Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thursday... Uncle Slam Fights Back is Coming, and- The Brilliance of Neal Adams' Godfather, Stan Drake!

First up today, I think it's time to mention UNCLE SLAM FIGHTS BACK again. The book will be shipping in September, in time for all that delicious pre-election hoopla. The book is really fun, and full of my own left-wing craziness. Please check it out.

Here's a little peak from UNCLE SLAM FIGHTS BACK artist, T. J. Kirsch.

Uncle Slam is owned by ME, so keep yer stinkin' mitts off!

Since we looked at the amazing work of Neal Adams yesterday, I thought it was appropriate to talk about Stan Drake today. While I'm not sure Neal very often (if ever) says as much, Drake is the seed from which Neal's sharp, illustrative style blossomed.

Drake's life story is really something. You can check out a great interview with him HERE. He was almost a movie star, he worked at one of the great ad agencies in New York when the Mad Men era was really thriving. He drew a long-lived strip called The Heart of Juliet Jones, and then went on to draw the legendary Blondie strip until his death. Along the way, he did tons of illustrations for Golf magazines, inked a lot of so-so comic books, drew the great Kelley Green graphic novels, and was sitting in the passenger seat of the sports car during the crash that killed Alex Raymond.

Drake was a master at using photo reference, combining the realism of his models with his incredibly lively and razor-sharp inking technique to produce work that never look dead or photo-stiff. I'll write another day about the varying levels of photo-ref and tracing in comics, and how many of today's artists are content to live their careers are nothing more than glorified Xerox machines. For today, I'll just present a wonderful illustration, produced by Drake when he was really at the top of his game, probably in the mid '50s.

Drake used photos here- photos he almost certainly took himself. He uses that reference as a basis for his illustration, but he doesn't let the photos dominate. The inking is so bold and lively that the work stays fresh. The textures aren't overwhelming. They inform the shapes and materials being represented, and they help pull the drawing away from the boring sheen of a photograph. The faces are a wonderful blend of realism and idealism.

I own this illustration, a comic book page or two, and a handful of Juliet Jones strips by Drake, and I never tire of his energy, or the snap of his line. Even while taking every shortcut he could muster to crank out a daily strip, the work is inspiring.

Okay... enough outta me. Enjoy the genius, and come back for more tomorrow!


Hey... I don't actually need a copyright notice here... nice!

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