Saturday, January 28, 2012

Another one from myself 1/28/12

It seems by the comments to this part of the blog, that you guys are more fond of trying to rip me a new one than respond to my cover critiques, ha ha. But I can take it. Hell, I even agree with many of the comments. Maybe I should only post my own stuff from now on, just to give you guys a forum to give me your opinions. Nah, that's a horrible idea.

Cover "Fails" from 1/28/12

 OK, I'm sure I'll get some heat on this one, but this cover just doesn't do it for me. Is it moody? Sure, in spades. But in terms of design, it just kind of sits there. Both elements are almost the same size for no reason. And what's up with the guy? Did someone slip him a ruffie? I mean, if this chick walked up on me, I'd be losing my shit, but our hero seems more annoyed at the situation. Again though, as I stated above, it just doesn't seem much  thought went into the design of this cover. I'd almost have rather seen just the vampire girl.
 One question: Who runs like this? That's it.
 I don't mind a simple cover when it's done right, is rendered in an engaging way, or features a unique subject, such as the Moebius cover I talk about in cover "wins" this week. But seriously, how many covers can you do of a guy (usually Wolverine) holding up his fist with claws coming out before it becomes so hackneyed that it's a joke? Another example is Batman standing on the edge of a building next to a gargoyle. The artist needs to do something unique in order keep me from rolling my eyes, and saying, "Not again!"
 I can forgive the drawing and the coloring, but that photo background is criminal. First, I'll bet you dimes to dollars the artist didn't take it, and second, a cartoon style and photos mix about as well as ammonia and bleach. I did that once as a teenager working in a steak house thinking it would clean the floor even better and like this cover, it did NOT end well.
 Beyond the crazy color job, this is on the list primarily because of the way Ming is sitting. Sitting is one of those things an artist needs to learn how to draw. What's funny is, it's one of the easiest things to take reference photos of. Think about it, chairs are readily available to most people on this planet. Maybe not in the Congo or a few other remote places, but I'm sure the artist was sitting on one when drawing this cover. Also, cameras with self-timers are super cheap. Even if you don't own one, a mirror is always an option. Bottom line, if you're drawing something out of your comfort zone, find reference.
Ming just doesn't look natural.

Well, that's another week down. I hope you guys still realize this are just my opinions I'm presenting here and nothing more.

Cover "wins" from 1/28/12

 I'm gonna start this off with this beauty from Andrew Robinson. Andrew is one of those "artist's artists." He always looks at subjects in a totally unique way. The design is classic, but it's the rendering that is just so well done. My only beef is the blurb on the cover. Andrew has such a talent for lettering, I would have loved to see his take on the title working more with the illustration; however, sometimes it's just not possible time-wise.
 I'm really a big fan of these Jennifer Blood covers Bradstreet is doing. They simply have a different flavor than what he's done in the past, and they stand out because of it. Ultimately, that is what I look for in a cover.
 Landronn has made the list again. He's done just a great job with lighting and rendering; moody yet bright, which is really hard to pull off, believe me. The layout/design is also really strong. He really is scary talented.
 This is simply a fine example of a well done montage. All of the elements flow and work together without fighting each other. Montages are hard to do and can fall apart very easily. My only beef would be the lack of a bit more contrast in the coloring on Captain America in order to make him "pop" more.

Speaking of making things "pop" with coloring, this cover does it in spades. Also, the layout has an exciting aspect to it. It's everything you could want out of a super hero comic book cover.
And finally I have to comment on the master himself. Sure it's simple by design, but the weirdness of the long, blood-red tongue in contrast to the white, creepy skin set against that interesting green background makes it stand out.

Once again, beyond everything else like drawing, color, design etc, a good cover should just stand out as something different and unique.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Once again. Your turn to nit pick my work 1/21/12

Well, this came out a while ago, but they just re-solicited it for the trade. When they asked me to do the cover, all the direction I received was to draw a "Green Lantern ring with blood on it". I came up with idea to make the ring act like an actual lantern to add a little bit of drama. People seemed to dig it, but I'm sure you bastards will find something wrong with it, ha ha.

Cover "wins" from 1/21/12

Blah. It's raining outside and I'm sick with a virus that has been kicking my ass for a week now, so I've decided that I just don't have the energy to talk about anything negative concerning covers this week. So let's just focus on the positive, shall we? 
 First off, this Chiang cover is so much fun to look at. Everything about it screams AWESOME! Highly readable, well drawn, and nicely rendered. It's just a fun illustration on all levels.
 Beyond the sweet Art Adams drawing, it's the coloring that really makes this pop. I've always loved the yellow/green combo. Fantastic.
 Speaking of yellow and green, Acuna is one of my favorite artists currently working. If artistic skill were measured in strength, he'd be the Hulk.
 I ran rough-shod over a Kaare cover last week, but this one I like a lot. Great job on the effects.
 I always dig seeing an artist get away with realistic folds on costumes. Sometimes the people in charge, put their foot down on this kind of stuff. Glad it didn't happen here.
 Just a well-painted illustration. I'm not sure how it relates to the book, but I don't care; I just like the final product.
Strong composition wins the day here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Your turn once again to rip me a new one. 1/14/12

Two covers this week. BTW, it appears that I can now respond directly to each comment given on this blog. I'm not sure why I couldn't before, but oh well. I will try my best to do so in the future. 
 This Lobster Johnson series is set in the 30's, so for all the covers for the series I was trying to reflect old movie posters from that era. Some worked, some didn't. I'm sure you'll let me know which ones didn't.
I've already taken some heat for this Punisher cover. Frank was a Marine not a Green Beret. Oops.

