Friday, October 17, 2008

Classicos DC - The brave and the bold - part 3.5

Welcome back to another episode of my little introspectives about Jim Aparo's work on THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD.

Since volumes two and three of the spanish edition are misprinted we skip them and go right to volume number four which also represents a huge step in Jim Aparo's artistical evolution. Because the Jim Aparo in volume four is not the same as in the first volume. On one side it sucks that I don't get to see the slow change from Jim Aparo's beginnings on the title to the artist of these pages.

On the other hand the difference between the two art styles couldn't be more different and it's much more evident by skipping the two volumes. The Jim Aparo in the first volume has a much more filigrane style and is much more realistic. It could even be compared with the engravings of the old masters. The Jim Aparo of this volume on the other hand is the Jim Aparo that I have come to love with his signature, slick style.

Where comic books are concerned I have always prefered the less realistic style that takes influences from cartoons and manga. Because in a comic I really don't want realistic style. Apart from Alex Ross I don't want my comics to look like photo stills - because that's not what I go for. If I pay for it I don't want to see how the world looks but rather I want to see the world through the eyes of another person. And that is the strenght of comics for me.

Now you might say that there are tons of realistic artists out there like Neal Adams but that for me is not realistic but much more an idealised version of the world. Nobody's as ripped in real life as the protagonists of Neal Adams' comics. So for me that's more like the world is supposed to look - not like it actual looks. Because most people don't know what a realistic comic style is. Yes, comic masters like Neal Adams or Steve Rude have to know their anatomy. In fact I would say every comic artist should know anatomy. But it doesn't mean that Neal Adams or Steve Rude have to be the slaves of anatomy. They know it pretty well but they present a stylized version of it.

Another artist who also is often falsly called a realistic artist is Terry Moore. I guess that's mostly because his women look more like a real woman than most women in comics but that doesn't mean his art per se is realistic. I would rather say it looks outright cartoony. If you don't believe me just get yourself an issue of the STRANGER IN PARADISE issues he did over at the IMAGE imprint HOMAGE.

With the computer coloring on top it looks much more cartoony and in my opinion that's one of the reason he switched back to his own publishing company. Because it didn't look as realistic as in black and white anymore.

Now what all of this has to do with the fourth volume of Brave and Bold is that when I say that the art looks more cartoony I mean that it is slicker and Jim Aparo uses lesser lines. Which doesn't mean that the art is not as good as in the first volume - quite the opposite. The less lines you use the more difficult it is because they have to be more precise. If you use twenty lines one or two of them can be a little off or even wrong. If you only got three lines every one of them counts. That's something we learned when Bruce Timm's art style on BATMAN ADVENTURES got so popular and everyone TRIED to imitate it.

I say tried because the one thing that became clear very quickly was that while the style looked deceptively simple it wasn't that easy to copy. Which was the reason that so many would - be imitators failed. In this case less is more and I as an inker have always tried to do less lines. As an artist you're always searching for the one perfect line and I see some of that in Jim Aparo's art. And it's no wonder that his style changed over time as a certain style comes more from the experience and the choice of drawing materials. So as Jim got more experience he also got more confident about which lines to put in and which to leave out.

Because you have to keep in mind that comic artists at that time had to deliver on a monthly basis and I don't know the workload he had at that time. At that time artists were churning out two or three books a month and there are very few left like Sal Buscema who could still do it.

Like Steve Rude Bruce Timm is heavily influenced by Jack Kirby which for me was the reason to go back to the King's comics and come to appreciate it. And if you don't have that understanding where an artist comes from it's very difficult to produce something similar. There were dozen of cheap copies of Bruce Timm out there and only a few good ones like the french cartoon show about BOB MORANE

  • french intro music

  • I read a few BOB MORANE comics but it was so long ago that I didn't remember that much about it when I saw the cartoon so I don't know how close it was to the original source material. But the cartoon show was very good and I watched every episode I could. My brother might even have taped one or two episodes.

    I looked but there seem to be no DVDs on, sorry.

    Now coming back to Jim Aparo reading his comics in german was a full time job because EHAPA the german company that had the rights for DC comics in my youth was trying to publish as much as they could in as many collections as they could. Looking back I have to say they did a pretty decent job since I ( and my two brothers ) have kept all their comics in my collection. But it sure wasn't easy to follow Jim Aparo thruogh the various albums, comic books, pocket books and so on like BATMAN SONDERHEFT,BATMAN TASCHENBUCH, BATMAN EXTRA etc., etc. I wrote a bit about it in one of my COVERSTORY posts.

    So I already read some of the stories in this volume in the german version.

    But we will come to this in the next part as it's already pretty late. One thing I want to mention before closing is that there is one story that imvolves Sgt. Rock who also appeared in the first volume. In both stories they seem to know each other and I'm not sure if they had fought together in WW II. Because that is kind of strange and would make Batman very old. Or maybe that was supposed to be the Batman of Earth II. But what would he be doing in Brave and Bold ? It's just weird. Not as weird as one of the issues by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez in which Bruce Wayne undertakes a psychedelic hypnosis timetravel but weird.

    Like I said more detail about the single issues of the volume and funny 80s pseudo science in the next part.

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