Monday, August 29, 2011

Green Arrow Controversy

Last week, an article on Bleeding Cool spawned quite a bit of back and forth among commenters and it mostly revolved around this picture by Brett Booth.

The gist of the controversy is that there was a fan who took issue with how Booth drew the picture, citing several things wrong with the way Green Arrow was holding the bow and arrow. Booth then responded in a manner, that given the way information can disseminate on the internet, was probably not the wisest way to respond. (Cursing the fan and citing a lack of interest in the subject and a tight deadline as the reasons the picture may have been less than accurate.)

However, to his credit, once he cooled down, Booth followed up with a very better explanation of his frustration to the fan.
Don‘t you think it makes me cringe every time I see a really, really badly drawn dinosaur in a comic book? Or a dog with five joints in each leg? Do you think these people don‘t ‘care’ about their work? Do you think I contact the artist to tell them they need to look some stuff up? No: I know that not everybody is going to spend hours looking things up to make an accurate portrayal: I don‘t even have time to do that for some things, because I’m asked to tum it around too fast: And you know what? Most people don‘t notice anyways:

My wife has a background in illustration and design: Her degree is in illustration: The comic book industry absolutely appalls her because virtually ‘nobody’ uses reference, and it’s not even expected by an editor: Because most people ‘don‘t notice’ anyways.
What I found interesting was how many fans wanted to dogpile on Booth for not looking up how archers hold bows on Google, calling him slack. I think it's unfair to call Booth lazy because that implies he dropped the ball on a detail that was critical to the enjoyment of the image. I think it's safer to assume that Booth, like most comic artists, is more concerned with the overall cool factor of the image and nailing down the exact details of how one holds a bow isn't a driving factor in the success of this illustration. Saying it is assumes that the average reader knows AND cares about such things.

Also, Let's face it - a lot of finer details of reality of archary are sacrificed for the sake of said cool factor. (Boxing Glove arrows?)

Also, one of the things Booth's detractor took him to task for was the way the bow rested on Green Arrow's thumb, but you'll notice Kirby drew it in a similar fashion. Compare is Booth's drawing of Green Arrow to this Jack Kirby 1950's version of the character?

With that said, I'll close with today's Free Comic - another Jack Kirby Archer comic from the 50's but one I've never heard of: Bullseye: Western Scout!

I just happened to discover this comic in alt.binaries.comics this weekend and I'm low on details about this character, so please feel free to expand in the comments section if you know anything about the history of this character.

btw - that is neither how you ride a horse or hold a gun. ;)


- Jim


Trey said...

I don't know that box glove arrows is the same as this. While I don't think it's a big deal (and you're right that Kirby drew the same sloppy technique). At this day in age, who has shot a bow? Or at least seen any number of films where people shoot bows?

Silly trick arrows are Green Arrow's schtick. There what we suspend belief for to allow the character. Holding a bow in obviously incorrect way isn't--and in no way does it add "cool factor" to a drawing.

Now, I don't think the man oughta be pilloried (or even dissed on the internet) for it or anything, but I don't think you can defend him on those grounds.

Britt Reid said...

There's a big difference between an elderly Kirby doing a quick sketch (which that Green Arrow cover was derived from) and Kirby at his peak, who, more often than not, got it right.
(plus, the inker could've easily corrected it!)
Considering Kirby was doing 3-5 pages PER DAY, he had the excuse of no time to redraw, a claim Brett Booth (and most artists today) certainly can't use...

Sean Kleefeld said...

I'm amused by your choosing that particular Green Arrow drawing by Kirby and the reference to Bullseye. Not only was that GA drawing just a sketch originally, but it was a sketch of Bullseye, not Green Arrow! Long-time Kirby inker Mike Royer modified it for the GA collection that DC released in 2001 because Kirby never did a "money shot" of GA; the character didn't have his own book at the time and was never featured on the covers.

cash_gorman said...

It's not like nowadays it doesn't take about five minutes to look up a reference shot of an archer (and we know he has access to a computer and the internet). I could forgive Kirby and other artists from even the 1970s getting that kind of detail wrong since finding a proper reference could take half a day.

From what I've seen of most modern artists, they do rely on reference and model shots, and too many of the current young bucks over-rely on them, sapping much of the energy from their work.

JP Cote said...

Booth's big mistakes were responding and responding the way he did. Merrit (the emailer) is a jerk. Using words like 'appalling', 'amateur', 'fool' in your assessment of somebody's work (even with the passive/aggressive platitudes) I think you should expect an f# or two in the response. The criticism sounds pompous at least and then posting the private correspondence (and then only part of it) is wrong. He's not someone in the profession so he should be more respectful of the guy's talent, efforts, background and work. In the WWW world though Mr. Booth, vent on your buddies, not on the net.

As for Booth's defense "taking hours to look something up", within the body of the story, I can see and completely understand things not adding up, looking awkward, etc from one frame to another because there is overall a ton of work there. A cover though? A cover is the masterpiece, the showcase, the money shot. You should take the time to get it right. That's the one that should take the time, alternate cover or not. Google, baby.

Caine said...

Hey look. The way he's holding his bow is the same way Bo and Luke used to do it, just take a gander over to

If it's good enough for Hazard county I say it's good enough for comics. I for one am glad to see Brett back in the fold at DC and will buy anything he's on.

Caine said...

Wow, you are going out of your way to craft a scenario or two where it would be ok if Kirby made the same mistake that Brett has apparently made.

Maybe Brett and Kirby are not on the same level as comic artists (that's a maybe) but the comic industry is not as it was in Kirby's day.

