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John Wickett
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Posted: 02 March 2024 at 7:37am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

"Waste" may be a bad choice of words, but I think its fair to question whether this was the best commercial use of JLGL's talent.  The art in the style guide is beautiful, but these aren't his best depictions of these characters, and the drawings aren't on the same level as much of his series work.  The aforementioned Deadman story from Adventure Comics, and even Atari Force are much better IMO.

If you're producing something exclusively (or primarily) for advertisers, then a less talented artist would be sufficient for the task, and JLGL could be used elsewhere, on a book where his art would drive sales.  

"Editors used to hand the binders to artists and inform them that this was the “look” that character depictions should be based off of."

Do we know this for sure?  I question it for two reasons:

1. Aside from a few group shots, the guide really focuses on DC's biggest characters, and I think most artists knew what they looked like.  When George Perez was drawing Action Comics during the New 52 Era, I remember him saying in an interview "this is the first time I've needed a reference to draw Superman."  So I think if you were producing a style guide for comic artists to follow, it would be more useful to focus on more obscure characters.  For Superman, you could just tell them to check out the 30+ years of Curt Swan art that is already available to them.

2.  Other than maintaining the accuracy of some costume details, ie the WW instead of the eagle on Wonder Woman's chestplate, this isn't very useful for defining the way the characters should look in the comics, because in several cases, this isn't how you'd want them to look.  The best example is Batman.  A smiling, brightly colored Batman doesn't reflect the type of character who would strike fear in the hearts of the underworld.  This is a very well drawn Batman, but its not the Dark Knight.  These look more like model sheets for a cartoon than for a comic book.  This is how the characters would be drawn on valentine's day cards, and advertisements.  So its always seemed to me that advertisers, rather than comic artists, were the intended audience for this work.

This is in no way a knock on Jose.  Despite what it is, almost every piece is absolutely stunning.  If the style guide was made available for purchase (especially the 2011 edition with more modern coloring) I would buy it in an instant.

 


Edited by John Wickett on 02 March 2024 at 11:19am
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Fred J Chamberlain
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Posted: 02 March 2024 at 12:54pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

If editors and writer of the time, repeating this in front of him, are to be
believed, than we know this to be factual.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 02 March 2024 at 1:43pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

THEN
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Fred J Chamberlain
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Posted: 02 March 2024 at 2:27pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Surry. 🙈
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 02 March 2024 at 8:49pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

 John Wickett wrote:
The best example is Batman.  A smiling, brightly colored Batman doesn't reflect the type of character who would strike fear in the hearts of the underworld.  This is a very well drawn Batman, but its not the Dark Knight.

We'll have to disagree on this. I think he nailed what was 'on model' for the character in 1982.


(And I'd argue it was more in line with what the character should be than the darker pyscho Batman stuff that took over at the end of the 80s). 


Edited by Peter Martin on 02 March 2024 at 8:51pm
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John Wickett
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Posted: 02 March 2024 at 8:51pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

"If editors and writer of the time, repeating this in front of him, are to be
believed, than we know this to be factual."

Then I believe it to be the case, but it doesn't seem like the best tool to accomplish that purpose.  Nevertheless, the art is wonderful, and I'm glad we get to see it.
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John Wickett
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Posted: 02 March 2024 at 9:06pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

"I think he nailed what was 'on model' for the character in 1982."

Not questioning his ability to draw Batman, and the picture you posted is great.  Is that from the Style Guide?  Asking because its not part of the album Rodrigo linked to.  Most of those pics have a different color scheme, with the blue on Batman's costume being a much brighter shade, like the blue you would typically see on Superman or Captain America, and to me, that really changes the look of the character.  When Fred said DC was distributing this to their artists as a guide, I assumed that included everyone involved with the art, including colorists.

But its not just Batman.  There are multiple costumes on Supergirl.  So if I'm an artist being told to "make her look like this," which one am I supposed to choose?  Mr. Freeze and the Fourth World characters are drawn like the Super Powers action figure versions; not the ones you would want an artist to emulate in a comic book.

Again, its not the quality of the artwork I'm questioning.  Its DC's choice to use some of these examples as a guide for their artists.  


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Peter Martin
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Posted: 02 March 2024 at 11:03pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply


 QUOTE:
Is that from the Style Guide?  Asking because its not part of the album Rodrigo linked to.

It's definitely JLGL's art from the style guide, though I have to be honest I don't know where the colouring comes from, as I've never got my hands on the actual guide itself, just seen images online [edited to add: I'd have to assume the colouring above does not come from the style guide, as the style guide is consistent on what blue should be used, so forgive me if I misled with that image].

This is from the album Rodrigo linked to:


There are other Batman images in there that are moody and pretty much definitive:



I think your Supergirl point is fair, but then the same point would apply to advertisers -- and it obviously stems from the way characters worked in DC comics at the time.

As for the blue, this is how Batman appeared in comics in 1982:


I don't see any difference in the blue to the one from the style guide. It was only after Miller's TDKR that things changed, IIRC.


Edited by Peter Martin on 02 March 2024 at 11:06pm
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Rodrigo castellanos
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Posted: 03 March 2024 at 7:36am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

There were clearly a lot of revisions on the Style Guide, again that was the most complete link I could find in a basic Google search but clearly a lot is missing (especially colored pages).

Supergirl changed costumes (for the worst, IMHO) mid-guide and also Luthor and Brainiac got their notorious revamp. Both versions of all of them can be found there.

On Batman, I think Jose got him pretty much right IN THE CONTEXT of bringing a coherent overall style for all the characters and making them look good together (I agree this was more useful for merchandising than the comics themselves).

And a darker shade of blue like the example Peter posted goes a long way to depict a "true" Batman. Don't know if Jose was in charge or had any say on the coloring, I would guess not.




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John Wickett
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Posted: 03 March 2024 at 9:36am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I agree with Peter that the lighter blue is comics accurate for 1982 for the most part, but not always.  Even in the style guide, if you look at the pictures of Superman and Batman together, in some pictures they are wearing the same blue, and in others Batman's is slightly darker.  I think the darker hue works better.  In fact, the shade of blue in the picture Peter posted is perfect for my tastes.  

Even in '82, there was precedent for the darker blue cape and cowl.  Check out the Neal Adams covers from Detective 394-417 or the Marshall Rogers run.

Also, Fred's comment was that 3 generations of artists were given copies of the guide as a reference, so when I responded I was considering a longer period of time.  By the mid 80s, and certainly by the early 90s Batman was wearing a darker blue, similar to the picture Peter posted.

Like Peter, I don't care for "psycho Batman."  I prefer the classic Dark Knight drawn by Adams.  In terms of advertising, one of my favorite images from that period is this one by Giordano:




  
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Jason K Fulton
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Posted: 03 March 2024 at 1:36pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Was there ever a Marvel version of a style guide, at any point?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 03 March 2024 at 1:57pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Closest would be TOHOTMU.
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