Monday, 17 December 2018

Intro by Dave: "The Singing of P. Craig Russell a short introduction by Dave Sim"

Hi, Everybody!

Hey Look! It's P. Craig Russell:

Image result for The Art of P. Craig Russell 

The Singing of P. Craig Russell
a short introduction by Dave Sim
The question arises -- as it often does -- alongside the "Art of..." volume: How did P. Craig Russell come to be one of the great unsung heroes of the comic-book field? As you are about to bear witness, it is an illustrious and near to flawless career that goes back thirty years -- more than thirty years. 
Don't take my word for the longevity, though: there's a photo herein of Craig with Don McGregor ca. Killraven, War of the Worlds (first taste of the margins of comic-book stardom, what Gil Kane described as the "small fame" of comics). 
Might as well ask: How did 1974 come to be thirty years ago? 
We owe, as it turns out, a debt to Dan Adkins and his studio (as, in turn, we owe a debt to Wally Wood for Dan Adkins), a tip of the introductory chapeau to CBG back when it was still TBG, back when the weekly cover slot was often a first stepping stone to prominence, to making a name for one's self or...to becoming unsung. 
The readily identifiable style arrives full-blown on page 30 and, after that, it's a relentless parade of "eye candy", sufficient to induce the ocular equivalent of a sugar rush. 
Why didn't we hear more about this stuff a) at the time b) in the interim and c) since? The perhaps more apt question: Why didn't we say more about this stuff? Then the personal self-indictment: When was the last time I mentioned Craig's work in conversation? I had worked P. Craig Russell and "Therimbula and the Sea" into Going Home (page 186). Metaphorically, I posed the question to myself: What could an archetypal Princess Diana and a F. Scott Fitzgerald derivation have found common ground in discussing, had they been contemporaries? He, urgently desirous of getting on her good side, she, wary of his alcoholism and the egregious theatricality of his marital woes...the answer was immediate. 
Night Music by P. Craig Russell ("I aDORE Therimbula and the Sea"). 
I didn't write to ask Craig's permission. With some people you would have to: you would be taking your life in your hands using something of theirs without a signed contract. With Craig (I knew) all I would be doing is spoiling a nice surprise. 
Wonder Woman on page 38...Tom Swift 3000 that became Robin 3000...how did I miss that one? Why wasn't everyone...singing...about it? 
An amazing collection. He's even an accomplished book designer. He hasn't got his photoshop pilot's license, but peering over Joe Pruett's shoulder he calls his plays right at the line of scrimmage. That Robin 3000 cover would look great at the top of that column of type. 
And it does. Of course it does. 
...The National Library Association poster (lucky Association!)...The Spectre covers (how did I miss those Spectre covers?)...the house on the first page of Gone...the Insomniac page...the "up shot" of the house in Coraline...Shere Khan on page 106...Chapter 7: Opera (will there ever again be a comic-book creator with a chapter of his "Art of" book devoted to Opera?)... 
Weighty subject matter? By contrast with Craig's contemporaries? To be sure...but leavened with acerbic wit worthy of an Upper West Side cocktail party. "Here's your share of the artwork." I can't remember when I've laughed so hard. 
What Craig needs isn't an introduction by the Pariah King of Comics (what was he thinking? Make no mistake, the loyalty is appreciated. Craig is no fair weather friend like so many in the field, but...what WAS he thinking?). 
What Craig needs is to have Jill Thompson in her Brunhilde helmet to ride Lucky the Horse right down to the footlights...stage center...to extract...with harsh metallic theatricality...her sword from it's scabbard...to then brandish it... 
"P......CRAIG.....RUSSELL!" 
She would cry (a fortissimo)...her gaze and her sword point then passing slowly from right to left...then from left to right...the crowd, a deer in Jill Thompson's metaphorical headlights...letting the moment build to a climax... 
And then...to the opening strains of Twilight of the Gods (gotterdammerung)...the row of white floodlights behind her shoot skyward... 
'EVERYBODY! SING!" 
Oh, well. This will just have to do.
Dave Sim
Kitchener, Ontario
11 June 07
Which was my 28th birthday.

Going Home page 186, courtesy CerebusDownloads.com 
Next Time: Dorks.

3 comments:

Tony Dunlop said...

"Eye candy" is pretty apt IMO. Russell's stuff is very, very pretty. He's obviously brimming with natural talent and an admirable work ethic, but like candy, I can really only see his work as a treat to be indulged in once in a while. A steady diet of it would give me a tummyache, I'm afraid.

Jeff said...

Well, you know, it's usually pretty "busy" work. Lots and lotsa detail. You know, like Gerhard's art has always been.

Dominick Grace said...

I've always loved PCR's lush style and will generally buy a book just for his art.