by Dan Nadel
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
It may seem as though we are hopelessly mired in old comics, but maybe that’s the mood we’re in right now. There’s plenty of interesting current work and I’m sure we’ll get to that soon. But, for now, take a look at this original art by Chic Stone and Bob Powell from Tales to Astonish 67. Like a lot of the work I’m most interested in now, the linework, pacing, and compositions are pretty generic, but on each page there are some indelible images. Check out the middle tier on this one. There’s real drama in that sequence, as hokey as it may seem. Or, how about the top right panel here? Note the wonderful scale shift (shades of Little Nemo) and the sense of suspended flight. And of course there’s also unintentional (?) camp here. So what makes these images so powerful? It’s these dramatic moments, stripped of all extraneous adornments, that make these kind of comics worth seeking out. I wrote a longer piece about a related topic in our debut issue. Anyway, as pen and ink drawings (as opposed to the color printed comic pages) these images remind me of the components of paintings by the likes of Christian Schumann, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Gary Panter all masters of placing mostly mute “characters” in what their mutual teacher, Lee Baxter Davis, calls “psychodramas”. Of course, these artists take it all much further with their use of paint, surfaces, etc., but in some ways the principle is the same: tension-filled narrative image making. Somehow, though, I think of Stone and Powell and their peers as accomplishing small miracles: enacting dramas in the unlikeliest of places and eliciting surprising reactions.