Cover "Fails" from 1/14/12

 This Moriarty cover is not a bad cover. It is only here because I wanted to talk about the importance of  "values". Having two elements right next to each other that are the same value, even if they're 2 different colors, is a no-no. A simple test to check this is to squint your eyes. If the design becomes one shape as opposed to separate/readable shapes, then you've done something wrong. In this case, the black and the maroon are too close in value, even with the red outline. So I added a little color shift in the maroon by adding red, and darkened up the blacks in the main figure. Looking at it now, maybe I should have changed the value in the yellow also, now that the red is lighter at the bottom. BTW, the artist is a friend, so at least I'm trying to be fair on this blog. It's about the art people.
 When I saw this, it immediately jumped out at me. The girls arm is anatomically wrong. Seriously, I even looked online just to be sure (since I don't personally know any 13 year old girls) . Even at a young age, with the lower part of the arm against the head like that, the elbow would be much higher and the forearm would be resting on top of the head. It's just freaky.
 This is here not because of the Wolverine drawing (which is great BTW), but because of the shadows below Wolvie. Since there are shadows in front and behind him of the same value, its hard to tell one from the other. It flattens out the composition and destroys the illusion of depth. That smoking gun barrel in front ends up looking like a falling ember. Wally Wood showed what I'm talking about better than I can in 22 panels that always work. Check it out here:
 Fail. Simply a fail. Why the designer thought it would be a better idea to use shitty looking photos and ugly computer graphics instead of close ups of Kirby art is beyond me. Let's not even get into the logo work. FAIL FAIL FAIL!!!
 Characters ripping through other art is an old classic, but the trick is making sure both elements are separate and readable. This cover fails at that. It's too busy. Sure it's rendered very prettily but in some ways, that's what makes it hard to read.
 Is this a cover? Or an interior panel? The design, and sound FX make me wonder. I never understood the 30 foot long Batman cape either. I know a lot of fans love it along with the "butcher knife" bat ears, but I always liked the more efficient looking Batman myself. Different strokes I guess.
 Ahhh, my favorite subject... archery. This time the artist didn't even DRAW a bow string. What is she gonna do? Push the arrow at you? The rest of the cover is fine. It's the classic "coming at you" action cover, but the fact that she's the main focus, made the lack of that one detail painfully obvious.

Cover "wins" from 1/14/12

 We start this off with Mignola. What can you say that's not already said? Mignola's composition is so strong, it's bullet proof.
 Man, what a wonderful cover. The idea, the painting, the colors...everything is readable without competing with the main subject of the cover. Strong design by using the "A" frame design. I would have moved the credits up a bit to balance it out with the story title, but that was probably out of the hands of the artist. It's covers like this that raise the bar of "comic book" illustration to a higher level.
 Man, I liked this the first time I saw it in previews, and I still like it now. That bloody hand just POPS! And it's got mood for days. It shows you can do dark moody covers and still make them readable. I'm glad the production dept. picked red for the logo, although I would put the UPC box on the right side. Nothing interesting going on on that side compared to the left where all the gory bits are.
 I also talked about this a while ago on twitter. So much going on, and yet the important parts are clearly defined. It allows you to discover the other elements at your leisure instead of being hit with them all at once. It's artists like this that make me think I'm in the wrong field.
 Alex Ross did a really great job here. It's a classic design that really works when done well. The shift from red to grey/black works wonderfully. Also, making Flash all red is a nice touch to bring the two together. I'm not sure I would have liked it as much if he was normally rendered with regular colors.
 This cover is on here because I was impressed that the artists pulled off nicely what would have killed me: An underwater action scene that's interacting with the surface above. Also, it's an exciting angle. I'm even gonna forgive the the breaking of the law of physics that states that a bullet traveling through water is only effective for a couple of feet at best. It's a comic book after all.
ACTION!!! A classic example of the How to draw comics the Marvel Way cover! Captain America pops! Falcon is right beside him, face front and kicking ass. It just works.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Well, I'm just gonna say it.

In my opinion, Jock has created the cover of the year. Bar none. He should win the Eisner and the Harvey awards for this alone. And any blog site that lists the "Best covers of 2011" and doesn't include this on their list (I've seen many so far that haven't) makes me believe that they don't know their asses from their elbows.

It's funny, one of the reasons I started this blog was to voice my opinions on what a good cover should be by pointing out the really good ones and the really bad ones. What makes me scratch my head is how people judge a cover. A lot of times, they add extra credit to a cover because of content in the book. If they liked the book, or the character, or the artist, then the cover becomes better in their eyes. I'm not doing that. The point of this blog is to look at the cover as a piece of stand alone art; to celebrate its strengths or talk about it's weaknesses, free from all the other baggage that, to be honest doesn't mean shit to me. It's only about what's on the cover.

So congratulations Jock. I don't have a statue or anything. Just me giving you a thumbs up. And I'll be buying you a beer the next time I see you at a show.