Uncle Slam is owned by ME!
Today's art scan represents the blog's first repeat performance, as John Buscema becomes the first artist represented twice. That's appropriate enough for one of the true giants of the field. Today, we have John inked by another brilliant inker, albeit one with little in common with the first Buscema finisher I talked about, Tony Dezuniga. Today's panel was inked by the amazing Kevin Nowlan. Kevin is, of course, a unique talent... a wonderful, visionary penciller, one of the finest inkers ever, and a good painter, to boot. He also happens to be a fellow Kansan, which is a nice bonus for yours truly!
A little detour now about inking:
While I will often sing the praises here of the type of inker who can be versatile, bending themselves to suit a wide range of pencillers, while always letting the nature of whoever they're working with shine through, many of the guys I respect do not fit that mold. Jerry Ordway, Klaus Janson, Kevin Nowlan... all these guys come close to overwhelming whoever they ink with their own artistic personality. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's what I love about their work. They bring a lot of themselves to the party, and they have a lot of skill to bring. It's not what I do... it's not what I'm capable of, and maybe that's why I so enjoy what these guys can do. I am not draftsman enough... I don't have the built in artistic vision, to do what those guys do, so it seems magical to me. I would imagine that a few pencillers have pulled their hair out upon seeing what Ordway, Janson, and Nowlan have doen to their precious pencils, but I never get tired of looking at their work, and I feel they almost always leave the work better than they found it.
Anyway... back to Nowlan over Buscema. I believe this may have been the last full job Big John Buscema did. I have not seen the pencils, but I would assume that there was a lot of innate greatness in the work, but it was probably not as tight and inspired as John would have been at the peak of his powers. Hiring Nowlan to ink this job was a brilliant choice. He maintains the weight, power and grace of Buscema's work, but he also tightens the work, pulling it together with his incredible line and drawing ability. There is a lot of Nowlan here, but Buscema also shines.
I mentioned the weight of Buscema's figures, and you can really see that here. I don't think the man was capable of drawing an insubstantial human figure. While there's not a lot of action here, the figures are full of tension. You can feel the weight of each guard shifting. The composition is interesting. This is the kind of "pull back and show us where the hell everybody is" shot that too many artists today are clueless about. Buscema does it without boring us. That's a special skill.
I love what Kevin has done with texture here. The shiny helmets, the fabric, the stone floor... all of it is handled convincingly and efficiently. The figures are so well crafted. Kevin doesn't render as Buscema would have (or, certainly, as Dezuniga did), but his line is completely appropriate- attractive but rustic. Jesus... I'm resorting to fashion show language now.
My favorite thing about Nowlan's work on this page is the stuff he doesn't ink... the little elements that are shaped by negative spaces. Look at Superconan's leggings, or the chains, or (most impressively) the crowd in the background. Kevin has simplified the crowd with such skill! I could stare at the choices he made there for hours. It's so brilliant to render the first row or two completely and simply, and then to drop into nothing but bold shadows as you move further back. He's doing what we've talked about before... he's using his skills as an inker to help tell the story!
Okay... enough outta me. Enjoy the genius, and come back for more tomorrow!
Superconan, or whatever might be going on here, was published by DC Comics, and they own it!