Like many artists I am frequently “borrowing” ideas and inspiration from other artists. Depending on how my creativity is flowing – I may just see a flash of something and be inspired for weeks – or I can spend hours digging through and researching everything that I can get my hands on hoping that it will spawn ideas for me. When time is against me, I usually prefer the first option – but I often end up with the second option.
Bear with me – this is going somewhere.
Recently my creative juices have been almost completely tapped out. I think this is a direct consequence of the fact that I have currently taken on too much work. But this isn’t a pity party. I’ve made my bed – now I’m going to talk about it…or something like that.
For one of my big projects right now I have turned to the comic genre for my inspiration. This is not the first time I have done this, nor will it be the last. I know I’m preaching to the choir, so I’ll reserve all my comments about the “importance” and “influence” comics can have on society and art. However, I do want to talk about the artist that has inspired me most recently.
Ben Templesmith and specifically his work for Fell, Volume One, Feral City. If you haven’t yet read this book, I strongly recommend it. It falls under the “crime” genre of comics. It is the story of Detective Fell. He has been relocated to Snowtown – a place where police have no authority. Not even no authority – they have no meaning. Detective Fell, like all good protagonists, is going to turn the town around, one case at a time. Just to make sure I get the credits in – it is written by Warren Ellis and lettered by Chris Eliopoulos.
But I’m here to talk about the art. Mr. Templesmith has visually articulated the idea of Snowtown perfectly to me. Truthfully, I have no idea how his version relates to the actual Snowtown located in Southern Australia – but in terms of what it needs to tell the story – it’s spot on.
For my money, at least currently, the images that are most striking to me are the large panels that are showing some type of landscape. There is something so atmospheric to them. It’s a weird sensation to explain, but I feel like I am there – or rather – if I were there I would know what it feels like. It’s chilly, but not cold, it’s damp – the annoying damp that makes you wish it would just rain and soak you – and it’s dark. It’s the kind of dark that makes you keep looking over your shoulder – but you have to keep looking ahead for the same reason…something’s lurking around you.
There is a certain simplicity to the art – a simplicity that makes everything so clear. I can just look at each panel and understand it. It just feels real. This is the type of art that I crave when reading comics – and, apparently, the art I needed most recently for my own personal inspiration.
So, Mr. Templesmith – I thank you for the inspiration. I’d be in a world of hurt right now without you – especially with my deadline next week. For the rest of you, if you haven’t read this book, hopefully these images piqued your interest. It is absolutely worth checking out.