I wanted to blog about Geof Darrow‘s painstaking headfuck artwork for a minute, but while these entries are some freeform paragraph placement, I like to have a reason for their being, and the news that his ‘Shaolin Cowboy’ comic book is set to become an animated feature is reason enough to showcase some of his work. That, plus every other blogger seems to be getting all arty on us in a blank-eyed way that seems to lack foundation. I know little of art…but I know why I like it. In the case of Geof’s illustration…well, it doesn’t need explanation. Look at it.
Apparently the mooted movie adaptation won’t be computer animated and it’ll be replicating the artwork. Expect delays. ‘Shaolin Cowboy’ is good – personally, bar the high tension and sapphic antics of ‘Bound,’ I’m not a Wachowski Brothers fan, but the artwork in the comic? Oooof. There was a year between issues six and seven. A whole year. It’s understandable, but it doesn’t make fandom much easier. Can you imagine how long it would take to create a full-length film out of it without software shortcuts?
Geof inadvertently helped wean me off a comic book addiction as a kid with that work rate. I loved ‘Hard Boiled’ on grabbing the first issue in Winter 1990. The plot was perfunctory – some everyman who was actually a cyborg killer. When Frank Miller’s good, he’s very good…when he’s not, you get ‘Robocop 2.’ In a bigger than usual comic size, I was assailed by double-page spreads of bloodshed, car crashes, orgies and spent ammo. It was a hyper-kinetic, gore-soaked ‘Where’s Wally’ (or ‘Where’s Waldo’ to my US brethren).
At that point, comics were on the wane with a reliance on quadruple covers and gold prints with high price tags from the off; a synthesised collector market that was doomed from the off – I blame Todd McFarlane’s ‘Spider-Man’ issue one, highly detailed, but sloppy next to Darrow’s work. It took two more years for ‘Hard Boiled’s three issue run to come to an end, and the speculator boom was out of control by that point. Having to wait over twelve months for one of the few books I was still interested in just fuelled the disinterest. Thanks Mr. Darrow, for saving me plenty of paper-round money.
Bernie Wrightson’s gothic creations are untouchable, but the forefather of Geof Darrow’s style, is the original stylemaster – Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud. The ultra-precise dusted draftsman of the indstry. You know all about him though, so there’s no point preaching to the converted. The work with Jodorowsky, concept art for ‘Alien,’ ‘The Abyss’ and more, hanging with fellow genius Hayao Miyazaki, the ‘Blueberry’ comics, the erotica and all the rest…that can’t be summed up right here so there’s no point trying. Another prompt for this blog was the sad passing of Dan O’Bannon a fortnight ago. Dan directed ‘Return Of The Living Dead,’ wrote ‘Alien’ and a lot of ‘Heavy Metal’ (bringing Moebius and Wrightson creations to life, and as I’ve currently got, well, a jones for the ‘Basketball Jones’ short, designed by Paul Gruwell who worked on ‘Heavy Metal’s animation) among other things.
One of those other things was writing comics with Moebius on the art tip like ‘The Long Tomorrow’ – a key inspiration in ‘Blade Runner’s cityscape. ‘Architect’s Journal’ recently namechecked it as the fifth greatest comic book city. George Costanza would be very impressed. That line work is impeccable – so precise in fact it’s almost inhuman. Someone should’ve wheeled out the Voight-Kampff machine.
Given the option to work on Ridley Scott’s future noir, Moebius passed in favour of work on the 1982 animated film ‘Les Maîtres Du Temps’ aka. ‘Time Masters’ – a nice translation of his aesthetic, implementing Rotoscope that I hope Darrow can match when ‘Shalin Cowboy’ finally appears. It’s a shame that all that exists of the Jodorowsky and Moebius adaptation of their ‘INCAL’ comic is a VHS-quality trailer constructed to attract investors, or that equivalent footage of a an early ’80s ‘Arzach’ movie that’s apparently the ‘Internal Transfer’ project remains unfinished too. Moebius actually directed some ‘Arzak’ cartoons in 2004. Avoid them – the terrible computer animation is an embarrassment.
Jean Giraud met with Geof Darrow during the making of ‘Tron’ (Darrow was working in animation departments at the time) and became a collaborator – helping on the above ‘Internal Transfer’ footage, with Peter Chung who created ‘Aeon Flux’s fusion of Moebius and anime. It’s also worth tracking down a good copy (scans can never do it justice) of the ‘La Cité Feu’ (‘City Of Fire’) portfolio. On a loose ‘Tron’ topic, and looking at the next generation of artists and designers with extreme levels of detail, James White’s lurid unofficial ‘Tron Legacy’ poster caught my attention, but there’s some kings of the more traditional pen and pencil who are bringing the detail at the moment.
Scott Teplin‘s graphite illustrations of car crashes and ‘Alphabet City’ project is strong, the frighteningly talented Alex Maleev, whose ‘Daredevil’ work is unsurpassed, Frank Quitely occasionally holds Kryptonite at notions of anatomical realism but impresses, Juan Jose Ryp keeps the tradition of intricate carnage alive, Jacen Burrows making the horror of ‘Crossed’ resonate a little harder, Ulises Farinas is extremely versatile, I’m always looking to mention Tomer Hanuka, one of my favourite artists, and honestly; who’s fucking with Rafael Grampá at this moment in time?
It’s all in the details.
Juan Jose Ryp