I’ve discovered that I really like ugly art.
OK, that sounds weird. And mean. I should clarify;
I really enjoy seeing art in my comics that’s a drastic deviation from visual norms regarding “clean” lines, light sources helping to create a 3D look, stuff like that. Stark and shocking black-and-whites, scratchy lines and features that border on the ridiculous, but at the same time still convey ideal graphic storytelling.
I know that doesn’t make too much sense, but you can probably boil it down to a much simpler explanation;
As time goes on, I’ve become a fan of art styles that are not conventionally “good” cartooning art, art that looks sloppy.
Lemire’s work appears really woefully ugly at first, almost amateurish, especially his early stuff. But there’s a stark beauty to it. Solid blacks for absolute darks and contrasting shadows come into play a lot, something that other artists I love like Chris Samnee do, taking full advantage of casting like sources off-panel. It gives stuff being done with pen and ink a layered depth that’s hard to do.
When he letters his own work it’s also amazing, each letter helping me as a reader a unique voice to follow along in my own head (we’ll get more into lettering in a bit).
Thompson’s Cul De Sac, which at first glance looks like its’ been drawn by the very children its about, is absolutely freaking wonderful. The hand-done and almost purposely sloppy cross-hatching that somehow still manages to convey the texture effect, half-finished lines, crossing lines, the scribbles…oh man, I love it all.
And the hand-drawn lettering and word balloons (something I absolutely adore), they’re so rad. It looks like it’s written by a drunken serial killer sometimes, but it’s never sinister or illegible or anything like that, fitting into the rough sketch look of the art overall.
Both of these cartoonists manage to have that “it” factor, a spark that makes this sort of comic-making just shine, even when you think it wouldn’t. It’s not slick, touched up with a computer much (if at all), and if you didn’t know any better it’d look like thumbnails or concept art or just a rough idea, not THE FINISHED ART.
But it is, and it’s amazing. Seriously, throw away all that Jim Lee art, this is where it’s at.