First published in National Geographic Magazine, vol. 144, no. 6 (December 1973), the following drawings by Noel Sickles of “Scorchy Smith” fame were commissioned by the magazine’s editors to accompany an article by David Lewis entitled “Alone to Antarctica”; they were scanned for display here at RCN, by me, from a copy of the magazine that I bought at a local thrift store:
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Notice that the two largest drawings have a seam about two-thirds of the way from right. This is because the pictures were spread over two pages. Lazy bum that I am, I have done nothing to try to “fix” them.
From our art collection, here’s small sheet — 8 1/2 x 11 inches — of moodily expressive pencil sketches by John Buscema that reveal a side of his artistic personality that has largely gone unnoticed by fans of his work in comics:
From our modest collection of original art by various hands, here are five small sketches by John Buscema for you to peruse; if you click the images displayed below so as to enlarge them, you will find that the uploaded images are actually large enough to repay close study:
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All five of the above sketches currently reside in a 12 x 12 inch, 3-ring scrapbook album in our living room. In case you’re wondering how they’re displayed, each sketch is attached to the centre of one side of an acid free sheet with acid free photo corners. Works for me.
But please remember: don’t just take; link. (Yes, I’m talking to you, PNN.)
[JEAN] GIRAUD: Yes. I began as a self-taught artist, copying other artists; then, luckily, I entered an art school, which freed up my hand and opened my eyes to a degree. It’s very dangerous to work only second-hand — referring only to other artists, that is. My teachers were of the old school: they insisted that in order to transcribe reality with any degree of freshness or personality, the eye had to be confronted with the three-dimensional image. Of course, I didn’t do it enough, and when I met [Belgian artist Joseph] Gillain, that’s what he told me. He said that one could work from photographs in a pinch, but the work wouldn’t have the same intrinsic quality. It’s true: you can be very adept at drawing from photographs, and yet completely lose the scope, the dimension of the original…
THOMPSON:It has a tendency to flatten out…
GIRAUD: Yes, you lose the perspective; there are so many details to transcribe that you get lost within the billions of pieces of information. Working from nature teaches you to synthesize.
THOMPSON:Have you ever worked from photos?
GIRAUD: Oh, yes, when I began working with Joseph Gillain, he taught me how to draw from photos. It’s a very special kind of skill; if you’re too loyal to the photo, it swallows you up. If, for instance, in the middle of a whole page of “personal” drawings, there is suddenly a drawing that is too…
GIRAUD: Not overworked, but too dependent on a photographic vision, it’s as if there’s a sudden hole in the page. You have to take the elements from the photo that you need, and retranscribe them through your personal computer, in order to get a personal vision. The same rule applies to drawing from nature. It’s very difficult, but it’s what enables the artist to bring his vision to a work. Otherwise he’s nothing but a parrot, or an ape. [pp. 86-87]
SOURCE: Jean Giraud, “The Other Side of Moebius,” interview by Kim Thompson, The Comics Journal #118 (December 1987), pp. 85-105.
Brandon Graham > That elephant rumble — a loose, baggy monster of a blog post that includes two pages from National Geographic displayed alongside two pages by Moebius (see also below).
kiCswiLA? > Un, Dos, … — a side-by-side comparison of a publicity still from the move Hondo and the Apaches starring Ralph Taeger and Moebius’s cover painting for the Lieutenant Blueberry album, The Trail of the Sioux.
The element that distinguishes Lee Elias’s work here from your run-of-the-mill, damsel-in-distress comic-book cover is the half-naked guy on the ground grasping helplessly at the leg of the evil doer. More typically in fantasy art, it’s the girl who is on the ground, hanging onto the leg of the man, who is cast in the role of heroic protector. Elias’s canny subversion of that tired cliché reveals an artist who has not simply gone through the motions on a routine cover assignment but has thought his way through to a creative solution that gives the obligatory horror and cheesecake a playful tweak on the nose.
Today, art lovers world wide are lamenting the sad news that the much-admired, much-imitated, much-decorated British cartoonist and illustrator Ronald Searle has died. A family statement said:
Ronald William Fordham Searle, born 3 March 1920, passed away peacefully in his sleep with his children, Kate and John, and his grandson, Daniel, beside him on 30 December 2011 in Draguignan, France, after a short illness.
He requested a private cremation with no fuss and no flowers.
What marks Searle’s work out is genuine wit, intelligence and unabashed ambition. He is our greatest living cartoonist, with a lifelong dedication to his craft unequalled by any of his contemporaries. His work is truly international, yet absolutely grounded in the English comic tradition. It is the highest form of conceptual art, but devoid of any of the pretence that usually accompanies such a notion. Which is to say it is extremely funny, but not all the time. It cuts to the essence of life.
“At the Cambridge School of Art it was drummed into us that we should not move, eat, drink or sleep without a sketchbook in the hand. Consequently, the habit of looking and drawing became as natural as breathing.” — Ronald Searle
Searle’s caption for the above drawing is typically blunt: “More clowns, more wide-eyed children, and more phoneys to the square metre than any other public place in Europe (Saint Tropez compris). La Place du Tertre, Montmartre — artistic rubbish dump of Paris — and two born every minute to keep it thriving.”
Ronald Searle’s most recent book, Les Très Riches Heures de Mrs Mole, is a collection of the drawings Searle created for his wife each time she underwent chemotherapy for her breast cancer, “to cheer every dreaded chemotherapy session and evoke the blissful future ahead.” Mrs. Searle died in July 2011.