Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Tale of Two Batmen!

Let me get this straight up front. I love Neal Adams' work. Always have, since I was a kid in the early 70s. He's an incredibly talented draftsman.

As an adult, I just don't see the merits, tho, of approaching superheroes in such a super-rendered style. It seems silly and over-worked and overdone. Maybe because I'm sick of the last 2 decades of comics, with this as a major trend.

This new attitude may have emerged during my tenure as one of the merchandise artists for the BATMAN-THE ANIMATED SERIES products and merchandise. Made me tale another look at the seemingly easier (it's not-try it) visual approach to figures and design that's all about what you can leave OUT (a sign of a true master, said the late Alex Toth), and not what you put in.

A few months back, I took the grossly over-boiled Neal Adams cover to a recent BATMAN hardcover book, and re-worked it in the "Animated" style (roughly). Squint at both drawings. One stands out as a bold figure in action, and the other? A mess of thin lines, jittery hatching, and syrupy colors. Too much.

This style also allows the artist to get to what makes a character like Batman visually appealing. Think of how you thought of the character at age 7 or so. The dark masses of black. The ears. The glove fins. The chest insignia. The action poses. Speak to those cool iconic points in the drawing, and you get to the heart of the character.