Perpetuating the suck

(Original blog post July 21, 2011 – 512 views)

It’s been a while since my last blog post, and I got a rant! This is something that, as an artist, I get really irritated over on a number of different levels, and I’ve been wanting to bring it up. The time is now!

Here we have some bad art instruction.

For years now, ever since anime hit it big in the U.S. — like the late ’90s-early 2000s, when it really started to air regularly on American television — I’ve been seeing English-language “how to draw manga” books all over. There are good ones, there are decent ones.

And then there are these:

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It…I…it…really?

This is a sad imitation of manga/anime art. To the casual observer, sure, it’s got a similar style, but it’s not right. It’s not even appealing to look at! Who would look at this and say, “YEAH, I gotta learn to draw THIS!”??

Lemme back up. I’m actually a big fan of anime and manga. Have been since the early ’90s. When the American anime licensing industry was in its infancy, I was there. Companies like AnimEigo, U.S. Renditions, and U.S. Manga Corps were releasing 30-minute subtitled VHS tapes of anime OAVs for about 30-40 bucks a pop, and my friends and I were buying them. And if a U.S. video company hadn’t yet licensed a show we wanted to see, we ordered Japanese laserdiscs from dodgy mail-order shops on the west coast, bought cheap bootlegged fan-subtitled tapes from dealers at comic and sci-fi conventions, or found tape traders who had blurry 10th-generation copies of a few episodes taped off Japanese TV, and we watched them in straight, untranslated Japanese over and over and over, late into the night. I’ve built my share of plastic GundamĀ  model kits, too.

So naturally, anime and manga have had an influence on my art, just like classic cartoons, comics, and other artists have. Although you may not see it immediately, I actually borrow quite liberally from anime and manga (yes, even hentai and doujinshi) when I’m coming up with ideas for poses and situations in my pinup girl art. Of course, in my more zealous anime fanboy days, I attempted to draw a few anime and manga characters, and I thought I did fairly well at it; however, you could always tell that it wasn’t drawn by a Japanese artist who was immersed in manga techniques. I tried to view my art objectively and it always had some sort of details or nuances that gave it away. I just couldn’t nail the style perfectly. It’s not easy.

My concern is that these books are teaching something the wrong way. I don’t see a lot of other types of instructional art books authored by artists who aren’t good at what they’re trying to teach. There aren’t books on anatomy that have the muscles placed in the wrong positions. There aren’t books telling you to thin your watercolors with turpentine. But there are lots of books showing how to draw hideous versions of comics, cartoons, and manga.

I guess it gets under my skin for two reasons: One, because a type of art that I appreciate is being misrepresented. And two, if you suck at it, you have no business teaching others how to do it, thereby perpetuating the suck. Now we’re gonna have kids drawing ugly skinny characters with big eyes and pointy chins and calling it “manga.”

For the love of Shenlong, if you’re gonna try to learn to draw manga, at least refer to the How to Draw Manga series from Graphic-Sha. It’s available in English, but it’s authored by Japanese manga artists and they’re the real deal. Just compare the above image to this one:

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Furthermore, study the work of an accomplished manga artist and designer. Since the examples I’ve been using have featured girls in battle armor, I’ll illustrate this point with the work of Masamune Shirow:

manga_shirow

Even a non-fan can see the difference. There’s an authenticity missing from the top image that makes me wonder who would want to take any advice that book has to offer.

The same goes for any comic or cartooning instruction. Go straight to the sources, like the classic How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by John Buscema and Stan Lee, and Preston Blair’s Animation. Learn from those who originated it, not those who imitate it.

Cutening up an icon

(Original blog post March 1, 2011 – 854 views)

One of my clients came in the other day and wanted a tattoo of the classic “Gee I wish I were a man — I’d join the Navy” girl from the old WWI recruiting poster. She wanted the girl a little more pinup-y, though, while still retaining the Navy imagery, which was important to her, as well as that early 20th century feel.

So with all due respect to the illustrator Howard Chandler Christy and his iconic image created in 1917, we decided to cuten her up a little bit. Can you note all the changes I made to the artwork?

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Making her bustier and nipping in her waist was an obvious first step. My client also wanted a little more noticeably curly hair. I enlarged her eyes and gave her some eyelash shape, redid her nose to give it a little upward tip, and gave her a bigger, more glamourous smile. All classic tricks learned from studying Gil Elvgren.

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Pretty happy with the results. As a tattoo artist, it’s important to be versatile. Although I like to draw my cartoony girls, I also love the challenge of working outside my favored style, and it’s rewarding when it works out.

Debris 02.24.11

(Original blog post Feb 24, 2011 – 866 views)

At Mother’s restaurant in New Orleans, they have what they call “debris,” which is the bits of beef that fall off into the gravy as it roasts. They save all this debris and use it as a menu item, which you can get with grits, or slathered on your Ferdi Special po’ boy, or whatever. So, inspired by food as I often tend to be, all the random stuff I wanna talk about is getting slopped together into one post. Here, then, is Krushervision’s debris for this week.

Hope you’re liking the new website! I’ve had a pretty good response to it so far. Enjoying blogging and making more cartoons.

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I’m happy that it seems to work well on mobile devices.

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Got a few projects in the works for some heavy-hitters of burlesque. Really enthused about who I’ve been working with lately. I try not to talk too much about anything before it’s done, though.

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What in the blue hell am I doing now? One of my clients sure likes to keep me on my toes.

Speaking of burlesque, I booked our room for the Burlesque Hall of Fame weekend in Vegas this June. Always excited to go and see friends, meet new ones, and see tons of great burly-q. Expecting to be vending art prints and stuff again this year, so stop by the Krushervision booth and say hello!

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Just finishing up the last LP of West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology. I got the vinyl box set version about a month ago, and it’s taken me this long to work my way through it. It’s fantastic. It goes all the way back to before he made a name for himself, and the first three sides are singles from the likes of Little Richard, The Isley Brothers, and a few other artists, when Jimi was just a guitar sideman. But you can totally hear in his playing that he’s dying to cut loose and let ’em have it. The rest of the set spans his entire career, with lots of outtakes and alternate versions and stuff I’ve never heard. It’s mind-boggling how much he recorded in his short career, that they’re still putting out unreleased stuff 40 years after his death.

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The vinyl package itself is beautifullly presented, with 8 albums in individual picture sleeves, as well as a full-color book with extensive liner notes on each track, all housed in a lidded box, similar to the Jimi Hendrix Experience box released in 2000, which I also have. The only disappointment is that the vinyl edition doesn’t have the “Voodoo Child” documentary on DVD, narrated by Bootsy Collins as the voice of Jimi, which the CD version includes.

Anyway, after I splurged on that set, I promised I wouldn’t go to a record store for another month. Got four more days on that.

How about your music? Are you a downloader? Still buy CDs? Or do you have a vinyl fetish too?

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Also recently finished playing through Bayonetta on the 360. I’m a couple years late getting to that particular party, but I don’t have the time to keep up with new games as much as I would like. Loved the game, though.

Completely over-the-top action, sets, bosses, story, ending — everything about it is absolutely ridiculous. And fine quality, as you would expect from Platinum Games, the studio that used to be Clover. I’ll buy just about anything of theirs.

The main character design doesn’t hurt either.

A final note — it’s that time of year when weekends are starting to book up solid in advance at Oshkosh Tattoo, so if you’re looking to get tattooed, make sure you call ahead (920-230-6611) and secure yourself a spot!