How much is too much?
Okay, short version of a long story, I am putting together an Arsenic Lullaby Trading card set. Nothing to big maybe 25-40 different cards, some done by me and some done by other illustrators. There wasn’t much rhyme or reason behind who I asked to do the other cards other than I wanted to see their version of a specific character because I thought it would be cool. Different people have different styles and I wanted to see what some of my guys would look like rendered by certain people. So, if you are an illustrator I know and weren’t asked, don’t get all butt hurt, It’s no judgement on your work, I just had a handful of people I was specifically curious about what their versions of some of my stuff would look like. Plus some of you I knew were busy and the whole bit, and wasn’t going to bug you with a card illustration when I know you got other stuff going on. Also…let’s not overlook the possibility ( stark reality) that I meant to ask a lot more of you than I actually remembered to or could find the email address of when I was looking for it. If it was something I had more time and resources to plan out I’d have asked you all. If you wanna get in on it, fine by me…like I say I didn’t really plan this out. Maybe in 2015 I’ll do another, who knows.
ANYWAY…..ONTO THE POINT, AND MY THEORY/QUESTION.
So one of the Illustrators I asked was one Eugenia Koumaki. I first saw Eugenia’s stuff few years ago when I went to Greece. I really liked the smooth delicate line strokes and usually pretty solid composition. The work had the nice confident lines of Carl Barks from Scrooge McDuck ( don’t laugh…if you haven’t seen his work on that book you should, it is brilliant in its simplicity) but also with finer delicate lines when something required it. Eugenia is still in school. I only mention that so my gushing over the work doesn’t leave you with the impression that this is someone who has it all kicked in the butt and who’s style won’t continue to evolve…
WHICH BRINGS US TO THE CROSSROADS…
I asked for a version of the winged, handless nemesis of Voodoo Joe ( i foget the kids name…I should know my own characters names..oh well) and got some shots as the piece progressed…about when it got to this point I was really stoked
That is flat-out cool, and you see now what I was trying to explain with the Carl Bark’s solid lines / delicate lines. Solid lines on the edges and posture, delicate on the hair and details. Just damn well done. And what can you say about the light touch on the coloring? This face is exactly what I was looking for when I asked people “draw YOUR version of my character” This looks like the kid I draw, only as though he went into a dimension that Eugenia draws. Just a little more coloring and whatever was to be done with the background and we were good to go I figured…
THEN…I got this bit of progress—-
I calmly…opened my window and shook my fist in the direction of Eugenia’s school and shouted ‘YOU F*CKING BASTARDS AND YOUR F*CKING PHOTOSHOP…YOU’RE RUINING THESE PEOPLE, TEACHING THEM THIS BUULLSH*T” …then I shouted down to the people below my window at the bus stop “WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? !”
The delicate line work that was the ying to the solid lines yang was all gone. Go…compare the eyes, the teeth, the shirt wrinkles…not to mention the scars on his hands are gone. I laid my head on the desk in bemusement.
However looking at it again..and this is why I am posting this..I begin to wonder if my own biased might be clouding my judgement. I work old school and love old school type renderings. This second version is still very good, and will probably impress more than a few people, and looks very polished and mainstream and probably publishers or pros looking for an illustrator would be able to plug this style into whatever they were working on…where as the first one sort of needs a specific type of story in order to fit.
There is also something I have pondered on for a while now. It is my half assed theory that something can be so good that it no longer captures the imagination. Here’s what I mean…you look at it and go “wow, that is good” instead of looking at it and wondering what is going on in the story. Moebius, Wally Wood, for example did mind-blowing detailed stuff but was it not so well done that your first thought was how well done it was , instead of your first thought being “that robots blowing up!” Am I explaining this properly?
Those aren’t very good as far as side by side comparisons, but if you know what I mean then you know what I mean. You marvel at the first two guys skill…but when you see the Bark’s page you just think “hey, what’s going on with those ducks?”
You look at an over rendered Wally Wood page and you wonder how he did all that, you look at a Jack Kirby page and you wonder if the silver surfer is going to get away. I have been thinking about that a lot, the better I get at coating a page with detail and clutter. At some point, the brain flips from being drawn into the story to being amazed at the detail. If we are trying to tell a story and capture the imaginations job one is getting people to forget they are looking at a drawing. To much detail may be less effective.
Anyways, I’m up in the air here. My gut reaction is no.1 is hands down better , but that may be because I am looking at it through the eyes of an illustrator. Perhaps if the goal is to make a really cool card set no.2 is actually more effective? Because when you look at the two of them…the second one sure makes you feel like you stumbled into the middle of something doesn’t it?
What say you?