Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Mike Deodato, and the issue is Original Sin #1, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated July 2014. It’s a comic from the future!!!! Enjoy!
Yeah, I skipped ahead a decade. That’s just the way it is! After Deodato began using his more photo-referenced, straight-to-colors kind of art, he didn’t do too much different except cast Tommy Lee Jones as Norman Osborn, and if you think I’m going to show that, you’re sadly mistaken, as it creeps me right the hell out. I’ve looked at some of his other work from 2003-2013 – I don’t own too much of it, but some – and decided that it’s close enough the stuff I showed yesterday and it’s close enough to the work on Original Sin, but this latest comic shows some interesting evolution, so I figured I’d jump right to it. Don’t you just love these special peeks into my mind?
One thing that is a bit more blatant in this issue than in recent Deodato art is the use of mixed media, as he just straight drops a photo of the moon into the book and draws Uatu standing there. I assume he did the same thing with the Earth, but it’s far enough away and cloaked in enough black that it’s hard to tell. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t mind using actual photographs in comics, but the reason I don’t love this is because Deodato obviously drew Uatu, which makes him stand out oddly in this scene. If you’re going to use a fumetti kind of technique (which I don’t really love), you need to commit to it totally. Even if you’re going to use photos, the art team can render it a bit better to make it look a bit more organic. I noted when looking at some of Alex Maleev’s work that he was trying to blend in the obvious photographs he used in some backgrounds. Deodato and Frank Martin, the colorist, don’t do that too well here, although they do it better in other parts of the issue. Finally, I don’t mind mixed media when the situation is more surreal, which it isn’t here. This is just my personal opinion, of course, but this scene, to me, looks somewhat odd because of the presence of a drawn Uatu in the middle of a photograph.
The Watcher’s little tower explodes, and this is a much better use of mixed media, I think. First of all, whatever Deodato and Martin do to the landscape helps blend it in a bit more – the blacks still look a bit too … digital, I guess? but they fit within the context of the page better. Uatu’s home is drawn pretty well, with a lot of blacks and few holding lines to blend it in more to the landscape. I’m very curious to see the original art for this page, because I wonder if there’s even an explosion. It looks created completely by Martin, and a good deal looks Photoshopped, with some swaths of color added after the fact. It works in the context of the page, but it’s really interesting to see it, because I even wonder if Deodato drew the hatching that we see in the nimbus around the central pyre. Perhaps that’s all Deodato did, simply to provide a rough guide for Martin. It’s kind of fascinating.
Yes, the Marvel heroes really do talk about steak for almost three full pages, and this is the middle one. I really like the central image of Nick Fury – Deodato uses a lot of fine lines to create both a five o’clock shadow and a more ragged face of someone who’s been through some shit, while the brushwork on Nick’s hair is very nicely done, blending well with the white ink either Deodato or Martin added. The more simplistic style of Nick’s shoulders and shirt are well done, too, turning him into more solid shapes with just a touch of color added. As I noted yesterday, when Deodato moved to this style, he started using blacks a lot more, and this page is drenched in them. I know it’s partly to make the mood darker, but I also have to guess it’s so Deodato can take some shortcuts and get the work done more quickly. Yes, I’m cynical. Deal with it. It still works quite well, especially in scenes like this, in a poorly lit diner at night.
This is half of the double-page spread of the good guys finding Uatu’s body, but it’s the important half, so I’ll just leave it at that. Obviously, here we get the thick folds in the Watcher’s robe and tunic that is indicative of this kind of art – again, I imagine Martin put the folds in when he colored the book, but I’m not sure. The “paint splatter” effect of Uatu’s blood is added in Photoshop after the colorist gets the penciled page – we can guess this, but you might recall some of the preview images of this scene that did not show the blood, just black holes where Uatu’s eyes should be. The only problem I have with this, actually, is that all the blood appears to be on the same plane – the blood on Uatu’s face looks like it’s at the same level as that on the ground, and that shouldn’t be, of course. Maybe I’m just seeing things, but I assume Martin layered the “paint splatter” over the drawing, and it simply looks like he didn’t take into account the fact that the Watcher has a big, bulbous, three-dimensional head. I could be imagining it, though.
