Friday, January 30, 2009

The Drawing Board: Clayton Crain

Art in comics is an important aspect for me. Some people see that even if the art is terrible, the storyline shines, it’s a great comic. In some ways I can agree to that but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see great artists. The 1990’s set a rather bland standard in artwork, tones set by Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane that, at the time, everyone wanted to copy and try to emulate. Though in the new Millennium we have amazing artists like Marko Djurdjevic and Stjepan Sejic doing Digital painted work. It’s some pretty impressive and amazing stuff.

The Drawing board is our latest article here at New Age Comics and it’s exactly what it sounds like, about artwork. Mostly appreciation of course, though in the case of…some artists I will not be as appreciative and complimenting on their style. For this is a place of admiration and critique. I should mention this now, Drawing Board will be Bi-Weekly and, as you can guess since it’s on Friday, taking the place of Collection Spotlight. Though Collection Spotlight is still around, it will simply be every other Friday, such as next Friday we have a CS then the Friday after this a new Drawing Board.

Choosing the first artist to be spot-lighted in the Drawing Board was tough. I have several artists I am already eager to talk about, but for the sake of he’s a big favorite of mine I’m going with Clayton Crain to start things off.

Now the banner for New Age Comics should tell you that I’m a fan of Crain’s work. After all, I’ve got 2 head shots from 2 of the comics he’s signed for me. In case you don’t know it’s the one on the left and the one on the right, with Gunslinger Spawn in the middle.

Clayton Crain uses digital artwork, in case you couldn’t tell by now, along with his hand drawn images. First he draws them then he goes over them digitally. The process itself, I am unaware of how it all works. I can only figure that it involves spending many hours on the computer getting it all done.

One reason I like Crain’s work so much is that he has an incredible eye for detail. One that could rival his former employer, Todd McFarlane. Crain used to work on Curse of the Spawn for a while, showing incredible detail as well there as many artists who have worked on Spawn, have shown before. Though in 2004 he began a job with Marvel and illustrated Peter Milligan’s Venom vs. Carnage mini-series.

After a while he took on the Marvel Knights mini-series Ghost Rider: Road to Damnation. Written by Garth Ennis, this book brought the popular hero Johnny Cage back from purgatory.

Only 2 years later he returned to Ghost Rider, as did Garth Ennis, in the mini-series Trail of Tears. A personal favorite of mine as a big fan of Ghost Rider and an incredible story, with equally incredible artwork. Crain’s level of detail and the sick moments written by Garth Ennis told a rather bloody, but at the same time appropriate, Ghost Rider tale.

Crain has also done work for The Sensational Spider-man along with Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa on writing. He helped tell Spider-man tale through the Civil War and was there when the web-head went back in black.

Together they ended the Sensation series (pun fully intended!) with #40 (#41 was a useless chapter in the equally useless OMD story) wit the great story “The book of Peter” in which Spider-man talks to God about being Spider-man. As someone who has tried hard and distanced himself well away from religion one would think that I’d hate this storyline but really, it was incredible.

Sacasa’s incredible story of Spider-man’s faith and sadness was done incredibly well thanks to Crain’s detailed artwork. The storyline gave a shining ray of hope that still shines despite Spider-man’s current circumstance. It was an incredible story and if anyone ever has the chance to pick up this issue of that once great comic, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s great for anyone who loves Spider-man.

But now more about the artwork of Clayton Crain. As mentioned prior, his attention to detail is incredibly impressive and he remains able to do strong storytelling and not lose the classic look of characters like Venom and Wolverine while giving them such strong detail and doing such great work.

He was prior a Young Gun of Marvel’s artists at the time such as Billy Tan and Lienel Yu where. He currently is the main artist for X-force and from what an announcement a couple years back said ,every now and then he and Ennis will do a different Ghost Rider mini. Though it looks like Trail of Tears was their last one unfortunately.

That’s all I really have to say on him. He’s a great artist, at least in my opinion and I really dig his work. I’ve met him in person, got some comics signed by him and he’s a cool guy.

So that’s it for our new Bi-Weekly/Replacement post in The Drawing Board. Next up? Dustin Nguyen!


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