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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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Mike O'Brien
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 2:03am | IP Logged | 13  

Damn!  I know who else we won't be standing next to next time!

 

No, I kid, I kid!

 

Hm... the thought of Tim and I at an old folks home... holy cow!  Wish Uatu and Me still existed - I think that's the set up for a hilarious episode!!

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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 6:43am | IP Logged | 14  

Thread drift is getting kinda... incestuous these days.
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 6:48am | IP Logged | 15  

To get back on track......Let me say without taking anything away from J.B.'s Action or Doom work right now but i agree that his Demon pencils are just so amazingly beautiful they would translate great without being inked at all.

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Aleksei Green
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 8:48am | IP Logged | 16  

I personally like Mr. Byrne's work the best when he inks his own stuff. The criticisms of his inking come from fanatics on the dc boards who probably never even buy the comics. Where is their published artwork?
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Scott Michael
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 9:11am | IP Logged | 17  

I can't say that I have enjoyed anyone's inks over JB's own -- the recent issues of Doom Patrol and the Larry Stucker Hawkman stuff was good though.  I did love Ordway on the FF and Palmer on Hidden Years but I've come to like JB's own inks the best.  I am really looking forward to seeing what Dan Green does with BOTH this Wednesday.
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Wilson Mui
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 9:25am | IP Logged | 18  

While JB's inks on Namor are superb, I guess I would prefer to see someone else ink his pencils.  I wish that Next Men and Generations 3 series had a "cleaner" look to them.

Scott - I'm surprised you didn't mention Terry Austin's work.
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Scott Michael
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 9:55am | IP Logged | 19  

Wilson -- oops!  I meant to say the recent issues inked by Terry Austin on Doom Patrol.  I also meant BOTD, not BOTH (I'm having some major brain fog these days -- I just completed 88 weeks of a medical therapy so my memory and typing skills are not what they used to be -- docs say it will take time) I agree on Namor -- something about the duo-shade paper too.  The work just shined.  It looks even better in black and white, like the OMAC series.
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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 11:06am | IP Logged | 20  

Interesting - I never really cared for Terry Austin's inks, especially the past
few years. I think he makes the art look too "sterile". Plus it's hard for me to
look past all of the broken lines he leaves. I get the impression that if I used
a Fill tool in Photoshop on one of hs figures it would bleed out of the line
breaks and fill the whole page.
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 11:10am | IP Logged | 21  

I'm not as big a fan of Austin over JB as I used to be. To me, his FF covers look extremely different than when he inked JB on X-Men. My favorites from the two are " The Last Galactus Story" and SUPERMAN 1-3. The recent DOOM PATROL comes in at a close second.
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Tim O Neill
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 11:38am | IP Logged | 22  

I always prefer JB's inks - I don't have the artisitic chops to tell
you why, except to say that the inks are most faithful to what we
see in the pencils. There is so much conveyed in facial
expressions that sometimes can get lost in the hands of an
inker who is not on the same page as the rest of the team.

But I have to say I am really enjoying all of the art on Doom
Patrol, Blood of the Demon and Action Comics. It's good to see
the different contributions each artist brings to the table.
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Chris Blaise
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 12:36pm | IP Logged | 23  

I wish that Next Men and Generations 3 series had a "cleaner" look to them.

Woah, what?  I thought John's inking on Generations 3 to be among the best he's ever done.  I don't know how he could get any "cleaner" than that. 

In particular, the first 3-4 issues I thought were absolutely stunning.  In my opinion, it's the best Byrne artwork (layouts + pencils + inking) to date.

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Vinny Valenti
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 12:59pm | IP Logged | 24  

Huh - and for me G3 (alongside Lab Rats #4-8) falls in that 10% of JB's inks
that I _didn't_ like. I just didn't like the thick lines like looked liked they were
inked with a Sharpie. I'm assuming that Next Men was inked with a brush,
and I really liked that look better.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 1:02pm | IP Logged | 25  

Some of NEXT MEN was brush, some was crowquill pen.

As to G3 --- so far, I have noticed that no one who has not actually seen the originals has been able to tell which pages were Sharpie and which were brush. And even some who have seen the originals were not sure!

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