I haven’t written too much about Deodato’s layouts, but once he started doing this style of art, he began to get a bit more adventurous with his layouts. We saw a bit of this above when Nick Fury appeared with inset panels over his image, but here we get Ant-Man bursting out of the first panel, which is a clever way for Deodato to emphasize him before we realize how small he is compared to Emma. I’m not too sure if the ants are drawn in or not – Ant-Man’s (is that Scott Lang again? [Edit: As Travis points out, of course it is, as Emma calls him “Mr. Lang.” Hey, it’s a post about art – why would I read the dialogue?]) feet don’t appear to be resting on them as much as placed adjacent to them, with the ants showing up after Deodato drew his figure. Emma is a fairly typical Deodato female, in that her face is a bit tapered down to her chin, with her cheekbones almost forming a shelf on her face, and Deodato puts her in a somewhat less ridiculous outfit than some of her other ones. I don’t know if he’s using a model for Emma, but her expression in Panel 3 is very nice, as Deodato, when he’s not drenching her face in black, does a nice job with her angry eyes and scornful look.
I cut off the top of this double-page spread, but I did just want to show the destruction that the no-longer-Mindless One wreaks, because it’s an interesting example of what Deodato is doing. In the background, if he or Martin is Photoshopping in a cityscape, it’s very well done. It’s blended into the scene with heavy blacks, so it does look like Deodato drew it in or at least sketched it in so Martin could layer blacks on top. In the foreground, the twisted metal is also almost drawn without an abundance of holding lines, as Deodato and Martin use shadows and long black shapes to help create the carnage. The overturned car is another example of how Deodato is drawing things these days. He uses a bare minimum of lines, relying on Martin to fill in the blanks with spot blacks, and the smoke is completely created with blacks and colors. The Mindless One is a typical Deodato monster in this new era, with soft lines creating its form and thick blacks filling in the wrinkles on its skin. I don’t know how Deodato and Martin created this page, but it’s nicely done.
This is a decent example of the way Deodato has some fun with layouts, as the tilted panels help create a sense of the fight, moving us around rather jarringly as we read the page. Again, we see some very nice wreckage and a lot of blacks. Deodato hasn’t foresaken inks completely, it seems, as Panel 4 and the motion lines show. I’m kind of weirded out by the Christ pose in Panel 3. The Mindless One is about to commit suicide, so maybe Jason Aaron and Deodato are trying to tell us something. WooooOOOOOOoooooo!!!!!
I love this page design, as Ant-Man, Black Panther, and Emma drill toward the center of the Earth and Doctor Strange and the Punisher (and if Marvel doesn’t do a comedy series of the adventures of Strange and Castle after this event is over, they’re missing a HUGE opportunity!) blip out of existence. The drill is heading into the planet, so Deodato drops the panels down as we read, even after we switch to Strange and the Punisher (come on, Marvel – call it The Magician and the Maniac, and I will be all over that shit). The red of the Earth’s mantle and the red of Strange’s teleportation spell are linked from Panels 1 to 4, too, which is pretty neat. I know the layout is a bit showy, but I don’t know – I dig it. (How about Frank and the Sorceror? Or He Shoots, He Spells? Or Magic and Mayhem? I’m just spitballing here, Joey Q!)
So that’s Mike Deodato. I get that he’s not the most appreciated artist, but I generally like his work. He’s done some odd stuff over the years, but I do like that he seems to want to try new techniques and incorporates them into his art when they work. That’s pretty cool. It’s also Deodato’s 51st birthday today, so I hope he has a good one.
I think I’ll move down the South American coast tomorrow and check out one of my absolute favorite current artists. You know who it is! Come back and check it out, and never forget, like Stephen Conway did last week, that the archives are there for your edification!
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.