Art Rant About A Misguided Marvel

Monday April 03rd 2017, 12:41 pm

I read some controversial stuff from the Marvel EIC today about artists not moving the needle on comics.

I don’t think that is true whatsoever, my own being an artist bias aside, quite often artists are mentioned when I pop into the local shop, when discussing whatever some readers are into.

And in all realistic contemplation, you just can’t have good comics without good artists AND good writers. Psychologically, stories in comics are hugely impacted by what the visuals are doing. Even if the reader isn’t quite aware of it, the art more often than not will affect how they feel about the quality of the story. This is where the art gets a bum rap sometimes.

Example: Grant Morrison credited to a story sells comics, but he absolutely cannot do most of he what puts into a story without what the artist brings to the table. This is true of any comics writer. But if it all turns out good, most readers will say “wow, what a great Grant Morrison story that was. Oh, and the art was nice too.” But the thing is, that very same comics story wouldn’t exist or function without whatever the artist did to bring it to life. And depending on what that artist did it psychologically and sometimes subliminally changed the way a reader views that story. So it matters what artist draws that story, there is no changing that.

Another Example: If you have a really good comics story but mediocre art, the story will feel like it lacked something, it will suffer. If you have a mediocre story but really well done art, that story will seem elevated. But when you get good stuff from both creative aspects, you end up with comics magic.

So when hearing things about writers are the ones who “move the needle”, not artists, it becomes an unfair deception and assumption. Because comics writers would not have the same body of work without the cumulative efforts of the artists they work with, and vice versa.

And honestly, when stacking multiple artists on a single story by any writer, you actually do the writer a huge disservice. Because the result will impact just how a reader views that story. It’s impossible not to. The writer’s work will suffer. The only time where this works effectively is when a story is designed to uphold various artistic viewpoints.

This is partly why I tackle so many stories using different multiple styles throughout, varying things from sequence to sequence or from character to character. Because I’m after fucking with that subliminal psychological reader affect. Looking for ways to push on it. But always done so with designing and manipulating that same psychological effect in mind. This can be highly effective, because of understanding just how much the art affects the story’s power and meaning. But when you see comics treated with switching artists so randomly without thought, or careful attention to the story, or to the writer, it all becomes chopped up, as if produced by a haphazard machine. It loses its heart.

Comics are a tandem effort by many creators. And what each of them bring significantly alters and affects the outcome of any project. This psychological effect just doesn’t happen from the writing and the art, it also comes from lettering, and the coloring as well. All of it MATTERS. All of it makes or breaks a story.

So yeah, the Marvel EIC is wrong about this. It might be a little bit difficult to see the deeper reasons it’s wrong because everything in comics is so reliant on the various moving parts all linking up in the right ways.

Rant Over!

9 Comments so far
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Comment by Ralph Mathieu 04.03.17 @ 1:22 pm

I’ll put up with art I don’t like if the story is amazing. I’ll put up with a mediocre story if the art is amazing. But those are very rare instances. More typical is amazing stories with amazing art. I’ve dropped books because the writing is dull and I’ve dropped books because the art is bland or awful or doesn’t fit the writing. And good art typically gets me to pick up a comic new to me and give it a try. Comics are a graphic form of storytelling, after all. Without the art, they’re just prose.

Comment by Shelly 04.03.17 @ 10:14 pm

Hey there Shelly
Thanks for sharing your perspective on the subject. One thing I didn’t think to discuss in my post was about how visual art is very subjective, and is remarkably different for each person. A single artist can generate any number of emotional and analytical responses depending on the attitudes and tastes of the person viewing the work.

Comment by jhw3 04.04.17 @ 10:51 pm

That’s a bit insulting from Marvel and it seems like they are also forgetting what makes their own product, a comic is words AND pictures. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that to me the art is more important than the prose in most cases, quite often good art covers clunky prose but it doesn’t matter how good the story, terrible art can ruin it. I might pick up a book based solely on the covers, regardless of writer but Morrison can’t sell me a book if I know the artist is horrendous. Now I might then be dissapointed when the interiors are a different artist or totally lack the quality of the cover, but that’s a debate for another day!

Comment by Karl 04.07.17 @ 12:03 pm

Hey there Karl
I certainly agree. It was such a shortsighted statement by them.

Comment by jhw3 04.07.17 @ 4:04 pm

I totally agree, as a manner of fact I’m more biased to the artist, I would but, or stop buying a comic based on the Artist in the first place. Comics are a visual media and the Artist is at its core, a good story serves the combined effort but it’s the Artist’s vision that makes a comic.

Comment by Samir 06.18.17 @ 8:50 pm

I follow artists not characters or comic companies.

Comment by Wade Grimbrere 08.07.17 @ 7:58 pm

I agree so much with this. I can’t stand how comic companies are always switching up the artists on a project. It totally alters the characterization of the story! It also leaves you feeling cheated when you got into a story for the artist + writer combo it started off with, only for the original contributors to be replaced later on. I don’t get the mentality behind this. The art’s not a means to an end, it’s an end in and of itself.

Comment by tubs 08.25.17 @ 8:29 am

I know I’m responding late (just found the blog!), but not only is this true in general, this is true even when the artists involved are all great. Unless the writer has written a story for those specific artists in mind (with separate sections that work to each respective artist’s strengths), it will just be visual whiplash.

Comment by hdefined 12.24.17 @ 11:42 pm

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