Bill Sienkiewicz · Illustration Art · Jeffrey "Jeff" Catherine Jones · Look Here

Look Here: “The Bill Sienkiewicz Portfolio”

From Marvel Fanfare #8 (May 1983), “The Bill Sienkiewicz Portfolio,” coloured by Christie Scheele:

Notice Sienkiewicz’s Jeffrey Jones-inspired signature. Not really any evidence of Jones’s influence in the drawing, however. Ralph Steadman, maybe. Bob Peak, definitely — especially in the Thor image, but in some of the others as well. Neal Adams, definitely — all over the place. Jones, not so much.

To my eye, at least.

For one thing, Sienkiewicz’s figures are just not specific enough. They’re not carefully observed. There are no details that make you think, yes, that’s how a body really looks, and yes, that’s how it moves! Jones’s best drawings are filled with such details.

Seven years later, Sienkiewicz was hard at work on the artwork for Big Numbers, where he combined a loose mixed-media illustrative technique with extensive photo reference. Here’s a random sample from issue #1, as featured on Bill Sienkiewicz’s official Web site (where the style is explicitly identified as “photo-realistic”):

And here’s another:

It was a relatively original synthesis of the influences that Sienkiewicz had formerly worn on his sleeve, but still — to my eye — Sienkiewicz’s Big Numbers style owed more to work such as Richard Diebenkorn’s mixed-media figure drawings (see, for instance, Diebenkorn’s Seated Woman No. 44 [1966] posted below) — along with a certain highly influential school of heavily photo-referenced but painterly illustration art that emerged in the 1960s and steamrolled into the 1970s and beyond (Bernie Fuchs comes to mind here, and Robert Heindel, and the various Spanish illustrators whose photo-based work in ink, pencil, charcoal, oil, etc., came to dominate the Warren comics magazines, especially Vampirella) — than it ever did to Jones’s Idyl or I’m Age strips.

Nor did Sienkiewicz’s work have to resemble Jones’s, for Sienkiewicz to claim Jones as an influence.

Because the simple fact is, one can be influenced by a fellow artist’s example of artistic independence, integrity, and experimentation without latching on to specific aspects of his or her style…

BONUS IMAGE:

From 1988, a page from Stray Toasters, to compare with the illustration by Robert Heindel that I linked to earlier:

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