I did a piece on writing, so it makes sense I'd make a comment on the current style that I'm using. Like a lot of things, it's evolved over the many years since picking up a pencil and still is. It's probably not for everyone, but I've settled into it pretty well now.
Oh I've had my moments of aping other styles. The early 90s I was over doing my cross hatching with the best of them. I had my John Byrne "homage" style for awhile. If you look at someone like Mr. Byrne he has a comic book realism going. On the surface, you get the realism, but then you look closer and it's not our world. It's the comic world it belongs in. To this day, it still draws me in.
Of course I can't go any further than the legend that Frank Miller is. Like many of my generation, I awed in wonder at Dark Knight Returns. And while I tried to draw like him, I don't think anyone can truly emulate that style of energy and power he brings to his creations. Sometimes you can't participate in something. You have to step back and watch it done right,
Probably the artist that worked his way into my subconscious art style, to the point I didn't really realize, was Matt Wagner. My first experience wasn't MAGE, but the Demon mini-series he did for DC in the mid 80s. From there, I was exposed to Grendel. As I mentioned in the earlier blog, I read it too young, but wow. If you could see my ridiculously read worn copy of DEVIL BY THE DEED, you can see the absolute Wagner guy I am. Watching Mr. Wagner grow as an artist project to project has been one of the best things about being a comics fan. I got to watch him experiment and then grow into the style he currently uses.
It's deceptively simple at first glance. Then you see the level of storytelling employed. It's the type after reading, you get up and walk to your art table and rip up everything you've done that afternoon.
But I digress.
Long story shot, I work simple.
I've long considered myself a writer than draws. As such telling a story with pictures is a little more important to me than drawing spectacularly composed illustrations. You might have noticed a little difference in how I draw the normal stuff opposed to the more action oriented mask material. The everyday relationship stuff I tend to draw very casual and to the point. Guess that's my exposure to b&w indy books speaking. Goes back to me wanting you to know the characters a little better. I try to add a little adrenaline to the actiony parts. I'm not a heavy composition guy. But I try to make it easy to follow.
The art is my way of trying to create a feel for the book. Something that makes it mine. A lot of the book is going against a lot of modern takes on these types of books. And at the end of the day, while I do have some "echh" moments, I'm proud of the book. I'm really trying not to compromise for something popular. Letting it flow on it's own without too much thought of would someone like to look at this other than me. By that thinking, I hope I'm making a more genuine read and look. The art may look simple but the heart behind it is great and very proud. As I continue on this journey, I'm going to work harder to become a better artist while still existing as the artist I am today.
Thanks for reading. Posting some issue #3 work soon.
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.