Austin Briggs, The Consumate Illustrator

Austin Briggs, The Consumate Illustrator

Austin Briggs, The Consumate Illustrator

I initially encountered the work of Austin Briggs (see my previous post) in his role as a comics artist — working as an assistant to the great Alex Raymond, and eventually ghosting Raymond’s Flash Gordon newspaper strip, and taking over in a credited role on Secret Agent X-9.

Briggs’ work in comics was a sideline, however; he was primarily known as one of the great American illustrators of the 20th century. He started in advertising illustration, but moved into editorial illustration, which is where he made his mark, providing illustrations to prestigious magazines like Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and The Saturday Evening Post.

Briggs was a relentless experimenter; he was always pushing the boundaries of his approach to illustration, and expanding the language and range of that art form in the process.

I was delighted to receive a review copy of a new book from Auad Publishing that showcases the work of Austin Briggs from all phases of his career.

Austin Briggs: The Consumate Illustrator is an absolutely beautiful volume; nicely sized at 9×12″ it features 160 pages crammed with Briggs’ illustrations in both color and black and white. Briggs exceled in both areas, his black and white and tone drawings are remarkably economical given their power and expressive nature. His color work is simultaneously bold and subtle.

The range of his work, its dynamism and nuance is captured beautifully in this volume from Auad. They already have a reputation for presenting the work of great illustrators with high production values and great attention to detail and selection, and this book continues in that fine tradition.

The book includes a knowledgable and fascinating text by David Apatoff, that drew on an interview Apatoff was able to conduct with Briggs’ son, Austin Briggs Jr., who also contributed the forward.

Apatoff has two posts about the book on his own, always excellent blog, Illustration Art: here and here.

I had seen some of Briggs’ work in pieces here and there, but to see a collection like this upped my impression of his accomplishments even further. I recommend the book highly and suggest that if you’re interested, you should order sooner rather than later. Auad Publishing limits their print runs and does not do reprints.

Austin Briggs: The Consumate Illustrator is available direct from Auad Publishing for $34.95 plus $5 domestic shipping.

There is a small set of preview images on the Auad site if you click on the book cover image. I’ve added general links to Austin Briggs material below. You can find more if you do an image search for Austin Briggs.

 
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Jean-Pierre Gibrat

Jean-Pierre Gibrat, French comics artist, Flight of the Raven, bandes dessinées

Jean-Pierre Gibrat, French comics artist, Flight of the Raven and others, bandes dessinées

Jean-Pierre Gibrat is a French comics artist and writer noted for his graphic historical novels set during wartimes in France.

He gained the attention of American readers of European comics with the translated version of his 2002-2005 graphic novel, Flight of the Raven, set in Paris during the WWII occupation.

The book is beautiful, filled with lush evocations of Paris. Gibrat studied various locations in pen and watercolor before translating them into story backgrounds in his comics drawing style, which is also done in pen and watercolor. Gibrat is also noted for his appealing depictions of female characters, and his attention to the visual details of everyday life.

Flight of the Raven was preceded by a related story (but not a direct prequel) set in the same time period, The Reprieve, and was followed with a three volume story, Mattéo. — also set against the backdrop of war, but further back in time, in this case WWI.

You can find a number of his books on Amazon, some translated into English, some in French and other language editions.

The Reprive and Flight of the Raven were published in multiple volumes in France (three and two volumes, respectively) but were combined into single titles in the English language versions. The three French volumes for Mattéo are apparently being translated individually; only one has been released so far, the second English language volume is due in November of 2019.

Though he is both the artist and writer for his current work, Gibrat’s history of comics art goes back further, through collaborations with Jackie Berroyer and other writers, and work in the French comics magazine Pilote.

As far as I can determine, Gibrat does not have an official website, so I’ll point you to what resources I can find. You can also just try a Google images search for “Jean-Pierre Gibrat“.

[Note: Some of Gibrat’s work is erotic in nature, particularly a graphic novel titled Pinocchia, and a search may turn up images that are NSFW.]

 
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New Argon Zark! webcomic page

Argon Zark webcomic new page

Argon Zark webcomic new page (detaile)

It’s not that often that I feature my own work on Lines and Colors, but this is special occasion for me. I’ve just posted the first new page to my webcomic, Argon Zark!, in quite some time.

I’m really pleased to have the comic moving again, and looking forward to continuing the story. (It will not interfere with my work on Lines and Colors. If it garners enough support, it may actually free up more time for writing Lines and Colors posts.)

For those who are familiar with Argon Zark!, you can see the new page here.

If you’re not familiar with the comic, but are curious about my endeavor, start with the first page of the current story, or go to the Zark.com home page.

You can also read my recent Lines and Colors post with a little background about the comic, and about how I’ve gone over the current story and brought it up to date with bigger graphics and current web technology: Argon Zark! remastered.

Enjoy!

 
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Argon Zark! remastered

Argon Zark! webcomic remastered

Argon Zark! webcomic remastered

A long time ago (on an internet far far away), I created one of the earliest webcomics, Argon Zark!, a cyberpunk humor/adventure story about a computer geek who has invented a way to be physically transported into and through the World Wide Web.

