After a weekend of ballyhoo and hijinks, it's back to work on ONE.
With the main character designed and the the first background complete, it's time to answer some of the big questions regarding the project. The foundation for ONE, the high concept, is pretty simple when you think about it (here's a reminder for those that came in late):
One world. One main character. One bad guy. One journey. One spoken word. One climax. One panel per page. One book. One creator.
The high concept is great but its execution will determine if it works. That's where style and technique come in; two very different beasts that are sometimes mistakenly equated with each other.
I'm sure I'll get a few disagreements out there but in my mind, style comes from the artist. It's the extension of the person's personality/influences, translated through a medium (paper, film, music, etc) and determined by the artist's level of skill. Sure, whatever inspires you will likely work it's way into the art you produce. But as a creator, your mind acts as a funnel for everything you've been exposed to that has peaked your interest on numerous cognitive and intuitive levels. Your skill allows those ideas to take shape to the best of your abilities. And like any other muscle, you have to develop it if you want it to get stronger. The more you draw, the stronger and more personal your style will be.
Admitingly, my style has been a work in progress. Still is. Will be for as long as I draw. It's a constant evolution that is affected by everything around me. I think the growth comes from finding what you like to do and making it your own. You start with a solid foundation of what feels "right" and you run with it. You create. And you let the creations represent you because, in many ways, they are you. Sure, you may like the way another arist draws an ear or a hand so you incorporate it into you own skill set. Into your style. That's natural. Just like Jack Kirby said: "One man is a school for another.” But knowing your style is being comfortable in your own skin. Knowing just enough about yourself to be able to express it.
I'm not sure who said it but I guess when you think about it, putting pen to paper is a brave act.
As for me, my school is varied - Alex Toth, Jack Kirby, Bruce Timm, Akira Kurosawa, Rod Sterling, Gendy Tartovsky, Mike Mignola, Scott Morse, Frank Espinoza, Ben Caldwell, Darwyn Cooke, Tim, Biskup, Dan Krall, Ted Mathot, Mark Andrews, Sam Hiti, Matt Hawthorne, Dave Johnson, Lesean Thomas, Sandford Greene, Jim Mahfood, Dave Crosland, Mike Huddleston, Ghostbot, Guy Davis, Ashley Wood, Ragnar, Ovi Nedelcu, Erik Larsen.
All these creators have somehow affected my style. And for ONE, I wanted to be really comfortable in my own skin for the first time. So far, you've seen some of the sketches for the project and you can see that I'm going with an "animated" style. Look at my portfolio and you'll find Tim Bradstreet, Travis Charest, Jim Lee, and countless of other comic artists. It took years of drawing to finally find my way...but animation has always been a big influence. It's tied directly into my love of film and my love for illustration. Animation marries them like no other medium can.
But I'm coming to the realization that the "animated" style is my style. It feels "right." It's my perspective. And like my dad always said, "It's all about perspective."