Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So, there is this guy named Tony Salmons. He's a genius in the truest sense of the word. His artwork is bold, visionary, consistently surprising, and unique. Unfortunately, his career doesn't measure up to his talent. There isn't enough work out there. There is no defining run on a solid comic book you can point to and say, "This is Tony Salmons." It's an issue here, an aborted mini-series there, a collection of brilliant pinups scattered across the web... and so on.

Now, I should pause to stress that, for all I know, Tony has a rich and satisfying career as a storyboard artist, character designer, etc. I hope so. Selfishly, thought, I wish there were more Tony Salmons comic books. Tony is one of those rare artists who just see and do things differently. Everything he draws, he draws in a way that I have never seen before. There is exceptional value in that. It may well make Tony's life harder. For most editors, it's just easier to hire the known commodity. But, again, I'm veering into conjecture about another man's life. There's more than enough of that online already.

The batman piece you see above hangs in my studio. It hangs where I can see it while I'm sitting at the computer where I make my living as a writer. That is no accident. This exceptional piece has been hanging in my studio for several years. I have spent hours staring at it. I have shown it to scores of visitors, and I am still nowhere near tired of it. The whole piece is so vibrant, so dynamic, so surprising... it's so goddamn interesting.

I could go on and on about this drawing. I think it's better, though, to just let you soak it up. Just look at it. Really look at it. Think about what all the players are going through in this piece. It's really a whole story in one image.

This drawing in particular, and Tony Salmons' work in general, genuinely inspire me. I'm not a genius. I have a little talent, some smarts, and I work at getting better. It's easy to envy the talent of guys like Tony Salmons, but I don't think I'd trade places with him. I think life is more challenging for true visionaries, and mine is plenty challenging enough already, thank you.



Felicity Walker said...

I also wish there was more Tony Salmons, but with a further rider: it has to be his 1980s stuff. Sadly, since it’s impossible for him to do more 1980s work, I’ll have to settle for looking for things he did in the 1980s that I haven’t read yet.

My favourite thing of his so far is an issue of Dark Horse’s /The Mark/ on which he was guest artist. Close second: /Dakota North/.

B. Clay Moore said...

I love that piece, Ande.

I just read a Comics Journal interview with James Robinson, from 1997, and he discusses both his frustration and excitement working with Tony on VIGILANTE. It was interesting.

Ande Parks said...

I think my pal Bret Blevins ended up rescuing that Vigilante book after Tony's initial, um... spurt.

Mark B said...

Tony... sighh

nice summary of what so many of us feel

Mark Badger