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Topic: Question for Mr Byrne - Inking Your Own Pencils (Topic Closed Topic Closed) Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Jon Risby
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Posted: 03 October 2005 at 7:07pm | IP Logged | 1  

There seems to be a debate (this was a topic touched on in the Wonder Woman letters pages) regarding you inking your own pencils, some people don't like your inks, while others do (I personally think you are the best inker of your own pencils).

Do you have a preference for inking your own prencils or not?

What is your take on this "debate"?

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John Byrne
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Posted: 03 October 2005 at 8:47pm | IP Logged | 2  

Right now is probably not the best time for this question, since I am only inking covers, and otherwise having a ball stretching all kinds of artistic muscles I had forgotten I had (while at the same time discovering new ones) doing pencils only for the interiors. In other words, at the moment I am a bit biased against the notion of inking my own pencils.

To expand on that a tad, I have never considered myself my own best inker. I started inking my own work (after the Charlton days, at least) because Terry Austin bowed out as inker on FANTASTIC FOUR, and there were no acceptable choices available. (Top of the list was Vinnie Colletta, okay?) I didn't have much clue what I was doing when I started, and so did the best I could to imitate Terry -- with less than satisfying results. Over the following years, I kept messing about with the process, changing tools, changing line weight, changing paper size. I'd hit what I felt was a pretty good stride -- NAMOR, for instance, for most of the run -- and then some inner demon would compell me to try something new, and the results were not always to my own satisfaction. (In something like this, of course, one's own satisfaction is all one has to go by. Since every fan has a different idea of what makes for good inking -- someone has now read my reference to Vinnie inking FF and thought "Oh, man, that woulda bin GREAT!!" -- so I could only look at the finished job and decide for myself what was working and what wasn't. Problem there was that a finished page of original art doesn't have a whole lot to do with what a printed page looks like, so often something that looked great on the page would look rotten in the book. (WONDER WOMAN went thru a bout of this. Seemed like no matter what kind of ink I used, what kind of tool I used, what line weight I used, things would get scratchy, or muddy, or lines would drop out.)

Some of my best inking happened on NEXT MEN. There I had no imps on my shoulder whispering that the work needed to look like Joe Sinnott, or Tom Palmer, or anyone else who had inked the characters before -- because no one had inked the characters before! (I remember working on pages and thinking "So this is what John Byrne looks like!")

As to the "debate" -- meaningless. Pay even a small amount of attention, and you will quickly notice there is no "debate" at all, merely a flock of jaded (or, perhaps pseudo-jaded) fanboys parroting whatever lines they think will make them sound kewl to the other jaded fanboys. One of the things I have noticed about the criticisms of my work in about 99% of the cases is that they are all outdated. "Byrne never draws backgrounds!" Well, yes, there was indeed a period when I was unconsciously dropping backgrounds. About twenty years ago! "All Byrne's faces look the same!" Also true -- provided we don't look at anything I did after, say, 1980 (or earlier, depending on the job). "Byrne needs to get an inker!" Another one? I have three, currently. . .   And on, and on.*

So there it must be like everything else. Those who like the work, like it. Those who don't, don't. And in the third corner, the minibrains who don't know what they're talking about, anyway.


* One of the more amusing things the parrots do is parrot me! We're all aware of the sad souls who detested everything I do, am, or stand for -- and prove it by memorizing everything I say. Thus, if I say some artist draws lousy aglets, you can be sure that a week will not go by without somebody bringing up the really crappy aglets Byrne draws. We saw this "thinking" in action recently when, as I was in the midst of one of my periodic rants against late books, DC mis-announced the date for the release of the next issue of one of my titles -- BLOOD OF THE DEMON, I think -- and had one issue following the previous by only one week! When they corrected this, the anancephalics pounced, insisting that just as I had said others should quit books if they could not produce them on schedule, I should quit BotD because the book was "late". Doing the math was not even a part of this foolishness -- so blinded by their anti-Byrne myopia were these knuckleheads that they instantly pounced on a point to parrot -- even tho it was an imaginary one!

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Todd Hembrough
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Posted: 03 October 2005 at 9:14pm | IP Logged | 3  

Great response JB. 

I was going to ask a similar question, having just run through the whole FF run in a matter of 3 days for our crazy counting thread.  There are a lot of cool changes in the art over time, and I was wondering, at that time if you were inking from complete pencils, and when did you make the shift to inking rough pencils or breakdowns, as I understand that you do now for your cover work?'

