Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Now to lighten the mood with a rant about Guy Davis

What's happening here? There are two Al Williamson heads there-- Flash Gordon and Dr. Hans Zarkov and then a wary-looking Guy Davis Andrew Devon. That jumbled nonsense to the right is part of a Mike Mignola Hellboy. Three artists whose work I greatly admire represented in one badly-drawn tribute sketch!

So I suppose what I'm saying is this rant is more of a rave. I really enjoy looking at Guy Davis's work. It's a visual pleasure. It's within the Mignola Family of Mignola-esque artists along with Ryan Sook (at one point) and Duncan Fegredo (at least on Hellboy), but he's got a loose, lively line and extremely easy-to-follow storytelling-- in BPRD "King of Fear" #5, there's a 2-page airplane crash sequence that you'd completely understand even if those pages were dialogue-free. And it's not just any old plane crash-- the passengers and crew emerge from the wreckage having been transformed into hideous lumpy crab-monsters. Davis doesn't rely so much on heavy areas of black the way the other Mignola Family (or Hellboy Universe) artists do, so his books are little more colorful and and not so dark.

Unlike a lot of artists who do "photorealism," Davis's looser, more expressive style means his figures are integrated into the backgrounds in a seemless whole-- people, monsters and their environment have a winning consistency. Too many times I'm put off by these almost photographically rendered figures who inhabit blank space or stark, nearly empty rooms. They look pasted in there; there's a disconnect and the whole effect is awkward. Consequently, Davis's stories have more verisimillitude no matter how ridiculous or outrageous the locale.

And finally, Davis's work has appeal, that ineffable quality that makes you want to look at it. Not everyone has that no matter how good they are at rendering. Toth had it, Williamson had it, Kirby had it, Alex Ross has it (to contrast the expressionists... although his storytelling is too static and posed), Mike Allred has it, Steve Rude, Mike Mignola, Kojima Goseki, Los Bros Hernandez, Jillian Tamaki (I'm specifically mentioning her now because of some news about her I want to write about later), some of the artists doing Archie comics-- and Guy Davis. Plus many more I could name. It's not a matter of style; it's a matter of artistic charisma.

I ain't got it. That's the one thing I wish I had, but I find my own work leaves me somewhat cold. It's amusing and it makes me laugh frequently, but that's about it. And I mean my finished, polished pieces, not sketchbook exercises like the ones I've been posting-- although these also crack me up. Oh well.

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