Prompted by a question posed to me on Twitter, I’ve taken a few moments to compile the following roundup of stories with art (or art and script) by Richard Corben that are freely available to read on the Web; the stories are listed in order of first publication, more or less:
“Inna Pit,” Son Of Mutant World #2 (1990), reprinted from Fantagor #1 (September 1970)
“Razar the Unhero,” script by Starr Armitage, Children Of Fire #1 (1987), originally printed in black and white in Fantagor #1 (September 1970)
Rowlf (May 1971): Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. (To bypass the slideshows on that site, and gain access to the largest scans, right click the images and open the links in a new tab or window; in Firefox, you can simply click the images while holding down the Ctrl button.) Reprinted from Voice of Comicdom #16 (Winter 1970) and #17 (1971)/#17 PDF
“Bookworm,” script by Gerry Conway, Eerie #32 (March 1971)
“The Pest!,” script by Al Hewetson, Eerie #33 (May 1971)
French cartoonist, illustrator, concept artist, and (inter)national treasure, Jean Giraud, also known as “Moebius” and “Gir,” died earlier today, 10 March 2012, in Paris after a long illness; he was 73 years old.
Like his namesake single-surfaced geometric figure, Giraud enjoyed two distinct careers that could be considered opposite sides of a coin, or a continuation of one another: As “Gir,” he co-created, illustrated, and eventually wrote the Western series Lt. Blueberry for over four decades, while as “Moebius,” he drew and often wrote some of the most revolutionary and dazzling science fiction comics ever created — as well as providing costume and set designs for such visually groundbreaking movies as Alien, TRON, and The Fifth Element.
Either career would have placed him at the forefront of his chosen trade; braided together into one astonishing life, the two made him indisputably one of the greatest cartoonists of the second half of the 20th century.
As i told you, i knew him personally for many years, and the first thing which come back to my memory is what an incredible worker he was. The production of Moebius is just phenomenal and he left to us literally thousand and thousand of artworks, and if we except his early work, all of them are stunning. I remember one day i had an appointment with him at his home and when i arrived he was finishing a drawing. He didn’t stopped to draw and i spent the next hours with him still finishing the artwork, putting the colors, etc… nothing would stop him and the incredible creative “fire” inside him!
And here’s a paragraph from Part Two:
It’s impossible to have a mind as visionary as he had and flying as such “altitude” — not to mention his amazing sense of beauty — without having a tremendous “fire” inside. But if someone was asking me what was Moebius “secret”, i think i would say that his genius partly came from his ability to keep his “fire” under control, and to redirect it in a creative way. Of course he had enough creative ambition and wanted to be the best, but his childhood which has been not really happy — parents divorced, raised by his grand parents, no sister or brother, etc… — might have been retrospectively a kind of luck. As any child he had to survive and he spent a lot of time drawing which later proved to be more important than anything. In two words, he found what he was born to do in his early years and that’s one of the best luck that one can have — even if the price to pay for this was a not-so-happy childhood.
Guardian.co.uk > Jean Giraud obituary by Steve Holland. Holland’s opening paragraph presents Jean “Moebius” Giraud’s career in a nutshell:
The artist Jean Giraud was principally known for his work on comic books under two pen names. As Gir, the co-creator of Blueberry, one of France’s most popular strips, his brushwork was detailed and realistic; as Moebius, he used intricate, visually arresting penwork to explore the subconscious in his creations Arzach, Le Garage Hermétique (The Airtight Garage) and L’Incal (The Incal). But Giraud, who has died of cancer aged 73, had an impact on the visual arts that went beyond comics. He was seen as a figurehead linking bandes dessinées with modernism and nouveau réalisme. As the co-creator of Métal Hurlant magazine, he took comics to an older, more literate audience. In cinema, his fans ranged from Federico Fellini to Hayao Miyazaki and his style influenced dozens of others, including Ridley Scott, George Lucas, James Cameron and Luc Besson.
Mr. Giraud, who used the pen name Moebius in much of his work, was seen in the comic-book world as a kind of artist-avatar of the unbounded interior human landscape. In France, where the line between popular and serious art often blurs, he was a source of national pride. Jack Lang, the French minister of culture in the 1980s and early 1990s, told Reuters that Mr. Giraud’s work “made him the figurehead of this unique art form in France.”
“My drawings are not about dreams during sleep over which no one has any control. They are lucid dreams in which everything can appear: childhood memories, fleeting moods, anger, laziness. It’s very hard to identify exactly what is at work in these dreamworlds. While science fiction is based on prediction, I have progressively abandoned this notion to create hybrid drawings in the borderland of dreams.” — Jean “Moebius” Giraud, in conversation with Juliette Soulez, 2010
Art Review > Moebius, interview article by Paul Gravett. Here’s an especially good bit of autobiographical reflection from Moebius:
“I first saw the desert on a Greyhound bus trip, and that vision burned my brain forever. I met Mexico, a magical country, and was adopted as the mascot by a bunch of radical anti- American artists, writers, poets, journalists living the bohemian life. They were the continuation of a culture of revolution, in murals, and the school of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. I learned that to be an artist is to connect your story to a bigger story, to the history of humanity. They initiated me into the practice of art, modern jazz, playing chess, and to marijuana. Not for fun but to use as a tool for creation, different from the approach to drugs during the 1960s. I did not draw, but I spent my days walking, discussing, observing, absorbing. I stayed longer and missed my third year of school, but I thought I was learning something more important. It completely transformed me.”
Comics Commentary > Two Moebius interviews (1977 & 1982), posted by Rodrigo Baeza — “Here’s a Jean Giraud / Moebius interview conducted in November 1977, and published in the first issue of Graphixus (1978) and later in Alter Ego #11 (1978).”
The Comics Journal > An Interview with Jean Giraud by Kim Thompson — past experience tells me that this link will expire in the near future, but enjoy it while it lasts…
Creative Talent Network > An evening with “Moebius” — A CTN exclusive special event, 20 November 2010, moderated by Animation Director John Musker.
