Sunday, November 25, 2012

Well... missed last week's posting here at Plopish...but hey!  - I've got  to make a living! so I had to spend the majority of my available time when not at my regular job, preparing a course in Apple Motion 5 for some freelance teaching work (and yes, I do expect a medal and a "thank you" letter from the Queen to arrive any day soon)

But, every time I feel like complaining about the hard merciless life here in Copenhagen, Denmark, all I need to do is scoot over to the Drawman blog and catch up on the lifestyle of a true blooded comic book pro.

Working professionally as a comic book artist since his teens, Drawman has been planning a crossover from comic book artist to illustration and fine artist for some years, beginning by doing a strenuous MFA course in painting. Of course he's still doing regular comic book work on the side, and teaching illustration classes, and doing some freelance inking, and some freelance penciling, some storyboard work, and...

I greatly enjoy the optimism and energy of Drawman (real name:Michael Manley) as he strides through his life as an professional artist, so totally different from my own experiences as a state-educated, modern, fine art artist. The guy works like a dog, a lot of the stuff he's doing isn't really that interesting for him to do, there's always the deadline hanging over his head, payments can be delayed for months

yet, he seems to....have fun...

Check out the long list of blog entries (Drawman's been going at it since 2005), perhaps starting with these thoughts on choosing to be an artist

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Yep... passed on that one when I saw it many years ago at the local newsstand.

The first volume of Love & Rockets by Los Bros. Hernandez,  published in Denmark in 1983 as "Mekanix". Of course I passed on was obviously drawn in that slick, professional Superhero style! - it even had some Superhero-looking characters on the cover!
"Superhero comics"... I didn't read that type of comics. Superheroes meant stupid stories about flying men wearing long johns and standing on top of skyscrapers, saying something like: "Beware, Crypthon - you can't escape the wrath of Dramatigor!!" and I simply couldn't  understand why their speech bubbles had some of the words printed in bold face?.. just plain stupid. So I passed on that stupid, superhero, Mekanix stuff, and instead went looking for the latest issues of what I considered to be the coolest comic book stories ever made

This went on for a couple of years, until some time in the mid-eighties I picked up Mekanix again, at a library. I was now in my late teens and my aesthetic sensibilities had become somewhat more advanced. Now I could appreciate the high standard of the drawings in Mekanix, the expert use of black solids and the perfect curvature of the lines. So I gave it another chance, started reading...hmm a couple of girls, about my own age. They're in a library (just as I was...) they are on opposite sides of a shelf full of books, they can't see each other, but one of them says: "Thirty-five dollars and a six pack to my name!", making the other girl reply: "SIX PACK!!"

Now I got it!..they were quoting the lyrics from "Six Pack" a punk song by Black Flag! I knew that song! I owned that record! those two girls in that comic book were punks! who liked punk music! just like I did! 

I read on...

And the rest is (ongoing) history... I started buying the L&R comic books when I moved to Copenhagen, stopped reading L&R because I had more important things to do! (...) returned to reading L&R comics because I desperately needed quality literature and art  in my life... stopped reading L&R comics because Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (apparently) stopped doing them... and then returned to reading L&R comics because they started doing them again...but then...

Well, doesn't really matter... come June 2013 I'll be waiting in line, probably with other die hard fans, to finally meet  this guy

To be continued...

Sunday, November 4, 2012


No. It's not true, that I only like old comics. Because if it were,  I would never have picked up Sergio Ponchione's Grotesque (2008) Still, the reason it caught my attention probably had much to do with the quaint old-fashioned style of the artwork, looking something like a 1920's German expressionist film drawn in the manner of Popeye.

So what's it all about?... well, after purchasing Grotesque I discovered it to be volume two (of four) with volume one with an almost completely different set of characters and setting...
I still have to pick up volume three and four for the conclusion of the tale, but this is where we come in: On a stormy night we follow a grey bearded old man on his journey across rain drenched plains to Cryptic City, controlled by the evil Barons of the von Cryptic  family. The source of their power is a mystic pact made generations back, enabling them to make a very nice living selling emotions to the towns inhabitants.

As our elderly hero with the three foot beard, umbrella and rimmed glasses start sniffing around Cryptic City, horrible secrets begin to unwind. Can he save the town from the evil barons? will the nun selling holy slippers slip him some useful information? is detective Doppiofaccio a useful ally or a bumbling buffoon... and what's hiding out in room 414 at the mysterious Cryptic Hotel?...

 I will not disclose more here... but leave further investigations to readers who wish to be challenged by a complex, multi layered story, whimsical humour, and the distinctive, beautifully graphic drawing style of Mr. Ponchione.

To be continued.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Being a slave of an old habit, I recently tossed Juan Jose Ryp’s No Hero into my shopping bag. I discovered Ryp’s obvious talent when he did Robocop with Frank Miller a few years back and I became fascinated by his ultra-explicit style.

First I was convinced Ryp was a new synonym for Geof Darrow. Darrow has the same tendency towards explicit expressionism. Also Darrow worked together with Miller on another ultraviolent title called Hard Boiled back in the 90’s. Around the same time as Robocop, Darrow came out with Shaolin Cowboy - also stuffed with gore and chopped off heads. Ryp’s artwork resembles Darrow’s in many ways. The most obvious difference lies in the colour work which in Ryp’s case is smooth and explosive taking full advantage of computer colouring and shading techniques. Secondly Ryp’s characters tend to seem more emotional - or at least angry or painful which seem to be about the only emotions relevant to him. 

Shortly after Robocop, Miller crashed into a deep hole of self-reference and political righteousness and my admiration for him started to turn. I don’t think Ryp has fallen into that exact same hole. To be more precise; Ryps has always been dwelling in a very gloomy place. Ryp lives in a world where everybody is driven to neurosis by their own desires, anger and hate. This misery always turns into a bloody mess. For a comicbook fan it can be interesting to watch, because Ryp is a very skilled craftsman and the graphical dynamism can be strikingly entertaining. It’s still a mystery to be he doesn’t seem to get more recognition. Because I know a huge audience for this humor absent cynicism exists, it’s just not a part of my personal sphere of interest any longer.

When I discovered Ryp in 2005 I said to myself: Wow this is cutting edge! I was convinced I'd discovered a superstar in the making. Today his artwork is still rather unique, at least it's extreme in its provocative violent excess. But Ryp is no superstar and he probably never will be. There is no development, it's impossible to tell the artistic difference between a spread from Robocop and No Hero.

Can you figure out which artist Ryp is imitating here? A priceless beer is to be won... Just leave your answer in the comments.