The Best Of Draw! Volume 1 (book review).

‘The Best Of Draw! Volume 1’ was its third printing back in 2008 and features work from the early two out of print issues of the regular magazine. I managed to pull Volume 3 but Volume 2 will be a bit tricky, more so as I discovered Dick Giordano’s work is included and books on his work are even harder to find.

Hopefully, by reviewing and you people with a yen for art buying, maybe they’ll think about reprinting. This volume reprints issues # 1-2 and they are impossible to get anyway so this is a good alternative.

As with the ‘Draw!’ magazines that I’ve been reviewing, you get lessons from the comic book professional artists on things you need to know or how they do it to develop your artistic talent and how to tell a story in pictures. I’ll pick out the highlights.

First off the bat here, literally, is Dave Gibbons showing how he composed the opening page for a black and white Batman story, mixing paper and digital to get the effects he needed. I’m not going to go into too much detail, as you need to read this book for yourself but I do like the way he does a layer in grey to ensure all the page is in that wash, and removes the parts he wanted to highlight in white.

A more efficient system than working the other way around and something I might even apply to a colour piece that I’m supposed to be working on but doing it in multiple layers. It would certainly sort out the distancing problem with blues and greens I need to resolve.

Brett Blevins demonstration of the difference between a life class illustration and the line simplification for a female figure for comic books does show some major differences. I think I would add is know which bones are closest to the skin so you curve your lines correctly applies to both.

Ricardo Villagran shows how he uses stipple effects with inking and how he adapts to the people he inks and how much detail he puts in when he pencils himself amongst other things. Even more remarkable is his creating line shading with a brush.

Not having seen the original two issues, I have no idea if they had colour inserts but they are used to their advantage here. Bret Blevins shows his watercolour work based on live models and, although he doesn’t say, the main lesson learnt is not to over colour. Apply the squint technique to remove secondary colours and you’ll get a stronger picture.

Remember my recent comment about Jerry Ordway scribbling his layouts? His piece here shows him doing this over 15 years ago as he finds his lines. All artists have different ways to do their work and what works for them, in a similar way as writers do. However, I would add don’t be afraid to experiment if it means you can learn and add to your techniques.

Penciller Phil Hester’s interview presses home the need to pay attention to what the professionals say what is wrong with your art and work to solve them as the best way to break into the industry. I might add to that, the similarity to improving your writing skills, that get one problem sorted means other ones rear their heads, so never think getting one sorted out won’t reveal others. You can’t just think you need to be very good but strive for perfection.

It’s a fair bet than issue # 2 starts off with the second part of the interview with Jerry Ordwell and a discussion on inking. Even back then, there was still problems with pen companies not making consistent pens, often getting worse. You would think they would bring professional pen-users, which is often comic book people, into their companies as advisors to ensure there is better quality control.

Steve Conley going over his background and his initial start with a Mac when it first came out at college is interesting. Looking at the time it took him later to create  a page makes me hope he learnt from short-cuts in the past 20 years.

Brett Blevins continues with his discussion on drawing the female form and love the page where he shows a lady drawing, giving it a second look and then correcting. The most important lesson is using body language to expression emotion. In comic books, this has a lot of bearing because the pictures need to express what is going on before the dialogue is added.

Finally, an interview with inker/penciller Klaus Janson covering how he got started and how he adjusts to the style of the artists he works over. Remembering him from his Daredevil days with Frank Miller, I did think him a heavy inker but the samples here shows he can vary that style.

As always, lessons to be learn here as with their magazine version. I do think more volumes should be released this way to ensure the other early issues out of print are still out there and easier to read than digital.

GF Willmetts

October 2021

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2008. 196 page illustrated softcover. Price: $24.95 (US). ISBN: 9678-1-893905-41-2. Direct from them, you can get it for £24.95 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=95_72&products_id=266


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 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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