Saturday, June 14, 2008

Number 324

Rat Man!

Today Karswell of The Horrors Of It All and I are running two versions of the same story: He has the printed version of Bob Powell's "The Rat Man" from Harvey Comics' Tomb Of Terror #5, and I am showing the original art. Wish I owned this art, but I stole…errrrrrrrr…I mean borrowed it from the Internet.

This is a good example of how Powell used blue watercolor to indicate to the color artist where he wanted color emphasis. You can compare these pages to the printed pages and see if he got through to that colorist.


...and while we're showing original art, here are three pages I bought over 20 years ago at the San Diego Comics Convention, all hand-picked for their horror qualities, drawn by a couple of superfine Filipino artists.

"Beware the Snare of the Tarantula," from Witching Hour #54, is drawn by Jess Jodloman, written by EC Comics vet Carl Wessler. Love that Modred figure in the splash panel. Love the whole splash panel!*

Fellow EC vet Jack Oleck wrote "Way of the Werewolf," and here's a great page by Gerry Talaoc. A really nice werewolf tale, and this issue, House Of Mystery #231, has an incredible cover by Bernie Wrightson.

My thanks to best friend Dave Miller for doing the work of stitching the pages together via Photoshop.

*After posting this Karswell sent me this poster for The Fly, which obviously influenced the splash. Thanks, Karswell!


Mr. Cavin said...

Wow, Pappy. I love it when you and Karswell work in tandem. Between the two of you, I swear, there's a master's course in the breadth and sweep and process of comics brewing. I love that last panel on your werewolf page, and that has to the the weirdest damn old Witch intro I've ever read....

RE: " watercolor to indicate to the color artist where he wanted color emphasis." It's very interesting to me that the colorist chose to, in fact, ignore much of this added value. Not only does it mean that the original pages are simply better than the printed, but they are so much more instructive. What a wealth of interesting and "lost" side information generationally boiled away along the process of comics collaboration.

Pappy said...

Thanks for the input! It must've seemed discouraging to Powell to go to so much extra work (for which he wasn't being paid, I think), only to have his work unappreciated by some hack assigned to do the coloring. I've been looking at original art for many years, and it's obvious the best artists had to contend with indifferent coloring, printing, etc., but they still did great jobs on their artwork. Personal pride, I'm sure.

I have two of the printed versions of the pages of my DC art, and I didn't show them because they are bad. At the time the printer, in Sparta, Illinois, went to plastic printing plates instead of metal as a cost-cutting measure, and most delicate linework was obscured or covered up by coloring. The original art gave me a look at how good the artists really were.

"Master's course." I love that comment. Karswell, you read that? I really appreciate that, Mr. Cavin. You are obviously a reader of refinement and discerning taste!

Karswell said...

Stunning comparison, and I agree the inked pages read like potential gold. Though there are of course many awesome exceptions I honestly don't believe comic coloring has gotten much better over the last 50 or 60 years either, (for example I actually prefer the black and white Silver Surfer Essentials to the comics as all that cosmic coloring tends to get messy and much too rainbow brite.) This artform is particularly bad nowadays with "colorists" just clicking the photoshop paint bucket fill or adding too many color layers and render effects, needlessly destoying contrast, line of action, etc... some companies think "realistic" translates into more "artistic."

>"Master's course." I love that comment. Karswell, you read that?

Duel of the Master Blog Casters! See Pappy, I told ya this would be a good idea. Thanks Mr C!

Mr. Cavin said...

You are both very much welcome. I should be thanking you; so: thank you.

Karswell: I very much think the art of comics coloring has sunk out of sight in the last ten years (this is very much a curmudgeonly "I liked their old stuff better"-type comment, but so be it) for many of the reasons you site. I find my preferences tend toward those days between the true old four-color golden age and the modern 256 chroma-faded pretend 3D optical effects stuff. Basically, I like the stuff from the fifties and sixties best, but there are always exceptions.

A case in point: the new Vertigo Absolute Sandman collections, up to the third volume right now: I really love the title and I have all the original issues. I might be interested in having these slip-covered compilations, too, only they've gone back and re-done all the (not all that interesting) original paint and replaced it with sparkling modern paint bucket. This sort revisionism always really annoys me; but in this case the new product is a far inferior eye-sore. I guess we've been seeing this trend happen since as early as the eighties, when boutique comics began coming out on slicker paper allowing less bleed while digital printing paved the way for sprayed ink recipes that could compensate for damn near any variation in hue. I understood all this stuff when I was annoyed by Vertigo and Epic titles in my teens. I've become a far ruder curmudgeon about the subject as this trend's persisted.

Hey Pappy, thanks for letting me rant in your comment section. Looking forward to the next thing.

Uncle Ernie said...

Love the b/w art!! At the time the Filipino artists were doing this work at DC, I didn't like it. Once I had a chance to see some originals of that art - I began to appreciate the quality of the art and the artist's skills at line work and the detail the poor printing wasn't reproducing.

The Unexpected #176 art looks more like Jodloman's style. Is it really Talaoc?

Rudy Tenebre said...

Pappy, Beautiful original pages, indeed! I'm often bounding between the dialectic poles of a love for the mastery of the original pages and their usually cruddy translation to colored and printed form. There is a certain magic to the murk and faulty registration of colors in a bad print job... I've seen bad printings of Wood pages which, when seen in the crisp originals, have actually lost value, to my mind. Of course it generally goes the other way. Thanks for Ratman!! Amazing! The Grotesque of the woman, transformed after dealings with the Ratman, is beautiful!!

Pappy said...

Uncle Ernie, you're right. Jodloman. I'll go back and fix that.

This has been the weekend of mistakes: First Darkman90 informs me I've missed a page of the Golden Lad story, now I've misattributed artwork. So much for my "master" rating, eh?

Pappy said...

Karswell and Mr. Cavin, vent away. I looked at, but didn't buy, a compilation of Neal Adams recolored versions of his '70s Batman stories. I would have preferred they had done it the original way. I hope to see these stories one day in sharp black and white, so I can actually see the artwork and not need x-ray vision to see through the layered-on colors.

Pappy said...

Rudy, there can be some charm to mis-registered coloring on some old comics--it reminds us they were considered a throwaway product, reproduced as cheap as possible--but I will always prefer original art to any printed version. When I look at originals I'm seeing the work of the artist(s), and not a whole gang of production people. The artist might have a shaky ink line that tightened up with smaller-size reproduction, or white paint, a patch pasted on, or even pencil marks still visible. It reminds me that this was a guy sweating over a drawing board!

Karswell said...

> this poster for The Fly, which obviously influenced the splash.

The splash for Beware the Snare of the Tarantula he means.

Vince M. said...

The light blue indications on the Powell art were guides for benday screens, at least that's the way I've always seen it used.

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