Robbins just isn’t a brushy Kirby #2

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This is a flattened Robbins page to see if I can find the design of the page underneath it. Jack’s use of 2-d design and three-d space is what makes his work unique. Working within his grid Jack would consider the flat shape based design of the page along with the space he was creating. Kirby often seemed to set up suspense that could be carried visually in a page.
Kirby considered each page as a scene with a beginning middle and end that could be told visually.

Robbins strings his panels together with no visual narrative. Batman just appears.
We haven’t seen the whole room, but could he swing in that open window when the thief crawled in.
If Batman’s back leg was down and ran behind the thief’s head, it would have been a two dimensional design, that shows Batman attacking the thief. Each individual shape is dynamic, but Batman and the thief have no spatial or design relationship. Batman is in a mostly horizontal position as he swings across the top of the panel.

In panel 4 the thief’s jaw and shoulder are vertical, repeating the same straight up feel of the chair in panel three. Why not eliminate them and have a stronger diagonal as he grabs the gun that could focus on just that small action. Why in panel five is Batman’s hand dropped down instead of held up crossing the figure.

Why trash poor Frank Robbins? I actually love Robbins drawing and was excited to start this and with this I”m beginning to realize why Kirby is the King. His focus and simplification and storytelling within the drawing make his work more dynamic then the other artists working at the same time. While Robbins extended cartooning seems like it should be as dynamic in it’s own way as Kirby’s it’s actually in the brush drawing that make Robbins work provide the jazz and fun of his work.

Robbins painted and made his canvasses look like expressionistic gestural work.In ink you don’t have that ability to lay stokes one over another that paint provides so you have a more basic image. I think with Robbins it’s thinking about brushstrokes and use of black as paint that is the point, not the storytelling and design of panels that exists in Kirby.


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The bloody story of preening maniacs fighting over control of ancient Rome. Adapting into 200 pages of thundering expressionistic comics. For sale in print here!

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Robbins lack of scale

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The figure’s scale on the page is one way to define an important moment. With Robbins, a third of every panel is filled with captions and word balloons at least. The lack of extreme jumps in scale makes the page feel anemic. A large scale close up of the thief’s face would help identify with him, develop a little empathy, and pull us into his story.

There’s a gun for shock but it’s a little gun on the page. Graphically it’s not much of a threat to the thief and the lines from the flashlight overwhelm it space wise. As the thief staggers back from the dead man he’s cropped out of the panel and just the gun is floating there. My pencils don’t work as it’s not about the values but the way Robbins designs with black that makes his pages compelling. When the last panel reveals that the gun-holder is dead it’s done in words not actual action by the thief.

The visual weight of the two panels in the middle tier is almost the same an almost complete horizontal with the figure staggering back. While it’s a shot reverse shot the force of the gesture isn’t big enough because the 2nd figure is so small scale. This was drawn in the tactful old days, no bullet-riddled head with splatters of skull and brain in close up.

Perhaps here as the thief tells us the guy in the chair is dead, a close up would have made more sense.


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Teaching of course is great for learning what you want to do. I created Just Draw to lay out the lessons for myself when I get lost. It’s how to get back onto the path of making comics and not being grumpy. It’s available on Amazon here or you can check out the preview. If you’re interested in a class in comics I’m working on an eight-week one to take place in San Francisco at Mission Comics. There will be an online version too for people who are outside of the Bay Area. if you’re interested please sign up for the mailing list to be informed when the class launches.

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28 Years of Dr. Comics and Mr. Games

Dr. Comics, my local comics store had a celebration of 28 years in business. They invited old staff and customers from over the years back.

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Michael Pandolfo has been a great aid to the comics community and the community. Michael gives lots of kids their first job, and helps them figure out how to be an adult in the world. And for those of us who have a hard time figuring things out he still just sells us comics, lots, and lots of comics. The Cap is my thank you present for the 26 years of gab, friendship, and support. It’s drawn in Flash 6 on the computer and inked with brushes on paper as I slowly work my back into an organic style.


Caesar_cover_thumb

The bloody story of preening maniacs fighting over control of ancient Rome. Adapting into 200 pages of thundering expressionistic comics. For sale in print here!

Read More