Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week): Wilfred Santiago and Jeremy Haun
The comic book, animation, illustration, pinup, mashup, fan art and design communities are generating amazing artwork of myriad styles and tastes, all of which ends up on the Internet and filtered into ComicsAlliance’s Best Art Ever (This Week). These images convey senses of mood and character — not to mention artistic skill — but comic books are specifically a medium of sequential narratives, and great sequential art has to be both beautiful (totally subjective!) and clear in its storytelling (not so subjective!). The words and the pictures need to work together to tell the story and create whatever tone, emotion and indeed world the story requires. The contributions of every person on a creative team, from the writer to the artist(s) to the letterers, are necessary to achieving a great page of sequential storytelling.
It is the special nature of comic books that we’re celebrating in this recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
Story: Marc Andreyko
Art: Jeremy Haun
Colors: Guy Major
Lettering: Todd Klein
Editing: Rachel Gluckstern and Darren Shan
Publisher: DC Comics
Available: Comics shops (print) / DC Entertainment (Apple + Android + Web)
If you go into this book wanting Jeremy Haun to be former Batwoman artist J.H. Williams III, you will be disappointed. If you go into this book wanting Jeremy Haun to be awesome in his own way, you will not be disappointed. Haun gives Batwoman a gritty depth that works well especially in this issue, which takes place mostly in a police station. The framing of the pages is really nice, too, with the checkered background calling out those cop HQ pages specifically. This page has a nice arch to it that welcomes you to a new scene without it even needing to be called out in the copy. The lettering is of course excellent, as to be expected from a letterer as fantastic as Todd Klein. The curve of the top panel also leads the reader to the first caption and sets the eye on its path through the rest of the page. Kate's placement in each panel also helps guide the eye -- an important thing to consider when your lead character has such an eye-popping hair color (or really any color that's bright). Kate's hair pulls your eye and the matching caption color helps balance that out so you never lose track of the words. Haun also includes lots of great little details like people wearing modern clothes humans would actually wear and adding lots of small bits to the background that flesh out the space.
This is flat-out one of the most beautiful comics I've ever picked up. The art is original, kinetic, and perfect for a sports story such as this. It's not an easy thing to illustrate a story about something as active as a sport, at least in western comics -- we do often see it attempted in manga. But artist Wilfred Santiago does a great job of balancing clarity with action. This page is a great example of that. Most of the panels are dedicated to clear storytelling of what's happening in the game in a way that moves in fits and starts, just like the game of baseball. The first row of panels is slow and precise, and the close up of the eye in the second panel helps drive that home. But then the third row of panels is chopped up into increasingly small pieces to show the rush of various players and the ball, culminating in Clemente being declared safe. It's a beautiful way to show the action and give the feel of the sport. The use of a typewriter-esque font for the announcer's voice is really neat as well.