Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday... Uncle Slam is STILL Coming, and a Great Sampling of Swan/Ordway

I'm back! I had a very exciting and busy weekend, spending time at the Mo-Kan Comics Conspiracy convention with the likes of Stan Sakai, Tom Luth, Sergio Aragones, and Mark Evanier. I heard a lot of good stories, and enjoyed a lot of fine company. But, of course, the time away put me behind the eight ball when it comes to deadlines. So, I'm cutting back to a few times a week for regular posts here, with the possibility of other rants from time to time.

Before I get to the art scan thing, I want to mention my UNCLE SLAM book again. It will hit the stores the first week of October, they tell me. Please look for it. The book is called UNCLE SLAM FIGHTS BACK. It is fun, especially if you like Keith Olbermann.

Now, on to today's art scan. This is one of my favorite pieces from my collection. It's a pinup from DC's WHO'S WHO books, featuring Superman supporting characters Pete Ross and Lana Lang. It was drawn by one of the most legendary men to ever draw the folks of Super-world, Curt Swan. It was inked by my favorite Swan inker, Jerry Ordway.

We've spoken about the Swan/Ordway pairing before. I think it's the best Swan ever looked, which will be hard for Murphy Anderson fans to swallow. In my opinion, though, Ordway does everything Swan needs. He augments Swan's drawings, and he keeps the work spontaneous.

I love everything about this piece: the layout is simple and effective, the poses are natural, and the expressions are completely charming. What really takes my breath away, though, is the texture work by Ordway. Jerry really shows here what a master can do a few simple tools.

Ordway's method is pretty simple. I asked him about it many years ago, after almost wearing my eyes out studying a few originals, trying to figure out how he made those amazing lines with the tools I was holding in my own, apelike hand. Jerry is about as nice a guy as I've ever met in comics, and he was happy to share his wisdom with a dumb kid trying to learn the craft. Anyway, Jerry goes through the page with a crowquill pen first... a Hunt 102. With the pen, he inks the contours of the figures and major shapes. He does whatever detail work he needs the pen for, and generally inks the page, minus any especially bold lines or blacks. After the pen work is done, Jerry hits the page with a brush and that, in my humble opinion, is where much of the magic happens. Jerry doesn't use the brush to simply fill in his blacks. He uses it to lay in bold lines and throw texture all over the damn place.

In the pinup I'm sharing today, you can clearly see the magic of the pen and the brush, as wielded by Mr. Ordway. The pen work is masterful. Look at the car. There is incredible texture and depth there, all created with a simple tool and a pretty narrow range of line weights. Look at the casual line work in the trees. It is descriptive without becoming predictable.

Now, check out how Jerry incorporates his brush work into the pen framework. Something as simple as the car tires becomes rich here, as Ordway casually hits the spaces between the pen lines with his brush, again giving us a textural pattern without boredom or repetition. The clothing in this piece is really incredible. Jerry has laid in a strong framework with his pen, and given everything real substance with his brush.

The magic of Ordway's inking work is that his work reproduces incredibly clean, but he never makes a boring or predictable line. Of course, because he draws so well, he's also able to find and augment strengths in the drawings he tackles. And, most importantly, he always remembers his primary job as an inker... to tell the story.

Okay, that's enough outta me. Enjoy the genius, and come back for more Thursday!


1 comment:

collin_kc78 said...

THAT is one terrific piece of artwork. Ordway does just what I would expect an inker to do: enhances the pencils while at the same time leaving his own mark on the work. FANASTIC!