Thanks,

Todd
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 03 October 2005 at 9:36pm | IP Logged | 4  

My personal prefence is for John Byrne not to ink himself. Not that i would say he isn't a good inker. A piece i saw that he inked over Gene Colan's pencils i liked alot. But when it comes to his own stuff i'd perfer he didn't. I feel this way because i don't feel John Byrne the inker captures the feel that John Byrne the penciler has. But thats just me.
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Didier Yvon Paul Fayolle
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Posted: 03 October 2005 at 10:11pm | IP Logged | 5  

Mister B., to continue on the subject, have you tried to just go with the pencil art to be printed directly? A lot of artists in France use that technic.

Among them, try to google : ( artist ) Michel Plessix , series ( Julien Boisvert , le vent dans les saules ), ( publisher ) Delcourt .

(artist ) Servain, series ( Siloe, tome 2 ).

But will that technic possible for some big comics companies with mass production printing like DC or Marvel, or even Dark Horse?  

Several years ago, in France, they did a printing of some pencil art from your work on Captain America unfinished project ( with Roger Stern ) and put colors on it. But the results were not too good...

With more care on it, I will be curious to see the results.

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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 03 October 2005 at 10:50pm | IP Logged | 6  

Anthony -

For the longest time I used to be adamant that JB must ink himself for me
to completely enjoy it. Bear in mind that my first exposure to his work
was Alpha flight #1, so after seeing him ink himself for over a year
straight, the 11-year-old me kinda freaked out when I first saw Bob
Wiacek ink him starting with #15. I thought he was totally unfaithful to
his pencils, how dare he, yadda yadda yadda. For years I had a bit of a
grudge against Wiacek, who also inked JB on his first run of She-Hulk. But
them I saw the Comics Interview where pencilled-only pages of She-Hulk
were shown. I then realized that Wiacek was actually extremely faithful to
the pencils - almost to the letter (even more so on She-Hulk than Alpha
Flight) . The thing was he just didn't ink the way JB inks, and it wasn't
really fair for me to expect him to. It took years for me to realize that
John Byrne The Penciller is a wholly different craft than John Byrne The
Inker, and I was first exposed to a melding of both crafts.

I suspect seeing a book that's shot straight from pencils still would not
look "right" to me, since it would lack JB's inks that gave it the finishing
touch that I was used to. That doesn't mean I liked every iteration of JB's
inks, but I'd say I liked 90% of them. And I agree with JB that Next Men
had the best inks I ever saw from him - the first 10 or so issues were very
slick and pretty IMO. Namor with Duo-Shade is second place to me. Late
Wonder Woman and G1#1 in particular are third.

And I'm very excited about seeing Dan Green's inks on BOTD - he's not
quite a Byrne clone when it comes to inks, but he seems to capture the
"feel" of the way JB would ink himself quite nicely. Nekros came pretty
darn close to doing that as well.
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Mike O'Brien
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Posted: 03 October 2005 at 11:06pm | IP Logged | 7  

Vincent - (and I hope we're not stepping all over JB's question that needed answering!) - I agree with you - but we've seen one example of JB's work shot from pencils - Captian America #255 (er, is that the number?  The one with the Miller cover, and the re-telling of the origin.) - but what's more - those She-Hulk pages you saw wouldn't look good shot as-is, since they're meant to be inked.  I'm guessing that if JB got a gig that was intended to be shot from pencils, he'd do a different type of pencils. 

Further - I think the stuff he's done lately - as seen in the gallery - the Demon and Action stuff - could be shot as-is - they're great, and look finished.  They don't need to be inked.   They look like complete inked pages.  Great stuff. 

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Steve Lyons
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Posted: 03 October 2005 at 11:55pm | IP Logged | 8  

I am a big fan of Joe Rubinstein's inks on JB's Captain America run. Of course, I've always like Joe's inks on a number of pencillers.
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Tim O Neill
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 12:19am | IP Logged | 9  

I nominate that answer for the section with all the FAQing.
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Mike O'Brien
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 12:20am | IP Logged | 10  

You mean Chez Simko?
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Tim O Neill
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 12:29am | IP Logged | 11  

It's not that Simko is all that handsome, it's that when he's standing next to us, he looks like Casanova. Mike, we need to start standing next to men more feeble than oursleves. For us, that means hanging around hospitals, old age homes, etc.
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Glenn Brown
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 1:04am | IP Logged | 12  

Give it up, O'Neill.  You're insulting residents of hospitals and old age homes now...

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