Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Good Drawing

Glamourpuss #24 (March 2012)
Art by Dave Sim

(from Cerebus TV Season 3 Episode 18, 2 March 2012)
One of my most favourite and least favourite quotes from photorealist Stan Drake: prompted by Shel Dorf in his 1985 interview with Drake where Shel says "You made a statement once that no matter how could the technique is, if the drawing isn't there then its still lousy" and Drake takes it up with "You've got to have a good drawing. If you've got the good drawing there, you can ink it in with a toothbrush." On a good day I'll think to myself, that’s really true. On a bad day I'll think to myself, no Mr Drake, you can ink it with a toothbrush. Me? I can’t get it right with a Gillott 290, a Gillott 303, a Hunt 102 or a Winsor Newton series 7 #2 brush.

A good case in point, Glamourpuss #24... I had two references to Leonard Starr on page 18 and I thought "Neato!" - for you kids out there that translates roughly as "Awesome!" - I can do a Leonard Starr's Mary Perkins On Stage. I can use any Mary Perkins drawing that I want. So this is the one that I picked, a speciality piece done in 1964 by Leonard Starr to celebrate the bicentennial of the Hartford Courant, America's oldest continuously published newspaper:
Cerebus TV, 2 March 2012
Art by Leonard Starr
Photocopied it, enlarged it, did a real quick pencil tracing of just a few of the details in the hair and the face, and boy, I've got to tell you, from Leonard Starr's one hundred percent, rock solid drawing, it practically inked itself. Just like Stan Drake said. It gave me enough confidence that the momentum even carried over into my portrait of Leonard Starr. "Hey, I don’t actually draw this good. This is fun." And the momentum then carried over even in to my own panel of Stan Drake behind the wheel of his 1956 Corvette. It's no where near being in Stan Drake's or Leonard Starr's league, but definitely in the upper register of Dave Sim photorealism.

...problem being - as Steve Bissette used to say - that you convince yourself that you're actually able to do this spontaneously, forgetting that I'm only capable of drawing like that if I do a really heavily laboured spontaneity: like this quick inking with a brush pen over the initial pencil for this panel - real loosy-goosy, just throw those solid blacks on there, real spontaneous - and the imitate them, but do it really, really carefully so that you're not ruining something that you've already spent a couple of hours on.
Cerebus TV, 2 March 2012
Rough sketch by Dave Sim

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