Category Archives: Comics

Lines and Colors is on strike today, January 20, 2017

Lines and Colors is on strike today, January 20, 2017

There will be no new posts today on Lines and Colors about art or artists, no lovely images of art to inspire or amuse you. This is perhaps a portent of things to come, but today it’s just a protest.

Lines and Colors is on strike today in support of the J20 Art Strike, calling for arts organizations and institutions to not do business as usual as a symbolic act of resistance to the looming shift in government power, and the potentially disastrous effect it will have on the arts, humanities and creative endeavor and discourse in general.

Yes, it’s a small, mostly symbolic gesture, but so are the recently announced plans by the incoming administration to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

It would cut $296 million from the federal government’s almost $4,000,000,000,000.00 federal budget as a “cost saving” measure.

Even ignoring the fact that it’s been demonstrated that every Federal dollar spent on arts funding brings back nine or ten times that amount to the treasury in the form of increased economic activity and tax revenue, the amount of “savings” represents less than two tenths of one percent of the federal budget – for all practical purposes, statistically insignificant.

So this is really a gesture, a raised middle finger to the arts community to let us know how much they despise us.

Given the avowed intentions and previous actions of many of the legislators now taking control of the congress, this is likely just the first in a series of ongoing actions that will make the creation of art and the free exchange of ideas more difficult in the coming years.

In the past, I’ve tried to keep my political views in check when writing Lines and Colors, and have only expressed them in subtle ways.

That ends today.

These people have declared themselves the enemy of much that I care about, and are therefore my enemies.

Little acts like this, and anything I may say, are also likely statistically insignificant, but I have to make some kind of symbolic statement of resistance to avowed enemies of the arts, even if just for my own sense of self respect.

In writing for Lines and Colors, I’ll keep my expressions of concern related to the arts, but I’ll state them clearly. If you don’t like them, you’re welcome to comment, but I won’t tolerate flame wars, and I reserve the right to control what does or doesn’t appear on my own blog.

Lines and Colors is, after all, my opinions about art and artists — what I find valuable or of interest and consider worth sharing with others. If the expression of my political opinions as they relate to the health of the arts community in this country offends you, you’re welcome to seek inspiration elsewhere.

If you think I’m overreacting, you’re welcome to your opinion. Bookmark this post and put a reminder in your calendar to stop back in four years to see if I was wrong. (I desperately hope I’m wrong.)

That is, of course, if Lines and Colors is still here in four years.

One of the other announced initiatives of the incoming wave of big business uber alles is the elimination of Net Neutrality — from which control of the internet will be ceded to the telecoms and big entertainment companies.

This will happen so gradually you won’t notice at first, but it will change inexorably until the web becomes more like TV — a one-way flow of content and information from corporate producer to consumer, and a one-way flow of money in the other direction.

Oh, you’ll still be able to use Facebook and Twitter, but big content sites from the corporate providers will download like lightning (if you pay for them), and independent sites like Lines and Colors will start to load slower and slower and slower until they’re too painful to use.

If you don’t know what Net Neutrality is, or why it matters, see this handy explanation in comics form from Economix.

For more on the strike, see the J20 Art Strike page.

More to the point, if you want to know why I feel this way, see my plea to Lines and Colors readers prior to the election to vote in defense of the arts: “Vote like the future of the arts in the US depends on it“, in which I go into more detail on why I think this administration and the accompanying shift in power in the congress bode ill for the arts community in this country.

They’re just this day assuming office, and — sadly — I already have to say “I told you so.”

 
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Framed Perspective, Marcos Mateu-Mestre

Framed Perspective,  Marcos Mateu-Mestre
Just to put things in… context, the history of graphical perspective goes back further, but the system of geometric perspective we use today can be traced to an important point in the beginning of the 15th century, when Filippo Brunelleschi — the brilliant Renaissance architect and designer who solved the seemingly intractable problem of spanning the world’s largest cathedral dome space with an ingenious solution — codified a system of graphical persepctive that was immediately adopted by almost every artist who was made aware of it, and most artists since.

Like his solution for the dome of the Florence cathedral, the model of geometric perspective Brunelleschi demonstrated solved problems that had previously seemed impossibly difficult.

Artists and art students have either been thanking or cursing him ever since, depending on whether they see graphical perspective construction as an an incredibly powerful tool or as a burdensome learning process akin to school studies of math or chemistry.

Linear perspective study can seem difficult when ill-presented, but when taught properly, it can be a golden key to drawing and painting with a strength, solidity, accuracy and realism impossible to achieve without it.

Short of taking a course with a good instructor, those interested in mastering perspective are left to find their own way with books that are too often poorly presented, overly obtuse and almost as boring to look at as a mathematics textbook.

While there are some pretty good perspective books out there, I’ve just received review copies of a new two-volume set on perspective that has shot to the top of my personal list of best books on the subject.

Framed Perspective Vol #1 and Vol #2, are new books from Marcos Mateu-Mestre, a concept artist and illustrator who I have written about previously and whose drawing style I have always found particularly appealing.

As in his previous book: Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers (link to my review), he tackles the the subject within the framework of real world use and practical application.

Also like that book, Mateau-Mestre has not only used real-world type examples to illustrate the concepts, he has also used them to make his books something that perspective books rarely are: visually appealing and entertaining.

