On Kirbyfication

By | Tuesday, October 02, 2012 1 comment
As you may have noticed, if you're actually visiting my site and not just reading this through a feed reader or whatever, there's a new header graphic up top. I got it into my head sometime last week that I should have a photo of myself with a bit of a Kirby hands thing going on.

I pulled together a few Jack Kirby drawings and composited them together in Photoshop to get a pose I liked, then shot it off to a photographer friend of mine to see how do-able it might be to take a picture like that. He said that it'd be about impossible without doing a lot of heavy re-touching after the fact.

I liked the pose, though, and figured, "You know, I could just re-draw this on the computer and drop my own head in place." And, not quite a week later, I came up with this...
(Larger version if you click on that image, and want to see some of the details.)

I heard a Neal Adams interview a while back where he was talking about Kirby's work. He said that many of the lines don't make sense anatomically speaking. Kirby would draw lines representing muscle and sinew where there weren't any on the human body, but it somehow still worked.

I've long known that at some level, but actually tracing over Kirby's linework really hammered that point home for me. Beyond those weird random squiggles on the legs or whatever, there were all sorts of lines and shadows that make no sense whatsoever. That whole right arm in the image above is a mess! That's not me; it's a direct tracing of Kirby. But, somehow, the image when taken as a whole, works.

Here's some work-in-progress images to show just how well it doesn't work until you get all the pieces together...
All of which is a long way of saying the Kirby was an amazing talent! I've long had a great deal of respect for him, but every time I do anything resembling more research into his work, I come away that much more impressed!
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Ethan said...

I think Neal Adams also said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "Your style is all the mistakes you make. If it were perfect, it'd be a photograph." I think he said that, or something like that.