Thursday, October 15, 2009

More bad Western art - Outlaw Territory

I've been meaning to write about this for a while now, but finding these images online (saving me the trouble of scanning them from the book) made it easier.

I bought Outlaw Territory, a Western comics anthology, earlier this year. The cover was pretty cool and I had hopes that there would be at least a few good stories or some sweet art to make the purchase worthwhile (I know anthologies like Flight, Gunned Down, and Marvel Westerns well enough to know that you're guaranteed some stinkers). Unfortunately, there were only 2-3 contributions that I can think of that were any good. Most of them were, at best, boring and uninspired, and at worst, full of terrible art.

The selection below (from First Car in Mexico, by Andy Macdonald and Daniel Heard) is by no means the worst. In fact, it's actually pretty good! Nice lay-out, colors, and drawings. Except for -- say it with me now -- the guns.


Those are the weirdest banana guns I've ever seen. And they're so detailed that you'd swear the guy wasn't making them up! He doesn't fudge the design behind weak renderings like Phil Noto. But trust me, he is pulling those out of his butt. There's never been a revolver with a grip like he's got going on there. As you'll recall, I don't mind invented guns if they look somewhat close to reality (i.e. the artist knows what the appropriate guns look like and bases his invention on logical principles). But those handles . . . ! The weird thing is, he apparently knew enough to draw a loading lever underneath the barrel in the top panel, which would be appropriate for a black powder revolver. Maybe he only had half a picture for reference? From mid-cylinder on? Because everything from that point back is wacky. And then in the second-to-last panel he doesn't keep his gun anatomy consistent at all. He's confident in his invention, hoping that they look like real guns to his audience. But I'll bet you he'd laugh out loud and smack his forehead if you showed him a real revolver (from any point in history, really).

Here's a different example (Gut Shot by David Miller and Philip Fuller). The rendering isn't bad in this one. Bland, but fine. But the coloring kills it. It looks like the colorist discovered the bloom effect and decided every single panel should have it. Honestly, look at it! Every panel. Someone hide the lens flare from these kids before things get worse.


This next one (Griswold's Song by Ming Doyle) is an odd duck in that the gun was obviously referenced. It has a weird added-on panel where the barrel meets the cylinder (should be one piece), but the rest of the anatomy is fine. But the way everything is rendered is so squirrelly and ugly as to ruin it. Also, check out his hand in the bottom panel. Aside from being ugly, it's position relative to the gun makes it appear as though the grip is, once again, extending straight down underneath the hammer. Bad, dude! How could you do that if you had reference of the real thing for the rest of it?


This page isn't the worst of this entry (The Bounty Killers by John Cboins and Shannon Eric Denton) , but it does at least show the illustrator's failed attempt at a Kent Williams-ish style. There are some really wonky faces in some of the other pages. It also tries to convince me that you only need to draw backgrounds in the establishing-shot panel. Sorry, pal, you can get away with that a bit when you're doing dialogue, but when it's an action scene, and you have a lot of negative space in the second panel, it's obvious and amateurish. Filling it with color doesn't fix it.


I constructed this post using only the examples from the blog. Eventually I'll scan some of the really bad stuff to show you. The worst one of all will astonish you with its badness. Like, bad for the internet, let alone a published book.


Ian said...

LOL! Should I let John Cboins know about his rave review?

Ryan said...

Oh that's right! I forgot you work with that guy! Well, you can tell him, "My CA Western nerd friend doesn't think yours is the worst of the bunch."