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Topic: Pencil/Inks Comparison (Silver Surfer One Shot cover) Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Nathan Greno
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 11:15am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I recently came across the JB's penciled cover for the Silver Surfer One Shot. I know Palmer can be heavy handed, but I was surprised at the amount of redrawing that went on with this piece. For my own tastes, I think the inks are too overpowering here. 

There's been a lot of inking talk recently in the "Pencil Practice" thread -- I thought it might be interesting to carry some of that conversation into this thread... starting with the examination of this piece:  




Feel free to comment on the cover above and/or post other pencil/inks comparisons for discussion... 


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Mark Haslett
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 12:05pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

First thought for me is a question: I wonder how many changes were enough
for me to not recognize the finished piece as John Byrne art?

I feel like that effect would have been achieved if all Mr. Palmer re-drew was
the face. But the finished torso definitely would have sealed the deal. If
everything else were inked faithfully, I still probably wouldn't have known this
was drawn by my favorite artist.

It's nice, but I didn't know it was JB for years after it came out. Even after I
knew the story was drawn by JB, I wondered who drew the cover.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 12:23pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Not sure why Tom redrew the face. I was going for Kirby’s version.
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Robert Shepherd
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 1:05pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I've tried to mature over the years and look at Tom's inks with open eyes, but in the spirit of this post...

I'm not a fan of the redraws Tom did on the Surfer. The more I look at both images side-by-side, the more I see how much Tom changed for the worse.

I do like the stone out cropping though. That looks cool.


Edited by Robert Shepherd on 07 September 2018 at 1:06pm
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Jonathan A. Dowdell
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 1:12pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Was this a directed attempt to make the Surfer on the cover look more like John Buscema's Silver Surfer of the 1969/70 series? Or just an inker's prerogative (style coming through)? 
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Joe Hollon
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 2:35pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I was there when the finished, inked piece above was
signed by Stan Lee. Good memory. One of the neatest
pieces of original art I've seen in person.
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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 3:11pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

A game I like to play to amuse - or maybe that's 'abuse' - my friends is to look at a page from our share vintage ('79 - '89, roughly) and name the penciller and inker.  Not from memory, mind you, but from the visual cues.  It's easy enough to do with most pairings, specifically with full pencils and sympathetic inkers.  

This one, on the other hand?  I cannot see the Byrne in the final for the life of me.  The approach to the musculature, the treatment of the light source, the complete redrawing of the face, etc.  I love Palmer, but he's really meant to work on layouts.  Giving him reasonably finished pencils like the above, which is (I think) deliberately impressionistic but still full of detailed visual information just results in the loss of the original work and creation of a new one in its place.  He's changing and adding details in places where the original pencils deliberately elide them (the abdominals and rock face) and eliminating details where the original pencils are quite clear (the Kirby crackle).  

All of that would still leave some Byrne showing, but ignoring many of the lighting cues - one of JB's real 'tells' - just hides the original completely.  In the original pencils, you can see that the primary light source is very clearly coming from below (shadows on the face, cast shadows on the left foot and right leg, etc.).  Palmer discarded those and went for a more ambient source that makes it difficult to tell just where the light is supposed to be coming from, so a lot of the internal logic of the original drawing is lost (to me).  

I can see how some would see it as an improvement - Palmer's line and tone is LUSH as FUCK and very appealing, and I think he's technically a superior inker (as in artist who works in ink) to JB.  But this is a case where I prefer the original.
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Eric Ladd
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 3:15pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

The one stylistic change from the pencils to the inks that I would have liked to see preserved is how much of the figure JB represented with the black background. In the pencils, the surfboard and very few white areas make the Surfer require a black outline. With JB's pencils, the majority of the figure is indicated by the background instead of a traditional black outline. With Tom's inks, white areas have been added that require the figure to be almost entirely outlined. I've been looking at lots of John Buscema lately and when the background is leveraged to indicate the Surfer I find the effect more striking.

Case in point:
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Eric Ladd
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 3:23pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

One other complete change from pencil to ink that I think distracts for me is the change in motion for the background. The swirling nature of the background makes it seem tempestuous, but the inks have lost that chaos behind the Surfer. The lower right change is particularly rough on my eye when it changed from a swirl to linear movement. It gives me the impression that the Surfer is looking back on the direction he has traveled. It looks like the asteroid is moving from right to left through space and the Surfer is looking backward instead of the direction he is going.
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Nathan Greno
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 3:38pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Something just occurred to me...

The original penciled cover still exists (Palmer light boxed the pencils onto a piece of Craftint board)... and the final inked cover is pretty heavily redrawn... seems to me the original art that was actually used for the cover SHOULDN'T be called a piece of "John Byrne original art" at auction. 

Right? 


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Doug Centers
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 5:04pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I guess technically it's original Palmer inks, but since this version was used for the cover I would have to call it "original cover art by Byrne and Palmer.


As for Palmer's inks on this, I think it's very slick. But I like JB's version. Tom loses that classic Byrne stature, shoulders pinned back,  chest out, a slight head angle up. I guess a majestic look is what I see.
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Nathan Greno
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 6:59pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Doug: I guess technically it's original Palmer inks, but since this version was used for the cover I would have to call it "original cover art by Byrne and Palmer.

---

JB should get cover credit for the printed comic, no doubt... but on the inked original cover art...

For instance, if another person light boxed those same SS pencils and inked it... would that person be able to say the piece was "original art by Byrne and ____. " I feel like you HAVE to say it's a light boxed piece of art if the penciller didn't physically touch the piece. 

Makes me think of this piece JB inked... 










