Welcome to a new blog series dedicated to a “behind-the-scenes” look at comic book illustration. I’m hoping to contribute to this series regularly, but deadlines have a way of putting everything on hold, so I'm making no promises!
First instalment: What does this title mean?
What I call “The Way of the Feather” may as well be a martial art because it means keeping the classic age of comics alive in the modern age. This is no easy task, as there is a plethora of very slick, dynamic styles out there that splash across the page. There is a world of difference between what comic art once was and what it has become. Most notably, colour does the rendering now whereas back in the golden age of comics, let’s say 1930 to 1955, rendering was achieved with “feathering” lines, tone lines that bent the edges of forms away from the eye, depicted lighting and in general, added lots of subtlety to the art.
Translating reality into a graphic image is daunting and it forced early comic book artists to invent techniques to depict the various subtleties of form and subject they faced on a regular basis. Draw a square, streak two or three lines diagonally across it and you have a window pane. Someone had to invent that. Early Flemish painters blurred the spokes of spinning wheels to create the illusion of movement. That was an invention. Graphic invention is (or was) the font of creativity in comics.
With the advent of ever-advancing software for art, I fear graphic invention is coming to a halt. Those old ways, which still hold plenty of secrets and treasures to discover, are being forgotten in this digital age.
The Way of the Feather seeks to keep those graphic explorations alive, keep the art complete when you strip the glossy colour away and deliver form and texture to your eye the way Raymond, Williamson, Wood and Frazetta did. I’m not uncomfortable walking the halls of the modern stylists, not in any way. I am always examining new techniques via technology, but beneath the surface beats the heart of the Golden Age.
Call my art neo-classical if you must label it, but I am and will always be dedicated to the old school. This is the Way of the Feather.