“Today, in our field, there is so much talent and recognition that we are reaching a saturation point. An artist should no longer strive only for breathtaking craftsmanship; he should, instead, try to help us live better, either by dressing the wounds that are constantly being opened by society, or by offering solutions to get us out of the mess we’re in…But it’s going to be difficult and we have a lot of work to do.” - Jean 'Moebius' Giraud
Saturday, August 11, 2007
SPACE GHOST_90 minutes
Well, sort of. After all was said and done, it probably totaled to about 3.5 hours from start to finish, but there's a pretty good reason why. The reason has a primer, so bear with me.
If you can, go and buy the "Space Ghost and Dino Boy: The Complete Series (1966)" - not necessarily for the cartoon itself. I mean, I'm sure it's a hoot and all, but the reason why *I* bought it was because of the supplemental disc that has an AWESOME Alex Toth retrospective. If you're unaware of Toth's contribution to the series (along with the other classics he's helped create for Hanna Barbera) it would do you well to go check out his Wikipedia listing. Just click on his high-lighted name above and read along.
So about the retrospective - it's a small documentary that reflects on his life, his contribution and long-lasting impact to the medium of comics and animation . Throughout the segment it has people speaking about him; from well renowned professionals of the industry to close family members. And the level of candidness in which these interviews were conducted shows how personal and how connected these people truly were to this brilliant, talented illustrator - they speak not only of the accomplishments of a legend, but also the frailties of the man. Really, really touching stuff. One of the most poignant moments is when Mark Chiarello (Art Director for some of DC Comics' nigh-profile projects) speaks about Toth's last days and how he had tried to re-establish their strained relationship by writing him a letter, only to have Toth pass a few days later. Then about a week after that, Chiarello receives a reply back from his old friend - postmortem. It's eerie and touching at the same time and only really hit upon very briefly in the documentary. As a creator and illustrator, one can only hope to have that kind of longevity and resonance. Toth does. And to top it all off they showed different samples of his artwork! Not enough, in my opinion, but whatever! The images were just so awe-insipiringly simple that I got this exhilarating creative charge.
It is to say that I was genuinely inspired.
So much so, that I decided that Space Ghost was going to be my next 90 minute exercise. Now I don't typically start and stop on my warm-up images (well, lately I've been hitting a couple of those speed bumps, but I've since gotten over that), but this one took me a couple of tries because I just wanted to draw the character with some justice. Some of the earlier versions were terribly posed with no weight or tension to their bodies, or the compositions were terrible, or I couldn't get that signature SG head right or that's not Toth would do it or...well, you get what I'm saying - they just weren't working. I guess thinking about all of those Toth images was, to a degree, intimidating because all you wanna do is to do it as well as he did. Then, after try #4 I realized, "Screw this. All I can do is try my best. I'm never going to be as good as that guy so why don't I just draw for fun?!"
And there it was. I turned off and above is the result of that attempt. Not great. Not terrible. Nowhere as good as the original. But there it is. Anyway - go get the DVDs. Get a book called 'Alex Toth: Black and White. Get inspired.
at 10:36 AM