Back when I was collecting comics, I usually purchased based on pictorial quality, and not for the story writing. Comic book stories have usually seemed to me to be silly, simplistic or just downright stupid. Now don't get me wrong, that's part of the charm of being all-in-color-for-a-dime. But as comics evolved to become seemingly more 'mature' and certainly more expensive, I had greater expectations for the story quality.
EC comics in the '50s are consistently lauded as having had great art and great writing. Yeah, the art was pretty great, and the writing by Kurtzman and the Bradbury adaptations and a few others was way cool. But a lot of the stuff was predictable and silly, even though way above other comics of the time.
In the '80s, beyond the superhero genre, comics took on adult appeal more and more. Art was racier and of pretty good quality, but many of the stories were either retreads and/or just plain lame. I had great expectations from series like Alien Worlds and others. Here, Al Williamson's art was as good or better than his EC work and very reminiscent of those days, and the writing tries to be — but ends up being a tired old retread (writer to go unnamed here). You can see why some of us buy comics just for the art. REALLY good writing examples in this medium are just few and far between.
Sometime soon, I hope to post some samples of what I think is some really good comic book writing, superhero, no less. Stay 'tooned.
Above, Joe Chiodo —lovely cover of Alien Worlds #1, December 1982
Above and below, Al Williamson, from that same issue, very strong art
In the Golden Age of illustration, even prosaic adverts, usually for women's products, utilized storybook renderings to raise them to poetic beauty. In this case the illustrator was Gwynedd Hudson, far more known for her Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan books.
With all the remakes and re-envisioning of old films and books, I'm surprised that a 21st century version of T.H.White's Arthurian/Merlinesque adventures hasn't been made ala Lord of the Rings' digital film magic.
The musical Camelot was based somewhat on White's Once and Future King, and Disney did the animated Sword in the Stone, but it would be nice to see a faithful version of White's unique version translated to the screen. And, of course, Alan Lee should be the visionary for it, as he partly was for Peter Jackson's LoTR.
I know, at this point it would be like one more Gandalf or Dumbledore, even though Merlin was the original once and future wizard, and isn't there room for more in our collective imagination?
I love working as a designer. It's fulfilling to see something emerge from nothing. And it's a useful trade as well, as just about everything you see around you had to be designed by someone. Even circus parades are aided with design:
This is an intriguing illustration, considering it's from a kid's book of the 1920s/30s. It ran under the title, "When the world was 1000 years younger," and the caption, "An Arab Storyteller Entertaining the Caliph of Bagdad."
I'm delighted that I've made so many good friends via blogging.
One of our long time good friends that we met via the Whirled of Kelly blog is OtherEric of the Digital Comic Museum, who has here sent over some Frank Frazetta material. Most Frazetta fans know that Fritz was a comic book artist early in his career. It's sort of amazing to see his early funny animal cartoons when you know that he gave us sublime fantasy paintings in the bulk of his career.
These are some text illustrations from 1947 comic books, such as Happy Comics, CooCoo Comics and Goofy Comics. As cute as these are, Fate (in the guise of Roy Krenkel) made the right path for Frazetta, to help him land his Ace Paperback painting commissions.
Today's post on the ever-intriguing Histories of Things to Come reminds us that this is Charles Darwin's birthday, thus reminding me that I had a couple of Darwinesqe items in the scan file just waiting to be posted. There's a relevant page on the Pictorial Arts Journal.
Well, by now you get the general drift of where we're planning to go with this journal thing. It's an ambitious quest for someone who really has no time to be doing this. But when is the perfect time to start off on a new adventure? Just ask Bilbo Baggins.
One thing I'm really hoping is to get some help from some of you. Professionals, students, enthusiasts—artists, photographers, cartoonists, writers, designers—I'm going to look to you for some content and some advice along the way.
I'm going to take some time to work up a prototype to fully demonstrate just what I have in mind. Some of you I've already talked to about involvement, and I'd like to start right here and now with the work-up. I'll be in touch with those of whom I'm in contact, but I'm looking for even more talent. If you're interested in contributing from the get-go, shoot me an email with your thoughts.
I have a good theme in mind for the prototype. I want to develop it a bit more and then I will have an outline of the articles in need of pictorial and writing skills, and even some ads that need designing. Look for that soon.
In the meantime, I will post a few odds and ends of the usual fare for this blog, just to keep y'all from drifting away, but with little commentary.
There's a lot of people tuning in here from around the world, and I don't yet have a translation gadget to help reach those folks, but there's a lot of you in English speaking countries that we can start with. If you're not a member/follower of The Pictorial Arts Journal blog, please sign up. I'm going to need numbers to make this happen for the long distance. I've heard from a lot of you via email, which is great, but actual numbers on The Pictorial Arts Journal blog will really make a difference!
An exciting potential for the new Pictorial Arts Journal is to invite creative writers to submit stories that could receive a graphic design and illustrative treatment, a bit like the heyday of slick magazines. That will be possible if we can attract professional illustrators to the cause. We won't be able to pay anyone for now, and I know, everyone needs to make a living. But showing the best of what you can do, in front of a world-wide audience, can't hurt your career.
I am posting these images with a non-profit and educational 'fair use' motive, regarding respective copyrights. Anyone downloading and using these images for any commercial use would be in violation of respective copyrights, and does not have my approval for such use.
My name is Thom Buchanan.
I'm an artist and photographer.
People are my favorite subjects to portray in art and photos. My wife (and studio partner) has called that my 'people skills', as I've been passionately creating portrait studies for many years.
I refer to myself as a pictorialist, a combination of image-making and journalist. Images are my life.