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Year of the Artist, Day 206: Adam Hughes, Part 5 – Fables #113

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

18 Comments

Very Art Nouveau. I like it.

Hey, would you consider doing a series on Terry Moore?

Nu-D: Hmmm. Not a bad choice. I’ll add him to the list and we’ll see – I just picked up the giant SiP collection from him last night, so I now have much more of his art than I did yesterday!

LouReedRichards

July 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Lovely, hands down the best aping of Mucha I’ve ever seen in a comic. Has a touch of Bilibin in it as well, very nice.

Hughes has been a favorite since I was fortunate enough to start reading The Justice Leauge with his debut issue.

LouReedRichards: I knew he was drawing this to look like classical artists of the past (or at least I hope he was!), but I didn’t know who. Thanks for mentioning Mucha, because I think that must be whom Hughes was trying to evoke, at least a little.

noooooooo! i almost gave up on your mental wellbeing when you featured lob riefeld why oh why is more torture on the horizon?! is that your long game lull us along for half a year then cause such ocular desensitvising i take the only honourable route and icepick my eyeballs? that is it i bet. please let it be valentino larsen portacio or ish even silvestri. i d hate to lose my vision before you finally showcase some wood. that might ve come off bad. keep up the good work

s!moN: Um, let’s see your list of names … uh oh.

I’ll get to Wood, I promise!!!! :)

LouReedRichards

July 25, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I’d say it goes way beyond trying to evoke him, it’s almost like he’s channeling Mucha’s spirit.

Hughes does Mucha’s style better than anyone I’ve ever seen, which is a relief because there have been so many people who did it so poorly.

Those are some amazing pages! I must own this!

tom fitzpatrick

July 25, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Hmmm, Jim Lee, McFarlane, Silvestri, Valentino, Larsen, Portacio are all Image Founders. Did I leave anybody out?

I dunno about you doing Terry Moore, I mean if you’re showing the evolution (or devolution) of an artist’s career work – Mr. Moore’s work hasn’t changed that much from SIP to ECHO to RACHEL RISING.

But go ahead, it’s always a joy and delight to read your stuff.

So either Lee or McFarlane tomorrow. I will guess Todd, but it doesn’t matter, I expect to see both at some point.

Some stupid japanese name

July 25, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I hope it’s Lee, and I hope his Mockingbird backup from Solo Avengers #1 is showcased. Only because I started to reread that series last week and had totally forgotten about it. It wasnt bad!

Wow. Those women drawings. For all that they do not resort to inhuman body proportions, they are so very… appealing.

It is true that Hughes should do more comics, but as he is really slow it is probably better for him to stick to cover work. ThoughI must admit I bought Before Watchmen just for his art.
What I noticed from reading Maze Agency is the Byrne influence at his beginning.

Somebody who started similarly is Dale Keown of Hulk and PITT fame. Maybe you can cover him as well.

Ah, Silvestri is the only one that Burgas has a decent span of, I’m guessing. He’s not a Spawn or Savage Dragon fan, and those are the only books that Toddy Mac and Larsen, respectively, do anything with these days. Silvestri has a long career and an interesting span.

Although he could be tricky and do Jim Lee. Dang you, Burgas!

My money’s on Silvestri, though, because I’m sure he drew Dazzler more, and Burgas likes that lameass. HA!

As an aside, Hughes is/was the only creator I ever met to act like a pompous ass at a con. So for me, the less of him the better.

Dimo1: I hadn’t thought of Keown, mostly because from what I know, he really didn’t evolve too much. But I’ll have to see what he did before Hulk and maybe that will sway me.

Travis: You’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you? And you know that my next year-long series is going to be the greatest comics featuring Dazzler and Looker. An entire year can’t contain them!!!!!

david: Well, that’s too bad. I’ve never met him, because I’ve only been to cons where he’s swamped with fans, so I can’t speak to that.

Jeff Nettleton

July 26, 2014 at 11:34 am

Oh, he’s definitely doing Mucha. From what I have read, Mucha is one of his artistic influences. It’s a very good choice for the material, as it also evokes Arthur Rackham’s illustrations (from that same period) of fables and nursery rhymes.

In terms of Art Nouveau, Barry Windsor-Smith is one of leading proponents of that work. You can see it more and more as he moved away from Kirby, until it became a huge part of his work, especially his Gorblimey Press works. In fact, you can see that influence in most of The Studio crowd (Smith, Jeff Jones, and Mike Kaluta); but, especially Kaluta.

Meanwhile, in regards Mr. Fullam’s experience, I met Hughes in 1992, and spoke to him for a few minutes and he was a very nice guy. Granted, this 20 years ago, before he was truly a “superstar” artist, though he was well on his way, at that point. Sometimes it’s the person and sometimes it’s the context. I once observed Mark Gruenwald at a convention, critiquing the art of someone and it seemed rather harsh, even dismissive. It colored my opinion of him, at the time. However, every interview with him and everyone who talked about him gave me a different picture. As I grew older and reflected back, I realized he was being brutally honest with someone who wanted to work in comics. When I played over what he had been saying, in my head, I realized he was giving the artist constructive feedback, the way a good editor should. I also recalled that I came up on the conversation, in progress, so I didn’t hear how it started and ended. I didn’t get the whole context. Food for thought…

I’ve only been to a handful of conventions (less than a dozen); but, I have to say I have never had a bad interaction with a pro. Brief, yes; but never bad. I’ve had really pleasant talks with Clarke Hawbaker, Doug Rice, Steve Leiber, Dave Dorman, and Joe Staton. I got to have a very long conversation with one of my all time favorites, Mike Grell, along with John Ostrander and Mike Gold. I got to speak to Gil Kane for all of about 3 or 4 minutes; but had the pleasant experience of surprising him with a piece of his work he hadn’t seen in years. We didn’t really get to have a conversation but it was a great little moment. I find that your experience with a pro is often a reflection of how you approach them. If you are friendly and polite, you tend to get the same in return. However, even the best of people have their bad days; just try not to take it personally, if you were friendly and courteous for your part of the interaction.

Travis Pelkie

July 27, 2014 at 2:20 am

I met Hughes at a con just a couple of years ago, and he was pretty nice. I happened to catch him early on on the second day of a show (where the first day I couldn’t catch him at all because he was sketching all day — which I don’t quite understand, if you’re at a con all day but all you’re doing is drawing, why come to the con?), and we chatted a bit and I had him sign a couple things. I know the Gen 13 Ordinary Heroes 2 parter we talked about, because he talked about how he kinda backed into writing that one as well — apparently the originally assigned writer couldn’t do it (or maybe couldn’t dialogue it), and Hughes said to the editor something like “um, I’ll give it a try”. IIRC, it’s not bad for a first time.

As to Mucha, I believe that Terry Moore was homaging that artist on the covers of some SiP issues, I think around 51-55 or so.

And damn, you totally swerved on me for the next artist! TRICKERY! TRICKERY!

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