I don’t know why you people put up with this sh*t

Illustrating a comic book means telling a story with words and pictures.

The better someone is at this the  better they are using words, pictures, and panels…and camera angles, vanishing points, backgrounds, panel composition and overall page composition…and about a dozen other tools, to making a compelling story that draws you in and helps you escape into the reality they are trying to create.

It’s a tough job.

Which is why the different levels of skill are so apparent.  They range from mesmerizing pages that seem like views into another world, to pedestrian beginner efforts that are a couple of talking heads with word balloons.  When someone is starting out and selling DIY books for a couple of bucks I don’t really have a problem remedial page efforts.  No one is great when they start out.

But when it comes to people working on nationally distributed books,with household name characters in them, from one of the big 2 publishers, in full glossy stock at 4-6 dollars a copy…you damn well better know what you are doing and not be phoning it in.

but that’s just me..I expect more from people higher up on the food chain.

which is why books that are essentially one splash page after the next with the purpose being movie poster practice instead of creating an imaginary world to capture the readers imagination are so very very pathetic.  Why pages like this are such an embarrassment.

Briefly let me just say that people should leave the joke telling to the professionals.  This joke is so-so and not worth taking up an entire page.  Beyond that, someone actually skilled in comedy writing could have punched it up about a dozen different ways so that the so-so joke was actually better than someone who just started out selling copies of books made at kinkos would have done.  BEYOND THAT…I saw this and thought “hmm…sure seems to me I’ve seen that gag before on a movie” .  Turns out I’ve seen a similar set up at least two other times ( DIE HARD 3, I still know what you did last summer).  In fact if you punch in “it’s not my blood” into a search engine, you’ll get a few more places it was used.

BUT…these things happen.  Something takes root in your brain and you put it down on paper forgetting you heard it somewhere else.  Happened to me once.  First year of A.L. I used a line ” that’s someone else’s department”  turns out I heard it on a movie “real men” not exactly used in the same situation, but the gag was basically the same and it was enough for me to redouble my efforts and from then on pull any gag even remotely similar whether I had heard it before or even heard it AFTER I was finished with the story but the book was not yet published.  I’ve probably pulled 50 pages of stuff that I genuinely came up with on my own but then saw somewhere else before my gag go to print…but that’s just me, i have integrity.  SO…the writer stepped in it, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt against willful plagiarism…but NOT for using a lame gag.

THE REAL PROBLEM THOUGH…IS THE “ILLUSTRATION”.  The “illustrator” did ZERO to help the gag. and in fact only drew about 25% of an actual page.  Drew Hawkman twice, the background once and the other guy four times ( sort of).  Drew 7 images…and cut and paste them…and took your money.

You want an even more stark example of how detached this illustrator is from the story that is supposed to be being told?…correct me if I’m wrong but a key element of this gag is Hawkman is COVERED IN BLOOD…How about maybe a panel dedicated to showing Hawkman covered in blood?! hmm? maybe?  Maybe do that instead of just drawing hawkman and letting the colorist put some red spots on him?  Personally…if I was told to do something with this I wouldn’t even show hawkman from the neck down until after the second guy points out he’s covered in blood.  Hide that until it’s mentioned and then pan out so you see how dramatic/out of the ordinary the fact that he’s covered in blood is.  Whatever, there’s a bunch of better ways of approaching this than this cut and past hack job.  Hell for all we know this image of hawkman was cut from some other scene or story.  Did this guy just glance at the script and see “hawkman at a table” and stop reading after that or what?!

This is pathetic…flat out pathetic.  This is a NATIONALLY DISTRIBUTED COMIC BOOK BY ONE OF THE TWO LARGEST PUBLISHERS.  This isn’t the bush leagues.  You people should not be putting up with this garbage

Rather then do something self-serving like compare it to a page of Arsenic Lullaby (which I am tempted to do).  Let’s compare it to a page from David Bosewell ( maker of Reid Flemming The worlds toughest Milkman), a skilled illustrator who actually knows what he is doing.  The gag here is Ried is trying to catch his runaway truck because..he left booze in it.  Not a screamingly funny premise..but take a look at how he gets as much PUNCH as possible out of it.

THAT..is storytelling. and THAT is what you should be expecting for your money.

“but Doug…it’s easier to make a page with action interesting!  making a page with just two guys talking is much harder!”

Fine…you asked for it.

Body language, facial expressions, talking with your hands…these are thing people do when they talk to each other.  They don’t stare into the middle distance expressionless and motionless.  If I had more time I’d break down Bosewell’s and my pages other more subtle elements.  But I don’t have time…because I have a book to illustrate, and I take what I do seriously and so “cut and paste” is not an option.

Full Issue of Arsenic Lullaby The Big Stall Here

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