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Dave Kopperman
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 7:05pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

On a side note: Good LORD is that border on the Buscema page clean.
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 9:19pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Nathan, I see your point. For original pieces there should be full disclosure (if known) of the process.
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Kevin Brown
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Posted: 07 September 2018 at 10:06pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

 Nathan Greno wrote:
The original penciled cover still exists (Palmer light boxed the pencils onto a piece of Craftint board)... and the final inked cover is pretty heavily redrawn... seems to me the original art that was actually used for the cover SHOULDN'T be called a piece of "John Byrne original art" at auction. 

Right?

IMO, he traced a piece of John Byrne art and made significant changes to it.  So there's an original piece of JB art and a Tom Palmer piece based on JB art.
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 1:46am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

You all know I love JB's art, otherwise I wouldn't be here.  But I think Palmer improved it.

JB's pencils don't look quite finished.  Palmer really clarified some things I find confusing in the pencils--the shadowy armpit area above the board, for instance.  Also, the Surfer doesn't look very metallic/silvery in the original.  And my first impression of the face is that it's the Phantom--perhaps that's why Palmer reworked it.

This is definitely a collaborative piece--two great artists working together to create a great cover.  You don't hire Palmer just to trace.  The only possible objectionable thing for me here is the addition of the stomach muscles and chest detail--BUT even that can be excused/explained.  If, after finishing everything else, the stomach and the chest looked too empty, I might expect an embellisher like Palmer to fill it in in some way.

I mean--look at that piece!  It's a beautiful cover!  Strong and iconic pose and concept by Byrne, wonderful finishing and fleshing out by Palmer.

Even so, I wouldn't mind seeing what Terry Austin might have done with it.


Edited by Eric Jansen on 08 September 2018 at 1:49am
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Oliver Denker
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 2:03am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

@Eric Jansen
I see in Palmer's inking the exact opposite. 
No improvement at all.
Totally over rendered to a point, that I wouldn't recognize it as a John Byrne drawing, if I didn't know better.

In John's pencils the Surfer possesses grace and dynamics. Both is completely lost in Tom's inks. 


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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 7:11am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Palmer - like Klaus Janson, Joe Sinnott, Bob Layton or Kevin Nowlan - is a pretty heavy-handed inker, so I can see why people vary widely on his style.  Personally, I like his inking and love this piece.  Now, if I were the pencil artist I might have some issues with thier inking styles.

And, to me, just because Palmer didn't ink the original art doesn't change anything.  I don't see it as any different than how artist send scanned work in nowadays.

And keep in mind publishing is all about the finished product. The publisher ultimately isn't worried about a writer or artist's vision they're concerned with the final product.  And sometimes the editor's idea of how the product should turn out  causes for drastic (and sometimes ill-advised) changes.  (for instance the changes DC made to Jack Kirby's art in the 70's when he would draw superman in his style and they would have his face redrawn to stay on model.  Not all instances are this drastic, but the practice has been going on for years.


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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 7:21am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

I like Tom Palmer's work on many things, but JB is my favorite artist and I really like his pencilled version of this cover more than the finished version. I bought that book because of JB more than anything back in the day, and as talented as Tom Palmer is, I felt then and now that his inks overwhelmed the pencils and muted JB's style.

 Frankly,  and this is not a slam at his ability, I never bought anything by Tom Palmer just because he was the artist. I have bought many comics by JB that I never would have bought as a fan just because he drew the book.
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 7:32am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

I enjoyed Tom Palmer's inks over JB on XMHY. I'd really like to see that Silver Surfer cover inked by someone else.
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Eric Ladd
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 8:12am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

 Dave Kopperman wrote:
Good LORD is that border on the Buscema page clean

RIGHT?! Even the corners are tiny little points with no rounding. Some serious attention to detail.
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Steve Gumm
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 8:24am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Man those pencils are sooo darn good, I haven't seen them before they are a real treat to see!
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Jason K Fulton
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 9:11am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I wouldn't recognize the inked cover as a JB page without the signature.

The penciled version stands out as 100% JB. 

There's always been something ethereal and lithe about a Byrne Silver Surfer (looking thru some random issues this morning, I can't find an instance of defined abs). The inked version loses that.

For purchasing purposes, I wouldn't consider the inked version a JB piece - but I'm glad to know someone has preserved the pencils.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 11:41am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

John's pencils on this are gorgeous and have more subtle shade gradations than I typically see in his work but I get the conundrum Palmer faced in inking it.  Like Gene Colan, the pencils here feature a lot of slightly differing shades which are a bitch to capture in ink, a medium much less forgiving than pencils in translating basic weight variations (a line is either there or it isn't.)  That said, while Palmer is one of my all-time favorite inkers (and for me by far the best Colan inker), I've never been a fan of his inks on this job.


Edited by Rick Senger on 08 September 2018 at 11:44am
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Tim O'Neill
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Posted: 08 September 2018 at 12:08pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply


I don’t like Palmer’s inks on this.  He didn’t just overpower JB’s pencils, he changed the piece completely.  I believe this was a cover image, so maybe he felt an obligation to make it grand with detail.  But JB’s Silver Surfer is powerful in his sleekness and simplicity.  And when you keep the character design simple, the coloring works much better.  Silver Surfer will be white, and we have heard much on the Forum about the graphic power of white space.  When the inker and the colorist try to fill in this white space, they are not considering the overall work.  Sometimes less is more.

And to be clear, this is not a knock on Tom Palmer.  I just love his work on X-MEN HIDDEN YEARS.  I was disappointed when the series didn’t feature JB inking has own work, but having Palmer on the book turned out to be a stroke of genius.  Palmer provided a kind of connective tissue between the Neal Adams run and the “all new all different” iteration that featured JB.





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