Paint it? Blech.

April 20, 2005

BeaucoupKevin has me thinking about painted comics. I usually don’t like them very much.

That strikes me as kind of odd, given my early tastes in comic art. I was crazy about the realistic stuff… Neal Adams, George Perez, folks like that (and I still am). I remember some photo-realistic covers from issues of The Flash that were just the living end. I hated… hated Joe Staton’s cartoon-y style. It was the bane of my existence, as he seemed to draw everything at one point or another.

At that point in my life I probably would have formed a cult for Alex Ross, I think because I badly needed comics to be taken seriously. Painted comics would have been just the evidence I needed that this was an art form, not just an entertainment. Faced with the derisive assessment of comics as immature or stupid or whatever other dismissal, I could have whipped out a painted comic. Their criticisms of detractors would have frozen in their throats when faced with the seriousness, the Importance connoted by someone taking the time not just to draw the Scarlet Witch… but to paint her.

Yeah, I was pretty stupid. And weird. Don’t forget weird. (I may still be both, but that’s for you to decide.)

Now, I’m at a point in my life as a comics fan when I need them to be fun. And, as Kevin points out, painted comics are kind of the anti-fun. It’s probably unfair, but I always associate them with an excessive weightiness (or at least an intended weightiness, even if they don’t pull it off). They’re Serious. They’re Important. And worst of all, they announce it before I get a chance to decide for myself.

The cartoon-y (for lack of a better term… I really mean it as a compliment) style that I rejected as a kid is now a very handy predictor of a comic I’ll like very, very much. At the very least, I’ll appreciate the visual craft required to communicate complex, varied emotions and situations with a deceptively minimalist style. I’d much rather look at a black-and-white comic drawn by Andi Watson or Bryan Lee O’Malley than some painted thing by Alex Ross. I vastly prefer the clear, kinetic, sexy work Cameron Stewart did on Catwoman than Paul Gulacy’s. I think there’s probably more eye candy on any single page of Carnet de Voyage than there is in, say, Secret War.

This would normally be the point where I express my continued bafflement over a certain Eisner nomination for best cover artist, but I’ve talked about that. So I’ll just wrap things up by saying that I’m glad this is a Wednesday that promises a lot of fun comics. Hope my copy of Lost At Sea shows up.

(Edited to eliminate a terrifyingly familiar and unnecessary use of quote marks. Shudder.)