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January 10
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This is a copy and paste from my facebook page, but I felt it was really important to say something, and equally valid here:


'I HATE that trashy Image style. Hiding bad drawing with flashy technique….'

Oh boy. I'm so tired of hearing this.

The internet nearly broke yesterday with a battle (on FaceBook) around good drawing, bad drawing, technique, bad manners, being able to take criticism or not, and whether a certain artist did or didn't deserve his success, and why we hate him, or not. It was epic.

I'm not going to go into the details. It got out of hand. My toes curled when I read all the comments. My heart sank. The entire original point of the thread was buried under a mound of vitriol which, justified or not, made me a little ashamed of my industry.

Comics are not all about good drawing. I've seen plenty of Jack Kirby anatomy that aligns to reality only in the most rudimentary sense, but we all know he was great.

The so-called Image style actually evolved at Marvel - and if you were around at the time you would have seen that all the guys progressing that style produced books that were the most interesting, dynamic and well-drawn (not that that matters) of the mainstream.

The guys that sparked this artistic revolution were brilliant stylists. Arthur Adams was one of the first to utilize hatching in such a bold way, playing with the way figures were drawn, and how best to show powers graphically. He inspired a legion of artists to try and do what he was doing (I remember J. Scott Campbell very humbly saying in an interview once "I'm not a Jim Lee clone! I'm an Art Adams clone!"

But it wasn't just Arthur, it was Barry Windsor-Smith, with his amazing detailed and symbolic work on stories like 'Red Nails' that informed this new approach. We had grown up being blown away by that work and wanted to try it. It was also the pioneering work done by Scott Williams on the inks, who himself inspired a generation of inkers. And there had also been inspiration in the tight, increasingly stylized work of John Byrne and Terry Austin (who's Starlord story with Chris Claremont remains a high water mark in my collection.)

Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri were the two guys that really inspired me the most during the time I was working on Marvel UK's Death's Head II. Paul Neary, the editor in chief, had introduced me to their work and wanted our Marvel UK work to share the house technique, and these guys blew my mind. Their XMen work, before the shiny paper and Image days, even before Photoshop coloring, was just stunning. It possessed great energy, bold layouts and a real underlying ability that I found utterly irresistible. But even the work of the much-vilified Rob Liefield oozed charisma and vigor. He dared to put the impetus of the story before continuity, and anything else. I could see the appeal, and put it in a similar category to Todd McFarlane's work of that time - who's Hulk run inked by Bob Wiacek I absolutely adored.

(As an aside - regarding continuity, Simon Bisley made a virtue of not giving a damn about that in his seminal ABC Warriors work, and we all applauded him for it. Rules are made for breaking!)

The so-called 'Image style' revitalized the mainstream. It brought me back to US superhero comics, which I had given up on to a very large extent. It inspired me. It excited me. It was bloody good stuff!!!  Out of this style came me, Travis Charest, the late Michael Turner, Finch, Capullo, and many others who went on to great things.

When the books went glossy, and the color got shiny and lens-flare-happy it was, to be fair, a step away from the genuine class that preceded. But these were changing times, and there are always birthing pains. At times it did seem that the stylistic excesses overwhelmed the drawing - but make no mistake: it is NOT easy to do! And when a style so dominates where else do you go? If not MORE, then what?

Too often this amazing time is painted as vulgar and over-blown. The artistry is dismissed, the creators seen as second-rate and sometimes deserving of mass ridicule. I think it can get incredibly personal in ways it never could, nor ever should, in the past. Once the worst we got was a stinging letter in a letter column - and that could cause mass alcohol consumption and self doubt for a stretch of time all by itself!

Comics CAN be great art by incredible artists - the world's best in my opinion. But they can also just be bubblegum entertainment for people who just want to escape the world for half an hour and be transported somewhere magical. To judge all comics with the same expectation is futile and pointless. To mock or bully people who's art you have personally decided is sub par seems mean-spirited. That they may not be paragons of virtue themselves does not negate our own behavior.

We should be better than that. We should be an example.

That's just what I think. You may, of course, beg to differ.
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:iconkittyscene:
KittyScene Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2014  Hobbyist Filmographer
y do pe0ple h8 my ff
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:icontonydennison:
TonyDennison Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014
I'm inclined to agree with the spirit of your statements, Liam. I personally choose to be polite and respectful in all my online exchanges, I find that it's become far too easy and acceptable to spew hostility and condemnations at other people for even the most harmless slight or disagreement-- especially online.

Millions hide behind anonymous online identities and attack others from a place of safety; never having to worry about becoming the target of a similar attack. I find it cowardly and immature.

