Inktober

Inktober 2017, Jake Parker, Moemai, Max Dunbar, Meredith Dillman, Abbe Branberg, Camille Marie, Chordephra, Loish, Alyssa Tallent, Jason Chan, Mack Chater, Sweeny Boo, Yuko Shimizu, Paul Heaston, Nick Nikopoulos, Stoaty Weasel, Ian McQue, Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde
Inktober started as a challenge illustrator and cartoonist Jake Parker set himself in October of 2009, to draw 31 ink drawings in 31 days.

The goal, as in any exercise of this sort, was to get better end develop a more consistent working practice.

He repeated the idea the next year, promoting the notion that others should join him, and since then it has grown into a worldwide endeavor.

If you search on Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms for #inktober, or #inktober2017, you’ll find the stream of those currently participating.

There is a lot of variation in style and level of ability, from novice to professional, and that’s part of what makes it such a great practice. There is no barrier to entry.

It’s not a contest, there are no real requirements or central authority deciding who can participate.

The rules, such as there are, are simple: do an ink drawing and post it online with the hashtags #inktober and #inktober2017 — repeat every day in October.

Even though this is the fifth day, it’s not too late to join in, I see lots of posts that say “late to the party” or “just joining in”. If you want to, you can throw in a few extra drawings along the way to come up with 31 by the end of the month.

You don’t have to use a dip pen or anything fancy; anything that makes marks in ink counts: ballpoint pens, markers, brush pens, whatever. The drawings don’t have to be elaborate or finished, and you can add color or not as you choose.

If you need suggestions for subject matter, there is an official prompt of 31 subjects on the Inktober website.

You don’t have to follow it, though. Lots of people make their own prompt list, or choose to do a single subject (e.g. cats, cars, portraits or monsters….), or just do whatever comes to you.

You can look through the social media feeds to see what others are doing, or simply for the enjoyment of it.

You will encounter a lot of work by beginners, and this is a Good Thing; part of the value of the practice is encouraging folks to get started. If you’re looking through with the thought of finding professional work, you might do better to seek the more curated experience of following Jake Parker’s Twitter feed, or the @inktober feed.

The images above are just some examples (mostly by professionals) that caught my eye. I particularly enjoy those images in which the artist has included their drawing tools in the photo with the drawing.

(Images above [some of these names are just Twitter handles]: Jake Parker, Moemai, Max Dunbar, Meredith Dillman, Abbe Branberg, Camille Marie, Chordephra, Loish, Alyssa Tallent, Jason Chan, Mack Chater, Sweeny Boo, Yuko Shimizu, Paul Heaston, Nick Nikopoulos, Stoaty Weasel, Ian McQue, Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde)

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Luigi (Gigi) Cavenago

Luigi (Gigi) Cavenago, Italian comics artist, Dylan Dog
Luigi Cavenago (also Gigi Cavenago or GigiCave) is an italian comics artist based in Milan.

He is best known for his work on the supernatural detective series Dylan Dog, for which he did cover illustrations as well as interior art.

Cavenago has a forceful, graphic style, contrasting blocks of color with areas of detail and texture. Often he does complex compositions with multiple figures and lots of implied movement.

The only web presence I can find for him is his deviantART gallery and a blog that hasn’t been updated since 2014.

The blog is still worth exploring, though it’s one of those annoying Blogger arrangements with no “Previous Posts” links. You have to use the dated links in the right column to access previous years.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Jean-Claude Mézières

Jean-Claude Mezieres, French comics artist, Valerian and Laureline
I haven’t yet seen the new Luc Besson film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, but I have read a number of the French comics (bandes dessinées) on which the movie was based — Valérian and Laureline (alternately, Valerian: Spatio-Temporal Agent), created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières.

Mézières is an influential and highly respected French comics artist, though not well known here in the U.S. except among fans of Franco-Belgian comics.

He has worked on a number of comics and illustration projects over the course of his career, but is best known for his work on Valérian and Laureline, and as a concept designer for films like Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element (including the designs that inspired the flying taxis).

