then we’ve got two really cool-looking, pretty
simple, but really nice poses and this panel here is the only one where
daredevil is actually breaking out of the panel
and it’s the last panel we see Daredevil in on this page and it’s probably the
most dynamic pose of the batch. And another thing I noticed looking at Frank
Miller’s earlier work, which he does later on as well,
to make an image look really impactful he’ll just leave the background blank
white for a panel. Like on this Wolverine image and then another more iconic
Wolverine image later on. I really like it here, it’s something that could come
across as lazy and in some of his later work it kind of does but in this one I
think it just really helps sell what we’re supposed to look at. There’s
nothing in the background to distract us and we just really get to take in the
awesome poses in this piece. Wolverine is fighting off a bunch of people and
there’s so many people with their weapons aimed right at him to get us to
focus more on Wolverine and what’s going on with the action here. I mean I know
this is a very well-known and iconic comic panel but I just had to talk about
it cuz I really loved it and that’s kind of why I’m gonna gloss over the Dark
Knight Returns a little bit because if you’re a comic book fan, let’s face it,
you’ve probably read The Dark Knight Returns, but on this comic something of
note is he was working with Lynn Varley who, I don’t know if at the time they
were married, but they would eventually be married and she worked as a colorist
for him on a whole bunch of different projects and I think this is one of
their best pairings together. Her colors and his art and his writing, it’s just
such a perfect blend. And this shot right here, which is another very iconic comic
panel, I think it’s just so great. Particularly because of the way the
capes emphasize the movement. You can really feel that Superman has just been
ripped from the left side of the page to the right by this huge punch from Batman.
And Batman’s swing is emphasized by the fact that his cape is still off to the
right and it also really… their two capes really sell the flow of this image
and you can really feel this hit even without any swoosh lines or drawn in
impact effects. And of course it’s got that blank white background again which
I think for this image worked really well. And then after this Miller would
give us Sin City and 300… but then eventually in 2001 Miller and
Varley would give us the Dark Knight Strikes Again which is a pretty
universally panned comic both for the writing and the art and it is strange
looking. And I think there’s only really two possibilities of what was going on
here; one, they were trying a really big style experiment that just didn’t work
or two, they made it terrible on purpose. And there’s even rumors that people at
DC had to sign non-disclosure agreements to not talk about what happened behind
the scenes with Dark Knight Strikes Again so we really don’t know what was
happening, but I mean… just look at the art. Even, a lot of the faces are really
unusual and Miller has done strange faces on his characters in the past, but
I think it’s just even more emphasized by how strange the characters are drawn.
In this there’s almost no interior Anatomy drawings the characters all just
seem to be silhouettes with costume details and that’s something that
actually can’t work really well, when I talk about David Ava’s work later on he
did something kind of like that on his iconic run of Hawkeye and it works
fantastically, but here it’s just strange. And there are times where he’ll use that
blank white background or Varley will just do some kind of really unusually
textured background and it it it rarely works in this comic the way it has in
some of his other stuff. These giant hands and feet kind of remind me of when
I was talking about Yaoi art from a few episodes ago.
Now, to be fair, actually this page right here I kind of like. It’s pretty
weird-looking but the colors really pop. I don’t actually know what the context
is for this one, but I don’t actually mind the the shape of the characters in
this… but I really don’t know what’s happening here with Lara having a full
head of hair in this shot and then the next one she’s got her head shaved?