Britt Reid said...

"Wow, you are going out of your way to craft a scenario or two where it would be ok if Kirby made the same mistake that Brett has apparently made."

Kirby was in his 70s and did a quick sketch not meant for publication. (Which the inker could've corrected)

What's Brett's excuse?

Look at Kirby's 1950s Green Arrow work. (It's available in a variety of formats.)
How many times does he get it right as opposed to getting it wrong?
If it's over 50%, he's doing better than Brett.

MattComix said...

That costume design bothers me more than anything to do with the pose or the anatomy.

As for the debate, it may be a valid criticism but I think the fan is being a bit uptight, but at the same time though is this really something worth an artist telling a fan to "f**k off" about?

Jim Shelley said...

@Trey, don't get me wrong - I love silly trick arrows!

Jim Shelley said...

@BrittReid - I didn't mean to imply that Kirby was being sloppy, but rather, to me, both drawings are equally good because I'm not hung up on how GA is holding the bow.

Jim Shelley said...

@Sean - Thank you for that awesome bit of Inside Comics knowledge! Where did you come across that?

Jim Shelley said...

@Cash_Gorman - Yeah, I hear you on the over reliance of photo reference stuff in comics now. I don't have a problem with people using google to find references, but many artist take the reference straight to the lightbox and trace every detail exactly as it is so you end up with a Sue Storm that looks like Paris Hilton in one panel and Hillary Clinton in another. :P

Jim Shelley said...

JP Cote - yeah, you make a good point about the importance of a cover image vs a random panel in the comic. The cover is going to be used to promote the comic on various websites which opens it up to more scrutiny and criticism.

Jim Shelley said...

@Caine - Ha! I love me Dukes of Hazzard!

Jim Shelley said...

@MattComix - I think you are right that Brett overreacted. He also must be really unfamiliar with how information propagates on the internet.

Brendoon said...

While I don't give a toss about what people say about my illustrations, It's a personal attack if they criticise my music! (and I feel like a cad when I lose my temper at it. I lose both ways!) You've gotta expect an artist to feel attacked when often WHO HE IS is tied up in what he does.
A man's beard is long and white before he works around that one...
There are gentler ways to say "use google," however.

Brendoon said...

Hey, I just noticed the top left hand corner of today's free comic shows bullseye holding a bow, by Kirby!

However, anyone read it yet?

GACN said...

Brett Booth is one of my favorites. He reminds of me George Perez, Terry Austin, and Arthur Adams all rolled into one. I don't mind that he angrily responded to the individual as he did -- some folks need to be told where to stuff it. Then again, I'm in that kind of mood these days. :-)

Brendoon said...

Ain't passion a grand thing!

Jim Shelley said...

@GACN - yeah, I think sometimes fans need to realize that just because they *can* say anything via email to a creator, doesn't necessarily mean they should. ;)

Jim Shelley said...

@Brendoon - Yes, I read the BullsEye comic and I really enjoyed it!

Brendoon said...

Then that comic's going into my brown paper ebag as we speak...

Britt Reid said...

"I think sometimes fans need to realize that just because they *can* say anything via email to a creator, doesn't necessarily mean they should."

In the "good old days" fans would've written a letter to the editor (on real paper with an envelope), mailed it off (via snail mail) and that would've been that.

"Creators" don't walk on water.
They are just people, like you or me.
I don't condone use of foul language or comments based on ehtnicity/religion/sexual preference, etc., in dealing with anyone in person or on the net.
And, of course, stalking or tracking down people who don't wish contact (unless you're a reporter for 60 Minutes), and I've not seen any of that in this thread.

If "creators" choose to put their access information out there (as Brett did), they're inviting interaction from interested parties.
It isn't always going to be gushing praise, especially in the case of "popular" artforms (music, movies, tv, comics, etc.) where fans have (sometimes) extreme opinions.
It's not a place for the thin-skinned.

And let's face it, most pop culture fans and pros (who, in many cases are fans-turned-pros) are not exactly versed in the subtleties of social interaction.
Both sides are loaded with arrogant, snarky jerks.
Ironically, many are well-informed and/or talented arrogant, snarky jerks, but arrogant, snarky jerks nontheless.

Britt Reid said...

"Wow, Kirby was amazing. Could he walk on water? :p "

Nope, but as (IIRC) Marv Wolfman once said:
"When Mankind reaches the edge of the universe, they'll find Jack Kirby's signature in the lower right-hand corner."

Among comics professionals, Kirby is considered one of the most influental artists ever, ranking with Will Eisner, Neal Adams, and Wally Wood as being at the creative level they aspire to reach.

Look at Marvel today.
80-90% of their current lineup are either Kirby co-creations (with Stan Lee, mostly) or directly spun-off from Kirby co-creations.
X-Men First Class contains Kirby co-creations Professor X, Magneto, and Beast, plus Xavier's School, as well as the X-Men concept itself.
(and the entire original Lee/Kirby team has appeared in the X-Men trilogy)
In the Avengers movie, Captain America & Red Skull (with Joe Simon), Thor & Loki, Hulk, Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D. (and tech like the HeliCarrier), Iron Man, and most of their respective supporting casts, are Kirby co-creations.

Frank Miller, John Byrne, Alex Ross, Jim Starlin, George Perez, and many other artists, ALL directly acknowledge Kirby's work as creative inspiration and seminal influences in their own material.

So, no, he couldn't walk on water.
But many, many comics pros would happily lift him up and carry him thru the surf so his feet wouldn't get wet! ;-P


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