Sunday, 17 December 2017

Under the influence of an Aardvark: Kurt Ruskin

Hi, Everybody,

So, got an email at, from Cerebus fan and professional artist Kurt Ruskin.

And here's Kurt:
A steel sword shoved into a red hot furnace.
As I sit down to write this, that is the image that flashes through my head of the Cerebus comic book and the progression of the art as it evolved. The very early stuff looked like crap ONLY when compared to how great the stuff eventually looked (then again I only have the old copies before they were remastered so who knows). Dave and Ger kept shoving that steel sword back into the fire and hammering on it, sparks flying everywhere. Constantly refining it until it was Cerebus.
Everything about the art got better. Dave got better at anatomy, faces, design, and storytelling. The contrast got dialed up. Gerhard went from supplying the backgrounds to creating the world. Sometimes they would seem to drop what they were doing and run in wacky artistic directions. Sometimes they would run down the coast of fine art and then round the corner into silent film. One page is pure cartooning the next page is photo-realism. Even the lettering became art.
The general thrust of this post is supposed to be about the artistic influence of the work of Dave Sim and Gerhard. I can't see how you could look at more than a few pages of it and not be influenced by the work. And it just kept getting better.
My first introduction to all of this stuff was the 112-113 double issue. It was a used quarter bin copy found around 1991 or 1992. There was no deeper contrast between the pile of everything else I had off of the comics rack and that one issue. I think most people here can probably picture 90's comics accurately. While I have a whole lot of love for the comics of the 90's the difference was night and day.
No dialogue but somehow there was more story. There was an atmosphere no matter where that curious little grey guy went. It was like watching a fascinating silent film. A note from "B." Who's "B."? Where is everybody? There's a dead body on the floor?!? Who is that guy? He grabs a sword. Is he expecting trouble? Then he walks out into the rain and sits down on a ledge. This stuff is beautiful! Why is that mountain shaped like a screw? The kicker dialogue was at the end of the book. I may have not had an idea of what was happening throughout most of the story but I felt like the writer did.
So they started appearing. Little lines. Everywhere. I would be drawing a head or a figure and the lines would start showing up. Stonework in the background with lines all over it. Batman prowling on an old building... with lines all over it, and him. I didn't know what I was doing. I probably still don't. But the influence was definitely there. What was next? Time to violate Dave's copyright on Cerebus and advertise!
My Catholic grade school had a bake sale and I have to admit I was quite taken with that little grey bastard. They rounded up all of the artists in the grade school and made us create all of these posters for the school's bake sale to be plastered on the walls of the school, church, meeting hall, and whatnot. So I started drawing all of these posters of Cerebus behind a podium telling people about this bake sale. Yes, that's right. Cerebus, talking in the third person and pushing his cake.
Before you ask, I have no idea what I was thinking.
Anyway the bake sale got called off because all of the cake's were homemade and that violated some health code or something. I'm not sure. Either way all of those posters presumably got chucked into the furnace along with a lot of cake. Something about the image of a slice of cake on top of a poster Cerebus burning in a Catholic furnace... There's an allegory in there somewhere.
Moving right along.
You know what? Let's just fast forward to the present. So I can just show you some of the obvious influence of Dave and Ger on a lot of my art.
These are the some of the most recent images from Star Wars The Last Jedi. These are sketch cards drawn on 3.5" x 2.5" cardstock.
Thanks Dave! Thanks Ger!
And also thank you to Tim for running this blog! 
And he send some Star Wars art too:

Thanks Kurt!

Next time: I dunno, wanna see pictures of my Crystar the Crystal Warrior figures?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like your art Kurt thanks for sharing that and your Cerebus experience.

Merry Christmas,

A Fake Name