Wednesday, June 29, 2005

He's right. 

Over at Fanboy Rampage, they're snarking on something John Byrne wrote:
"I need lots of reference, to orient myself in the changed reality of the current Superman... I can't switch on my default Jimmy Olsen, for instance, because Jimmy doesn't look the way he used to. Nor does Lois. Nor does Perry. This is very much a part of what makes it feel like doing a whole new and different character... I am a great believer in keeping characters 'on model'. I really, really, really do not approve of this 'personal interpretation' crap. Superman should look like Superman. Batman should look like Batman. The impression, no matter how many artists are involved, should always be that each and every one of them/us is looking at the same model."

Whatever you might think of the guy's work, he's absolutely correct on this point.

When you're working with a group of characters like the Superman cast, it's a really good idea, whatever your style, to try to "reverse engineer" the designs of the other people working on the characters to figure out what they'd really look like. Then you apply your own stylizations.

If you're telling stories in a shared universe, the goal, in theory at least, is to create a reasonably unified collective work. This is particularly true when you're working on stories that carry directly from one title to another. A story told by that many hands is already fractured. Why make things worse by ignoring the work of the other illustrators on the character?

I should note that I don't think stories should be told that way. I'm a strong believer in keeping the look of a story consistent from the beginning to the end. Switching artists from one chapter to another is, I think, as disruptive as switching actors in the middle of a play.

EDIT: The discussion continued in the comments thread, where someone asked this:
"So what about the differences between the Neal Adams thin Batman and the Large Batman of Frank Miller?...Do those apply?"

Good question. If Neal is drawing part of a many-hands story that Frank is also working on, yeah, I think they should try to make the characters consistent.

In a self-contained work, individuality is to be encouraged. But if the story is continued between titles, and no one is on the same page with respect to character design, the resulting work just isn't going to come together very well, even if the individual chapters have some nifty stuff.

You could (and some do) make the argument that the collected work is going to be fucked no matter what, so everyone should just concentrate on making their own segment as impressive as possible. I don't have an argument against this, except that it would make more sense for someone who feels that way to be doing his or her own self-contained project instead of working at cross-purposes with a group of other storytellers.

In other news, Will Pfeiffer, Pete Woods' collaborator on Catwoman, was interviewed recently over at Comicon.

Here's a look back at Karl Kesel and Rob Liefeld's Hawk and Dove miniseries.


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

eXTReMe Tracker