Saturday, July 09, 2005
That Smell, that Gasoline smell...
Well there are a couple of days left in the Iron Chef voting and I would hate to jinx it but it looks to be tracking pretty well for me. Couple things I wanted to share now though. First, major props to Jeff for being a great challenger and a good sport. Truth is, I harassed Jeff for weeks, not everyday but I would drop a mention of this here and there when we spoke--primarily because I wanted a challenger that could kick some ass, and really, Jeff did a fantastic job. I love his drawing and given another hour, it would have changed the tide of history whereas with my shot, another hour and it would just have looked even more busy. He played to his strength which is drawing really tight, but dynamic figures with a lot of personality. Jeff also is very talented in being able to compose complex shots with multiple figures and that's a skill often overlooked by fans and underappreciated even by fellow pros.
I played to my strength which is that I can pencil and ink pretty damn fast when I have to and in the end, I can overwhelm your eye with a lot of artistic tricks. Plus I can draw a Sentinel in my sleep. Look closer and if you break down my anatomy and figurework, it's flatter and less 3-D than Jeff's which I always love to look at simply because I feel like I can reach into the page and actually pick one of his people up in my hand like a an action figure. In the end, I wanted to get a worthy opponent so that we could do some nice pieces for the CBLDF auction.
Second, Jeff and I both kind of knew it would be very tough for him to win, primarily because we were competing on my hometurf and I have just drawn a lot more characters than he has and have more years on him. But he was game and threw himself into the competition even tho the odds were long. The funny thing is that I have heard from Ale and Carlos who have already done this kind of thing several times about how juiced or ansty you get leading up to the event and during the drawing itself. It's like a sporting event and you are the athlete. Strangely, I felt completely normal and calm before and during the hour drawing. In fact, I started 5 minutes late because I realized I didn't have artboard so I had to run over to the editorial office. I felt most nervous immediately after I finished because like with every drawing I do, I assessed what I had drawn and mentally went over all the mistakes and what I could have done to make it better. And that's when I started worrying that I hadn't put enough time into the figurework, putting most of my energy in getting the overall shot as complete as possible.
Meanwhile, Scott Williams came over from his office and sat watching me and jokingly said, you should do a competition where you can't do splatter or smoke effects cause he knows I can get a lot of Ooh and Aaah mileage from the simple yet creative application of whiteout. I defied him and splattered away in the 55th minute! Then again, I was joking that I should have the editors call Jeff while he was working on his piece, harassing him for pages or pretending to be interviewers. And the games went on and we had a good laugh.
It was certainly the fastest hour I have ever experienced. The time just flew by but I was checking the clock quite a bit to pace myself. I loosely laid it all out in 15 minutes and went to ink from there. It's on a fullsize board so I used a brush for all the large black shapes and a whiteout stick pen for the white lines which is easier to handle than applying whiteout with a brush.
In the end, I think if we had stuck to one figure and kept it more open-ended--meaning no villain or action indicated--the results would have been startlingly different as Jeff's main strength is in the 'acting' he puts into his figures and that is what hooks people--not splatter or smoke effects or action lines. It's the immediacy of the piece and how strongly it affects the viewer emotionally that is the key to successful drawing and Jeff has that working for him in spades. If you are lucky to check out Wildsiderz, his newest book coming out very soon from WildStorm (#0 shipped weeks ago), you can see how great he is at giving each character a different personality through the drawing itself from different gestures to body language to body types. His pages look like animation to me and the solid storytelling just enhances that aspect of his work. And most incredible of all, it's all from his pencils. I have to say Jeff's pencil work is the tightest right now in comics--you can eat off those lines!
Anyway, thanks again, Jeff, from the Metti crew, the CBLDF and me: "Impressive, most impressive..."