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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 33: Moon Knight #30

Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. First up: Bill Sienkiewicz! Today’s page is from Moon Knight #30, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated April 1983. Enjoy!

Is that a perm?

This is the final Moon Knight issue that Sienkiewicz drew, and you can see the difference between this one and the one from yesterday. It’s still a splash page, but this time it leads directly into the story, as Jack Russell, the werewolf, is about to attack Moon Knight, with whom he was supposed to be allied. The big difference is in style, of course. First of all, Sienkiewicz is now inking himself, and it makes a huge difference. Three years earlier, Frank Springer’s inks did very little to Sienkiewicz’s pencil work (not that his pencil work was all that revolutionary) – the lines were fairly traditional, and the only slightly avant-garde part of the panel – Moon Knight’s pants – appear to have been penciled or colored that way and don’t reflect Springer’s influence (I could certainly be wrong about that, but I’m just going by what the rest of the page looks like). Here, Sienkiewicz’s inks are thicker, angrier, more frenetic – as befits the subject matter, of course, but also in keeping with his more radical style. Russell looks like a true animal, and part of this is due to the rougher inks. Meanwhile, the composition of the page is interesting – Russell is not centered, and his position is slightly disorienting, especially when we consider that the eyes, as small as they are, dominate the page. Of course the bushy eyebrows point us down to the snout and the paw with its claws (one of which is subtly pointing to the next page), and while Russell’s “slavering” is abstract, Sienkiewicz at this point is confident enough to suggest drool without being too obvious about it. The fact that he leaves the bottom of the page white is disconcerting, too – Russell looks even more eerie because of the suggestion that he is, in fact, bodiless.

As usual, Doug Moench writes the purplest of prose, but he also keeps it out of Sienkiewicz’s way. He actually gives us quite a lot of information – Russell has turned into a werewolf, he’s inside Moon Knight’s home, his brain gets a bit fuzzy when he changes, which helps explain his far more animalistic nature. Moench may be verbose, but he makes sure we know what’s going on before we turn the page.

Sienkiewicz went on to New Mutants after this. As we can see, he had figured out quite a bit about drawing. But his experimentation was just getting started!

Next: Daredevil! And you know, there are also … archives!

I also forgot to mention yesterday – I’ve already done the second artist for this month, but if you have any you want to see, let me know. I’ve already gotten votes for John Romita, Jr. and Stuart Immonen, two good choices. It’s all contingent on whether I actually own seven comics by that particular artist, but if you want to see any, I’ll give you a couple of days to chime in (I want to stay about two weeks ahead of this, so I’ll probably do a bunch of these this weekend). Don’t be shy!

7 Comments

I would love to see a week devoted to Gene Colan.

I think Jim Lee would be an interesting choice, because he’s so frequently accused of having bad storytelling skills. I think it would be worth looking at his earlier stuff on Uncanny and Punisher to see what he was like before he became a splash page machine.

I would also love to see Chris Bachalo, whose art has changed sooo much over his career, between Vertigo, to Generation X, to Uncanny, to the Ultimate stuff.

Lastly, I think the New 52 has officially launched Francis Manapul and Yannick Paquette into the conversation of “who is the greatest comic artist right now?” Given that, I’d like to see their artistic progressions.

Erich: One of my problems is that I don’t own a ton of older comics, so I’m not even sure if I have seven examples of Colan’s art, as much as I love it. That would be neat, though – I’ll have to dig through the long boxes to see what I have!

Third Man: Lee would be fascinating, because I’m convinced he’s far better when he’s not inked by Scott Williams! Bachalo’s style has changed so much that he would be another pretty cool artist to spotlight. As for Manapul and Paquette … I’m positive I don’t have enough of their art, although Manapul, at least, has changed quite a lot.

I’d be interested in seeing a progression of Frank Miller or Klaus Janson’s work. Like Sienkiewicz, they started off with fairly neutral styles, then began experimenting and came into their own.

I hope Marvel continues reprinting the Moench/Sienkiewicz Moon Knight issues. Though I believe the next article will be Elektra Assassin, I hope It’s Big Numbers instead.

I bought a few Moon Knight back ishs off ebay – a few from the early ‘Adams clone’ era; one during the Mardi Gras storyline; the classic ‘Hit It’ issue where Bill really goes to town… good stuff. I still haven’t read any New Mutants, must do so!

I’d ‘give’ you some Colan images, Greg, but I haven’t got a scanner.

Stray Toasters!

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