Friday, July 29, 2005

Good guys wear black (ink)

Today's Comic Art Friday comes your way courtesy of Sue Bee Honey, because you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Why you'd want to catch flies in the first place is your business. You don't ridicule my hobbies, so I won't ridicule yours.

Since I began collecting comic art, and commissioned art in particular — art created specifically for me by an artist whose talents I've hired — I've met quite a number of people in the hobby, both in person and — more frequently — online. As is true of most arenas in life, comic art offers a diverse array of personalities. But most of the people with whom I've interfaced have been genuinely pleasant, and united by their passion for a narrowly defined and relatively obscure form of popular art. I can honestly say that I can count the negative experiences I've had with comic artists as a collector on one hand, and still play "London Bridge" on the piano.

Now and again, I run into people in the comic art field who are even more enjoyable to deal with than most. "The good guys," I like to call them.

Some good guys are fellow collectors. My friend Damon in Houston, for example, who regularly shares his art, his insights, and his contacts with me to a degree that far exceeds the call of duty.

Some good guys are art dealers and representatives. Since my collection consists of lower-value pieces (I only own a couple of commissioned works for which I paid as much as $300, and the bulk of my pieces cost a fraction of that), I'm not a cash cow for big-time dealers, and thus not worthy of the time of some. But I've always had excellent service from — among many others, and these mentions aren't intended to be exhaustive — Scott Kress at Catskill Comics, who has arranged commissions for me with such artists as Scott Rosema and Steve Mannion; Buzz Setzer at CNV Toys, who represents Darryl Banks; and Steve Morger at Big Wow Art, who coordinated two remarkable commissions with the legendary Ernie Chan.

A lot of artists are good guys, far more than get credit for being such. There's a reason why I do the amount of repeat business that I do with such artists as Geof Isherwood, James E. Lyle, Darryl Banks, and Michael Dooney — I love their work, certainly, but they're also extremely enjoyable people to deal with.

One of the real good guys in the industry is Bob Almond, a supremely talented inker known for his work on such titles as Marvel's Black Panther and Warlock and the Infinity Watch, Bloodshot from Acclaim Comics, and Captain Gravity and the Power of the Vril for Penny-Farthing Press.

(Side note: If you love superhero adventure comics in the classic mode of the Silver Age, you should rush to your local comics retailer today and pick up the six issues of the current Captain Gravity miniseries. And if your comic shop doesn't have them, order them directly from Penny-Farthing. And no, Bob's not giving me perks for plugging his book.)

Below are a couple of inking projects Bob recently completed for me. Aside from being excellent examples of Bob's work, these drawings have something else in common: Both were originally penciled by artists who are good guys, just like Bob.

First up, this striking action pinup pitting Ms. Marvel against a sometime-villainess called Moonstone, with Bob Almond inks over the pencils of Scott Rosema.

It turns out that Bob and I are both Ms. Marvel fans, although he prefers this, her more recent costume, while I'm partial to her original red-and-blue battle togs. (We both agree that changing her fighting name to Warbird was a lame idea, however.) Bob's clean ink lines make Ms. M. leap off the page here. Of course, Scott Rosema's original composition is wonderfully dynamic, and gave Bob plenty of great visuals to work with. (Scott remains the only artist who ever drew a commissioned piece for me who telephoned me afterward to discuss the result with me personally. Now that's a good guy.)

Since it would hardly be Comic Art Friday without showcasing something from Geof Isherwood, here's Bob's finish over Geof's pencil drawing of the mighty Thor.

This was the first piece of Geof's art I ever purchased, and was the beginning of a long and productive working relationship with an artist who has become one of my all-time favorites, and certainly the artist I have commissioned most frequently. Because of that — and because Geof's original pencil work was just so doggoned awesome — I was extremely hesitant to allow an inker to touch it. (Several other inkers had inquired about this piece before I agreed to allow Bob to work his mojo on it.) I couldn't be more pleased with the end result.

My sincere thanks to Bob Almond for lending his incredible ink mastery to these beautiful artworks, and to Scott Rosema and Geof Isherwood for creating them originally.

As for you, go spend the rest of your Comic Art Friday doing something nice for someone, thus becoming a good guy ("guy" is gender-generic in this context, so ladies, this includes you too) your own self.

1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

Is helping the folks who canned your department a good deed?

5:11 PM  

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