Valérian and Laureline is a long running science fiction comics series that was originally serialized in the French comics magazine Pilote. It has been tremendously influential on both comics and film.

It’s widely recognized to have been a distinct but uncredited influence on George Lucas in his designs and settings for the original Star Wars trilogy. There is an article on Core 77 that points out some of the parallels between scenes from the movies and prior comic panels from Valérian and Laureline. There is another article pointing out what Star Wars took from Valérian and Laureline on Popular Mechanics.

Mézières’s style is more light and cartoony than the styles usually associated with American super-hero and adventure comics, but it gives the stories and the characters a jaunty, breezy character, and works well with Mézières’s wildly imaginative settings.

The French Valérian and Laureline comics albums have been translated into English, and most recently are being collected into a series of volumes with three of the original French albums (what might be called “graphic novels” here) in each volume. There are three collected volumes available as of this writing.

You could start with Valerian: The Complete Collection, Volume 1 (Amazon link), and go from there to Valerian: The Complete Collection, Volume 2, or if you want to get right to the stories on which the film is most directly based (and that are the most overt space opera), start with Valerian: The Complete Collection), Volume 3. Beyond that, there are older printings of individual albums.

There is an official website for Jean-Claude Mézières, but it’s in French and does not feature as many images as one might hope. It is useful, however, for it’s listing of the Valerian albums (titled as Valerian, sptio-temporal agent).

The best resource I can find for Mézières’ art is this article from 2015 on Dark Roasted Blend.

You can also find some originals on Comic Art Fans.

If you try a Google image search for “Valerian”, it will mostly come up with promo pictures for the movie; try searching for “Valerian comics”, “Valerian and Laureline”, “Valerian et Laureline” or ‘Jean-Claude Mézières”.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Bilquis Evely

Bilquis Evely, comics artist, WonderWoman
Bilquis Evely is a comics artist based in São Paulo, Brazil who is currently the artist on the new Wonder Woman series from DC Comics.

Evely has worked on a number of titles for DC — including Batman, Legends of Tomorrow and the Shadow — as well as titles for for Archie Comics and Dynamite Entertainment. I can’t find much information for work she may have done for Brazilian comic book publishers.

Her fine line and hatching style carries a feeling of the European-influenced Brazilian and Argentinian comics I’ve seen, and is a welcome approach amid the often more heavy-handed styles common in mainstream American comics.

Her work is also grounded on solid draftsmanship and lucid storytelling; the overall feeling is one of crispness and clarity.

Evely doesn’t appear to have a dedicated website, relying instead on her deviantArt gallery, Tumblr blog and social media for her web presence.

I particularly enjoy her Instagram feed, in which she frequently posts work in progress, often with her drawing instruments in the photo to give a feeling of the scale of the original drawing. She also sometimes posts examples of the same drawing in both the pencil and final ink stages.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Nestor Redondo

Nestor Redondo, comics art and pen and ink illustration
In the 1970’s the scope of style in American mainstream comic book art was suddenly expanded by the “Phillipine Invasion”, the advent of a number of highly skilled Filipino comics artists establishing themselves with the American comic book publishers.

These artists, already established in the Philippines’ active comic book market, owed as much to the influence of Golden Age pen and ink illustration and early 20th century American newspaper comics as they did to the contemporary comic book styles of the time, and they had a distinct impact on the styles of many American artists.

Many of them became well known, like Alfredo Alcala, Ernie Chan, Tony DeZuniga, Rudy Nebres, Francisco Reyes and Alex Niño, among others.

My favorite from this group of artists — and one of my favorite comic book artists in general — was Nestor Redondo.

Redondo first came to my attention when he was drawing short stories for DC Comics’ anthology horror titles like House of Mystery. He then did a knock-out run on six issues of Rima, The Jungle Girl, bringing to the title a flair reminiscent of the 1930’s newspaper adventure strip Jungle Jim by the great Alex Raymond.

