Saturday, October 16, 2010

10/16/10 - Kentucky featured in Underground Comic and Trade Paperback

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is not to often depicted in comics and if so it is only in passing or referenced with none too flattering associations. Having traveled and lived from one end of the US to the other has taught me that there are rednecks and cowboys all over (and hopefully not to pre-judge people or places). So I was happy to see Kentucky portrayed with a broader lens in a recent comic series, now available as a trade paperback: "Underground" written by Jeff Parker and drawn by Steve Lieber. Centered around two Kentucky State park rangers and the fictional Stillwater Cave this enthralling adventure story has several exciting sections that really capture the thrills and dangers inherent to cave exploration. It was also fun to find the local references that the authors embedded into the storyline through some obvious research or knowledge of the region.

I had met Steve back in 2000 at Orlando Florida's MegaCon. His then current work on DC's Hawkman and the independently produced Whiteout (recently released as a major motion picture) caught my attention and admiration.

A recent Facebook prompt lead me to visit Steve's profile - this all cascaded into renewing contact and getting caught up on Underground, his website (old and new cartoonists will want to check out the great Advice section) and another of his projects: "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating A Graphic Novel" - co-written with Nat Gertler.

This easy to read book covers areas that many other good texts on creating comics just don't address, namely: a simple but effective process for writing plots/scripts and tips on how to ensure good results as the artist visualizes the written script. This bridging of written word and drawn images really doesn't get explained adequately or often enough in most "how to" books - they tend to be focus on either the writers perspective or that of the artist.
To clarify this point I have excerpted from wikipedia's entry for "comics" in the section defining comics. Read below Will Eisner's (the man responsible for popularizing the terms "sequential art" and "graphic novel") informed opinion -  (also check out the variants by others: McCloud and Harvey):
In 1996, Will Eisner published Graphic Storytelling, in which he defined comics as "the printed arrangement of art and balloons in sequence, particularly in comic books."[42] Eisner's earlier, more influential definition from Comics and Sequential Art (1985) described the technique and structure of comics as sequential art, "the arrangement of pictures or images and words to narrate a story or dramatize an idea."[43]
This blending of word and picture - and this includes the unseen words from the writer that inspire the images created by the artist - is what makes comics unique! Nat and Steve really hit the target and fill this void of information - kudos to them for this service to all who want to learn the deceptively complex set of skills necessary for effective sequential narrative/cartooning.

No comments:

Post a Comment