For a long time I thought it was the very first online comic — simply because I couldn’t find any others for comparison or inspiration — but as search and internet history improved over time, I found there were a couple of others that preceded it by a few months.

Argon Zark!, however, was certainly the first long-form (comic book or graphic novel style) webcomic, the first drawn in a format specifically for the computer screen, the first drawn entirely on the computer and the first to incorporate elements of animation and interactivity.

I pursued the project for a number of years, but I was finally worn down by my inability to make the comic pay for the enormous amount of time it demanded. Selling a few T-shirts here and there didn’t cut it, and the fun wasn’t enough to sustain me through the huge number of hours required to maintain progress.

Weary and somewhat defeated, I felt I had to put the comic aside for lack of funding. It’s been dormant now for more than ten years (sigh).

Since then, however, things have changed. The size and activity of the web has increased by orders of magnitude since the mid 90s, and not only are there now hundreds (if not thousands) of webcomics, there are new resources for funding such projects — notably “crowdfunding” sites, and in particular, Patreon.

Patreon allows those who wish to support a creator’s work to contribute a small amount each month on an ongoing basis. With sufficient numbers of patrons, this can give a creator the leeway to put dedicated time and effort into their project. It’s explained in more detail on the new Argon Zark! Patreon page.

So, I’ve relaunched the comic, with the intention of trying that avenue, and in the process, I’ve taken the interactive elements of the pages out of Flash (which limited its availability on iPads) and put them into HTML5.

I’ve also gone through all of the pages in the most recent, ongoing story, and made them 50% larger, as well as adding to and revising many of the “special features” incorporated into the comics pages.

Some of you who are long time Lines and Colors readers may remember the strip, and even if you’ve read the story thus far, you may find it enjoyable to go back and reread the newly enhanced version.

(You can also still read the original first Argon Zark! story, though it is still at its original size to fit the small resolution of mid-90s computer screens.)

I’m working on a new page, and will post notices on Twitter and on the Patreon page (a day in advance for second level patrons) when new pages go live.

 
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Li-An

Li-An, French comics (bande-dessinees) and illustrations

Li-An, French comics (bande-dessinees) and illustrations

[For some time, I’ve wanted to feature more comics artists from non-English speaking countries — particularly Belgian and French comics (bandes-dessinées) — but I’ve been put off by the challenges of providing links to images and information across language barriers. With this article, I’m going to try a method of providing both original language and Google Translate links to relevant sites and pages.]

Li-An (Jean-Michel Meyer) is a French comics artist perhaps best known for his work on The Tschai Cycle (Le Cycle de Tschaï) (Google Translate link), a multi-volume graphic album adaptation of four novels by Jack Vance (Planet of Adventure) in cooperation with writer Jean-David Morvan.

Li-An was influenced early on by French comics artists like André Franquin and Jean Giraud (Moebius – link to my articles), and his style has developed in a manner in keeping with the aesthetics of Franco-Belgian comics, a clear fresh alternative to the sometimes overworked styles in many mainstream American comics.

Li-An has also worked on numerous other comics projects, from science fiction to documentary to adaptations of classic literature, like Guy de Maupassant’s Famous short story, Boule de Suif (Translate), also with Jean-David Morvan.

Among his other documentary style graphic stories are a fictionalized account of Gauguin’s time in Tahiti (Translate), and a biography of Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain (Translate), part of a series on the history of the Guerlain perfume house.

You will find pages and images from these and other projects on Li-An’s Blog (Translate) under the heading of “Mon Travail” (My Work).

His blog in general covers other topics, including articles on other comics and comics creators, under the topic BD (bandes-dessinées) – (Translate). You can also filter the blog posts to show blog posts about Li-An’s own work (Translate), as well as some of his online comics (Translate).

Li-An’s blog is extensive, and worth exploring. Once you enter by way of a Google translate link, the system should continue to provide paths to translated pages.

 
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Mac Smith, Scurry

Mac Smith, Scurry comic

Mac Smith, Scurry comic

Mac Smith is is a concept artist and illustrator who has largely put aside his work in the gaming industry to concentrate on his own comics project.

Scurry is a post-apocalyptic survival story in which the protagonists are mice. The setting is an abandoned house and the surrounding woods, now mysteriously devoid of humans. With the disappearance of the humans has gone the availability of food their presence provided.

The mouse colony, within which Smith has developed distinct characters and political factions, is faced with the dangers of moving vs. the inevitable decline of food supplies. Scouts are sent out, facing terrifying challenges in the form of cats, wolves, birds of prey and the other dangers that real mice might encounter. These are seen largely in upshots, from the point of view of the mice.

This is the setting in which Smith unwinds his story, told with the cinematic acumen of an experienced concept artist, and beautifully drawn and rendered, with nicely textural attention to naturalistic environments. I particularly enjoy the way he handles rain, mist and similar atmospheric scenes.

Scurry can be read online as a webcomic, which Smith has been supporting through Patreon, offering, among other things, tutorials, walk-throughs and PSD files as perks for supporters.

Smith has also been offering Scurry as a series of printed graphic stories, two of which are available as both hardback and paperback. He is currently raising funds for the third book.

You can find examples of his artwork for the strip on his Artstation and deviantART galleries, and some videos and instructional material on YouTube.

 
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