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Year of the Artist, Day 17: Seth Fisher, Part 2 – Green Lantern: Willworld

10-31-2013 02;21;08PM (2)

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Seth Fisher, and the issue is Green Lantern: Willworld, which was published by DC and is cover dated 2001. Enjoy!

I’ve featured some of Fisher’s artwork on Green Lantern: Willworld before, but let’s check some more of it out, shall we? This was the first time Fisher got to draw some superheroes, although it’s a J. M. DeMatteis joint, so of course it’s a bit odder than usual. Someone at DC realized that letting Fisher draw a superhero whose power is limited only by his/her imagination might be a good thing, and so we got this magnificent epic.

10-31-2013 02;10;30PM

You really should hunt down Willworld and check it out for yourself, because there’s something amazing on pretty much every page. I want to focus on some of Fisher’s designs. Other artists have done Escher homages, and often they’re quite good, but Fisher does a fine job with his, too. Very often in Escher homages, each small vignette is meant to be viewed separately, so the artist doesn’t need to worry about linking them all. Fisher, however, wants us to follow along, so he sets up the page nicely so that our eye moves over it the way he wants. We begin, obviously, in the upper left, where we usually begin. The word balloon pushes us to the three characters (Hal Jordan, Mu-Fon – the dude with the beret – and Kelly – the six-armed lady) walking upward, and then the archway leads us to them moving from the right down to the left. The word balloons again move us downward to the walkway moving left to right, then upward until we reach the bottom right of the panel, where we finish. Note, too, Fisher’s details, as we saw yesterday. I don’t know how fast Fisher worked, but I wonder if he had carpal tunnel and bad vision by the time he finished a comic.

10-31-2013 02;12;27PM

Part of the book is about universes inside of universes, and Fisher hints at that on this page. On the previous page, Hal got sucked into a crystal ball, but Fisher implies that it might also be a fish bowl, as we see the broken grate in the foreground of Panel 1, which seems out of place in an actual ocean environment, no matter how alien it might be. To the right of the grate is a skull, which also looks artificial. Fisher also has fun with the ocean creatures, with the strange head inside the jellyfish sac and the spiked sea turtles. In the middle of the structure in Panel 2 we see the heads rising up, which will eventually overwhelm Hal. Fisher shows Hal holding his breath, too, which is unusual in a comic – usually people who go underwater don’t appear to be holding their breath, but Fisher shows it well. Throughout the book, Chris Chuckry’s colors are stunning, and we see that here, with the marvelous coloring of the animals contrasted with the blue of the ocean and the eerie luminescence of the odd structure. It’s pretty cool.

10-31-2013 02;15;10PM

Fisher had a great sense of humor, and when Kat’aa Peelar shoves the “holy head cheese” down Hal’s throat, we see how goofy he could be. Note how down-in-the-mouth Hal looks in Panel 1 when he’s kvetching about his ailments (DeMatteis often uses Yiddish slang in his work, so I think he’d call what Hal is doing “kvetching”). In Panel 2, the cheese causes his belly to bulge even before it gets anywhere near it and his bow tie to burst off. I love that his pupils are looking different ways in Panel 3 – that’s a strong hunk of cheese! Fisher, as usual, appears to be having a lot of fun drawing this stuff, and it shows.

10-31-2013 02;18;22PM

We get to see Fisher’s wonderful imagination on display here with the samurai eggs. Why not, right? Of course, he doesn’t skimp on anything – the machinery that Hal and his friends are strapped to is wonderfully detailed, and you have to love the expressions on the faces of the eggmen as Hal (literally) smashes them. Oh, poor eggmen! Note, too, the way Fisher incorporates the battery into the border layouts. That’s nicely done.

