Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Church & State II-- Original Art Bonanza, Part the First



Sean Michael Robinson:



Hello all,


Yesterday I received the first 1/4th of original art scans from Sandeep Atwal, who's going scan crazy over in Kitchener at the moment. This would normally be a cause of celebration, but it's even more so now, seeing how fantastic these scans look. 

For a few different reasons, we've moved over to scanning with an Epson 11000XL, which gives a great image, extremely sharp optically and with a color fidelity unprecedented for flatbed scanning. Really a fine machine, and the scans show it.


The other reason to get excited is (and I'm sure none of you need me to tell you this) the artwork for C + S II is incredible. The best pen and ink illustration this side of the nineteenth century. 

Of course, this has not always been reflected in the printed books.

Anyway, I thought I'd take you on a brief tour of some of the pages I've received so far, noting areas that are most interesting to me, as a cartoonist.

First off, the texture in these pages! Just incredible. A snow storm. A quiet industrial-age wooden kitchen. A garden. Terrifying stone heads. "Cosmic shit." The moon. All distinct, all instantly recognizable, each affecting the scenes throughout, sometimes taking precedence, other times falling into the background.


above-- the background figuratively (and literally!) supports the characters.



These pages are so well-drawn, and have such a careful balance of values, that it's possible to take virtually any panel and isolate it, and the composition holds up individually. A wide variety of sizes, and they hold up, look equally great. Truly, truly great, to the point where it's difficult for me to write about them without resorting to gushing. This is the book where, visually, everything hits the next level.

This panel is definitely an interesting combination of elements, from the fingerprints (never commit a major felony, Gerhard!), the white-out, to the tone etching on the bottom. continuing the soft-edge line of the fingerprints. Also of importance to myself and literally only one other person-- since the tone extends into the black, there's no tone shrinkage to fix! Yes!




By the Church & State II era, the photography is much improved over the previous books, which makes it less likely for, say, whole sections of drawing to be missing (exceptions for teeny tiny lines like, for instance, the cloud hatching above). So the detail that's often striking in the originals (or in the new C + S I book) is generally to be found in the darker areas, areas that have filled in or plugged up in previous printings. Check out the wall in the background, which could often turn into an indistinct black mass in print. Look at the cross-hatching used under (on top of?) the tone to build up mass and roundness to the features. And, hey, check out that very Mick Jagger-like stone face directly above "Mick" here... hmm....




Also of note? Dave and Gerhard loved their photocopier. That is, if love is a function of how often you use an object in the production of your monthly comic book. Here's a particularly inventive use, which I think indicates the kind of "collage" mindset that it might encourage.



Last image here before I go. This page has lost its tone at some point, leaving a rare example of "naked Cerebus" from this era of the book. Interesting to see the hatching lines, normally obscured by the tone, and to see how expressive Dave's line work could be. Love the rough line of the mouth, and the "missing" portions of the drawing, which, as you can see from this color reproduction, were drawn in with non-reproduction blue, where they could continue to be an aid to Gerhard as he laid out the tone.



Want to see more posts like this? Let me know in the comments!

11 comments:

Cerebus Online said...

I want to see more posts like this!

Anonymous said...

Please share more — these close-ups are simply amazing

Lee Thacker said...

Ditto! Great stuff from one of my favourite volumes.

John Christian said...

Fantastic! Add me to the list of people wanting to see more, please.


iestyn said...

More please, please, please

Sean R said...

Okay, then. More it is! (A soon as Sandeep gets me the rest of the files, that is ;) )

There's so much to say about these pages, I'll plan on putting three or four together as long as there's interest...

Paul Slade said...

More, please!

Anonymous said...

I broke out my copy of C&SII to compare and the difference in the panel where Cerebus is holding Mick's leg is a revelation (literally and figuratively). In my printing, the background is almost black. I think it's certainly good advertising to show more of these dramatic differences.

- Reginald P.

Jim Sheridan said...

Ummm....if the choice is between insightful discussion of incredible art vs.. sophomoric advice on dating....

iestyn said...

@ Jim Sheridan - I actually laughed out loud at work

Barry Deutsch said...

I'm a latecomer, but another enthusiastic vote for more posts like this!