Fine art has evolved in many directions, but comic book art
has retained a strain of DNA from classical times. The heroic Greek gods were the forbearers of our modern
superheroes and the portrayal of those heroes has carried on in the tradition
of how modern artists portray comic book heroes. All artists who study anatomy will most likely find
themselves at the foot of the ancient Greeks, renaissance artists, and other
classics. But where "fine artists"
deviate from that school of figure drawing, comic artists hold fast. As a professional comic book
artist I know how much I look to classic anatomy and I'm not alone--its extensive influence is felt throughout the industry.
|Captain America by Lee Bermejo.
||David by Michelangelo.
idealization and exaggeration of the human form to create an awe-inspiring
figure is not a copyright held by Marvel Comics. Artists like Michelangelo discovered and
developed the keys to creating an imposing pose or stance. Like the statues of old, a superhero is depicted in muscle revealing costumes to show their physical power and strength. Looking at the proportions of a typical
renaissance statue, one sees large hands, powerful muscles, and a tall
stature. One has merely to open a
current issue of Thor or Superman to see these very same proportions.
The use of extreme foreshortening
widely used in comics is not unlike the exaggerated proportions of a classic or renaissance statue like the Laocoon or David. Standing next to and looking up at these figures has
quite an effect, as many of us know. They loom
over mere mortals, they were meant to be worshiped. Does typical gallery art produce this effect? Not so much. But the rendering of dynamic poses has survived
through the ages and appear to this day in popular culture in the form of
comic book artist's training is firmly grounded in classic anatomy. A glimpse at any superhero comic will
attest to the amount of figure drawing being done. Think of it this way: one comic equals 22 pages of art. Each page contains several
illustrations with multiple figures. The characters must be consistent and recognizable to the reader. Absolute mastery of human anatomy is a
must. And that ability--to draw the
figure from any angle--is a skill heavily dependent on anatomical canons and proportions, and the study of the heroic figure
takes an uncontainable path straight down through the history of art leading to the comic book page.
|The Avengers by Adi Granov.
Batman, Dionysus, David, the Silver Surfer--they all share a common origin in their
mythical stories and their visual representations. The heroic figure not frequently found in modern galleries
present in comic book stores. Rows and rows of cover images still capture the human imagination. Comics have a history and they too have
evolved, but the resemblance to classic artworks is uncanny. We no longer have portraits of kings and emperors with muscle-molded armor or in full figure regalia ready for battle. No, most art has strayed far from this form of
depiction. Figures seen
in galleries aren't done that way at all. It is Wonder Woman, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk who are the descendants
of classic art. I heartily believe that the true descendants of classic art aren't found
in fine art galleries, but in more popular venues like the cinema, video games,
and the comic racks. What say you?
of my thoughts on comic art and images of my own work can be seen on my blog.