As I’ve continued rediscovery of my art, it’s given me time to reflect on the ones who inspired me growing up and who continue inspiring me. One of the major influences is the comic book/manga medium. I grew up on comics, though I read almost exclusively manga these days, and at one point wanted to get a degree in Sequential Art from SCAD. I was accepted, but ended up pursuing a career in English instead: it was really a different world for artists in the 90s.
Todd McFarlane and Kelley Jones: Grim Dark
Comic book purists like to slam McFarlane and Jones for their over-the-top drawings, yet I found their work — particularly McFarland’s supernatural beings like Spawn and Ghost Rider — inspirational. I grew up with comic books, and thankfully my mom and dad were and still are big supporters of their daughters enjoying such activities. Even when times we tough, our dad found a way to give us comic books. If you want to get an idea about Spawn, check out the 90s animated TV show (warning: it doesn’t play around!).
For awhile, Jones’ gothic style was everywhere on variant after variant. It flooded the market, sadly, but I’ve never seen anything quite like it. He worked mostly on Batman under DC comics, but also on Sandman for Vertigo comics. His style is like a gothic woodcut, and I so badly wanted to imitate it as a kid! He’s the reason I took up inking in the first place.
Junji Ito: Master of Weird Horror
One of my primary art crushes right now is on Junji Ito. All of his work is immeasurably detailed, and crafted with care in an amazing combination of realism and the strange. He finds ways to make the horror fit perfectly into the realistic world he creates, making the impact all the greater. His work is primarily inked drawings, and each done by hand. The time and detail he puts into each frame is something I can only hope to one day match, or at least emulate.
FYI: I taught Uzumaki last spring got an English 1102 class and it was wonderful to see how well even non-horror fans connected with his work. Most of my students had never read a comic in their life, let alone manga, so it opened a new world of appreciation for art. Here’s hoping someone there found Ito like I found Jones and McFarland so many years ago.
Do we share any of these art influences? How does the art you experience impact your style?