Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Lazy Tuesday Mulling... Original Comic Art Edition

I've been picking up the odd piece of original comic book art from time to time.  I have quite a few examples from my own books, but also a number of pieces by my fave/most intriguing artists and books.  I doubt there are too many other collectors dying for a page of Tony Tallarico art from the Dell 60's "Werewolf" series, but at $30 a page, I'm there!

One thing I don't particularly like are pages that don't have the lettering actually on the artwork.  Almost all current comics are lettered with computer programs and overlays, a process which put a lot of fine hand-letterers out of business (*sigh*) but which makes editing, corrections and (*sigh* again) rewrites infinitely easier.  So I get the practicality of it all.  But original art still looks naked without the balloons and captions... meaning the vast majority of my original art collection is pre whenever the computer age of lettering kicked in.  Happily, most of my comics were done when the lettering was still being inserted by hand.  I just... like that.

In fact, I am inordinately pleased that I started my comics career way back when (some) books were still being published on newsprint-ish paper, with (mostly) hand-lettered cover copy and less than optimum color separations.  Because that's "comics" to me.  Everyone's eye adjusts to their own age of comics, so I'm sure most modern comics fans find older books unbearably primitive. But for me, the anti-slickness is most of the attraction.  I love the hand-made, seat-of-your-pants look that came from hand-lettered cover copy and logos, from a time when lettering Gods like Artie Simek or Sam Rosen or Ben Oda or Bill Spicer could make or break artwork with their truly remarkable styles.

This isn't some Luddite repudiation of computer lettering or better printing.  I know artists from the old days were endlessly frustrated with bad printing and the loss of detail that resulted.  And there are some modern artists who do their own lettering on the page (hello, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Robert Crumb) because the letters are a design element just as important as the artwork itself.  I guess I'm mostly thinking that slick for slick's sake isn't always a plus.  Anymore than crude for crude's sake always works.  I don't like those Tony Tallarico pages THAT much...


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