Sunday, December 28, 2014

Iron Man 258-266

I was digging through a bunch of totally unorganized dollar-a-comic long boxes at the New England Comics in Malden and came across this run of Iron Man from the early 90s drawn by John Romita Jr. and inked by Bob Wiacek. The way John Romita Jr. draws Iron Man is fantastic. He's not all smooth and shiny. He's rough and scratched and kind of damaged looking.

The premise of this run is that somebody has taken control of Tony Stark's body, but they don't have his mind, and he can use his mind to control the Iron Man suit, so because the suit is stronger, as long as he is in the suit, he can control his body. And Fin Fang Foom is in it. And the Mandarin's doing stuff as well.

The story is the worst kind of story. It's not good, and it's not bad, it's completely forgettable.

But it's got that John Romita Jr. art, and that's really all I need.

Which connects to what I've been thinking about in terms of how I read comics. It really is art-focused, and if a comic has art that I don't like, I won't read it (Y: The Last Man).

Which has really led to me questioning the way that I write comics. If I personally will read a comic where the story is garbage, but the art is to my taste, but I won't read a comic where the art is not appealing, but the story is great, what should I be focusing on while writing a comic? Previously, it's been about the story and the dialogue and capturing this tone or feeling. My art has never been too flashy because I've believed the art is in support of the narrative, and if the art is too attention-grabbing, it distracts from the reading of the comic. My feeling has been that the art should almost be invisible. The reader will be pulled in to the point where they are not aware that they are reading a comic or looking at a picture. The story will just flow. Flashy art distracts, and so does bad art.

So... art that's solid but not too attention grabbing.

Does that mean bland?

And maybe that's a totally wrong way to think about it. People are choosing to pick up a book filled with pictures for a reason, and the reason is the pictures.

Instead of having the art be in support of the narrative, it would seem to make more sense to have the narrative be in support of the art.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reading Comics

I've been thinking a lot about the way I read comics, and about the way that other people read comics. What spawned this was some old Alex Toth Zorro comics. I could look at Toth line work forever. It's beautiful, perfect, but what's frustrating is that I feel that only people who read comics see it. If I were to hand Zorro to someone who doesn't read comics, it would not convince them to read any more. Yet this is one of the greats, one of the best there ever was. This is a guy I wish I could be like.

How is the way I am reading different from how they are reading?

I think readers of comics have to block out a lot of stuff. I can love these comics only by choosing not to see a lot of things. I'm looking at those brush strokes and those blacks. I ignore the story (awful), the dialogue (worse), and just about everything else.

It's a little like watching a movie only for the cinematography, which is something I never do, and I don't know anyone who does. There are lots of movies where all pieces come together, but with comics, it just doesn't feel like it happens that often.

What is the total package comic book?

And also, what am I looking for in a comic book?

Is it really just pretty pictures? Artistic prowess? And if so, why am I spending so much time worrying about the story of my own comics.