Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week): Ryan Kelly, Steve Lieber, And Cafu
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 all-new recurring feature: Best Sequential Art Ever (This Week).
Some of the work spotlighted here will be from comics that came out just this week and some will be from older comics that we just happen to be reading at the moment. If you want to submit sequential art that you think is great, shoot us an email at comicsalliance-at-gmail-dot-com with “Best Sequential Art” in the subject line. Artists, writers and editors are welcome to submit their own work — we won’t tell.
Ryan Kelly is super talented, and his work on Three might just be his best yet. While his action scenes are great, I think where he really soars is with characterization. People all look like individuals and emotions are visible on the characters' faces. On Three specifically, the use of different colored gutters shows the art really well. This page stood out because of the strong use of color to separate the flashback scenes from the present tense of the story as well as the characterization of the narrator/speaker on this page. The violent blood spatter on the flashback as well as the smug politician face on the speaker help the reader read between the lines and see that something more is going on.
To state the obvious: that dragon looks awesome. But that's not why this page is great. This page is the opposite of an action page in that the lead character feels momentarily frozen and it's reflected in the art. Even the dragon isn't moving for a brief moment. The following page is all motion but this page is about letting the reader feel the stillness. Add into that the fantastic expressions on the monkey's face and a panel layout that easily lets the reader's eye flow where it needs to go and you've got a great page.
All right, admittedly, I'm a sucker for any comic page that brings to mind a video game. There's something really neat about seeing the two mediums cross over. But that's not why this spread stands out as a piece of excellent storytelling. There's only one bit of dialogue, at the very beginning of the sequence, and it sets up the complete ridiculousness that is about to occur. Each zone of battle is not just marked by walls in this cross-section of a building, it's also colored differently so that each individual threat pops on its own. There's a lot of humor to this spread so it could be easy to miss its importance: in the ensuing multi-page action sequence, readers have this visual to look back on in order to make sense of the flow of the story.