Saturday, 22 January 2011
Despite admiring the visual storytelling, I always found Dave Sim's Cerebus pretty impenetrable and could never really get into it. However, after sampling a copy before buying the run off of eBay, I have to admit enjoying his current Glamourpuss series.
Using the football adage, Glamourpuss is a game of two halves. For me, the first half is inconsistent but occasionally interesting. This would be the fashion magazine parody material, a one-time limited joke spread thin over each issue. Using fashion magazine adverts and articles as a source, Sim peppers each issue with numerous splashes lifted from the mags but adding his own subversive text. Sometimes, the sarcastic humour hits the mark and is amusing but never hilarious, but mostly the text is just something to wade through before getting on to the real meat of the series' subject matter.
Despite the format, Glamourpuss is not a comic but an illustrated treatise on comic art, particularly the photorealist school founded by Flash Gordon creator Alex Raymond and continued by Al Williamson, a hero and huge influence on Sim. In fact, there's very little drawing in Glamourpuss as the fashion drawings are not actualy redrawn but lightboxed directly. This is fine, as Sim is not presenting these as original drawings and even shows his methods on Youtube. Sim chose fashion mags as he just wants to draw attractive women (though for my money, fashion models are usually sickly thin) and is using them while focussing on his real interest: inking techniques.
He is attempting to capture as much of the essence of Williamsn's inking in these recreations and he also lightboxes original art from numerous sources but primarily Alex Raymond, specifically his Rip Kirby strip. In doing so, he is trying to ape the inking methods these classic artists used in an attempt to deconstruct and learn the process for himself.
As someone who has been delving into the work of Raymond, Foster, Williamson, Wood, Caniff (who's stuff I couldn't take to) and other classic artists for the last few years, this side of Glamourpuss is of great interest as it is an education in comic history as well as a primer in inking technique.
It won't be for everybody, but Glamourpuss holds more than enough fascination for me at the moment to add it to my regular buying list...