Archive for the 'Sketchbooks' Category

Hignite strikes again: The Art of Jaime Hernandez

The intimacy of Todd Hignite’s In the Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists (Yale University Press, 2006) blew my mind when I first read it. Profiled within its pages are commentary by Hignite and accompanying passages from interviews with Ivan Brunetti, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Robert Crumb, Jaime Hernandez, Gary Panter, Seth, Art Spiegelman and Chris Ware.

To “hear” all of these artists’ voices between two covers was a revelation in comics form and function, with generous and glorious full colour reproduction of many samples of the artists’ work, as well as work that influenced them.

Hignite has more recently built upon his initial treatment of Jaime Hernandez in In the Studio, and has developed a full volume consecrated to Hernandez’ art. The Art of Jaime Hernandez: the Secrets of Life and Death (Abrams, 2011) is not only exquisite because of Hernandez’ contributions, but also because it is infused with Hignite’s poetic prose. Listen to this: can you hear the music?

Hernandez’s titles are always both iconic and insinuatingly evocative. “Wigwam Bam” is taken from a 1970s pop hit by the Sweet and provides a pop culture springboard that magically evokes a deeply personal flashback. The centrepiece is an entry in Maggie’s diary that Izzy reads while searching for her—to the young Maggie and her friend Letty, the song was a metaphor regarding cultural difference and identity, and in particular the mythic proportions that such childhood experiences take on later in life, themes that Maggie will continue to question throughout her stories. While abundantly engaging, as only the most complex art can be, Hernandez’s comics are also great entertainment. His formal virtuosity is in the service of characterization, altering one’s perception of the world while the full range of humanity dances on and below the surface of the page. Continue reading ‘Hignite strikes again: The Art of Jaime Hernandez’

Getting Sketchy with Gary Panter

Satiroplastic

The opening pages of Gary Panter’s Satiroplastic (Drawn & Quarterly, 2005) include sketches made while Panter was in Oaxaca, Mexico. In the introduction to the book Panter explains how the sketches are not chronologically ordered. Each time he did a drawing, he opened the book up haphazardly to a page and began drawing; further evidence of Panter’s random-abstract brilliance.

The sketches in Satiroplastic are in many ways more accessible than Panter’s most popularized classic comics, Jimbo in Purgatory and Jimbo’s Inferno. In fact, his loose line and highly impressionistic responses to his surroundings are an inspiration—they “give permission” to stop worrying and just draw. Compared with other cartoonist-artists who have published work from their sketchbooks (in no particular order, Adrian Tomine, Peter Kuper, Seth, R. Crumb, Chris Ware, Hernandez Brothers), Panter’s sketches are on the whole far less refined—in the best sense of the expression. But then, Panter is…different. And the raw reflections of Panter’s inner world are a welcome change from the more stiff and fastidious approaches of other artists. Continue reading ‘Getting Sketchy with Gary Panter’

Diario de Oaxaca by Peter Kuper

Now that I’ve signed up as a participant in the Sketchbook Project, I’ve managed to devise a clever distraction from actually sketching regularly, in the form of conducting “research” into the sketchbooks of other artists. It’s led to the realization that there is an important body of sketchbooks that have been reproduced and made commercially available by various publishers, documenting comic artists’ process in addition to finished works. Without exception, the most striking feature of all of these’ sketchbooks is the breadth of representation that these creators are capable of depicting; their artistry extends far beyond the medium of cartooning. Here is the first in a series of posts that I plan on writing on cartoonists’ published sketchbooks.

Diario de Oaxaca by Peter Kuper (PM Press, 2009)

Kuper’s “sketchbook journal of two years in Mexico” was an especially timely read for me, since when Kuper was in Oaxaca, teachers in the city were in the midst of an ongoing strike. Teachers in BC have spent the last eight months at the bargaining table, and they are engaged in a limited job action—with no signs of reaching an agreement any time soon. Though the BCTF’s circumstances are arguably very different, in these interesting times one cannot help to draw comparisons between the attitudes of Big Government worldwide and public servants’ demands for greater work equity. Continue reading ‘Diario de Oaxaca by Peter Kuper’


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