Friday, March 10, 2006

Thinking inking

Today's Comic Art Friday is brought to you by Almond Joy. You can have half, and still have a whole. What a concept.

Speaking of Almond Joy, I was chatting with noted comic book inker Bob Almond just the other day. Bob, as my fellow comic art collector Damon is fond of saying, is the man who puts the "king" in "inking." Truly one of the underappreciated talents of the industry, Bob is a splendidly skilled inker whose chameleonic style enables him to mesh seamlessly with almost any pencil artist. In fact, I have yet to see the penciler whose style Bob can't enhance, without altering the original's intent.

Take, for example, this commissioned piece from my Common Elements series, penciled by a superb artist from Brazil named Ron Adrian. Ron brings together one of my favorite heroines, the Scarlet Witch, and spacefaring man of mystery Adam Warlock in a spectacular scenario.

Pretty awesome drawing, yes? Hard to imagine what could possibly be done to make this look any better. (Some of you may be thinking, "You could color it." No. Original comic art is not colored. Comic books are colored. There's a difference.) I might have reached that same conclusion. But then I sent Adrian's pencil art off to the aforementioned Mr. Almond, who returned this fantastic finished artwork.

That thump you just felt was your jaw hitting your chest. Go ahead, pick it up before you drool all over yourself.

As Bob mentioned on his Web site, his first professional inking assignment in comics was a series featuring Adam Warlock, entitled Warlock and the Infinity Watch. Bob's affinity for character detail is evident here, as he catches an item or two -- such as the "soul gem" embedded in Warlock's forehead -- missing in the original pencil art. Bob and I share a fondness for Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, and he renders her with tender loving care here.

Readers unfamiliar with the comic art creation process may be surprised to learn that some artists actually specialize in embellishing in ink drawings that other artists begin in pencil. (To Comic Art Friday regulars, this is old hat. However, we've expanded our audience exponentially these past few months, so quite a few new folks have joined us. Hello, new folks!) Bob Almond is one of many such talented creators, and, in my humble opinion, one of the best.

Another inking specialist who's a favorite of mine is Josef Rubinstein. Joe has been in the business for more than three decades, starting when he was a teenager laboring under the legendary Neal Adams. Like Bob Almond, Joe's skill enables him to adapt to almost any pencil artist's technique — a good thing, because over the course of his career, Joe has inked over practically every prominent penciler who's been active during that 30-year period.

One such penciler is Mike Grell, who contributed this pencil pinup of Tamara D'Orsini, the female lead from his space opera sci-fi series Starslayer.

Now here's that same Grell pinup, completed in ink by Joe Rubinstein:

There goes that jaw again. You really ought to get that checked out.

If you look closely, you'll notice that even in this relatively clean and simple drawing, Joe brings out numerous tiny details that are either absent from or minimal in the pencil original — fine points of muscular structure and skin texture. It's that well-honed sensibility that makes the great inkers truly masters of their art. I'd classify Messrs. Rubinstein and Almond in that lofty category. I bow in their general direction.

And that's your Comic Art Friday.


1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Janet offered these pearls of wisdom...

I know this really isn't the point of your post, but I had NO IDEA Almond Joy came in all of those flavors!?

8:19 AM  

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