Check it out! This dude really wants you to!
Uncle Slam is owned by ME!
Today's art scan comes from one of my favorite comic strips, RIP KIRBY. The strip, which featured a dashing bachelor P.I., was created by the legendary Alex Raymond (best known for his seminal work on FLASH GORDON). While I prefer Foster's Prince Valiant to Raymond's work on Flash Gordon, I like Rip Kirby better than both of those more famous features. Raymond's work on Rip Kirby speaks more to my love of sharp, modern, illustration. Rip Kirby was photo-reffed without being stiff, as Raymond inked the strip like the true master he was. The line is so bright and spontaneous, and always informed by Raymond's incredible draftsmanship.
Unfortunately, Alex Raymond died at the peak of his powers, killed in a car crash that also injured Stan Drake, who we've discussed here previously. In the silver lining department, the syndicate found a very capable replacement in John Prentice. Prentice would go on to draw Rip Kirby from the time of Raymond's death in 1956 to his death in 1999! By the end of the run, the work was getting pretty shaky. In Prentice's heyday, though, he was a very worthy successor to Raymond's legacy.
Prentice wasn't quite the draftsman Raymond had been, which is no insult... who aside from Foster could claim that they were? Prentice's inking isn't quite as lively as Raymond's and he couldn't morph into different styles as readily as master, but he was a phenomenal talent. As you can see here, the work is a perfect mixture of great drawing and fresh, lively finishing. The foundation is rock solid, and the inking makes it fun and exciting. Check out how free Prentice is with the background elements. Nothing is ruled or drawn with a dead, technical line. It's all so carefree. I also love the inking of the foreground character's jacket. Prentice has laid down a framework with his pend, and then he just attacks the forms with his brush, inking only what is needed to define the forms.
This strip was drawn within the first year of Prentice's tenure on the strip, so he's really still in his Raymond mode. He was probably still feeling like it was Alex's strip at this point. After a decade or so, Prentice would feel more free to make the work his own.
One technical note. You can see the missing word in the first balloon here. Old school artists worked on such good, heavy paper that, when called for, they could simply razor out mistakes without cutting all the way through the board. As I often tell people showing work at conventions, using quality materials is a vital part of making good work. There's nothing like working on a really well-made piece of paper. It just opens up new possibilities.
Okay... enough outta me. Enjoy the genius, and come back for more tomorrow!
Someone probably owns the rights to Rip Kirby, so don't be a pain in the ass about it!