The Originals: The Dodsons and Beautiful Personalities
More than a few of your favorite Marvel and DC Comics creators have projects that you may not have heard of, depending on how closely you follow their careers. In creator-owned comics, these talents get to go wild and create a story that springs entirely from their own brow, and I love seeing the results of that. Once a week on ComicsAlliance, I'm going to take a Big Two creator, talk about why they're good, and suggest you something original. This week, I want to talk about Terry & Rachel Dodson's work, and how they manage to turn regular Good Girl Art into something wonderful.Terry & Rachel Dodson have worked on Wonder Woman with Allan Heinberg and Jodi Picoult, Harley Quinn with Karl Kesel, Uncanny X-Men with Matt Fraction and Kieron Gillen, Defenders with Matt Fraction.
Terry and Rachel Dodson are a husband-and-wife art team -- he's the penciller, she's the inker -- who have been collaborating for years now. Their work tends to have an aura of heightened reality that really works for cape comics -- think of how Alan Davis draws perfectly idealized figures, or Jim Lee's impossibly chiseled characters. For the Dodsons, they manage to merge cartoons and comics art to create something perfectly suited to stories about people in tights, with a strong sense of humor and solid fashion sense. Which brings us right around to:
Terry & Rachel Dodson are good at good girl art. They're good at more, of course, especially jokes, but when you think "Dodsons are good at drawing" the last word is probably going to be "ladies." The difference between the Dodsons and other, lesser artists is that the Dodsons know personality. They understand the importance of an upturned nose, a sly wink, or a stuck-out tongue. Sexy girls is way bigger than big boobs, you know? Case in point:
This is the cover to Uncanny X-Men #504. Terry supplied the lineart, Rachel the inks, and I believe Terry colored it himself. The draw is obvious, I think. You have sexy gimmick versions of various X-Ladies, including two different Psylockes. (Before you ask: forget it, Jake. It's comics.) The ladies are fairly busty, which is par for the course for superhero comics and good girl art.
But the Dodsons don't stop at the bosoms. They give their subjects a lot of personality, on top of the '20s-inspired fashion. They're great, but the absolute best part are the faces. Rogue's welcoming and cheerful, like she's excited to introduce you to the cast. Storm's aloof, but majestic. Emma Frost's positively daring you to make a move. One Psylocke, the brunette, is curious. The other, with pink hair, looks a little mischievous, like she's asking "So, what's your deal?" with her eyes. Here's a close-up from Dodson's DeviantArt:
See what I mean?
Terry Dodson also draws Songes with Denis-Pierre Filippi.
Rachel isn't involved with this project, as the pages are being shot from Terry's pencils, but it's still a project that's right in the Dodson's wheelhouse. It stars Coraline, a governess, and begins at the moment she arrives at her posting at a mansion. There's a precocious inventor, a quirky staff, and a beautiful French countryside. She dreams often, and those dreams are where Dodson gets to go all out. The dreams are adventure stories, and so Dodson gets to draw things like Coraline being kidnapped by pirates.
The dreams are sexy and exciting, and it's really interesting to see Dodson's art without Rachel's influence. A lot of the hallmarks of the Dodson style -- the way clothes drape across a body, great smiles, good fashion sense, and especially complex and layered clothes in the case of Coraline's skirts and bloomers -- are still present, but the art is a little less clean than you'd see in their Uncanny X-Men work, for example.
Songes is a sexy comic, sure, but it's a beautiful sexy comic. Dodson lavished attention on Coraline, but also on the rest of the cast, the landscapes, mansion, and dreams. Songes looks like a dream, has a pulpy story that enables a lot of good girl art, but Dodson doesn't do half-measures. Every panel's a great example of that style.
Sadly, you can't currently buy Songes in English. It's a French comic, but Later this year the first and second volumes of will be combined into one hardcover and published by Humanoids under the English title Muse. But for now, getting a hold of Songes takes a bit of doing. If you go to comic conventions, check out the imported comics booths. Songes is not that expensive, and it comes in a handsome hardcover. You can also purchase Songes digitally (and in French) from Ave!Comics for $5.99. Dodson has also done several commissioned sketches of Coraline at conventions. If you'd rather wait for the English version, sure, I understand, but I picked up this hardcover a while back and I regularly find myself flipping through it. It's beautiful.