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In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

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Eli Katz
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In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby Eli Katz » Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:32 pm

Put another way, do you think the average comic book artists today (however you define and determine average) is better today than in previous decades? Or do you think that an older generation of artists was able to put out higher quality art? Or do you think that the art has remained relatively stable in quality over the years?

I'm not sure I have an answer for these questions. But I started thinking about the quality of art after seeing this cover:

Image

This is a 1938 cover, and it knocks me out. I don't know who Leo E. O’Mealia was, but, man oh man, that guy could put together a beautiful, startling image. His work definitely holds up. And I imagine that there are many forgotten artists out there who put out exceptional work over the years.

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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby Stephen Day » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:04 pm

I think the artwork has become a lot more detailed, maybe not better, but more detailed. Sometimes that comes at a price though. The old style artwork was less detailed, but the slow artist who has trouble keeping up with monthly deadlines was virtually unknown.
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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:17 pm

Artistically, I think there are some off beat things being done today that are different and interesting. However, the standard comic book art in most mainstream comics is inferior. Over rendered, in many cases lacking subtlety, often unattractive despite extreme detail, uninspired, and often juvenile and vulgar. The standard art back in the day was 100 times classier.

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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby syxxpakk » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:23 pm

I've never really cared about the art in comics, TBH, unless it was really awful. That said, I think it's like anything if you say "Is it better now than then?" It's yes and no, and it's all subjective anyway. Take Cliff Chiang. To me, he blows Jack Kirby out of the water and it's not even close. I'm sure someone else disagrees, which is fine. Then there's Rob Liefeld, and I'll take Jack Kirby over Liefeld any day of the week.
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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby The Old Doctor » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:33 pm

Eli Katz wrote:Put another way, do you think the average comic book artists today (however you define and determine average) is better today than in previous decades?


No.

Eli Katz wrote: Or do you think that an older generation of artists was able to put out higher quality art?


I know they could given the fact that from everything I've read, they were actually trained and educated for being illustrators and more.
Many chose to use a simpler easier style to grind out the work and survive.

Eli Katz wrote: Or do you think that the art has remained relatively stable in quality over the years?


I think it has been de-stabilized with the numerous of "self-taught" types whom were later and repeatedly in one form or another, duplicated. However, this is also what art is about, so this is not a bad thing. Quality here is as always with art, a subjective thing... an opinion.

Eli Katz wrote: I'm not sure I have an answer for these questions. But I started thinking about the quality of art after seeing this cover:

Image

This is a 1938 cover, and it knocks me out. I don't know who Leo E. O’Mealia was, but, man oh man, that guy could put together a beautiful, startling image. His work definitely holds up. And I imagine that there are many forgotten artists out there who put out exceptional work over the years.


Many artists that worked through the 30s to the 70s and even into the early 80s were very capable of doing great illustrations or paintings. But many also worked during a time while the pay was low and quantity and being fast is what made the living. Fans turned pro who started showing up at the end of the 60s and could do illustrative styles caused the shift as they appeared to be new and better. Berni Wrightson compared to Mike Sekowsky. Wrightson could produce a comic maybe every other month. Sekowsky produced a comic over a weekend. Illustrative style versus cartoonist style always is comparing extremes.

There are TONS of covers from then and the 40s plus 50s that are gorgeous to see. Mind you, the 60s and 70s had masters of the cover like Nick Cardy.

Today, many artists look more at producing a piece of art to sell down the road over the telling of a story. There's a very fuzzy line that is easy for them to fall over.. trip.. with moving from the one to the other. As with the modern generations, the desire to experiment is far stronger and far more allowed then it was back then.
"Why are you pointing your screwdrivers like that? They're scientific instruments, not water pistols."
"Oh, the pointing again! They're screwdrivers! What are you going to do? Assemble a cabinet at them?"
"Are you capable of speaking without flapping your hands about?"
""Timey" what? "Timey wimey"?"

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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby UnionJack » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:49 pm

There are some great artists about today but generally I prefer artists from yesteryear or those veterans who are still working in comics such as Alan Davis and George Perez.

Modern comic art, I think, is now over-produced with tools such as photoshop and the advanced colouring techniques and 'special effects' it brings with it.

What modern/newer artists seem to lack is the story-telling ability that older artists had/have. Too much of modern comic art is like looking at a still, which of course is exactly what a comic panel is. The key to good comic art is to read it without realising you're looking at stills - comics should flow like a movie almost. At least that's what I feel when I'm reading them.

Modern comics have become more splash-page oriented partly because of lack of story-telling ability and partly to get the most out of photoshop and its effects. That's my take on things anyway.

Give me Kirby, The Buscema Brothers, Gil Kane and Steve Rude any day.

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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby GiveWarAChance » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:03 pm

I think guys like Gene Colan, Dave Cockrum, John Buscema, Frank Brunner, Carmine Infantino, and John Romita Sr might have been better artists than the current crop. Most could deliver on a monthly basis and were great storytellers to boot. When I dig out my old comics I never once think that the art in them is inferior to the modern stuff.
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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby UnionJack » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:19 pm

Gene Colan - genius.

And despite advanced colouring & special effects, no-one has ever matched Infantino in portraying The Flash's super-speed powers. Glorious.

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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby holtom2000 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:29 pm

even me, a writing guy, knows art is in the eye of the beholder...
I mean for me, it will never get better than Perez and Aparo ... but that's just me.
art has gotten slower.. I think we can say that, can we not?
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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby syxxpakk » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:34 pm

holtom2000 wrote:even me, a writing guy, knows art is in the eye of the beholder...
I mean for me, it will never get better than Perez and Aparo ... but that's just me.
art has gotten slower.. I think we can say that, can we not?


Unlike "Well his art is better..." I think it's very fair and easy to point to someone like JH Williams or whoever it was that did Final Crisis and say "His art is slower" with objectivity.
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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby UnionJack » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:39 pm

holtom2000 wrote:even me, a writing guy, knows art is in the eye of the beholder...
I mean for me, it will never get better than Perez and Aparo ... but that's just me.
art has gotten slower.. I think we can say that, can we not?


I feel the urge to dig out my BATO collection. Fantastic story & art. Aparo is a true comic legend.

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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby Herald » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:41 pm

American comic artists of the past were better draftsmen, plain and simple. Current American artists don't think in terms of how, say, the human body actually looks (even if they plan to stylize it in some way); they go for whatever they think looks cool, while skipping as many steps as possible.

As mentioned, Perez, Aparo, Infantino... those guys were great artists.

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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby Herald » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:43 pm

UnionJack wrote:
I feel the urge to dig out my BATO collection. Fantastic story & art. Aparo is a true comic legend.


DO IT. :smt023

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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby holtom2000 » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:50 pm

UnionJack wrote:
I feel the urge to dig out my BATO collection. Fantastic story & art. Aparo is a true comic legend.

Indeed he is!
Image

Image
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Re: In General, Has Comics Art Improved over the Years?

Postby UnionJack » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:58 pm

holtom2000 wrote:Indeed he is!
Image

Image


What a classic cover. I buy shit-loads of comics but there is very little today that compares to stuff like this.

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