As it relates to comics consumers, there is a lot of narrow-mindedness and cruelty in comics fandom. I personally don't care to engage in much of the debate about "who is a better artist than whom," or "who is more deserving of the prestige they've achieved" and so forth.

But I think that if an individual creator is willing to accept the praise and adulation from fans, they must also be prepared to accept the hostility and condemnation from fans. They are both facets of the same dynamic, which is in essence, people evaluating work based on their own tastes and experiences; it's entirely subjective. 

I'm not at all comfortable with the idea that we should only express thoughts and opinions that serve the ego of the creator and withhold those thoughts and ideas that do not. That seems inherently subservient-- why should anyones values and opinions be filtered to serve the emotional welfare of comics creators? 

I've personally had my work subjected to the harshest critiques and I yet I must accept those criticisms, whether qualified or otherwise, if I choose to place my work in the public eye. While I would much prefer that all feedback was constructive, curiously, I'm less preoccupied with constructive feedback when presented with lavish praise. *lol*

So while I've stewed and bristled over attacks on my art by anonymous viewers of my work-- I invited this behavior simply by sharing the work. I "deserve" the harsh critiques as much as I "deserve" the praise. But to be honest, these days my work is met with such indifference that I'd almost welcome a good healthy reaming. *lol*

As it relates to artists and writers protecting their feelings, I've seen some creators build curated message boards where their hand-picked moderators ban or censor anything that may potentially upset the aforementioned creator. While I don't begrudge anyone their choices, I find that to exist in a bubble of this nature distances us from reality and professional growth.
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:iconliamsharp:
LiamSharp Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Professional Artist
Extremely well put, and I have to agree. But what I'm talking about was not critique or deconstruction or even subjective dislike. It was venom and vitriol. It was bullying. It was mean. 

I never expect anybody to like my work. I've ALWAYS split opinion. (Like most artists, I generally dislike my own work so I'm on the side of the critics!) But haters? I have no time for that.

Cheers for the excellent response. Appreciated!
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:icongoastantie:
Goastantie Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014
Well said, you are a wise one
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:iconangelcakefox:
AngelcakeFox Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2014
I'm VERY glad you said this, Liam. I grew up reading comics in the early 90s, and I still have alot of affinity for those old comics. People often forget how much those comics were a product of their time, and how the whole Gen X scene influenced everything from the storytelling of those comics to the very artwork itself. I still love Jim Lee (and his staying power has only been proven in the successive years since '92).

And yes, I even love Rob Liefeld's old work, with all of its warts and flaws. Yes, he made some pretty dumb business decisions (he didn't have the business sense of McFarlane or Lee), and some of his past behavior could be considered petty....but I will forever defend Liefeld if only for one simple thing: His work, and the work of the Image guys in general, saved American comics from disappearing completely up its own asshole. It served as an effective counterweight to the artsy, cerebral comics like Sandman and The Invisibles (whose creator, Grant Morrison, is a fan of Liefeld's work). Their work - and Liefeld's in particular - served the tastes of children at the time and managed to keep comics fun.
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:iconkingoob:
KINGOOB Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2014
Well said sir!!
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:iconmojoliazon:
MojoLiazon Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2014  Professional General Artist
People need to remember that just like beauty, art is in the eye of the beholder, so all the haters and elitists being offensively opinionated and bigoted on Facebook should remember their own perceptions are not golden universal truth.

While not a comic book reader per se I certainly admired most of the art I saw in the comic strips and the odd comic book I've come across. While not all art styles inspire me to try to do something in that vein, I still appreciate different types.
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:iconpscientifik:
Pscientifik Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
sent you a note. Saw the journal. *Hands Liam the pimps golden glove* He gonna marcus fenix some ppl.
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:iconchrisnoeth:
ChrisNoeth Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
i became an artist myself because of all the Image creators. I started following them and their work a few years before image and i'm still speechless when thinking about the Image Revolution because when can you experience all your favorite artists banding together and start their own company!? 
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:iconpencilinpain:
PencilInPain Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
The goal of comics was very different back then and that's hard to understand these days. Today people take a lot of things for granted, but most pros understand we wouldn't be here in terms of production quality and creators rights if It wasn't for Image and everything that happened back in the 90's. Like they say, Jim Lee might not be your favorite artist, but there's a good chance It's your favorite artist's favorite artist.

I reread some early WildCats recently and I still marvel at how those guys were 8 or 10 years ahead of their time. I really wish there was a third alternative in superhero comics these days. Someone who does 21st century superheroes, rather than recycling 70yr old ones. Valiant is doing fine, but to me they lack the edge Wildstorm had at some point. I miss Wildstorm a lot.

Man, I could rant about this for hours. It drives me nuts.
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