Monday, 1 July 2013

A Love of Ink and Shadows

I'm starting you off with a link this time:

Read it. If you like Noir, I can guarantee you'll enjoy this comic. That's sort of the view I've come around to in the last few weeks. Maybe it's a view; it might just be a realization. Actually, it could easily be both. The view is that Noir is extremely well suited to the comics medium, due to ink and shadows being conveniently the same colour. The realization is that there is some extremely good Noir being written in comics these days, and the quality of it far outstrips most of the superhero stuff being churned out. That's not to say that all superhero comics these days are crap. But they seem played-out, overcooked, ready for retirement instead of re-boot. Noir feels...fresh.

I also just started using Twitter last week. You might have found your way here from there, or you might be headed there now. Either way, it's proved a very interesting tool for me in terms of keeping up to speed with what certain authors are producing and what people are reading. Ed Brubaker's Fatale #15 just came out last week, and the online response has been incredible. Even he was shocked, which was cool to see, re-tweeting posts from shops that had sold out of that issue. I've been reading his series Criminal, and reviewing it a little on this blog, and have dipped into his Gotham Central work with Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. Both of them are excellent reads, compelling, street-level intrigue with characters that are just real people living real lives...except where Batman is involved. I knew Fatale was something more than all that. Listening to Brubaker and Rucka talk at a panel on crime comics at 2011's Emerald City Comicon in Seattle I'd heard the genuine passion in their voices when they brought up H.P. Lovecraft as a major influence, and how much they loved that weird, shadowy horror. There's a lot of that in Fatale, and having heard the writer talk so passionately about both Noir and Horror, I found myself wanting desperately to read the genre-blend he'd created. It slipped my mind for a long time. Then I saw Fatale #15  trending on my Twitter feed, and two days ago I went and picked up volume 1. I'm not finished it yet, but it is nothing short of riveting. A spectacular read, to say the least. I'll let you know when I figure out how to say the most.

I have a Noir I want to write. Maybe more than one. I'd tell you about them, but then of course I'd have to kill you. As I've matured as an artist I've discovered that I think very little in colour. Images form in mind primary as line and shadow, and when I set about bringing my thoughts to life on the page I do it in ink. I think better in ink than graphite these days. So I suppose that's where my new-found love of Noir comics originates: in the sheer amount of black you can get away within one panel. The first comic I read with that much black was The Long Halloween. Tim Sale draws shadows, and then he gives them permission to reveal figures. It's beautiful. I've also decided that if ever I were to illustrate American Gods by Neil Gaiman, I would do it as a Noir. Come on, the main character's name is Shadow. How could you not?

Shadow found his way out of my pen about an hour ago. He needed a smoke break.
Well, it's late and that's all I've got for now. I shall continue to embrace Noir as my new favourite thing in comics, even if I am a bit behind the times. And I look forward to seeing what Mr. brubaker has up his dark, brooding sleeve. If sleeves can brood...

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