Fascineshion > Moebius — a 35-minute interview with our man in French with English subtitles.
“In the beginning I had two different levels,” Giraud said. “To be an artist in comics because it was my dream as a teenager and when I was 7, 8, 10. I was such a fan. I committed already to drawing. The comics were not only stories to enjoy for me they were drawings that possessed me. I saw very early on the difference with my friends. They were using comics like a book but to me I saw a drawing exposition. The purpose was different for us, the experience was not the same. The second level for me, another side -– which would maybe be my Moebius face –- was the other wonderful art I was discovering with a lot of appetite. The expression of art as something bigger than life, bigger than anything. There was something very mysterious about that and beautiful. It was a kind of heaven with Picasso and everybody at the same table. I wanted to be part of that. For me it was a feast through the ages. Timeless.”
“To me,” wrote the artist, again in Moebius 0, “‘adult’ means to be free in spirit, to know no bounds, to accept no moral restrictions, especially those imposed by somebody else.” The Airtight Garage embodied this philosophy, fusing together images from all over the artist’s still-young career in breakneck fashion, its latter-day colors again providing some isolating effect, though here as representative of not youth but adult triumph, of the confident secrets adults can hold while entering unfamiliar terrain, or even while stepping away from the drawing board as the ‘real’ world reasserts itself. This was the character of the artist’s ‘adult’ comics, at their best.
“When I do a story, I really suffer! I try to do, say eight pages and I put all of my feelings towards it inside it, but at the same time try not to put a message into it because I know that the basic message is the story itself. It’s rather like hitting that exact magic note when playing music, so for this reason I don’t try to be intellectually very strong — but more try to be in harmony.” — Moebius, in conversation with Mal Burns, November 1977
Around this time I was due to be in Paris so called him at his home there. He welcomed me in with a huge bowl of tea and sat me down saying “could I show you what I’ve been working on?” He disappeared into his studio, which I was craning my neck to look into, and emerged like an embarrassed child clutching a half finished page of Blueberry. I took it. He stood away, looking to catch my thoughts as I looked over it. What struck me wasn’t so much the beautifully crafted page of art, perfect and unique as it was, but the attitude he had. I was an equal, a fellow artist who’s thoughts and impressions meant a great deal to him. I shrugged, smiled up at him and said “Beautiful!” to which his response was so humble and honest that the moment stayed with me to this day.
Dune: Behind the Scenes > Unseen Dune > Jodorowsky on Jean “Moebius” Giraud — in addition to the comments from Jodorowsky, this page includes a large selection of costume designs and storyboards by Moebius himself.
My roommate found Moebius on the floor of a movie theater in Sand Diego in 1995. Actually, an employee of his found Moebius. Knowing my roommate (who I’ll call Rob, since that’s his name) read comics, the employee brought him to him. He was a little, 4” by 6” black, and hardbound Moebius. He contained a bunch of little drawings on medium press paper that felt slightly rough to the touch. The drawings were put down in shiny black ink, their line weights uniformly uniform, and their subject matter various. The thing about the drawings is that they were so perfect the employee thought it was a facsimile of Moebius that some conventioneer had dropped. For a second Rob thought the same thing. But before he pitched it on the lost-and-found he realized it was real. A weird little colored-pencil doodle by Bob Burden and some children’s drawings in crayon were what gave it away.
“We artists can only go so far as the people can follow us. We are not alone, we are part of the system. We can take risks, but if you want to go to the peak of your consciousness, you may very well find yourself alone. Even if you know how to translate what you see, maybe only ten people will be able to understand what you tell. But, if you have faith in your vision, and retell it again and again, you will start noticing that, after a time, more people will begin to catch up with you.” — Jean “Moebius” Giraud
But as affecting to me as the visual splendor of Moebius’ images was the awesome silence of his world. It was a silence unlike any other in my experience of comics; monumental, grand, with more than a hint of menace. Moebius’ silence, in tandem with his images, made for a comics experience of the sublime; frightening, humbling, awe-inspiring; something akin to watching the sunrise alone at the Grand Canyon — or the Northern Lights at the North Pole.
Matt Seneca Comix > RIP MOEBIUS by Matt Seneca. Here’s a short excerpt:
Moebius was a master of illustrative detail: his unweighted, hatched and stippled pen marks created images so strikingly clear that pictures on similar themes in other comics seem muddy and vague by comparison. But detail never bogged down a Moebius drawing: his way with texture was matched by a crisp simplicity of form and light, airy compositions that created an open, habitable space that was constant in everything he drew. His color sense, as refined and bold as that of anyone to have drawn comics, birthed brightly shining, massively tangible vistas, so real and yet so far from what we see out our own windows that the immediate impression upon opening a Moebius comic is that the smell of the air has changed; the paper underneath one’s fingertips has grown softer.
I met Jean Giraud on a couple of occasions over the years. He was sweet and gentle and really… I don’t know. Spiritual is not a word I use much, mostly because it feels so very misused these days, but I’d go with it for him. I liked him enormously, and felt humbled around him. And in my 20s and 30s I didn’t do humbled very much or very well.
“I try to be in harmony with all the people I know and with myself. When something seems wrong, I try [to] love it as such. When there is a mistake, I embrace it and make it part of myself and subsequently part of the finished work.” — Moebius, in conversation with Mal Burns, November 1977
Language is the oldest technology humankind has — and visual language, the ability to distill human experience and emotion and make a representation of it, one of the oldest human impulses (the cave paintings in Luscaux are testament to that). It’s a kind of alchemy perhaps, something that helps us reimagine our environment and design the world we make for ourselves. It’s the place in our minds where we translate what we see and experience, where we invent new vistas, new ways of seeing. Moebius did this, and by doing it, inspired and enabled it in others. Moebius was one of the very highest practitioners of this ability — he ignited creativity via his own extraordinary visual imagination. This incredibly valuable thing — to provoke the imagination to think differently, to enable others to see this world of ours in new ways — this is real freedom.
quenched consciousness > Moebius Career Timeline: 1958 (and more) by Ian MacEwen. From the 1958 entry:
Over the next week, I’m going to focus on posting pieces of Giraud’s work in chronological order. Ideally, there will be at least one post of something that he drew for every year of his professional career. My hope is to give a clear and thorough presentation that will help give people (myself included) a better understanding of Jean Giraud’s life work. To that end, if any of you find that I am missing something, I would love to hear from you. So far, I am missing a few key things from his early years. Primarily, any of his work on a western strip called Frank et Jeremie for Far West Magazine, and any work he did for the French Army magazine 5/5 Forces Françaises, while serving in Algeria.
Robot 6 > Six by 6 | Six essential Moebius books — selected and with short introductions by Chris Mautner and Joe McCulloch, the list includes The Airtight Garage (Marvel/Epic), The Incal (Humanoids), Arzach (Dark Horse/Marvel-Epic), The Gardens of Aedena (Marvel/Epic), The Long Tomorrow (Marvel/Epic), and Mississippi River (Marvel/Epic). Too bad only one of those books is still in print, but lucky me, I already own three of them; makes me wish I’d bought all of those Epic reprints when I had the chance, though.
Sailor Twain or The Mermaid in the Hudson > SailorTwain357 by Mark Siegel — includes “A Mystic Among Cartoonists: Farewell Moebius, Adieu Jean.” An excerpt:
Giraud always seemed to begin again, to return to being a beginner. In his sixties, at an age when other successful artists settle like concrete into their past accomplishments, his spiritual quest took him where few younger searchers dare go. There has always been that inner journey with him, and perhaps it relates to that indefinable Moebius quality which many have copied, but none seem to emulate. By turns shamanic, psychedelic, erotic, comedic, subversive and childlike, he always escaped pigeon-holing.
Scott Edelman > Moebius 1938-2012 — Edelman posts scans of a six-page profile of Moebius that appeared in the glossy magazine Science-Fiction Age in September 1996.
Moebius had a genius for graphic world-building that few artists have equaled. His imaginary worlds boast a genuine otherworldliness, an organic wholeness, and a beauty at once sensual and ethereal. Few cartoonists have ever come close to this visionary quality: the sense of peering into another world and yet giving it palpable reality, or surreality, in this one. The worldscapes he conjured invite comparison to those of McCay, Foster, Miyazaki, a very few others — and, outside of comics, the fantastical worlds of Bosch and Escher. Moebius’ work is ravishing and challenging in equal measure: a gift to the eyes, but also an affront to human self-importance and meanness, as well as a cognitive sparkplug.
sirspamdalot > Moebius by Jesse Hamm — in which the author argues, with evidence based on a detailed analysis of specific drawings, that his hero, Moebius, in addition to being a visionary artist, was a devoted and highly skilled craftsman.
In a medium where so little is profound, even the worst of Moebius’ comics achieve a level of serenity simply by how they have been drawn. Each panel is imbued with a sense of absolute assurance of the line conveying meaning, motion, feeling, story. Moebius’ surfaces are tactile, his characters are not only defined by their design but by expression, by how they carry themselves, how they move. His pages are fraught with detail, but rarely are those details overworked or sterile. The consistency of his hand gives his landscapes and cityscapes a kind of depth that is different from the way most illustration renders depth; his faces convey just how deft and expressive his hand could be — and how that meant a face battered by life or one untouched by stress.
Tirade > Moebius (8 May 1938 – 10 March 2012) by Ronnie del Carmen — in return for working on character designs for an animated Airtight Garage project, overseen by Moebius’s company, that at the time was in an early stage of production in Russia, illustrator Ronnie del Carmen received an unexpected form of payment. Unfortunately, the film itself was never made.
Let me get something out of the way before we continue — I’m a huge Moebius fan. I have been for many years. The last couple of days have been incredibly hard for me. Only recently I’d been discussing with Tor.com’s editors about writing an article about the man and his work — something I was looking forward to so much — but now I sit down to actually do it I’m filled with sadness. It was hard, too, to decide which direction to take; writing a biography or cataloguing his work would not only be a daunting task for such a prolific artist, but would somehow reduce his importance to just a list of events and publications. Instead it feels more apt to try and show how influential his work truly was by picking a small selection from some of the best known and loved genre works from the last four decades that drew — both directly and indirectly — on his prophetic talent. And — wherever possible — I’ve tried to let the great man’s work talk for itself.
SELECTED NOTICES AND TRIBUTES IN FRENCH AND SPANISH:
Entrecomics > Fallece Moebius by El tio berni (Google translation: Moebius dies) — a compilation of links to various interviews, videos, and stories that have appeared in Entrecomics in recent years.
Ergocomics > Adiós Moebius by Carlos Reyes (Google translation: Moebius Farewell). Here’s an uncorrected excerpt from the auto-translated version:
Why Moebius is so great? What makes him a contemporary landmark? His chameleon-like work, the diversity of styles that grew, but nonetheless had the same mark, the same footprint, the author with a unique personality and defined as a cartoonist Moebius was not without its own line, but his drawing now automatic and loose, sometimes exquisite, neat, were the two sides of a prodigious hand and above all, always easily recognizable, beyond changes in style.
From the 1990s, the work is less rich. Following the death of Jean-Michel Charlier, Jean Giraud continues the series Blueberry and Jim Cutlass and scenarios written for them destitute (he has anyway been a rather mediocre writer, although his hallucinations sometimes offered improvised moments). The line of Moebius, having mellowed during the previous decade, tends to become poorer. His talent was such that it still continues to produce outstanding works. His most memorable of his last 20 years is probably the series Inside Moebius, whose six volumes constitute an interesting experience and improvised delusional diary, in which the narrator meets both multiple avatars of himself and his own creations. With this original work, it surpasses similar efforts of some members of the next generation, Sfar, Trondheim and their books.
Serie de viñetas: Blog sobre cómics de Octavio Beares > GIRAUD/MOEBIUS (Google translation: GIRAUD/MOEBIUS) — includes an annotated list of five “indispensable” works by the artist, including Arzach, The Airtight Garage, The Incal, and Inside Moebius.
…Sigueleyendo > Moebius, el inmortal by Javier Lopez Menacho (Google translation: Moebius, the immortal) — various comics critics, booksellers, and illustrators share their thoughts about what Jean Giraud/Gir/Moebius’s work means to them; includes contributions from Paco Roca, Pepo Pérez, César Sebastián Díaz, Gerardo Vilches, Mireia Pérez, Pedro García, Álvaro Ortiz, Jesús Vázquez, Fernando Rosillo, Ascensión Andreo, Peubé, and Sergio Bleda.
Ushuaia > Deuil by Luc Desmarchelier (Google translation: Mourning)
“Going from Giraud to Moebius, I twisted the strip; changed dimensions. I was the same and yet someone else. Moebius is the result of my duality.” — Jean “Moebius” Giraud, official biography
Conversazioni Sul Fumetto > Un Moebius fra gli altri by Andrea Queirolo — a gallery of photographs of Moebius palling around with great cartoonists from around the world.
doppelganger X’s photostream > Jean-Moebius-Giraud — browse through an amazing set of 220 high-res images.
Evil Twin > In Memoriam: Moebius — an anecdote about Moebius and a young fan, adapted by Alex Cox for Comic Book Comics #2; Geof Darrow shares his version of the story in a recorded conversation available here.
Apo (k) lyps > Tribute to Moebius — drawings by Boulet, vinhnyu, Bruno Leyval, J.Coelho, David Sodrovni, José Marecos, KcD Studios, Matt Dunhill, Ronan Toulhoat , Francesco Francavilla, Yaxin, Akeno Omokoto, Kuhnart, Euan Mactavish, Laurent Lolmede, Cliff Chiang, Denis Medri, Mahmud A. Asrar, Enki Bilal (Une de Libé du 12/03/2012), Yildiray Cinar, Pal Degome, Adi Granov, Katsuya Terada, Fabrice Giband, Alex Orbe, Nolegz, Jerk in Space, unspeakable vault, Loopydave, Alejandro Fuentes, Genesis Project, Christopher K. Leavitt, Sean Hayden, Marc Bati, PieR Gajewski, Kelilan, Naiel Ibarrola, Phobos-Romulus, Seamus Heffernan, Chris Weston, Giannis Milonogiannis, Ricardo Venâncio, Raúl Treviño, Tradd Moore, andrew maclean, WJC, cheetahnudes, Cameron Stewart, Darco Macan, Raphael Lacoste, Ze L’Host, etc.
BDfugue > Jean Giraud alias Moebius (1938 – 2012) — gallery includes drawings in honour of Moebius by Enrico Marini, Laurent Lefeuvre, Alex Orbe, Tim Hamilton, Thierry Martin, Arthur de Pins, Olivier Taduc, Laurent Lolmède, Vincent Lévèque, Ralph Meyer, Boulet, Enki Bilal, Francesco Francavilla, Lindingre, Jaime Posadas Fernández, Enrique Corominas, Thomas Labourot, Michel Kichka, Man Arenas, Gradimir Smudja, Dominique Bertail, Li-An, Ronan Toulhoat, Jean-Marie Minguez, Marcial Toledano, Arnaud Boutle, Bruno Duhamel, Chris Weston, Denis Medri, Olivier Boiscommun, Loopydave, Sébastien Latour, Matt Dunhill, Kelilan, Akeno Omokoto, and Jorge Coelho.
Le Blog de Mister Jacq > Hommage à Jean Giraud by Jacq — at the end of the day, even Blueberry likes to set a spell.
The Bouletcorp > Farewell, Moebius…, a drawing by Gilles “Boulet” Roussel — portfolio under his arm, Moebius prepares to embark on a grand Arzachian adventure…
cats without dogs > Arzkat by Jason — a combined tribute both to Moebius and to George Herriman. On the same site, see also R.I.P. Moebius.
Theirry Martin > Merci Mr Moebius — on the other side of the jump you’ll find a lovely drawing by Martin entitled, “Ô Mage Moebius / 1938 · 2012”; to avoid the pop-up gallery and instead view the full-sized JPEG by itself, simply hold down the Ctrl button when you click the image.
“I think that real life is about having problems. There is no life without problems. And real life means reacting to the problems as they happen… [laughs] and then solving them as best one can. Absolute satisfaction… is interesting as a dream… as a concept.” — Jean “Moebius” Giraud, in conversation in the film Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures (2007)
Legendary artist and gentleman Gene Colan, 84, whose career in comics spanned seven decades and included definitive work on many popular characters, including Dracula, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, and Howard the Duck, died Thursday 23 June 2011 at about 11:00 pm at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx from complications of liver disease and cancer. A private funeral will be held on Sunday. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that Colan’s friends and admirers consider a donation to the new Gene Colan Scholarship at the Joe Kubert School.
It was at Marvel that the artist’s work really began to blossom to its fullest potential. Via the Marvel Method of creating comics, the artist was allowed to compose and direct the stories in the manner that he saw fit (and a writer later scripted the drawn pages) — in his imagination, the conceivable was always achievable. Colan orchestrated action flawlessly and never let the comic art board intimidate him. Those that looked at the quality of his stories in “Daredevil” or “Sub-Mariner” saw a bold artist that brought his heroes to life in true cinematic fashion, equipped with a camera that conveyed the grand movement and power of the Marvel Heroes. His stylized technique and craftsmanship were the strengths that Colan would pass on to his readers in everything he did.
As a reader, I loved Gene’s work. There was a credibility about it: No matter how outlandish the premise or plot, Gene somehow made you believe it. His pencil art was magnificent…in many ways, too good for the assembly line production process and the flimsy printing that it usually received. As good as his work looked in your comics, it was always probably better.
I later got to love Gene. He was a charming, self-effacing gentleman who was genuinely moved when fans tried to tell him how good he was and how much joy his work had given them. He heard that a lot and remained utterly unspoiled by all the praise. In a way, it seemed to make him try harder to improve his drawing and live up to what they said he was.
Mr. Colan’s work was noteworthy on several counts. The first was its sheer duration: He completed his first professional assignment in the 1940s and his last a year or two ago. In between, his art was a mainstay of the Silver Age of comics, as the period from the mid-1950s to about 1970 — a time of heady artistic ferment in the field — is known.
The second was its prodigious volume: Over nearly seven decades he illustrated many hundreds of comics, from the famous, including Batman, Wonder Woman and the Hulk, to the possibly less so, including Ben Casey, Falling in Love and Captain Britain.
The third was his visual style, by all accounts unlike that of any other artist in the business. Where comic-book art tends toward deliberately flat, stylized images, Mr. Colan preferred a realistic look that emphasized texture and fluidity: the drape of a hero’s cape, tilt of a head, the arc of an oncoming fist.
A lifelong film buff, Mr. Colan was known as a master of light and shadow, which lent his work a noirish, cinematic quality.
[…] Gene Colan never would be mistaken for anything less than what he was: One of comics’ unique stylists. He wielded his pencil like a brush to capture the toned subtleties of action, emotion and lighting. He brought a cinematographer’s vision to comics storytelling, and his stories were instantly recognized by fans, treasured by scholars and appreciated enviously by even his most accomplished peers.
While delighting his fans, Colan often frustrated his writers. He was notorious for never reading scripts in advance, so he often ran out of pages before drawing the end of the story. Meanwhile, he would devote half a page to a hand turning a doorknob, or three pages to Captain America merely walking down a street. His indulgences were accepted in the 1960s, when Lee put the artists in charge of pacing the stories. But Colan encountered resistance in the 1970s, when the writers gained influence, and especially in the 1980s, when the editors seized control.
Ultimately, he outgrew his inkers, who always struggled to delineate Colan’s complex penciled drawings. By the 1980s, Colan’s penciling style and printing technology were so refined that, starting with Dean Mullaney at Eclipse Comics, publishers skipped the traditional inking stage and started reproducing Colan’s textured work straight from his pencils, starting with writer Don McGregor’s Ragamuffins and Nathaniel Dusk. Once Mullaney opened this door, printing from Colan’s pencils became the default for the next 20-plus years. Even at the end of his career – Colan’s final feature-length story was a 2009 issue of Captain America – Marvel produced two editions, one in color and the other in black-and-white, so fans could appreciate the pure beauty of Colan’s pencils.
No one could or likely ever will draw quite like Gene Colan.
The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog > Gene Colan is Dead by Rob Vollmar. Here’s an excerpt:
Across the seven decades that Gene Colan contributed to comics, a lot of artistic styles came and went. Though Colan developed his style actively across that span, the progression was always towards a more refined version of himself. Artists that were more easily mimicked may have been more influential but Colan’s style was irreduceable and didn’t lend itself to swiping. If you wanted comics the way he drew them, you had to go to the source. His layouts were dynamic and could described as filmic without limiting either the influence of film or denigrating the potential of comics.
evandorkin > Hey by Evan Dorkin — “There is no mistaking a Gene Colan-drawn comic, they’re like dreams on paper, real yet surreal, glimpses to a world only he could provide access to. Wonderful, just wonderful.”
But [even as his health declined in hospice] Gene never lost hope. He continued to talk about his plans for the future. Mind you, this was not a feeble-minded man. An occasional short-term memory loss notwithstanding (and who doesn’t have those after high school?) Gene was clear-thinking and real-world oriented. He just wanted to go home. And he believed that wanting to was enough. This had been a recurring theme in his life. Gene wanted a career drawing comics. He wanted to work for Marvel. He wanted to be the best artist in his field. He wanted to marry Adrienne the minute he laid eyes on her… Gene believed that if he wanted something badly enough, focused and stuck to his guns, he’d eventually get it. And he usually did.
The Fies Files > Gene Colan by Brien Fies. Here’s an excerpt:
He had an instantly recognizable style unlike anyone else’s in the business. His compositions and figures were fluid, like they were poured onto the page with liquid mercury. Arms and eyelids and staircases and cityscapes thrust back and forth between shadow and light. His art was energetic and peerlessly graceful. It was also unique. In a business in which success is quickly imitated–where originals like Neal Adams and Frank Miller and Alex Toth have dozens of clones–no one ever copied Gene Colan. No one could.
He was a master storyteller – but, more than that, he added to the story. Through his art he communicated the kind of subtleties and nuances that no script or direct adaptation could do. He used shadow, facial expression and page composition to express the mood and tone of any given character or setting. It was a rare gift.
Grantbridge Street & Other Misadventures > Gene Colan — click through to read Captain America #601, “Red, White & Blue-Blood,” with script by Ed Brubaker and art by Gene Colan, posted in its entirety by Joe Bloke.
Millarworld.tv Forums > “RIP Gene Colan” by Mark Millar. The link disappeared, but here’s an excerpt:
I loved seeing Gene drawing superheroes because he brought a realistic, painterly quality, a European brush-line to the characters that made them look like people in unusual clothes as opposed to the cardboard cut-out figures icons we’re generally used to. His Superman looked like a brooding Brando, never more so than the beautiful, spooky Phantom Zone mini-series he did with Steve Gerber. Bryan Hitch and I would reference his stuff regularly when we were on Ultimates, that quiet naturalism John Buscema (and Hitchy himself) was so good at very evident in every page of his work.
Monster Brains > RIP Gene Colan by Aeron Alfrey — includes large scans of three cover paintings that Colan created for the mini-series Tomb Of Dracula: Day of Blood! Night of Redemption.”
He was without peer when it came to establishing mood and atmosphere, with an enviable mastery of creating depth and shadow that bordered on being supernatural, in and of itself. His drawings came alive on the page and invoked a sense of wonder and ominous foreboding that few could match and none could better.
The way Gene bent the human form and seemed to distort the very rectangle of the page worked more effectively, in my mind, in Dracula than in any of his superhero work, or in any of the other horror books he worked on. Comics have always walked a tightrope balancing realism with exaggeration–it’s how cartooning works–but Gene’s work was realistic in a way few artists had ever been, and his distortion was equally uncanny. There was a metafictional aspect to how well it fit the character of Dracula. What Gene could do to the flow of a page defies a lot of what I believe even now about comics layout, and if a young artist tries something that doesn’t work, and justifies it based on Gene’s work, it’s with some pleasure that I can say (short version), “You’re no Gene Colan.”
RODMAN: Wally Wood said something to the effect that you had to have a good clip file, ’cause swipes are always preferable to making something up. So, all told, between observation and photos, you’ve got a system where you can do just about anything you want.
COLAN: I guess. Things have to be animated when you’re doing comics; kind of like a cartoon style.
RODMAN: But you don’t use speed-lines or some of the more conventional symbols …
COLAN: I try to blur the scene very often. I still have speed-lines, but I will blur the image. Like if someone is running then the legs are blurred. They’re not quite finished. The drawing has a blurred look. And that to me also denotes action; there are many ways of showing it. Sometimes the after-effect of something going forward, you see the trail of the image behind it several times. These are all cinematic things that I’ve picked up from photographs that I’ve studied. I was always searching – and probably still am, you know – of ways to do it. You know, when you edit a film … Film is movement on a screen, and you can get across an awful lot of effects that way, and feelings that way. You can cut, and inter-cut, and do all kinds of things and there’s motion with that. And I try to do the same thing with a comic book. Because you’re dealing with stills of the figures. I do the best I can with it, by doing a sequence of pictures. And so that if your eye is scanning it may almost look a little bit like it’s moving. I find it enjoyable. It makes the job more fun for me.
RODMAN: Did you start emphasizing action and exploring ways to represent it more consciously in the 1960s as a result of doing so much super hero work? I would think the wild plot set-ups, and the freedom allowed in your part of the Marvel Method, would be generally conducive to visual pyrotechnics.
COLAN: Yeah, it helped me a lot. It’s not new. I mean, I didn’t originate the panels with arms or legs coming out of them. Other artists had done that before. I just started to use it. I felt that if the page was dealing with people just speaking — kind of a very dull page — I had to figure out someway to make it not dull, by varying the angles. Maybe somebody is viewing the person that they’re speaking to through a drinking glass. Something that would be interesting for the reader to look at.
RODMAN: In the Tomb of Dracula miniseries [from 1991], Night of Blood! Day of Redemption! you use quite a degree of distortion in many of the drawings. It’s the sort of thing people only do on the computer these days. And you mentioned that you were always trying to figure out some interesting way of viewing a subject. How were you able to compose those drawings to get the light refractions, or those through-the-lens type effects?
COLAN: It’s doing the art differently. Like warping a picture. Doing something that would catch the reader’s attention. If an arm is thrust forward, it looks almost like it’s coming through the screen. It’s a special effort to accentuate that particular thing you’re looking at. I picked that up from what I’ve seen in photographs. It would be a very good way to begin to show some of these images. Like in Doctor Strange, I would warp the entire room if I had an opportunity.
TwoMorrows.com > The Colan Mystique — an interview with Gene Colan, conducted by Tom Field (from Comic Book Artist #13).
Earlier today, 19 May 2011, the following message was posted to the Facebook account of artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones:
JEFFREY CATHERINE JONES passed away today, Thursday May 19, 2011 at 4:00 am surrounded by family. Jeffrey suffered from severe emphysema and bronchitis as well as hardening of the arteries around the heart. Jeffrey’s dear friend Robert Wiener reported that there was a no resuscitation order as Jeffrey was weak from from being severely under weight and had no reserves with which to fight. In accord with Jeffrey’s wishes Jeffrey will be cremated. We have yet to hear details for a memorial service. Jeffrey was one of the greatest talents and sweetest souls we have ever been blessed to know. Rest in Peace, dear friend.
I don’t know what to say…
“Every work, hopefully, will leave me unsatisfied. This drives me on to the next one. As soon as I think I’ve done something great it’ll all be over. And I’m not sure I believe in talent, either.” — Jeffrey Catherine Jones
MURMURS > Jeff Jones: 1944-2011 by George Pratt — not a formal obituary, but a lovely and moving remembrance by a respected artist who, when he was just starting out, looked up to Jones as a role model and possible mentor but was quickly embraced by him as a colleague and a friend; what’s more, the piece is illustrated with examples of work by Jones from Pratt’s personal art collection as well as illuminating, hearbreaking documentary photographs both of a very frail looking Jones as she was nearing the end of her life and of various locations, both interiors and exteriors, where she worked and lived.
Jeffrey Catherine Jones, celebrated artist whose work is best known from the late 1960s through 2000s was born Jeffrey Durwood Jones, in Atlanta, Georgia and died May 19, 2011 at home at the age of 67.
Jones moved to New York City in 1967, and rapidly developed a reputation as an exquisite illustrator and graphic artist, painting over 150 book covers and creating the full-page comic strips Idyl for National Lampoon Magazine and I’m Age for Heavy Metal.
In the 1976, Jones joined Michael Kaluta, Berni Wrightson, and Barry Windsor-Smith in The Studio, a group of artists who helped redefine modern book and comic book illustration. In 1976 Jones was awarded the Yellow Kid award from the Italian International Comics and Cartooning Exhibition. By 1986, when Jones received the World Fantasy Award in Art for Best Artist, he had moved away from commercial art to pursue fine art painting. Jones most recently received the Spectrum 2006 Grand Master Award.
Jones has been called a genius whose works appeared both effortless in execution and blinding in their beauty. World-renowned illustrator Frank Frazetta called him “the greatest living painter”.
Jones began gender reassignment therapy in 1998 after which Jones lived as Jeffrey Catherine Jones. Her studio was in the Catskill Mountains where she painted local landscapes. She continued drawing until her death.
Jones’ work has been in continuous publication and her work is shown and enjoyed around the world. The documentary Better Things: Life & Choices of Jeffrey Jones is in production from Macab Films. She is survived by her daughter Julianna Jones Muth, and three grandchildren, Nikolai Muth, Adelaine Muth, and Merryn Arms.
A memorial to celebrate Jones life and recognize her death, will be held on Friday, May 27th, from 6-9pm at Simpson-Gaus Funeral Home, 411 Albany Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401.
Memorial contributions may be directed to the Hero Initiative, 11301 Olympic Blvd., #587, Los Angeles, CA 90064.
At 4 a.m., Jeffrey Catherine Jones passed from this life. She was cared for during last days and hours by her daughter, Julianna Jones Muth, and Mary Chiz Chisholm. More info on memorial plans will appear as they become known. Rest in peace and in the arms of your loving Higher Power, CJ.
We were working on a book together for better than four years now called Silent Light (Jeff chose the title), which I now feel obliged to finish more quickly. I also suppose we’ll find some worthy cause to benefit from this book’s publication because now it will disturb me to make any money from this project in Jeff’s absence. Jeff already created and signed several hundred tip-in sheets for it; Michael Netzer, our mutual friend, offered more than a year ago to write the introduction.
@macabfilms > It is with much sadness… by Maria Cabardo, director of Better Things, the forthcoming documentary on the art and choices of Jeffrey Catherine Jones — Maria seems to have been the first person to make the news public.
I never knew how to properly refer to Jeff after the last hormone treatments (which he had first experimented with back in the ’70s with Bodé) and the adoption of the “Catherine” name. Jeff never had a sex-change operation (and said he had no intentions of having one) and never legally changed his name, so I was flummoxed as to what to call him in e-mails or conversation or when writing about him…so I directly asked him years ago around the time that we were working on the second of two books we did with him. He told me to call him “Jeff” or “Jeffrey” and since the law considered him a man, it was perfectly fine with him if I did, too. So I have always said “him” and “he” while others might say “her” and “she.” Mike Kaluta, his oldest friend, also refers to Jeffrey as “he” and I would challenge anyone who says that Mike didn’t respect (and love) Jeff.
We had asked Jeff how he wanted his nameplate to read on his Spectrum Grand Master Award and it says, per his instructions, “Jeffrey Jones”.
So…there’s no disrespect shown or intended.
May 19, 2011 1:49 PM
Ryalltime Blog > A visual tribute to Jeffrey Catherine Jones by Chris Ryall, IDW Publishing’s Publisher/Editor-in-Chief — includes the title page and 15 double-page spreads from the recently published book, Jeffrey Jones: A Life in Art.
Cheryl’s Mewsings > Revisiting Jeffrey Catherine Jones (mirror) by Cheryl Morgan. Morgan’s complex, sensitive, and respectful personal reflection on the special difficulties of late-life gender transition illuminates Jones’s life and choices in a way that other, more polarized online comments have not. The article begins as follows:
The July Locus contains a couple of obituaries for the trans artist, Jeffrey Catherine Jones, who I wrote about briefly here. Both authors (Arnie Fenner and Robert K. Wiener) were good friends of the deceased; both consistently use the name “Jeff”, and both consistently use male pronouns. I am not, however, going to get ranty about this. After all, these articles have been written by people very close to Jones, someone I have never even met. I have no idea what the truth of the matter is. I do, however, think it is necessary to address the issue. It is human nature to assume that high profile members of a minority group are typical of that group, and reading the two obituaries people could easily come away with the idea that most trans people are tragic, crazy, and will come to regret their transition.
I’d like to state from the start that there’s nothing wrong with someone turning back from transition. There can and should always be an exit route, up until the point that the person concerned is convinced that what they are doing is right for them. Doctors and psychiatrists who encourage transition in the expectation of fees are just as culpable as those who peddle aversion cures. It is perfectly possible for trans people to find equilibrium and happiness without full transition, and if that’s what works for them we should support it. But equally there are reasons why transitions might fail, and by no means all of them mean that the person concerned was “not really trans” or that, as radical feminists allege, the whole concept of gender identity is a lie. [continued here (mirror)]
“If I am lucky all my triumphs will go unremembered until the end.” — Jeffrey Catherine Jones
Since August 2008, Joe Bloke over at the “Grantbridge Street” blog has posted a dozen stories with art by Howard Chaykin:
UPDATE (28 November 2014):
Earlier today, I noticed that all of the stories with art by Chaykin that were posted at “Grantbridge Steet” have been deleted, but I see now that all but three of the old stories — the first three in my list below — have since been re-posted on Joe Bloke’s BIFF! blog, along with three new ones. Therefore, in order to preserve the utility of this post, I have taken the time this afternoon to update the links below to reflect the new locations of the old stories and have added links to the three new stories.
“The Mark of Kane” (part 1 of 2) by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin, from Marvel Premiere #33
“The Mark of Kane: Fangs of the Gorilla God” (part 2 of 2) by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin, from Marvel Premiere #34
“Red Sonja: Day of the Red Judgment” by Roy Thomas, Christy Marx, and Howard Chaykin, from Marvel Comics Super Special #9
“The Fire Bug” by Paul Kupperberg and Howard Chaykin, from Weird War Tales #76
“Rattle of Bones” by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin, from Savage Sword of Conan #18
“Seven Moons’ Light Casts Complex Shadows” by Samuel R. Delany and Howard Chaykin, from Epic Illustrated #2 (June 1980):
I remember thinking when I first read “Seven Moons’ Light Casts Complex Shadows” back in 1980, when I was still in high school: “Samuel Delany is my favourite writer, and Howard Chaykin is one of my favourite artists, so why is their work together merely okay, I mean, why is it not great?” Though I didn’t know it at the time, the answer, in the case of Chaykin and Delany’s 1978 “visual novel,” Empire, was, essentially, editorial interference from the project’s “producer” Byron Preiss (see “Appendix” below); with “Seven Moons’ Light,” however, I just don’t know…
Six issues later, in October 1981, a painting by Howard Chaykin was featured on the cover of Epic Illustrated #8. Now that was killer!
“To develop a visual novel, we wanted a design system, a framework in which the entire story could be told. I developed a horizontal/vertical axis spread design which could be consistently varied over every two pages of the book.” — Byron Preiss, from his “Foreword” to Empire: A Visual Novel
Was Preiss’s “design system,” which not only placed arbitrary formal constraints on the layout of the pages but also incorporated an unusual format for the captions and dialogue, really the ideal framework for a long-form comic, or was it a procrustean bed? As much as I admire Chaykin’s work in Empire, I would argue that the storytelling — especially the visual storytelling — was often hamstrung by Preiss’s system, which, among other things, made it more difficult than it needed to be for Chaykin and Delany to control the focus, rhythm, and pace of the action.
“When I did Empire with Howard Chaykin, which was 1980 or 1982, Byron Preiss was the packager, and that was a strangely ill-fated project. After we did it, I was very happy with what we did, and Byron was very unhappy with the ending, and just took it upon himself to completely rewrite it, and cut up the art, so that there’s no way to put it back in its original shape. It just doesn’t exist any more, and he’s dead now of course. So nobody will ever see the way it was originally supposed to end. I’ve written about it in at least one interview. I think it’s [in] my book Silent Interviews.” — Samuel R. Delany, in answer to a question from a fan
ReyBustos.com > Rey’s Anatomy by Rey Bustos – a display of images that use Flash technology to interactively cross fade from photos of real and sculpted human figures to drawings of those same figures with the skin removed to display the underlying musculature.
ART INSTRUCTION BOOKS (FREE DOWNLOADS):
Some of these links are repeated in other categories.
AlexHays . Portolio > Save Loomis! — download PDFs of Fun with a Pencil, Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth, Drawing the Head & Hands, Successful Drawing, Creative Illustration, and Eye of the Painter, all for free. The books are also available via Illustration Age and the Internet Archive.
comic tools > Comic Tools: Tutorials — learn about basic anatomy, balloon shapes, Kirby energy dots, perfect white-out consistency, ruling pens, cutting techniques, art corrections, scanning, and lots more.
Karmatoons Inc. > Drawing for Classical Animation — learn how to construct characters out of basic three-dimensional shapes, how to animate your characters according to time-tested principles, and how to create naturalistic movement through the use of live-action reference.
The Tools Artists Use — find out what tools your fellow artists keep in their toolboxes that you might add to yours.
FIGURE DRAWING TUTORIAL VIDEOS:
ProkoTV > includes two playlists — “How to Draw Facial Features” (eight videos, two each on eyes, nose, lips, and ears) and “How to Draw the Head from Any Angle” (four videos). Also includes videos on shading, how to draw hair, how to draw Jack Skellington, and how to draw Santa Claus.
FIGURE PHOTO REFERENCE:
Character Designs > Photosets by Hong Ly — free figure reference for artists, licensed under a Creative Commons license, the very reasonable terms of which can be found on the Character Designs site; the 39 photosets include both nude and costumed models.
Figure & Gesture Drawing > Figure Drawing Practice — a customizable, timed slide-show of nude and clothed models designed to help you to practice gesture drawing; please note, however, that the images are copyrighted and as such cannot be used to create derivative works. They’re offered for private practice only.
Reference! Reference! — clips of animals and people in motion. The site is intended as a “free database for animation,” but any artist with an interest in drawing from life will find the clips a useful resource resource for home study.
ANIMAL PHOTO REFERENCE:
Figure & Gesture Drawing > Animal Drawing Practice — a customizable, timed slide-show of animals designed to help you to practice gesture drawing; please note, however, that the images are copyrighted and as such cannot be used to create derivative works. They’re offered for private practice only.
PAINTING AND DRAWING TUTORIALS:
Art Instruction Blog > A Direct Approach to Acrylic Painting by Greg Biolchini — watch as Biolchini maps out a painting, in detail, with charcoal on canvas and then elaborates and finishes the image with layers of transparent and opaque acrylic paint. Don’t worry about whether or not you like Biolchini’s style; it’s the order of operations that’s important.
John Singer Sargent’s Painting Process (PDF) — compiled from various sources by Craig “Goodbrush” Mullins. Here’s a snippet that will surprise many who’ve been taught to do the exact opposite: “If you see a thing [such as a shadow] transparent, paint it transparent; don’t get the effect by a thin strain showing the canvas through. That’s a mere trick. The more delicate the transition, the more you must study it for the exact tone.”
The Pictorial Arts > Russell Flint’s Technique — if you think of watercolour as inflexible and unforgiving, you need to read this account of Russell Flint at work. Here, in a nutshell, is the secret: “it is an essential characteristic of Flint’s method that, though the successive washes are put on with all the freshness, sparkle and purity of which he is capable, they must be absolutely dry, stage by stage, before the drawing is proceeded with.” Choose overly absorbent paper, use mostly staining colours, overwork the washes, don’t let them dry thoroughly between applications, and lifting/corrections will be impossible.
ScottBurdick.com > Scott Burdick: Demonstrations – nine in oil, one in watercolour. Even if the subject matter is not to your taste, you can learn something here about the traditional alla prima method of working out a painting in oil from the initial block in to the final flourishes.
Blender — a free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.
GIMP — the GNU Image Manipulation Program. GIMP is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages.
IrfanView — a very fast, small, compact and innovative FREEWARE (for non-commercial use) graphic viewer for Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, 2008, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.
Microsoft Image Composite Editor (ICE) — Given a set of overlapping photographs of a scene shot from a single camera location, ICE creates a high-resolution panorama that seamlessly combines the original images. The panorama can be saved in a wide variety of image formats, from common formats like JPEG and TIFF to the multiresolution tiled format used by Silverlight’s Deep Zoom and by the HD View and HD View SL panorama viewers.
Photoscape — a free and easy photo-editing program that enables you to fix and enhance digital images.