I’d quite forgotten that back in the 1980s before Paper Tiger switched to glossy paper, they used a quality texture paper. Considering three of the six artists Chris Evans interviewed in this book use pen and ink a lot, this has made for an interesting texture experience. A book of this nature is also a time capsule into the past as each artist discusses how they do or did their work and the kind of preferences they had then.
Charles Vess references the Spider-Man graphic novel, ‘Spirits Of The Earth’ (1990) he did so much have completed long before it was printed and I think that might have been my first encounter with his work at the time. I find it interesting that although he doesn’t like to do full colour covers, he doesn’t mind re-drawing, albeit via a light box, a picture for purely pen and ink and then in colour. He uses subtle shaded tones that gives his pictures an ethereal touch.
Julek Heller doesn’t even use watercolour but textile dyes which gives a richer look to his work. I like his attitude to being given lee-way by art directors to do what he feels is right than being dictated to doing what they want because it staves his imagination.
Melvyn Grant is a firm believer in oils although whether it’s the paper used, you might think he did his work here in acrylics. If you have a look at his website, his paintings look a little richer there and might be one of the reasons why Paper Tiger back then changed to glossy paper, not so much for the gloss but in how it handled the colours given to it.
Remember me commenting in the recent TwoMorrows publication, ‘Comic Book Creator’, that I wished I could see inside Mike Kaluta’s studio. Although this goes back nearly 30 years now, you do have a time capsule of what it looked like then with a couple photos here. He also reveals he uses a variety of other substances to obtain some of his colours but says to avoid whiskey as the colour doesn’t dry in.
Chris Moore reveals that only 30% of his output is in our genre, making his money from advertising at the time. He also admitted he paints what is asked of him and found American publishers tend to ignore the first idea regardless of how good it might be. I did come away from this book wondering if this was true today. After all, a good idea is always a good idea. Alternatives only confirm this, not where it is in the list.
In many respects, Berni Wrightson is the joker in the pack as, even at that time, he was known more for his comicbook work and, of course, his illustrated ‘Frankenstein’. I’m still debating getting a copy of that book, more from a reading schedule point of view, more so as there are several illustrations, including one of those he decided not to use, shown in this book that look superb. Of the hundred illustrations he did, less than fifty ended up in that book. Wrightson’s use of texture is used less and less these days which is a shame because it’s becoming a potential lost medium because it is so time-consuming but deserves a revival. He also has a perchance for collecting what is described as ‘ugly’ bric-a-brac.
With all the artists in this book, we see a couple photos of their studios at the time and something which I think is shown less today. An artist’s work environment isn’t always likely to be tidy and whether what they have their is for inspiration or to relax the eye, it’s there to make the artist comfortable. For those of you who paint or draw, it’s a good reminder that we share a cluttering environment. If you can get a copy of this book, it’s a nice addition to add to your collection.
(pub: Paper Tiger, 1988. 127 page illustrated large hardback. Price: well, I pulled a second hand copy for £ 3.50 (UK) off the Net in near mint condition. ISBN: CN2255)