Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth Day, Ladies' Day...whatever

Today's special Earth Day edition of Comic Art Friday is brought to you in memory of the late, great Iron Eyes Cody.

The first time I saw the work of up-and-coming comics artist Robert Q. Atkins of Tsunami Studios — and no, I have no idea what the Q stands for — I was immediately struck by his unique presentation of the human face and figure. Robert's characters reflect the angularity of many modern comics artists, but his line is disciplined and controlled, he doesn't overrender, and he employs naturalistic proportions in his female figures. All of which I admire.

I especially enjoy the faces of Robert's characters. Their features carry a remarkable sense of reality. Rather than idealized, iconic images, Robert draws people who look like folks you might actually know — very usual in comic art these days. Take, for example, this stylishly striking portrait of one of the handful of heroes whose images I specifically collect — Wanda, the Scarlet Witch:

So charmed was I by the job Robert did with Wanda that I knew I just had to have him add a page to my “Common Elements” series of custom artworks. The trouble was, I had a tough time envisioning a duet of characters I thought would be well represented by Robert’s distinctive style. Nothing on my list of concepts seemed quite suitable.

Then, like a thunderstrike from Thor’s hammer, I had it: Dawnstar from the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Danielle Moonstar from the New Mutants. Two Native American women from major superteams, whose names both end in “star.” Common Elements all over the place! And Robert did a smashing job delineating these two wonderfully designed heroines:

Native American characters are underrepresented in superhero comics, as is true of ethnic characters in general. And, as is too often the case with other non-Anglo-Saxon characters, American Indians have historically been portrayed in comics in stereotypical ways. Both Dawnstar and Dani Moonstar, though, have been handled with dignity by their representive comics companies.

Maybe someday we'll advance to the point where every superhero or superheroine of Native American origin won't have to wear either buckskin or fringe in his or her costume, just as we've slowly advanced to the point where not every African American hero or heroine has to speak in a pastiche of inner-city street argot.

The wheels of progress grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.

1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Robert Q. Atkins offered these pearls of wisdom...

Hey Michael,

I appreciate the kind words. I enjoyed working on the commissions that I was able to do for you. Good luck on everything you do.

To post this I had set up my own blog page, I hope to use it as a place I can post art and my view on the industry as a whole. I hope to see people visit.

Thanks again,
Robert Q. Atkins

7:13 PM  

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