Redondo really knocked my socks off, though, by doing the impossible — following up on Bernie Wrightson’s landmark run on the first ten issues of Swamp Thing; not only maintaining the extraordinary standard Wrightson had set, but bringing his own sensibility to the series and hitting it out of the park for thirteen more issues.

In addition to his numerous projects for the Philippine comics market and several other projects for the American publishers, Redondo also brought his solid but fluid inking style to collaborations with other artists, notably on one of my favorite lost gems of 1980’s comics, Doug Moench’s Aztec Ace.

I’ve long thought Redondo’s comics work and pen and ink illustration worthy of a collection, and though it has been a long time coming, we finally have one courtesy of the always remarkable Auad Publishing, who also published a collection of the work of Alex Niño (unfortunately, sold out). Auad was kind enough to provide me with a review copy of the new book on Redondo’s work.

The Art of Nestor Redondo (images above, top, with details, and bottom three rows) collects a variety of the artist’s comics art, ink drawings, splash pages, sketches and pencil drawings in an inexpensive, but high quality, 80 page black and white volume.

It’s paperback with nicely stiff card covers and high quality paper; and the printing is beautifully sharp and crisp, showing the details in Redondo’s ink drawings to best advantage. Most of the art was scanned from the original drawings.

The book is available directly from Auad for $24 USD. If you click on the cover in the listing on the Auad site, you will get a pop-up preview gallery of images from the book. Auad is a small publisher, and most of their past titles are sold out. If you want a copy of this one, you should probably order it sooner rather than later.

For those who aren’t familiar with Nestor Redondo, it’s a nice introduction to his style and abilities; for those who are already fans of Redondo, it is, of course, a must-have.

For me, the primary appeal of Nestor Redondo’s style is in his solid draftsmanship, the careful balance between areas of detailed hatching and open white space, and the key element of strategic openness in his line work. Unlike many artists who try too hard to lavish detail on their ink drawings, Redondo knew how to leave his outlines open in just the right places to let his figures breathe.

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin

Jim Woodring

Jim Woodring, surreal comics, illustrations and paintings
Jim Woodring is a comics artist and painter who delves into strange and wonderful imagery derived from dreams and a history of childhood hallucinations.

Woodring is known for his short comics stories, told wordlessly and in a stream-of-unconsciousness manner, that feature his recurring character, “Frank”.

Frank is something of an apparition in himself, a fever dream version of 1920’s anthropomorphic animal cartoon characters, who is the center of the dream and also a stand-in for the dreamer.

Woodring also does painting, in monochrome and in color. I’m not one to toss the word “surreal” around lightly — having read the Surrealist manifestos, and aware that true Surrealism is by definition drawn from the unconscious in the form of automatic drawing or dream-state imagery — but Woodring’s work is truly that: surreal.

As much as I enjoy his work in color, I find it most entrancing in the form of his black and white pen drawing. His thick repeated linear patterns and woodcut-like wavy lines create “colors” in much the way the gray inks of Chinese ink painting are said to have colors. This is wonderfully evident in his comics, which are dream-like in the telling as well as the in the imagery.

You can see previews of two of his titles in the comics section of his website.

I will be the first to suggest that Woodring’s work is something of an acquired taste and not likely to appeal to everyone. However, if you acquire that taste, you may find it irresistibly fascinating.

If you were not previously aware of Woodring’s work, and the small taste here has piqued your interest, believe me when I say the small online excerpts here and on his site don’t do justice to the way his drawings look in print.

There are several collections of his work: The Frank Book, which collects 10 years of his signature work; a follow-up: Congress of the Animals; a one-off treat for fans of 3-D comics: Frank in the 3rd Dimension; and the latest, Weathercraft, a full-length graphic novel, told — like most of Woodring’s work — wordlessly. You will also find other titles, most published by Fantagraphics Books.

There is currently an exhibit of Woodring’s work at the Frye Museum in Seattle, for which the museum commissioned a series of large scale pen drawings — drawn with a large scale dip pen created by Woodring — that is on display until April 16, 2017 (images above, bottom three).

 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedin