Monday, 1 October 2012

HARDtalk: The Virtual Tour #12

With glamourpuss, you set yourself the goal of trying to draw like Alex Raymond in a photorealistic style.  Was/is this an achievable goal?

I would say, "Not the way I did it."  By which I mean, I was hoping that glamourpuss would have enough success to allow me to do it as a full-time job, in which case I would be learning Alex Raymond's style from the ground up and always be working on it.  As it turned out, I needed to do other work to supplement the glamourpuss revenues, so I was learning Raymond's style and then having to put that aside and do CEREBUS commissions and do general office work before getting back to it.  Then I needed to add doing CEREBUS ARCHIVE as sales slipped further and I needed another title.  And when sales slipped on both of them, I needed to do CEREBUS TV to try to promote them.  And now I've spent June, July, August and most of September autographing comic books and doing Cerebus head sketches and full figure drawings and packing books and things like that.  I haven't even looked at a Raymond panel since back in June.  I can retain a certain amount of acquired knowledge but the fitful "start and stop" process means a lot of time is spent re-learning what I've already learned each time I come back to the board.

What DID you learn in the process?

The idea BEHIND the style, which is a certain economy of line, a way of simplifying what you see when you look at something, distilled down to a brush stroke or a couple of brush strokes.  At the pencil stage you make the thing or the person look as much like the thing or the person as you can, moving from the general to the specific.  You rough in the face and then tighten it up and get it down to a very specific series of lines.  This line has to set this parameter, this line has to set this other parameter.

Then at the inking stage -- and this was the part I didn't "get" in just looking at and admiring Raymond's RIP KIRBY style inventions -- you have to detach completely from that end of the drawing process: what the thing or person looks like and move mentally to the concept of the brush stroke as a physical activity.  You have to immerse yourself in the physical act of moving your hand with the brush in it.  The mental image I have is that my hand is a skater and the brush is the blade of the ice skate.  The blade has to hit the ice in a very specific way to make the brush stroke required.  My skater's mind has to communicate that to my skater hand and the skater hand has to make the skate blade tip of the brush do what is required.  It isn't Stan Drake's cheek or a lock of hair or the shadow under the chin, it's a skate blade executing a skater movement on command that the skater mind knows will make the shape necessary.

After photorealism, are there any other art styles you want to master next, or do you see this as your main focus for the foreseeable future?

Probably my exclusive focus.  I appreciate the compliment, but I don't that I've mastered ANY art style.  I have a good working knowledge of the Cerebus cartoon realism style but I don't execute it nearly as well as a I see it in my head.  Although I've gotten better at it because of the work on photorealism which is a much tougher discipline.  By comparison, Cerebus cartoon realism is quite easy.  I would say I've mastered word balloon display lettering, although I'm still more partial to the Joe Kubert font than to my own lettering for plain lettering.  I also recognize that people want my regular lettering.  I wouldn't use the Kubert font on a Cerebus commission.  I'm wondering if it's possible to just do Cerebus commissions and to use the money from them to finance working non-stop on THE STRANGE DEATH OF ALEX RAYMOND.  A lot of different possibilities with varying degrees of likelihood attached to them.  We shall see what we shall see, shan't we?
Okay, now we are we headed back to Heidi Macdonald's THE BEAT for a question from Phreddie:

Mr. Sim, CEREBUS, at 6,000 pages can appear very imposing for a new reader and the world of Estarcion can be a bit confusing even for long-time ones.  Have you ever thought of doing a "Who's Who and What's What?" character guide/reference book with new portraits of the cast, essays on items and locations, histories?  

Hit the link to THE BEAT to see the answer to that question... and be here tomorrow for more HARDtalk.

Already signed up for the HARDtalk Virtual Tour are Bleeding Cool, Millar World, Terminal Drift, Canadian Comics Archive, The Comics Journal, The Beat and Mindless Ones. Add your question for Dave Sim at one of these fine websites before 10 October and if your question is chosen (they'll need to be tough, interesting questions!) you'll receive a personalised, autographed copy of a Cerebus back-issue, with a Cerebus head-sketch by Dave Sim!


Damin J. Toell, Esq. said...

I can't find the answer at the link you posted to The Beat.

Michael A Battaglia said...

@ Damin:

Scroll down to the bottom of the comments from the article about the fire.

Damin J. Toell, Esq. said...

I'm not seeing it, I just see Dave answering a different question back on 9/23.

Michael A Battaglia said...

well, that's where the question is, I'm just guessing the answer will show up as a reply to it at some point.

Dave Philpott said...

Nothing yet. Kinda like seeing Axel Rose he will be out soon.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Sorry for the delay in getting the answer posted at THE BEAT. It looks like Dave's answer is stuck in their 'moderation' process. Let's give them some more time before we go to Plan B.

A Moment Of Cerebus said...

Dave's answer at THE BEAT now posted! Thanks Heidi!