Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Heart Dropped and I Felt Betrayed. The Cold Hard Truth!

Greg Land is tracing photographs and taking old art and reusing it. I am offended and hurt, and I am glad that the truth is out there now. Harsh statement but true. When I think of a person tracing, I think of myself as a child, or my nephews now as they find a coloring book and trace a picture. I don't think of that as a creative outlet, or as artistic. I think it is a fun hobby that can build a steady line in the future.

Tracing a photo or recycling old work isn't art. It means something is very wrong. I don't know if it means someone couldn't hit their deadlines and panicked, or what.

Part of me feels bad that said person resorted to this. The other part of me is angry. I know one thing for sure: I am going to not buy any books by Greg Land if humanly possible. A man who was one of my favorite artists when he worked on Nightwing, Birds of Prey, and Sojourn is now an penciller I can't respect. I hate to say it, because I don't like to say mean things about people, but it is true.
I have known this about Land for awhile, but the extent of it was pointed out to me in the following link. To see the cold, hard truth, click here. Thanks to JimSmash!!! for the insight.

By the way, if I find out any other artists are doing the same thing to that extent, I will probably boycott them as well. It may mean I never buy another comic again, but oh well. Maybe I am naive and all the greats have done this, but my little brain likes to tell me otherwise. Any other guilty parties? Any objections?


Carl said...

Back in the day, there were rumors that Bill Sienkiewicz was mostly tracing old Neal Adams's Batman art for Moon Knight. I never heard how this came out, but I noted at the time, he seemed to disappear for a while and then when he came back, his art was pretty damned awful in my opinion. I don't know if he was innocent, but from 'his' cool, crisp Neal Adams-looking art to the awful looking things he did in New Mutants and so on, I'd almost never buy anything by him, just for him. I can forgive bad art up to a point, but where you can barely understand or read it? Nope...

Saranga said...

I was apalled last year when I saw stuff on WFA about Greg Land tracing, and about his liberal use of pornface. I thought he was rubbish and tried not to buy anything by him, until I read his run on Nightwing, and thought the art was lovely. Completley different to what I had expected.
So maybe the answer is to buy with care?
Having said that, I don't have much respect for someone who traces. Although most of his bad stuff I've seen, it's been the colouring which put me off.

Hudson Phillips said...

Maybe it's because I read comics more for story than I do art, but I really don't see what the big deal is.

If the art is good and helps move the story along, that's good enough for me.

And how do people know he's tracing? There's a difference between photo reference and tracing. Don't lots of artists use photo reference?

The guy clearly has some talent. I could try "tracing" photos and it wouldn't look nearly as good as Greg's stuff. So, I don't feel "ripped off" at all by Greg's stuff.

Swinebread said...

No wonder I don't like this guy's art. Every-time I see it, it always rubs me the wrong way. Now I know why because I've already seen his stuff all over the place before. I'm glad I never read any of Greg's stuff.

Gimme an John Bucema comic anyday over this stuff.

Lisa said...

Jimsmash is a long-time blogger buddy of mine and has done several posts in the past about his anger at Land for his tracing.

Elayne said...

On its face, there's nothing wrong with learning your craft through, among other techniques, homaging what other artists before you have done, or even using photo reference. It's just a matter of degree, or in some cases whether or not you're skirting copyright infringement. If it's done for too long, years after the artist ought to have developed his or her own style, it feels to me like cheating. But as long as editors keep accepting and asking for this art, it's not fair to put the entire blame on the artist.

Heidi Meeley said...

Carl, I am really torn about this whole issue. Your mentioning Sienkiewicz is fascinating to me, because I never did understand the severe style change. That is a good point.

Heidi Meeley said...

Saranga, I understand completely what you are saying about the Nightwing stuff. I loved Land on that book, and was entranced at his clean style. I feel bad to think that he has been reduced to light boarding. I hope he hasn't had to do so to make deadlines. His old stuff was excellent, and to me it felt brand new. This latest stuff doesn't ring true, and as fans, I think we have every right to call bulls**t.

I will look at some of his newer stuff again and check out the coloring. That is a very good point!

Heidi Meeley said...

Hudson, you make a gread point here. I have always been a big reader, and many of the materials I pick up have no art. The writer's vision is what makes or breaks the tale being told, and that has translated well into novel work by Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis.

The difference in the comic book genre is that great art can enhance a story, and give it the textures an extra layer of feeling that isn't always inherent in the written word. While I am not a big fan of "talking head" stories, I loved the use of Michael Zulli's art in "The Wake" story in the Sandman series (I believe #70-72). His detailed style made a glorious story breath taking.

As for Land's art, I am just don't know what to think. I loved his art on Nightwing and Birds of Prey. As a fan of the old school feel, I want to have more then pretty pictures to look at. I want exposition.

You make a good point, Hudson. As a fan of the writing, there is a great deal of forgiveness to be had in the style in which the art arrived on the page. I admire that. In this age of technology, I can see the need to simplify things by computer generating backgrounds with 3D modeling. I just don't like the fact that the expressions aren't genuine, so to speak.

Thank you for pointing this out!

Heidi Meeley said...

Swinebread, I think you are right- there is just something that seems off. It isn't like his old style. There has been an evolution to be kind.

John Buscema does indeed rule!

Heidi Meeley said...

Lisa, he has done an incredibly indepth job! I was absolutely blown away by his take on things.

I wonder if Land has seen this?

Heidi Meeley said...

Elayne, that rings true to me. If the editorial staff is continuing to accept the work as turned in, and to hire said artist for work, it does perpetuate things.

I have always felt that photo reference is one thing, but to me tracing is quite another. There seems to me that there should seem to be a matter of artistic pride at stake in some form. Winks and nods to creative work of the past is one thing, but tracing a picture of Pamela Anderson from Stuff magazine is quite another.

Great comment!