Framed Perspective Vol. 1 is subtitled: “Technical Perspective and Visual Storytelling”. In it Mateau-Mestre starts at the ground floor (so to speak) and takes you from the basic concepts through solutions for some reasonably complex challenges, including multiple vanishing points, staircases, three-point perspective, arches and domes, and the application of perspective to freehand sketching.

At over 200 pages, it’s packed with information and techniques and a reality-based approach that stays focused on what’s really useful.

Framed Perspective Vol. 2 is subtitled “Technical Drawing for Shadows, Volume, and Characters”, and deals with the too often neglected subjects of applying shadows in perspective and applying perspective to the human figure, including the representation of clothing and folds, and the application of shadows to figures.

Though not as extensive as Volume 1, this one still weighs in at over 120 pages, and is jammed with useful information, as well as Mateu-Mestre’s wonderful drawings and illustrations.

Throughout both volumes, the illustrations, diagrams, text and book design are clear, concise and well thought out.

Any artist with an interest in comics, graphic storytelling, concept art or illustration — as well as painting and drawing of any kind that involves linear perspective — should look into these superb volumes.

If you’ve found books on perspective daunting and/or boring, Framed Perspective may open your eyes to a world of possibilities for understanding and using one of an artist’s most powerful tools.

 
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Some wise suggestions for artists from Neil Gaiman’s 2012 address to the University of the Arts

Neil Gaiman addressing the graduating class at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2012
For those who are dismayed, as I am, at the recent turn of events, and the likely devastating effect it will have on the state of the arts here in the U.S. (see my before the fact storm warning to that effect), I offer some insightful suggestions about art in the face of adversity from writer Neil Gaiman.

This is a video of his remarks as he addressed the graduating class at the University of the Arts here in Philadelphia in 2012.

He doesn’t really get to the point until about 6 minutes in, but do yourself a favor — set aside 20 minutes, pour yourself a hot (or cold) beverage, relax, and watch the entire address. It’s amusing, well crafted (he’s a good writer), and will leave you feeling better about your course as an artist in troubled times.

It’s also — as it was intended to be — sage advice for those who are starting out on a life in the arts, as well as a reality check for those who are already achieving success in their field.

 
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Jack Davis, 1924-2016

Jack Davis, cartoonist, caricaturist, comics artist illustrator
Cartoonist, caricaturist, comics artist and illustrator illustrator Jack Davis had a pen that connected directly to the funny bone.

Noted for his horror comics work for EC Comics and Warren magazines, his movie posters, TV Guide covers, celebrity caricatures and, in particular, his loopy, wild, frenetic, over-the-top and uncannily hilarious comics and covers for Cracked and MAD Magazine, Davis influenced cartoonists and comics artists across the board.

Davis often left his readers in simultaneous paroxysms of laughter and wide-eyed admiration for his drawing skills, producing contorted reading positions that looked like.. well, like jack Davis illustrations.

Jack Davis died on July 27, 2016 at the age of 92.

The links below are mostly to recent obits and articles. For more links to image resources, see my previous post on Jack Davis.

 
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Free Comic Book Day, 2016

Free Comic Book Day, 2016
Today, May 7, is Free Comic Book Day, 2016!

Participating comic book shops will be giving away a selection of special promotional comic books, designed to introduce new readers both to those individual titles and to the fun of reading comics in general.

Find a local participating shop by zip code on this Store Locator.

The Free Comic Book Day website has more information, including a list of the available titles. Glen Weldon has an overview of the titles on the NPR website. (Not all titles will be available at all shops.)

The comic book shops will be in a kind of “open house” mode, and glad to make recommendations and introductions to the current range of comic book titles and subjects — which you may find surprisingly diverse.

Many shops will be featuring guest artists or writers and having special sales in coordination with the event. Check the individual shops’ websites for details.

I’ll be checking out the free comics at my personal favorite comic book (and other book) shop, Between Books, in Claymont, DE.

For more of my descriptions of the event, see some of my previous years’ posts on Free Comic Book Day.

 
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Mark A. Nelson

Mark A. Nelson
Mark A. Nelson is an illustrator, comics artist, concept artist and art director. He has worked for Dark Horse Comics, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Kitchen Sink Press, Wizards of the Coast, TSR and many other publishers, as well as gaming and visual development companies like Raven Software, Sega Games and Pure Imagination Studios.

Nelson has a graphic style, largely in pen and ink, that emphasizes beautifully effective line work and linear textures. In addition to his confident drawing style, the linear character of his work gives it a particular visual appeal that owes much, I think, to his background as a printmaker. The lines are controlled, emphasized and varied in weight in a way that gives the renderings a wonderful surface character.

Many of the pieces on his website appear to be for personal projects, or just the fun of sketching — and they are a treat. Nelson seems to have a endless array of imaginative creatures, drawn from a fascination with natural forms.

I particularly enjoy his ink drawings on toned paper, which are highlighted with what I take to be touches of white chalk or pastel, and perhaps gouache. Nelson also works in color, and you can sometimes find the same piece in both a monochrome and later color stage.

You can also find his work on his deviantART gallery.
There is a short video interview with the artist on YouTube.

There are several print collections of Nelson’s work available from his website store.

Nelson is married to painter and illustrator Anita C. Nelson; they share the Grazing Dinosaur Press studio and website.

[Note: some of the images on the linked sites should be considered NSFW.]

 
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