Tuesday, October 23, 2007

graphic novels and comics for adults

Sounds racy, doesn't it? But, really, even though there are plenty of irreverent and smutty versions of the comic form, there are also many notable illustrators who have pushed the medium into some sophisticated corners. Take Palestine, by Joe Sacco, who wrote and drew about his first-person experiences in a war-weary land. Or Maus, by Art Spiegelman, which tells the story of the holocaust from the decidedly un-cute perspective of mice, cats and other animal contingents. Then there is the understated, subtle storytelling of artists like Adrian Tomine or Daniel Clowes. The combination of word and image, as intimately connected in the telling of a good story, has often been relegated to the children's book or juvenile comic books. Moving on to "chapter books" is applauded, as if children have grown out of the need to be informed by image as well as word (film and television notwithstanding). So the advent of "adult" comics that aren't necessarily filled with back-room content is one to be celebrated.

children's book resources

(image: Maurice Sendak, Encyclopedia Britannica)

-> The evolution of the illustrated children's book. A terrific broad overview of the medium. Includes sculptural alphabet boxes, pop-ups and board games.

Some big hitters from the last century (when we were all born):
Dr. Seuss
Maurice Sendak
Arthur Rackham
Maxfield Parrish
Beatrix Potter
Shel Silverstein
Eric Carle
Richard Scarry

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

to vector or not to vector

Last class, we joked about Photoshop being better for illustration than Illustrator. But there are times when a vector-based program best serves your purpose. Nice clean lines and bold colors can be made in Photoshop, but there's something about that slick geometric Illustrator effect...

Check out the links below for examples of styles that would work well in vector:

Frances Castle
Chris Garbutt
David Hitch
Steve May
Christiane Beauregard
Jason Greenberg
Helen Dardik
Catalina Estrada
(the image above is one of Ms. Estrada's)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

scanner players

Here are some early (as in, eighties and nineties) uses of (then) new tools toward artistic ends... Above is a manipulated scan by artist Dieter Huber, who, in his Klone series (1994), took biological realities and adjusted them to make comments on sexuality, genetic engineering and perfection.

Nancy Burson, using morphing software, also commented on the perception of beauty and perfection by, for example, joining all of the faces of beauty icons from different eras:

First and Second Beauty Composites (First Composite: Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelley, Sophia Loren, and Marilyn Monroe. Second Composite: Jane Fonda, Jacqueline Bisset, Diane Keaton, Brooke Shields, and Meryl Streep), 1982

Joseph Scheer's images of moths are simple, elegant celebrations of the patterns of the natural world. Because he uses a scanner to capture moth wings, we get a hyper-real picture when he blows them up to poster-sized prints. How is a scanned image different in effect from the single-lens effect of a camera eye? Which type of image is closer to the perception our own eyes and brains?