Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Adam Hughes, and the story is “Porky Pining” in Fables #113, which was published by DC/Vertigo and is cover dated March 2012. Enjoy!
Hughes obviously knew Bill Willingham from back in the day, as he drew that issue of Elementals I showed a few days ago, so when Willingham wanted to do an issue of short stories featuring some characters from Fables, he was able to wrangle Hughes for three whole pages! I suppose I could just show all three pages, but I won’t. The tidbit I show here should be enough!
Hughes colored this, too, and he does a really nice job making the paper look like parchment, adding to the olde-tymey feel to the story. As we can see, he still does exquisite details – the hem of the woman’s dress is amazing – but he uses different line weights in interesting ways, so that the strawberry bush in Panel 1 is very light while the border of the woman’s body is very heavy. Hughes wants us to focus on her hand and, in Panel 2, the porcupine, so he uses light strokes on her fingernails and toes but thick lines on the porcupine’s quills. Hughes is never going to be the most abstract artist, but the fact that he simply stops drawing the quills in the woman’s hand in Panel 1 is pretty clever. He doesn’t want to show wounds, so they just disappear into her flesh. Interesting choice.
The woman curses the porcupine, and Hughes gives us this wonderful page. The woman in Panel 1 has a great expression, as she looks extremely dire – Hughes gives her very lightly inked pupils, so her eyes look almost completely white, and of course they stand out a bit in the dusky coloring. Her hair swirls wildly down, bisecting her face, and Hughes, notice, doesn’t forget that she still has quills stuck in her hand. Meanwhile, he uses those thick border lines and lighter lines for the details, but he still gives us ornate lines on her clothing and gear. As always, we see Hughes’s sense of humor, as he draws the porcupine with a wonderfully goofy face as he’s cursed. He uses thick lines only for his eyes, relying on blacks to fill in his nose and mouth, and it’s really well done, especially as his quills ring him cleverly like an electric halo, implying that the curse is taking effect. Then we get another wonderfully posed Hughes female, but Hughes makes sure to give her a suitably contemptuous expression and she plucks the quills out of her hand and dismisses her victim. Hughes’s use of thick lines makes the goat stand out pretty well, as he uses grayer lines for the goat’s outline to make them stand out against his black coloring. In the inset panel, the porcupine is drawn very well, as he’s become something of a caricature of a porcupine, his lovestruck face making him more nebbishy than before. Hughes makes his nose stick out more, anthropomorphizing him just a bit. It’s a clever drawing.
The porcupine ends up in a fair maiden’s bed, and of course things don’t go well for him. Hughes draws him more like a porcupine in this panel, which actually works quite well, as the fact that he’s trying to sweet-talk the girl makes his appearance even funnier. Hughes remembers to put his paws up in front of him as he protests, and once again, we get the hard borders with slightly lighter interior lines, which makes him look not quite as sharp as he probably is. The girl is a typical Hughesian female, and Hughes borders her with thick lines that makes, say, the folds of her nightgown more delicate. I don’t love her expression, as she doesn’t seem quite panicked enough, but that’s okay. I love that Hughes puts quills sticking out of her breasts – the porcupine, apparently, got a bit too friendly with her.
I would love Hughes to do more interior work (man, his Wonder Woman comic would have been a sight to behold), but I just assume he makes good coin doing covers for DC, so why should he? It makes me sad, but it works for him, so I’ll just enjoy what little interior work we have from him!
Hey, remember when I wrote about Rob Liefeld (I know, it was so very long ago) and everyone lost their shit? How about I check out another Image founder for my next artist? I think that would be groovy. But which one? Come back tomorrow and find out! You won’t find any clues in the archives, though!
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