O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Yildiray Cinar, and the graphic novel is Nothingface, which was published by Digital Webbing and is cover dated November 2004. Enjoy!
Before I start, I just want to point out that I’m going to use the Anglicized version of Cinar’s Turkish name throughout these posts. I have to use a lot of HTML codes for the dotless “ı” and the cedilla under the “Ç” to get “Yıldıray Çınar,” so I hope Cinar doesn’t mind that I forego them.
I first saw Cinar’s work on Noble Causes (which I’ll get to), but last year I stumbled across this graphic novel in one of my retailer’s periodic giant sales, so I picked it up. Kel Nuttall, who’s known more as a letterer, wrote this book, which is about a private detective who can shape-shift, which obviously is a boon for his business. It’s a nice little noir tale, and it’s one of the earliest works of Cinar’s career. Let’s see what’s what!
The book begins with a woman dreaming, and that’s what we see here (she dreams of another woman getting murdered, which sends her to our hero, Jon Novak) – it’s the end of the dream, just before she wakes up. For this reason, Cinar’s artwork is a bit rough on this page, as what Jessica is seeing is a bit vague. Cinar shows the scene from the murderer’s point of view, which makes it quite disturbing. He does some nice things – the book, as we can see, is in black and white, and Cinar uses some nice grayscales on this page instead of straight blacks so it separates the dream from the “real” world. He uses speed lines to good effect in Panels 3-5, which helps transition to the blurriness that he uses in Panel 6. That helps speed up the page, of course, but also creates that vague dream-like look he’s going for. Notice how rough the page is – in some places, especially in Panel 5, it appears Cinar didn’t erase the uninked lines, and it’s a pretty clever trick. It makes the art look unfinished, but because this is a dream, it doesn’t look out of place. I’m sure Cinar wasn’t thinking about this, but the woman in Panel 6 sure looks Christ-like, doesn’t she? What with the halo and the outspread arms and the anguished look to the heavens. CHRIST METAPHOR!!!!!
I like this transition from the city (it’s unnamed) to the inside of the taxi. In Panel 1, Cinar is using a very light, fine line, giving us a very nice, hazy look to the street that makes the city almost ethereal. There’s a nice sense of perspective in the scene, and notice that Cinar angles the street toward Jon in Panel 2, so our eyes read the text in Panel 1, then, if we’re checking out the art (and why wouldn’t you?), it leads you back down to Panel 2. In Panel 2, Jon broods in the taxi, and Cinar draws him and the driver with a much heavier, solid line, even keeping the outside in the background lighter as he did in Panel 1. It’s a nifty little transition.
Cinar has gotten better as an artist in the past ten years, but here’s a bit of early character work that shows he knows what he’s doing, even though he’s a bit rough. He’s not as detailed as he’s become, but he does enough hatching on Jon’s face in Panel 1 to show what a tough life he has – he’s been through the wringer quite often. In Panels 2 and 3, Heather goes from confrontational when Jon asks her if she has her gun to exasperated, as she doesn’t trust Jessica. Despite the fact that she’s a bit far away in Panel 2, Cinar narrows her eyes and keeps her eyebrows down, which makes her a bit meaner, then widens her eyes and raises her eyebrows in Panel 3 while also opening her mouth slightly, so we get a very nice “I can’t believe this idiot!” face.
Cinar has always been pretty good at action, which is why he’s doing superhero comics these days. The action isn’t great in this book, but it’s a lot better than we see from some neophyte artists. Cinar lays out this page pretty well, establishing Jon running through the rain, then showing the taxi in the background and his legs on the left as Jon runs into its path. In Panel 3, we have to get a reaction shot of the driver, and then we get the nice big panel of Jon getting whacked by the cab. Cinar knows how Jon’s body would look both when he’s running and when he’s getting bopped by the taxi, which goes a long way to making an action artist. The speed lines are nice in Panel 2, as they create an aura around the taxi that makes it look more menacing. In Panel 3, Cinar does a nice job with the lighting, as the driver is illuminated by the dashboard, and the shadows on his face make him look more terrified that he’s about to kill someone. Panel 4 is really well done, as Cinar uses a loose, fluid style to almost meld Jon and the car. The rough inking lines add to the violence of the scene, and the ragged, crazed lines “speed up” the accident, making it less a static image and more of a “moving” picture. The speed lines above the cab, which “open” upward, and the taxi itself, which is angled slightly downward, create a good perspective shot – the taxi appears to have exploded out of the left side of the panel, smashing into Jon with more force than even a speeding car would have.
Here’s another example of Cinar doing some nice work with the characters, even though he would improve. In Panel 1, Heather and Jessica sit apart, and Cinar draws them differently to match their personalities. Heather sits sideways, with a somewhat sour look on her face, and she looks as if she’s deliberately avoiding looking at Jessica. Her left hand lies limply on the sofa, while Jessica’s right hand, while not exactly reaching for Heather, seems more willing to connect with her. Her face shows worry, as she’s waiting for Jon and hopes he’s all right. Heather sits with her legs together and crooked, but rather informally, while Jessica has her legs crossed in a more formal fashion. Cinar puts two short, curved lines at the end of her foot, showing that she’s shaking her foot slightly. It’s a subtle way to show her nervousness. The middle row is quite humorous – neither of them wants to speak to the other, so they’re trying very hard not to look at each other. The final two panels are very well done – Jessica puts her hair behind her ear, which makes her look slightly more professional, and her face is a bit harder than in Panel 2. Then Heather pulls her legs up on the sofa, closing herself off even more but also making herself look a bit more child-like, so the contrast with Jessica in the previous panel is clear. She decides to make the first move, and even though Jessica keeps her arms crossed defensively, her face in the final panel softens – her brows rise a bit, her eyes widen, her lips get fuller – so that we know they’re both making an effort. It’s a nice sequence by Cinar.
In order to shape-shift, Jon has to get some of the person’s DNA, and then he can “become” them. As you can see, it’s not a pleasant process. Cinar does a nice job here – even though it’s basically one image, he lays it out like a “Z” so that we move diagonally across the central image. The care he takes with the central iamge as Jon’s face basically explodes is really cool, as the shards fly outward and Cinar uses a lot of lines around Jon’s eyes and mouth to show the pain he’s going through. Nuttall’s lettering, I should point out, is pretty neat, as Jon’s narration when he’s “faceless” is creepy and a bit insane, and Nuttall slowly transitions to a more standard font. It’s a neat touch.
Cinar wasn’t under the radar for long, and he began to get gigs with some higher profile companies. Tomorrow I’ll check out one of his Image books, but I’m not sure which one. Come back to see! And, naturally, there are plenty of cool links in the archives!
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