Posts Tagged ‘Brendan McCarthy’

Brendan McCarthy colors


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

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I found this 1989 Judge Dredd collection in the cheapie bin. It contains two perfect examples of late ’80s hand-painted color by one of the masters, Brendan McCarthy. (Okay, get over the fact that it’s a Judge Dredd comic, I’m riffing on COLOR here.) There are four stories in this one. Two colored by McCarthy: one drawn and colored by McCarthy (with help from Tony Riot) and one drawn by the team of McCarthy, Riot, and Brett Ewins. The other stories are by Brian Bolland and Ian Gibson, and are not colored by McCarthy. To me, it’s funny how Bolland’s art has aged poorly next to McCarthy. It’s like technically sound black and white artwork versus technically sound loose, color driven artwork. McCarthy looks fresh 20 years on. Bolland looks archaic, byzantine in comparison. But, that’s me.

McCarthy is a peculiar artist. He’ll razzle-dazzle with “effects” and color and get way loose, and then pull it in, tighten up, and play styles off of each other. He can get too loose for my tastes, but then he’ll reel his lines in and take it to the hoop, scoring points for “realism”. It’s a nutty combo that was “out there” for comics fans 20 years ago. Funny how this approach seems just right for today.

From the first story, Judge Dredd having a spell (drawn and colored by McCarthy):

This is from the third story and looks tighter because Brett Ewins was involved. I think they would switch off on each page, the styles range wildly. I really dug this spread, and believe it’s Ewins’s pencils and layouts with McCarthy’s colors.

And I think this is all McCarthy, maybe Ewins layouts(?):

For me, McCarthy’s color signaled a break in the ’80s towards a wider range of feeling. His colors are “realistic” and modern in a painterly sense, but compared to most comics coloring, he was seen as “radical”. He was utilizing a new process that allowed him to use any and all colors he could imagine, not being limited to the FOUR color process. This was also before Photoshop, so he was attempting to “expand” the palette like few before him. He incorporated (relatively new) DayGlo colors and found ways of getting around the limitations of the wonky FULL color process. The other two stories in the book use a similar color range, but they don’t look half as good. McCarthy brought to the table a painterliness that didn’t rely on black containment lines for everything that was being delineated. Nothing really all that new, even in comics, but McCarthy’s work didn’t look like other “painted” comics. His work was never muddy, but “light” and “open”. A fresh look compared to the Frazetta-like browns and ochres that dominates the “Studio” group of painter-slash-cartoonists like Kaluta and Jones.

Anyways, that’s all I got. Can’t sleep, but too tired to flesh this out anymore. Later.

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Exhuming McCarthy


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

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Speaking of Brendan McCarthy, he’s got some original art up for sale right now on Artdroids, including a bunch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stuff. I assume Jacob Covey will be all over this.


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The McCarthy Paradox


Monday, January 21, 2008

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Readers of Comics Comics may know (but more likely don’t) that Frank and I share a fondness for the British cartoonist Brendan McCarthy. Frank reviewed his book, Swimini Purpose, in our first issue. I only knew a little bit about him, but Frank knew and knows a lot, and has shared much. Anyhow, I like McCarthy for some of the same reasons I like Steve Ditko — he combines a nuts-and-bolts drawing ability with a genuinely eccentric vision of human distortion and psychedelia. When he draws astral planes they seem solid, constructed and utterly believable. He doesn’t dabble in flat-planed, cartoony, Peter Max-ian psychedelia (a type I love) but instead sets out to make a “realistic” psych-world. Just like Ditko. That made him the perfect cover artist for Peter Milligan’s Shade the Changing Man and a wonderfully off-kilter realizer of mainstream visions. It also, like Ditko, left him without a good match for his abilities. One needs a special kind of writer (like Milligan or some of the 2000 A.D.) guys to capitalize on those kind of abilities: sci-fi, surreal, and a bit silly. Perfectly British. Like that other great stylist, Steranko, one gets the feeling from reading the occasional interview and his previous web site, that lately McCarthy believes his own hype a bit too much and, as of late is proudly (and depressingly) doing storyboards and the odd comic book cover, as well as a disappointing issue of SOLO. Without strong content the stuff kinda turns to mush (like the drawing above). Remember The Stone Roses second record? It’s like that. So much talent, but not entirely sure how to use it. Anyhow, he has started a blog, and it’s a good way to keep up with his evolving vision. I hope he’ll hunker down, tighten up, and make something worthy of his talents. Presumptuously enough, I have my fingers crossed. It’s a fan’s lament, and not really fair (because who I am to have unrealistic expectations?), but isn’t that what fans are for?

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