I just stumbled across this review (or closer to a dissection) of my artwork on Freakagels by heysawbones, who had been randomely asked to give an opinion on it. It was a lovely read for two reasons: (1) It’s really rare to read any review that focusses on my art other than to praise or dismiss it in a few lines, and (2) it’s totally honest, not entirely positive in a constructive way, and completely accurate.
It also made me sit back and remember how bloody much there is of Freakangels, and how much I learnt about drawing during the time I was working on it. Having to put out 6 pages a week for 4 years will do that to you I suppose. That being said, I sometimes feel like the punishing schedule stopped me from stepping back and asking deeper questions about my art, or from pushing it to its limit on any given page, or from deliberately experimenting or practising outside the boundaries of working on Freakangels. In comparison the amount of freedom I’ve got working on lots of small things is a little overwhealming! I’ve been changing up my style so often I’m finding it hard to know where to settle.
Anonymous asked: Have you ever read the Freakangels webcomic? What do you ink of the art?
I had not! I was pleasantly surprised to find it was not a fancomic about Criss Angel. It is still a little more Criss Angel than I’d hoped.
THAT’S NOT WHAT YOU ASKED, THOUGH
I like the environments. Pages like this have a really atmospheric vibe. The lack of straight lines somehow makes it feel more real, not less.
The way people are drawn starts to change a lot in episode 6. At first I thought maybe the artist changed, but the anime long midface/excessively wide slit eye problems still pop up from place to place, and are especially obvious in profile shots, where the artist has a weaker grasp of proportion.
There’s a lot of good things going on, though - when the art isn’t screwy in some blatant way, it’s really nice. Panel composition is as dynamic as it needs to be - not too showy, not stiff. I don’t know that the color palette is great, but it definitely works, and the lighting is always very effective. The digital lettering is some of the better I’ve seen in webcomics - it’s easy to read and doesn’t distract.
To be totally fair, this is still early in the archives - let me skip forward for a more current assessment, because basing your opinion of a webcomic’s art heavily on the beginning of its archives is not so useful.
Episode 23. The anime influence gets more obvious instead of less - I don’t think it’s because anything is MORE anime than it was, but because those things that do not evince the influence, are less so than they were. It creates a contrast that is hard for me not to notice. On a page like this, I find myself wishing the bald person didn’t have hell of anime jaw, or the long nose, or the wide mouth. They don’t work well on a face like that. If your comic is all long-haired goth dudes and ladies with a lot of eyeliner, it works okay. When you bring the bald person in, it doesn’t work anymore. It isn’t believable - I think because the style fails to define their features enough to really come across as a face/head. Check this sweet ferris wheel, though.
Episode 39. The artist has some weird issues with body proportion from time to time, usually in the form of large heads. Sometimes people end up looking a little like lollipops. This is one of those pages. It’s also interesting that he’s done such a great job with detail and execution in so many realms, but still appears to have considerable difficulty with things like “how the mouth affects the position of the jaw”. There is, however, a satisfying run of faces that aren’t drawn with crazy widemouth, which is a strange sort of viscerally satisfying. It hints at greater things.
I’m in 2008. Jesus, there is a lot of comic, here. This is only book two. Let’s uh, skip to book three.
Episode 66. Bodies feel less like plush sacks. The palette, which was already okay, is even better now.
Episode 094. Real improvement in one of the bald characters. That’s a better ear. That’s a better face. That’s also a small cranium. Unfortunate.
Episode 112 marks the first time I’ve seen a face in the comic that has impressed me as much as the environments. That face in the bottom right panel is just - it’s great. It’s an individual’s face, not just a bunch of thoughtless face symbols collaged together. Other pages in this episode suggest there are still misunderstandings of how mouths work, or more accurately, how jaws do - but wow, there is a lot of improvement here. I like what I see a lot - makes me think of Joshua Middleton, particularly his work on NYX.
Episode 128. This is near the end of the comic. By this point, the art is solid - I think it’s still true that the character art is not as good as the environments, but it’s much, much better - little niggling style problems don’t stand out and whack me over the head now. One of the things I admire the most about the artist’s efforts is that instead of obliterating the influence of something he clearly appreciated (anime/manga), he took the long road and figured out a harmonious way to incorporate it. By the end, in some ways the character’s faces in particular are more anime than they are in the middle of the archive, but they work much better with the style than the faces from the middle of the archive did. If I was the artist, I’d be really proud of what I’d done - he started out okay, above average, and then got pretty damn good.
So, I guess the answer to your question is: “I think the art’s pretty good.”
A Collection of various covers that I’ve drawn for the physical editions of Warren Ellis’ Freakangels. Read all 864 pages for free online here! freakangels.com