So I got this e-mail a week or so ago. It put a smile on my face when I read it the first time (and an even bigger smile each consecutive time I've re-read it) and I thought I'd share it with you kind people. Oh, and please remember, he's an artist too...and thusly adds legitimacy to his critique. Remember that. And if you *don't * remember it, don't worry. He'll be sure to remind you (us) every so often. I've left the e-mail address off for obvious reasons, but that doesn't make it any less entertaining. It's rather lengthy, but it's because the fella is passionate about the point he's trying to make. And no one can blame him for that.
At least he calls me 'Sir'. Respect.
And this image is inspired by the memory of an old school John Romita Jr. cover where the X-Men were posing looking like bad asses. My version looks less like that and more like they're coming to take your money. Enjoy!
From: [xxxxxxxx] <[xxxxxx]@yahoo.com>
To: Eric Canete <[xxxxxx]@aol.com>
Sent: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 11:34 am
Subject: A critique about your art and Iron Man.
Before I get to the point of this letter, I'd like to give a little background about myself so you know where I'm not coming from nowhere when I criticize your work.
I'm an artist of 10 years studying in anatomy and the human figure. I've also got a strong background and graphic storytelling and I know my way around several 3D modeling programs. So basically, I know what I'm talking about when I talk about art and I definitely know what it's like to with harsh criticism.
But more importantly I'm a fan of comicbooks, especially Marvel Comics and specifically "Iron Man".
And it's because of that I feel entitled to question the powers-that-be who gave you the shot of drawing such a classic character when you're obviously artistically unqualified to draw the Golden Avenger. There are so many things about your work that aren't professional that I'm left to wonder how many people passed on this project before your name came up on their list. I'm sad to say that they made a poor choice. And here are only some of the reasons why:
First, your anatomy is beyond terrible. Again, trust me when I say I know what I'm talking about when it comes to this topic. I'm an artist myself and when I look at you figures I literally cringe. Not only do you blatantly break all anatomical rules, but you do it so terribly that I believe you didn't even know that rules in the first place! I mean, panel to panel your figures fall apart even under the mildest of scrutiny. Your shoulders don't work, your biceps are not realistic, your legs and feet are poorly drawn. I understand artistic and stylistic license but you have to have a good foundation BEFORE you should start experimenting with a "style". It's pretty typical for people who are just starting out, but in your case I think you try to cover up your shortcomings as an artist by putting a so-called style on top of weak drawings. And yes...they are WEAK drawings. Trust me.
Second, your panel-to-panel work are in dire need of serious help. I know that there are many, many books out there that act as a beginner's guide on how to tell a good, well paced story. I suggest you invest some money into any or all of them. I think you can start with "How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way". That's only fitting considering you actually work for them.
My main problem with your storytelling is that fact that you don't bring anything dynamic to the table. Your job as the artist of a book to draw the reader in by giving them something cool to look at. Something they've never seen before. I don't think you're capable of this because 4 issues have come out so far and there's no evidence saying otherwise! Your panels are plain and uninteresting and completely unworthy of the book that is "Iron Man". I know that this is just a mini-series and I thank god. If this was the monthly I know that wouldn't be the only person I know of that would drop this title instantly. Like your anatomy, your storytelling needs help. Or is it BECAUSE of your anatomy that your storytelling needs help? I just thought of that. Hmmm.... Anyways, I suggest that you start looking into establishing a good foundation before you try any of the shots that you've "drawn" so far. Try watching good action cinematic movies like "The Matrix" or "Lord of the Rings". Also, I don't understand why you put those obnoxious thick panel borders? They're not very good comics, man. It's never been done that way for years and there's a reason why. They don't work! They're distracting as hell and you've got enough working against you in your work that you don't want another thing that makes you even weaker. Loose the thick panel borders.
I could go on because there are so many other things you can improve on before you could even considered "professional grade", but I think I've made my point loud and clear. I'm writing this to you because I'm as an artist I know that criticism will hopefully help you out. I'm going to end this critique on a positive note by saying that I think you've got something in your work that could be spectacular but it isn't there yet. Don't loose confidence though because I think you have some serious potential. I have to make myself believe that because someone actually let you draw a mainstream comicbook. But more than anything I hope that by reading this you'll be forced to evaluate your own work and it will make you better in the long run. And as artists that's all we can hope for is is to get better at our craft, right? Good luck and have fun!