Monday, 18 January 2016

Comic Book Greats #5: Bill Sienkiewicz

Art by Dave Sim
(Glamourpuss #9, September 2009)

(from 100 Internet Tour at Comic Book Resources, Febuary 2008)
...when I brought up Bill Sienkiewicz's STRAY TOASTERS at lunch the one time and you'd think I'd shot somebody's dog from the way Seth, Chester and Joe reacted. I reread STRAY TOASTERS at least once a year. It's confusing as heck but, for me it has some amazing moments... but then I like the illustration schools represented in there and what Bill is trying to do (or what I think Bill is trying to do). The use of flat colour in the lettering and the caption boxes which puts everything on TOP of the actual art. That's pretty breathtaking for me as an artist who is known as an innovative letterer. I take my hat off to anybody who can introduce a whole new way of doing work. Dave McKean came out of that. Thematically the SANDMAN covers are Sienkiewicz. Even if it's not your cup of tea, it's nothing to act as if liking it is the same as shooting someone's dog. GASOLINE ALLEY has very, very little to offer me, but I would never call it s--t...


iestyn said...

I don't like the look of his left eye - it's at a very odd angle.

Stray Toasters anecdote - my art teacher in comprehensive (high school) only had one comic book in the class - we had art books to study. It was a Stray Toasters collection.

I asked him - being a huge comic fan and huge fan of Bill's work on New Mutants - why he had this.

He replied that the treatment of the materials fascinated him, the way it played with surface and texture and depth.

So at least one person agreed with Dave.

Mostly everyone I know or that I've shown it to has the same reaction as Seth etc.

Personally, I like teasing out the plot and how I can make different stories from it.

Really could do with being released with much better printing and scanning and NOT ON SHINY PAPER - god I hate shiny paper when I'm trying to read comics.

Shame Bill does no personal work anymore...

Dave Sim said...

Might have something to do with the...VEHEMENTLY NEGATIVE...reaction his personal work engendered? :)

iestyn said...

I wondered if it was that, or the fallout with Alan Moore?

Personally would love to see him produce more personal works and with things like Patreon I wonder if there would now be enough of a following for him to allow him to do just that.

I think that there is more opportunity for this nowadays.

Or I'm just fooling myself, hoping that people will make the work I want to see...

Jim Sheridan said...

What a fascinating artist. The way Bill has taken chances and pushed himself is inspirational, and a remarkable evolution to study if you take the time.I've spent hours tracking his history via the net in addition to the works I own. I need to see the 2008 documentary.

Travis Pelkie said...

Stray Toasters was released in trade by Image, oh, 3-4 years ago, maybe? It might be on slick paper, but man, it is some out there freaky good stuff! I need to find it and reread it now.

Yeah, this drawing by Dave, though...not his best work. Bill looks...special.

Steve said...

I had a nice chat a few years ago with Bill when he was here for a comic con. He, Dave, and Ger used to see each other fairly regularly and out of that came the Cerebus Jams cover (which by the way should be done as a quality poster).

Thinking it'd be neat to get a Sienkiewicz Cerebus sketch and have Ger do what only Ger can do for a background I asked Bill about doing a con sketch.

Bill thought it would be a keen idea too, especially with Ger filling in the details. And it would only cost me $300.


(By the way, Neal Adams was going to give me a nice Cerebus discount on his usual 81/2 by 11 full figure sketch: only $700, down from the regular $1200.)

And it looks to me like Bill is channeling his inner Bugs Bunny.


ps - nice to read the occasional comment here from Dave.

Sandeep Atwal said...

Stray Toasters is one of the few comics I read before I started reading Cerebus. I think I first saw Sienkiewicz's work on the cover of New Mutants. I thought, and still think, that Stray Toasters is one of the most beautiful comics ever created, the work of an artist of the first order, just absolutely gorgeous. When Big Numbers was announced, I was elated. My favourite comic-book writer and my favourite comic book artist together? You couldn't ask for more. Sad it was never finished. If you're on Facebook, I recommend subscribing to Sienkiewicz's fan page, he's very active there. I would have to say Sienkiewicz is still my favourite comic artist...but don't tell Dave I said that!