web stats

CSBG Archive

Year of the Artist, Day 23: Jim Aparo, Part 3 – The Outsiders #25

11-12-2013 04;46;49PM (2)

Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Jim Aparo, and the issue is The Outsiders #25, which was published by DC and is cover dated November 1987. Enjoy!

Aparo drew most of The Outsiders, and for most of it he inked himself. The art was a bit slicker than it was in the 1970s, but not too much. Then, in issue #25, Bill Wray inked him, and this is a good example of why I wasn’t a fan of Aparo’s work when I first saw it. Wray really smooths out Aparo’s pencils, and the art has a much lighter touch and an annoying plasticity to it that makes it not quite as good as earlier Aparo art.

11-12-2013 04;46;49PM

There’s very little definition on Halo and Windfall’s faces, which makes them look even more old-fashioned, almost like models from the 1950s. It’s odd, because Aparo’s 1970s work looked fairly contemporary, but by the late 1980s, it was still technically fine, but the lack of roughness in the inking made it look dated. Sure, there’s a bit of hatching on Halo’s costume in Panel 3, but the smooth inking makes it look less like clothing and more like naked skin colored white. There’s a bit of Kirby Krackle in Panel 2, which is nice, and strangely enough, the inking in the hair is perfectly fine, but Aparo’s pencils combined with the fine inking doesn’t do the artwork any favors.

11-12-2013 04;48;26PM

Here’s another example. There’s a bit of hatching on Geo-Force’s costume in Panel 1, and the lines on Looker’s costume in Panel 3 are fine, but it’s still a bit too fine. Again, it’s mostly in the face, as the characters seem like mannequins. The lack of rough inking also highlights one of Aparo’s long-standing weaknesses, which is the relative stiffness of his characters during action scenes. When he was drawing Batman and other superheroes in the 1970s, his rough inking helped mask that a bit because there was some more texture to the panels, but when you strip that away, you get a stilted panel like the third one. It’s unfortunate.

11-12-2013 04;50;18PM

Notice how cartoony Metamorpho looks in these panels. There’s plenty of hatching, which is fine, but because it feels too controlled, it turns Rex into a goofy cartoon. He looks like a muscle man rather than a monster, and while I don’t want him to be horrendous, we should get a sense of how tough it is to be a man who can change into any element. For this, it seems Aparo drew Mr. Clean and Wray added some lines and Liz Berube added some colors. Metamorpho looks like a muscular bald dude, and that’s no good.

11-12-2013 04;52;39PM

It’s not all bad, as this page shows. While the characters are still too smooth and stiff and Aparo’s Eighties Batman is a bit more square-jawed and portlier than his Seventies Batman, the explosion is pretty cool. Aparo’s detailed work gives us an impressive shot of the platform disintegrating, and Wray’s heavy inks are everything this book needs more of but doesn’t get. We see flashes of this kind of inking in a few places in this issue (the next page has a beautiful shot of Geo-Force in semi-darkness), but they’re few and far between. Too bad.

There’s nothing awful about this art, because Aparo’s skill as a draftsman is obvious, but it’s a shame that too often in the latter years of his career he was inked by someone else. Such is life, I suppose!

Next time, we’ll look at some Aparo art from when I first started buying comics. What will I think of it when I cast a more critical eye on it? We shall see! And look! the archives continue to grow!

13 Comments

tom fitzpatrick

January 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm

I miss HALO, KATANA, and LOOKER. Those were the good ol’ days.

I think you are right about the faces. The drawing of Batman also has a small amount of what I did not like about his 80s Batman; I will have to wait and see if it turns up in tomorrows column.

My first Batman And The Outsiders (back)issue was an Alan Davis one and I was a little disappointed to find out that Aparo did most of the run. Of course I still like Aparo, and his BATO was pretty good; I have since finished BATO and am working on finishing out the Outsiders issues after Batman rejoined.

Looking forward to the next instalment. I reread an Aparo Batman last night because of this feature. I doubt it will be the one featured tomorrow though.

Can’t stand Aparo’s art from this point on. Knightfall… shudder.

However, his earlier stuff is really good. The image of his late stuff tends to color my appriciation of his best stuff.

Notice how cartoony Metamorpho looks in these panels. There’s plenty of hatching, which is fine, but because it feels too controlled, it turns Rex into a goofy cartoon. He looks like a muscle man rather than a monster, and while I don’t want him to be horrendous, we should get a sense of how tough it is to be a man who can change into any element. For this, it seems Aparo drew Mr. Clean and Wray added some lines and Liz Berube added some colors. Metamorpho looks like a muscular bald dude, and that’s no good.

To be fair, I think they were trying too hard to make him look the way Fradon drew him and the result is jarring. A similar thing happened in the recent Thunderstrike miniseries. Ron Frenz drew Steve Rogers’ face straight out of a Jack Kirby book but the stylistic clash with the rest of the art caused a real jarring effect.

http://majorspoilers.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/THUNDERSTRIKE_1_PREVIEW4.jpg

http://www.mangaforever.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/thunderstrike-1-3.jpg

Is it just me, or does Metamorpho look like he was drawn by Dick Locher?

Great post. Good observations on the effect of slick inks on BATO – a series I have little knowledge of, despite being an early Aparo-fan and Bat-fan.

The cross-hatching on that second Metamorpho panel almost looks like an Image artist. Aparo and Image – a comparison that I’d never thought would be made until now!
Did Klaus Janson ever ink Aparo? Now THERE’S a gritty inker!

Pete: I don’t think Janson ever inked Aparo. The final day of Aparo will feature an inker who’s similar to Janson, though!

Yeah, I’m with Tom. I miss The Outsiders. Looker was a personal favourite. But everyone that Barr created were great. I even miss Sebastian Faust and Technocrat. :-)

Although, that Halo costume was so blah. Her original was a classic.

Alan Davis had an amazing look for everyone. His issues were a real stand out.

The Outsiders was so close to being a title that really endured. The basic idea of mashing-up The Brave and The Bold with the Claremont-Byrne Uncanny X-Men was a really good one. Batman slid into the Professor X role nicely and showed a totally different side of his personality. Most of the core group (Black Lightening, Metamorpho and Katanna) was interesting and well-matched. Looker was a nifty addition.

It was ultimately probably Jim Aparo that held them back.

Don’t get me wrong, Aparo is a wonderful artist. His figure drawing had a lot of personality. He blended characters from various creators into cohesive whole. His action was always clear and understandable. His art just lacked … something. I am not sure that a rougher inker would’ve helped. Aparo just seemed out-of-step with aesthetic of 80s super-team books.

Dean: Well, they did last for quite a while – 50 or so issues with Aparo drawing it, from BATO to just The Outsiders. I do agree that his art in the 1980s began to look a little old-fashioned, which might have hurt the sales on the book in the long run, but it did have a decent run.

@ Greg Burgas:

Between BATO and The Outsiders (Vol. 1), it managed a very respectable 60 issues. That has always been my arbitrary marker of a ‘successful’ comic and, therefore, a premise that is worth reviving every so often. It is just that it seemed like a series that could become a perennial mid-lister.

I loved Aparo, but Alan Davis filling in at the end of the newstand title was a rough comparison. Davis looked like a version of Aparo that was better adapted to the direct market era. There was the same clean look and strong visual story-telling, but everything was more fluid and kinetic.

second example, panel two…was the lady in back cut in half by her partner? I suppose she needed to be drawn with enough body on either side of that thigh.

ejs: Ha, that’s pretty funny. I missed that. Yeah, she’s really REALLY long if you get rid of Halo’s leg.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives