Catalog

Comics

Bookmarks


Notes

Mike Shea-Wright’s Cartoonist’s Diary

These diary comics by Mike Shea-Wright are perfect, I wish there were more. Great writing, style and format.

Liked this aside about working with pen and paper vs. digitally:

I don’t mind drawing with digital tools, but I have no idea how they work so there’s a distance between me and the drawing.

With ink pens there’s a direct connection to the page, and knowing how tools work makes drawing with them an intimate experience.

Initially thought: “but Mike, drawing on the iPad can be just as intimate”. Then I read it again and got the point⁠—it’s not about digital vs. ink, but about your relationship with your tools. For me, Procreate emulates pens and pencils better than anything else I’ve tried (and digital paint is so much more convenient than messy, real paint), which makes the intimacy carry over somewhat, I guess.

There can also be a lot of fun in trying new tools, or making the most of something you don’t know well (John Lennon: “I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it.”), but it’s like the difference between meeting someone new and interesting, and having a conversation (or a row!) with an old friend.


The Marcinelle school

This splendid cover by Maurice Tillieux caught my attention this morning. I admire that drawing style a lot, but had never really heard of Tillieux before, so I started wondering why the styles of so many Belgian cartoonists are so similar, did they all go to the same art school or something? (And do they offer classes? 🙏)

Some quick googling led me to The Marcinelle School (as in “school of thought”, not “a place to study”), named after the site of the Dupuis printing firm who published Le Journal de Spirou. The Comics Journal has written a great piece about The Belgians Who Changed Comics, including magazine rivalry and where this style comes from:

The team's cartooning technique – partly inherited but soon individualised – was an animated, breezy, ultra-modern one. Eventually, it became known as 'le style atome'. This moniker derived from the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, whose signature was a sculpture called 'the Atomium'. An outsized icon of Populuxe design, this seemed to match the sparky visual spirit of post-War Spirou. Certainly it paralleled the artists' angular shapes, their streamlined drawings and a use of bright, sharp colours. Graphically much brasher than Hergé's ligne claire, le style atome gave a nod to '50s and '60s US culture. It featured rounder speech bubbles instead of rectangles and privileged short, spunky dialogue over declamations.

[...]

Spirou's energetic art is now known as "the Marcinelle school" or "the school of Charleroi". Both terms refer to the site of the Dupuis' printing firm. But those artists who worked with Jijé had a different name for it. They called the work gros nez – or "big nose" – comedy.

The flipside of Marcinelle art was found in the pages of Tintin. A vehicle for Hergé's hero, this weekly was the laboratory of a rival "Brussels' school". Just as Marcinelle art reflected Jijé’s temperament, the Tintin employees operated in Hergé's shadow. Their highly polished work was required to resemble his and, in their atelier, an artist wore his suit and tie. He would labour to produce pristine pages, with refined lines underscored by un-shaded colour.

It also has this quote about Franquin’s amazing line style:

Inside the frames, everything is concrete, everything is charged with the energy of the line. The speech bubbles, the paper lying around on the floor, the exclamation points…nothing can be inanimate; everything has to come alive. Fantasio's anger is more than simply buggy eyes, dishevelled hair and a wide, gaping mouth. It's also puffs of cloud around him, lines that tremble like forceful cries and the tail of a speech balloon turned into a zigzag of lightning. There are so many graphic incarnations of the intangible, of invisible and interior moods… it makes metaphysical anguish absolutely palpable.

Check out the linework in these old, felt-cled postcards!

Quotes

Kirchner on visual storytelling

I like telling a story without dialog. It forces the reader to fill in what’s happening, and as long as the narrative is clear I think the reader gets satisfaction from that. I’ve heard it said that a humorous story always leaves out a key element that the audience must fill in, and the satisfaction of making that connection – “getting it” – provokes the laugh. Omitting dialog is one way to force the reader to fill in the blanks.

  • Paul Kirchner
  • Postscript in “The Bus”, June 2015

Le style atome

The team's cartooning technique – partly inherited but soon individualised – was an animated, breezy, ultra-modern one. Eventually, it became known as 'le style atome'. This moniker derived from the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, whose signature was a sculpture called 'the Atomium'. An outsized icon of Populuxe design, this seemed to match the sparky visual spirit of post-War Spirou. Certainly it paralleled the artists' angular shapes, their streamlined drawings and a use of bright, sharp colours. Graphically much brasher than Hergé's ligne claire, le style atome gave a nod to '50s and '60s US culture. It featured rounder speech bubbles instead of rectangles and privileged short, spunky dialogue over declamations.

[...]

Spirou's energetic art is now known as "the Marcinelle school" or "the school of Charleroi". Both terms refer to the site of the Dupuis' printing firm. But those artists who worked with Jijé had a different name for it. They called the work gros nez – or "big nose" – comedy.

The flipside of Marcinelle art was found in the pages of Tintin. A vehicle for Hergé's hero, this weekly was the laboratory of a rival "Brussels' school". Just as Marcinelle art reflected Jijé’s temperament, the Tintin employees operated in Hergé's shadow. Their highly polished work was required to resemble his and, in their atelier, an artist wore his suit and tie. He would labour to produce pristine pages, with refined lines underscored by un-shaded colour.



Mort Drucker’s chicken fat

...Drucker’s art partakes in the most venerable MAD tradition of all: the “chicken fat” aesthetic, the stuffing of panels with sight gags and visual digressions pioneered by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder (and defined by Elder as the inessential “parts of the strip that gave it more flavor,” as chicken fat gave more flavor to his mother’s soup, “but did very little to advance the storyline”).


Scale tricks for inking

I could never adjust to the “half-up” (150%) scale at which mainstream comics had to be drawn. I preferred to work twice up and that wasn’t an option.

[...]

I often photocopy a sketched frame, reducing or enlarging it to a size I think more pleasing, and then tape it back on the tracing paper, which looks like a patchwork quilt by the time I’m finished.

  • Paul Kirchner
  • “Sex, Drugs & Public Transportation: My Strange Trip Through Comics”
  • From “Awaiting the Collapse”, Tanibis Editions, 2017