John Buscema Sketchbook by J. David Spurlock and John Buscema (book review)

April 1, 2018 | By | Reply More

I pulled the ‘John Buscema Sketchbook’ mostly because I was curious to see his pencil work and, literally, what he sketched and came up with some surprises as little was shown of his more, shall we say, recognised work.

The Steranko introduction gives Buscema’s history going from comicbook art to commercial illustration when comicbooks dropped off in the 1950s and back again in the mid-60s. Steranko points out at this point Buscema hadn’t quite got the handle on the more Kirbisque storytelling technique until Stan Lee sent him home with some comicbooks to look at. The rest then became history. I have to confess to not seeing the pre-Kirby technique but well remember his stint on ‘The Avengers’.

What follows is a look at his sketches interspersed with an interview with Buscema conducted by David Spurlock. This looks over his life with some quite telling moments, more so in his commercial field. There is an obvious love for Conan for which there is a considerable section of art. Looking at these and some of the other sketches, it becomes apparent that the way Buscema manipulated the brows of many of his male characters, that he uses them to display emotion. The only super-hero acknowledgment are some small sketches of the Silver Surfer. Buscema points out he designed Mephisto and I wish there had been a sketch here. Roy Thomas, later in the book, points out Buscema also designed the Vision, Red Wolf, Tiger Shark and Arkon but made nothing of it.

The main insight from Buscema and something worth reminding is that comicbook artists have to have a love of motion to achieve what they do. When you see his cowboys and horses here doing just that, even in simple line-work you can see exactly why he has that point. If you learn nothing else from this book, then it’s a lesson worth learning.

GF Willmetts

March 2018

(pub: Vanguard Productions, 2001. 112 page illustrated softcover. Price: I pulled my copy for about £10.00 (UK). ISBN: 1-887591-19-2)

check out website: www.vanguardproductions.net/

Category: Books, Illustration

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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