There’s there’s a lot of strange stuff like that in this comic. Maybe they were
just really rushed. I’ve heard people talking about how Miller actually
finished the comic on an airplane ride to go hand it in but honestly my best
guest because Frank Miller does experimental
from comic to comic I would say it’s likely that this was a really big leap
of an experiment that just didn’t go so well. And I really like when artists will
experiment from one project to the next with their art, but maybe it wasn’t the
best idea doing that with a sequel to one of the biggest comics in the history
of comics. But either way I don’t think it’s too much of a problem because Frank
Miller is definitely gonna be remembered more for the fantastic stuff that he’s
given us then for this. It’s genuinely blowing my mind a little bit that these
two pieces were done by the same artist. I mean I’ve been a big fan of Matteo Scalera for a while now because I read Black
Science a while back and his art in that is so gorgeous, but when I went to
look up what his first comic was and found Hyperkinetic… I was just shocked
because when I think about Matteo Scalera’s art, the first thing that comes
to my mind is heavy textures and heavy ink and there is neither of that in this
artwork. It’s all very cartoony and there’s very little detailing done in
the inks and the characters are very cartoony and sharp and that’s something
you can see between this and black science the characters in black science
while there are a lot more detailed looking you can still see they have a
cartoony ish feel and shape to them they’re kind of angular their faces are
pretty sharp they have exaggerated expressions but it’s nowhere near what
he’s doing in hyperkinetic. And I’m not saying anything against the work in
hyperkinetic I really love it as well. As someone who works generally in cartoon
your styles I really like this and I want to go back and read i,t it’s just… I
just can’t believe it’s Matteo Scalera! And I’ll put up on screen now a bunch of
his single just inked drawings of characters because that’s some of the
stuff of his I love them most especially here in this She-hulk drawing. The way he
uses the inks to emphasize the move of everything I think is so great and
admittedly I don’t even totally understand what’s happening in the
drawing. It’s like there’s a bunch of rocks above She-hulk and she’s… it almost
looks like she’s bringing them down with her to hit someone? I I don’t totally get
what’s happening but I love her expression I
love the shape of everything and just the way he does his cross-hatching is so
so appealing… to me personally that’s obviously a personal bias but I really
like his solo ink stuff. And especially when you pair it with a painterly style
like Dean White’s coloring on this image here
I think his stuff is just so gorgeous. Now Jae Lee is an artist whose style has
evolved hugely over the course of his career. He started that Marvel in the
early 90s working on Namor and nowadays he’s more well known for his covers on
things like Batman Superman and Wolverine and he Illustrated what is
generally considered the definitive run of the Inhumans, but I think it’s really
interesting looking back at his old 1992 Namor cover in comparison to his 2010
Namor covers. And this is very much another case like with Frank Miller, an
artist who’s breaking into the industry and trying to draw like the generally
accepted art style of the time, but of course Frank Miller was getting into the
industry in the early 80s and Jae Lee was jumping in in the 90s when everything
was very grisly and edgy and dark and gritty and you can very much see Jae Lee
trying to draw in that style and this is just one of the cases where it really
didn’t work and that’s largely because of the lighting. In most of this piece
it seems implied that the lighting is coming from the upper right of the image,
keeping in mind where the shadows are on his legs and his back, but then his face
and part of his chest just have this huge section of black on them seeming to
imply that there’s a really really intense shadow there, but the only way
that that’s really possible, given what we’re seeing with the rest of the
shadows, is if just off frame there’s some big object obscuring the light
casting a shadow on to him there. But, if that actually was the case it would be a
good idea to have part of that object in the image so we can see that that’s
what’s happening or maybe have some light streaks showing that a little bit
more to sell that idea. And let’s be totally fair this is a case
of taking what’s probably Jae Lee’s worst professional art and putting it
under a microscope, like with a lot of the art that I’ve talked about in this
series where I’m looking at an artist’s less flattering work, he was still a
great artist back then. But, what’s interesting to see in some of his
interiors is he worked in a very sharp style, but if we jump forward 20 years
later to when he was working on Namor covers again, you can see he’s really
changed things up he’s evolved into doing a much more realistic style the
characters are a lot more rounded but they still also have that intense black
inking on them. And all of his work now has this very heavenly vibe. There’s…
there’s lots of clouds obscuring things and a lot of floaty background textures
and all his stuff now it feels very… I don’t know
artsy and contemplative. Like it’s a lot of characters thinking about
something. But I think it’s really interesting seeing how far he’s come in
terms of his style. And that’s a good thing for artists to keep in mind; you
don’t have to be a perfect artist going into the industry. I mean even in my
episode last week where I looked at some of the old animations I’ve been paid for.
Some of those really terrible looking, but being a professional artist isn’t
about being incredible right off the bat it’s just about finding people that are
willing to pay for the art that you can make at the time and then improving as
you go through your career. Jae Lee ,despite starting off doing some
stuff that you know look like this, is now a very well regarded comic book
artist. Same artist. Immortal Iron Fist and Hawkeye. And both of these runs with
art done by David Aja are very iconic for these characters. They’re probably
the definitive runs of each of the characters. The Hawkeye one is probably
more well known and it’s actually the comic that I believe they’re using to
inspire the upcoming Disney Plus Hawkeye TV series, but the style difference is
crazy! And what I think a good thing to look at is both comics, the style is
inspired by the kind of character that the story is about. So if you look at the
