Monday, 29 June 2015

BOOKS ON COMICBOOKS (& THEIR CREATORS)...



There have been quite a few books on comics written
over the years, and I have some of them in my collection.
If you've read any of them, feel free to share any thoughts
or observations you may have about the sometimes
controversial contents some of them contain.

If not, just enjoy looking at the covers.









13 comments:

DeadSpiderEye said...

Yeah

Will Eisner, Comics and sequential art: nothing in this one beside the obvious, skip it.

Burne Hogarth, Dynamic Figure Drawing, etcetera: I've several of his, buy anything you can get hold of, they don't all offer insight of equal value but they're genuinely informative.

Stan Lee & John Buscema, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way: The classic work on the topic but not much in it beyond the very basics. Has some rather contrived methods on figure drawing, that you will never actually use.

---

Generally instructional works on the subject fall short of expectations because they don't reveal the information and outsider is looking for, that is: what kind of standards and practices you should be adopting, what conventions are favoured within the industry, that kind of stuff. What you do get is a bunch of nebulously defined general principles and whole lot of padding. They're essentially exercises in grabbing cash, not very sincere in their ostensible purpose. The Hogarth books are an exception because they're more general in their scope, not just covering comics, and they're written with diligence, a much deeper insight into the subjects they tackle and great deal of competent instruction.




DeadSpiderEye said...

Oops, too much Benzedrine last night.

Kid said...

I've got the three you mention, DSE, but out of all of them, I was most inspired to sit down and start drawing (again) by the Marvel book. There's just something about Stan's text which is infectious and makes you want to grab a pencil.

Of course, those who have real talent probably don't need books like these to begin with, but they can fire you up a bit, which is a good thing.

******

I use a Vick's inhaler myself.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Yeah, sorry I was a bit off topic, must've been a bit more knackered than usual this morning. I agree about the inspiration thing, at least for younger people. On a more on topic vein, I haven't delved into any biographies, I've just been subject to the tittle tattle, that circulated in the fan press. There, I think a certain expansion of detail has gone on, you know, drawing conclusions from snippets that aren't necessarily grounded in events. But -- there is also some pretty astounding material, that hints at certain remarkable circumstance, the Vince Colletta letter being a very lively example. I'm not sure how I feel about that kind of material, yeah it's entertaining but it's also kinda tawdry, presenting a missive by a man under stress who's just lost his job for the delectation of the punters. Not really ethical according to my thinking.

Kid said...

I think resentment had been stewing away against Vince Colletta for a while 'though, DSE. Personally, I liked his inks on Kirby's art, but there was a feeling that he was later getting work on Jim Shooter's say-so because they were pally, and a general feeling that he hurt art more than he helped it. Can't vouch for the veracity of any of that, but that seems to have been the perception, so he was seen as a legitimate target by some. Even Stan Lee has his detractors, which amazes me somewhat, but there's always going to be bitching by those who don't make it to the top of the tree, but feel they should have. You're right, it is a bit 'car-crash' - you feel compelled to look even 'though you know you might not like what you see.

DeadSpiderEye said...

I do get that impression of the Colletta/Shooter relationship myself but you're right, it's not wise to invest such impressions with too much veracity. Stan Lee, is a bit of a pioneer, it's not that comics were new but he was involved with them while they were not considered with much respect and instrumental in raising their status. Once a medium gains respect and the money starts to flow, that circumstance attracts people of a different ilk, second wavers I call 'em. You know, the people with different expectations and aspirations. You saw that with the British Industry in 2000AD, a lively comic that was more or less killed off when it became a bit too earnest. I quite like Alan Moore as a writer, but his reflective material, his spoofy Dare Devil rubbish and the 'humourous' tat he did for The Prog, was just a waste of time.

Kid said...

Moore's written a few good stories in his time - mainly those that operate under the ethos of the Code (oh, there's that word again), but I'm less than impressed with the majority of his stuff. Perhaps that's unfair, because I'm less than impressed with most of what's published in comicbooks today.

TC said...

I think Stan's bombastic style rubbed some people the wrong way. Also, there was a widespread idea that Stan took too much credit, and that Kirby and Ditko got too little. There may even be some truth in that complaint. But maybe Kirby got too much credit, and Joe Simon too little, for the Golden Age strips (Captain America, Boy Commandos, the original Manhunter).

I never got much useful advice from "how to draw" books. My pet peeve is the standard guideline of drawing people seven heads high and the legs about half the height. That works fine if you never draw anything except a platoon of soldiers standing at attention, but it isn't as helpful for characters running, sitting, and bending.

Judging by a lot of comics being published now, it appears most artists practiced drawing Batman and Spider-Man, but never learned to draw backgrounds (bystanders, buildings, scenery in general).

I've read a few books about comics, but nothing really controversial. The Great Comic Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer, History of Comics by Jim Steranko, and All in Color For a Dime, edited by Richard Lupoff and Don Thompson.

Kid said...

Interesting comment as usual, TC. Y'know, when Jack Kirby met the fans and they mispronounced characters' names, he didn't correct them. I think, in Stan's case, it wasn't so much that he 'took' too much credit, but was perhaps accorded a bit more than he would've claimed, and when that happened face-to face-with fans, he did a 'Jack' by not correcting their misconceptions. More out of politeness than a desire to steal credit, I think. However, when interviewed, he always gave his collaborators fulsome praise.

My main complaint about a lot of the art in today's comics is that the clear storytelling of '60s & '70s comics is missing, even when the art itself is very accomplished - if a bit too 'technical' looking. I've got the first two books (or magazines in Steranko's case) on your list, but not the third. Maybe one day. (Might have seen it in the library 'though.)

DeadSpiderEye said...

What was the story he did under the code, For the Man who has Everything? That's the only code work of his I recall with much clarity. It wasn't bad, kinda curiously stilted in terms of the wordy bits, not as fluid as the stuff he'd knocked out for Warrior, no code in the UK. I wonder if that impression is a result of editorial concerns over code compliance, he did sail it a bit close to the wind if I recode correctly. In fact, I'm pretty sure he busted the code with Wonder Woman/ Boy Wonder crack. The coda, (I think he called it Epilogue) was quite nice though.

Kid said...

That one, plus a Swamp Thing/Superman team-up, which I think was under the code. Also, the two-part Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? There may have been more, but I'm not sure.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Yeah the Swamp Thing was his big DC thing, you know I never read 'em. Swamp Thing was great but I'd dropped it for a while by Moore's time, I really wasn't keen on taking on an adjusted mythology, it's a fan thing.

Kid said...

Yeah, I wasn't keen on his changes - interesting (at least initially) as some of them were.

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