10-31-2013 02;21;08PM

Once again, I just want to show a page that shows off Fisher’s imagination and attention to detail. Yes, squid soldiers are weird, but Fisher puts them in different uniforms that gives them some personality, and sprinkles in other creatures like that horned frog thing in Panel 3. We also see some more of Fisher’s sense of humor, as he takes a nice moment by DeMatteis and makes it even goofier, with Hal’s scared expression on his face in Panel 2 and the pile of people at the bottom of Panel 3 really selling the gag.

10-31-2013 02;23;55PM

As this is a superhero comic, eventually there’s going to be some action, right? In this case, a giant samurai squid (I don’t know when Fisher moved to Japan, but he was obviously fascinated by the culture even if this was before he moved there) smashes a building. Some nice touches, as usual: in Panel 1, Fisher gives the samurai some funky teeth, because why would a samurai squid brush his teeth, man? Fisher, as usual, draws every piece of the building as the samurai knocks the top off of it, and he draws all the stitching on his uniform. Tom Orzechowski does nice work with the lettering, too, making the giant squid sound more menacing with the razored word balloons and the wavy letters.

This book is Fisher’s first really great piece of art, but he’d have more. Tomorrow, we’ll see him experimenting with some more abstract and even exotic stuff, as he draws the first comic that really embraces his love of Japanese culture. Be here to check it out! And be sure to traipse through the archives for other cool art!

12 Comments

I got this when it came out, and I think I thought it was okay. The pages shown here look great. I am reminded of comic circa 1985-89, when there seemed to be a lot of experimentation, and being a new reader everything was new to me anyway.

kdu2814: It’s … okay. It’s a very DeMatteis comic, and if you like DeMatteis, that’s fine, but if you don’t, this won’t convert you. I happen to like DeMatteis, but even so, this isn’t his absolute best work. So the story is a bit tough to get through, but the art is very nice!

Isn’t it funny how we can completely miss a book when it comes out, even though it’s right up our alley? J.M. DeMatteis is one of the writers I’ll always give a look, and this wonderfully detailed art would’ve appealed to me then as it does now, but I completely missed this.

The sense of design and joy of useful, world-building detail is joined with great story-telling skills. Excellent stuff.

It’s interesting that you should mention his love of Japanese culture. I had more Franco-Belgian associations with his art – the lack of blacks and inks here and in yesterday’s piece, the joy in the background details, the grotesque underpinnings… it reminds me of a lot of the Franco-Belgian science-fiction books I’ve seen.

This is probably his best work and the first time that we really got to see his strengths (e.g. designs and layouts) fully realized.

Derek: I can definitely see the Franco-Belgian influence you mention. I mentioned the Japanese culture because I know Fisher loved it – he lived in Japan at least for a while, and he died there. I know he was influenced by the art, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had very eclectic influences.

He did most of his work for DC, and they should just release a giant hardcover of all his work. That would be awesome.

Another great book. Considering the hyper-details and the open linework, Fisher’s biggest influence seems to be Geoff Darrow.

Greg I agree about the hardcover, I would love that.

Wow. I’ve never heard of this guy but after looking at part 1 and 2 he seems great. I’ll have to pick up some of his stuff.

Anonymous: I would put Big in Japan above this, but artistically, this is probably #2. It’s very cool.

Rob III: Good point about Darrow. Unfortunately, we can’t ask Fisher!

Bullseye12: He was only drawing from about 1999-2006, so there’s not a lot to find (sadly). But pretty much everything he drew is absolutely gorgeous.

I’m with Bullseye — I’d never heard of Seth Fisher before but based on this sampling I’m impressed enough to want to see more. Both beautiful and whimsical

What’s cool too, and another reason DC should do up an awesome HC of Fisher’s stuff, is that he’s obviously an influence on Chris Burnham and Aaron Kuder (among others, of course).

I remember reading this and not being a huge fan of the story, but my goodness, that art!

Such a shame that he died so young.

Thanks for introducing me to Seth Fisher, an artist who seems like a cross between The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine movie (that Samurai squid screams “Blue Meanies!”) and Frank Quitely.

Pete: No problem! Glad to do it.

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