Immortal Iron Fist, where there’s a lot more inked textures and the characters
are bit more realistically shaped, just take
a look at the writing of what Iron Fist is thinking. He thinks ‘my name is Daniel
Rand and my arsenal of kung-fu is rich and deep. I pray to God that it will be
enough.” He’s very stoic and serious and the
art style reflects that. And then if we move over to Hawkeye you’ve got a
character that says stuff like ‘ok this bad. Really, really bad, but
believe it or not this is only the third most terrible idea I’ve had today and
today I’ve had exactly nine terrible ideas.’ It’s a more jokey character he’s a
little bit more… not quite upbeat but he’s got that sort of
attitude of ‘oh well I guess I’m in this situation now.’ He’s taking things less
seriously and the art reflects the personality of the character, again. And I
love the covers for this series. They’re are so simple and graphic design-y and they
stand out so much on a bookshelf. And it’ll definitely come down to personal
taste which you like better his work on Immortal Iron Fist or his work on
Hawkeye, I personally love the Hawkeye art. The confidence that you need to
do a style this simple and have it work this well it is just incredibly
impressive to me. And also good to point out the colorist that’s often working
with him is Matt Hollingsworth, who is the same artist I talked about works
really really well with Sean Murphy on a lot of Sean Murphy’s Art. I talked
about him in the last episode I’ll link it in the card. I’m quickly realizing
that he’s probably my favorite colorist working today. also more recently David
Aja’s done some covers for Scarlet Witch, which are really cool looking I’ll put
some of those up now to finish up because they’re really great as well. now Marcio Takara is an artist I’ve been
following on Instagram pretty much as long as I’ve had Instagram. I really love
his artwork on there. I haven’t read a ton of his comic work but I really like
how he uses simplicity in a bunch of his art, not all of it, but a lot of the time
he’ll do really simple detailing in the inking stage and let the textures be
done in the coloring. Whether that’s him doing his own coloring or working with
another colorist, I think that’s really gorgeous looking, but then he’ll also
sometimes do really nice detailing in his inks. And he’s an
artist who I thought I could very easily recognize his style whenever I saw it,
but I went back and looked that the first thing he ever worked on for Marvel
and it was this sort of public service announcement type comic or something. A
comic targeted at kids to be sort of like ‘don’t do drugs’ that kind of thing.
And, if you showed it to me I definitely don’t think I would have recognized it
as his work which i think is impressive. I really like when an artist can
switch their style between projects. I don’t particularly love this artwork
but it looks like it’s exactly what he was trying to do it’s a very
kid-friendly sort of style. But if we jump forward the first time I ever saw
his work in comics was in All New Wolverine, which I absolutely love his
work in that and I’m a bit biased because that’s one of my favorite comic
book runs I’ve ever read. Tom Taylor’s writing in that is absolutely fantastic
and you can see in this the characters their faces have very simple rendering
on them and as I mentioned before a lot of the inks are very very simple and the
details and texture are done in the coloring which in this case he was
working with Mat Lopes doing the colors. And I think Matt Lopez’s colors are
gorgeous on this work. And what I really like is if you’re doing inks this simple
and working with another colorist you really have to trust that your
colorist is gonna do what you want with the textures and detailing in the
coloring stage. So I don’t know the background for this comic and how
closely they work together but my guess would be that Mat Lopes and Marcio
Takara talked a lot about what they wanted to do together and they look like
they were really in sync in terms of trying to make some really gorgeous art
that works well in a story like All New Wolverine which is pretty action comedy type. There’s some dark moments in the story but it’s generally pretty fun and
upbeat. It’s really really great, I highly recommend i. But then if we jump forward
to some of Marcio Takara’s most recent work which was on Wolverine The Long
Night, which is based off of the podcast. Which it that is a really interesting
podcast where Wolverines kind of presented us almost a horror movie
character, but you can see in this here there is a lot more ink texture. The
characters have more textures on their face because this is a…
despite the fact that it’s another Wolverine story, this one is very clearly
supposed to be a lot less upbeat and friendly and more dark and gritty and if
it’s inspired by the podcast it’s likely got some horror elements to it. And that
feel comes across much more strongly with these with these intense ink
textures, but even in this there are still times where you can see he’s done
limited ink work and let some of the detailing texturing be done in the
colors like looking at these wolves. But yeah his arts really gorgeous I’ll put
up some of my favorite stuff off his Instagram and I really like some of his
work where he’ll just do a very small simple character just you know on a
plain white shot I think those are really interesting and fun. I’ll link his
Instagram in the description it’s it’s all really great stuff. But that’s all
for this episode everybody, thank you so much for watching let me know what you
thought about this format of looking at different artists evolutions. I wanted to
try shaking it up a little bit I want to try a few different formats of the same
sort of illustrator reacts show because I felt it was starting to get a little
bit samey. But of course as always leave more recommendations for people you want
me to talk about in the future again I’m sorry I haven’t gotten to Junji Ito yet,
but he didn’t really fit in with the format of this episode. Also be sure to
go watch a bunch of my other illustration and animation videos. I do
drawing tutorials and designing characters and weird mashups and all
that kind of fun stuff. And of course I hope everybody’s excited for the PopCross Community Redraw sidekicks and henchmen coming out on Monday. I’m
already started on it and it’s looking pretty good I’m excited for everyone to
see it. Anyway, I’m Christian Pearson, this is PopCross Studios, home of the
nerdiest art videos on YouTube and I will see you all on the next one thanks
for watching everybody.

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