I started this blog mostly out of wanting to get a handle on, and engage with other thoughtful people out there about, my sense of purpose (not to say vocation — but we’ll put that off, again, for another time) as a creative person — a sometime student of art & design, occasionally a working designer/illustrator, a (still, at that time) would-be architect. The blog’s name reflects that.
I did something unusual this past weekend — unusual for me, that is: I went away for the holiday weekend. A thoroughly conventional getaway, something my adult life’s mostly been without. The place was a lake-side property owned by my girlfriend’s family; it’s where they go during the summers to relax and catch up with each other. On this Labor-Day occasion, I got invited along. It was lovely.
Mignola’s graphic style in the H.B. and BPRD books evolves quite a bit in the titles’ first few years. That’s a common enough observation, and nothing specially to do with Mignola as an artist or a writer, for that matter. (Take, e.g., my cartooning idol Richard Thompson: the way he drew Cul de Sac — already at the height of his career as a cartoonist and illustrator, his style well established — underwent a similar period of refinement and simplification after it began in the Post Sunday magazine, and then again after he took it to syndication as a daily.) I’m interested in talking more, sometime, about the evolution of Mignola’s graphic approach in relation to his evolving approach to the stories, but for the moment, let’s just look at an isolated aspect or two of the change, in very brief terms.
The last two posts here cracked open the door, just a bit, to some discussion of visual stereotyping and race. I didn’t have any definite plan to open that door further, but it’s interesting stuff, to say the least, and a good way to go for a wider historical field on the subject of graphics and human figure. So let’s just push it open and encounter the dangers within as we may.
I may not draw a lot these days, but it’s no real exaggeration to say I think about drawing all the time. What I think about — or have in back of mind at least — particularly is the problem of representing human form, not so much in the sense of portrayal and its possibilities, but in the sense of iconography, visual language, linear phraseology. It’s what makes comics and cartooning so compelling for me, I believe, in spite of my general feeling of disappointment with the medium’s evolution.
I’ve been reading Grant Morrison’s gushy-trippy memoirish, Supergods, lately — since about a week after learning of it by way of this post in Darrell’s series meandering among the pagans, currently in progress. (Go take a look.) I mention in a comment there that I hadn’t heard of the book. Actually, I had no idea who Morrison was before reading that post. That tells you something about extent of my appreciation of comic book culture.
A friend completing ancient-Near-East PhD work contacted me from the other side of the world a few weeks ago. It led to something I haven’t done in years, an illustration job. She didn’t ask me to do the illustration, actually. She wanted to know if I could help find somebody to do it — which interested me, but not as much, as I thought about it, as the possibility of doing it myself. Either was going to take time, anyhow.
Over a few recent days I’ve been listening to an interview with Jack Kirby, done in L.A. in 1990, posted on YouTube by the Jack Kirby Museum. He’s 72, and he rambles and loses track of the questions, and you get the feeling the show hosts don’t quite know what to do with him. But he’s fun to listen to, on the whole. A theme he seems to like returning to is the idea that storytelling runs in his family. I can’t help thinking that he was probably always the rambly, discursive, storytelling type of conversationalist. Maybe the guy we’re hearing on tape is someone really not far removed from the guy who started out in Superman and Batman knockoffs during the Depression, fifty-odd years earlier.