Tuesday, 14 July 2009

the Italian edition of The Black Diamond Detective Agency, published by Magic Press, who also did From Hell, just arrived in the mail. I open it to see how my favourite pages are looking, and i start to notice all my mistakes and oversights, the things inevitably missed when one is concentrating on the total effect. But at the same time I'd forgotten how hard I worked on this thing. This is another book, like From Hell, for which I used a large amount of photo-reference. the trick with that is to do it without being obvious. An image should not draw attention to itself as having been based on a photo because that tends to give the lie to all the stuff around it. Rather than being the text of the work, the detail becomes a reference to something existing outside the text, and the whole thing starts to unravel. And there just isn't time, if you're making a living out of it, to check every detail against a model. I lavished so much care on the big bottom that I didn't notice that the arm was implausible (I had no photo to get me anywhere close to what was needed for this one). I've fixed it digitally for showing here (click for an even bigger bottom):


(ignoring the digital tampering, the above is what the original art looks like, with the brown stretching tape still visible)

Crime writer Peter Doyle, author of City of Shadows, a stunning book of and about old police crime scene photos in Sydney Australia (circa 1920s) recognized some of his dead crims doing service as extras in The Black Diamond, even though I skewed them considerably, like this poor chap here, getting his just desserts no doubt.


Black Diamond Still available in English from First Second Books. Here's a recent review.

postscript. The wife of my bosom seriously wants it to be known that she did NOT pose for the big bottom.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Matthew Adams said...

City of Shadows is a brilliant book, so is black diamond detective agency. Never noticed (I guess 'cause of the skewering) the reference though.

Still regret not getting you to sign my copy of black diamond when I was buying it, and you walked into the store, if only to stop my friends ask whenever I tell 'em the story "Did you get him to sign it?"

14 July 2009 12:52:00 am GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have the page of the Black Diamond crew running through the train station in my living room. I love the locomotive in the final panel. I think it says '84' on the back of the page, but is a different page number in the book. A present from my lovely girlfriend we had it framed so the brown tape and dabs of paint are shown at the sides.

I think the lead character bears a passing resemblance to yourself, particularly in the small yellow dialogue panel. I've been pondering why the background of the that panel is yellow. Was it to emphasise that dialogue exchange in a page of action?

Ben Smith

14 July 2009 5:45:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Matthew, I'd only have wrecked it, like Will Eisner did to my copy of his To the Heart of the Storm. In the the middle of signing it he suddenly had second thoughts about how to spell Collegial. He was taken by a notion that there should be a u after the g. Then he thought better of it, all the while moving his felt tip pen alternately decisively then indecisively.

Ben, glad you're happy with the page. that's one of the pages where I had to make a bunch of photos coalesce. I haven't a chance of remembering now why that panel uses yellow. I was probably putting a metaphorical paperweight on that position, because I knew it was just about to get complicated. when we return to it six pages later, those two characters are still waiting there, and the background is still oddly yellowish.

14 July 2009 6:36:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger Bill Peschel said...

I'll have to check out City of Shadows. I have a copy of Luc Sante's "Evidence" that's based on crime scene photos taken about 1910 in New York City. The glass plates were found in the East River, and Sante was able to recover some information about some of the cases, nothing about others, and he filled in with speculation where he could. In any event, it's a fascinating picture of NYC life at the bottom.

(You can see a couple of them if you use Google Images for "Luc Sante Evidence.")

14 July 2009 3:48:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Schmurgen Jonerhaffs said...

I have big bottom artwork! It is great page but I have nowhere to hang it at moment.

14 July 2009 3:59:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Bill, City of Shadows is a book for you!
Lots of shots of mangled classic cars, streets as they used to be and a section of full figure mug shots titled 'persons of interest'. Ordinary people had a different look about them then that no movie ever captures. They were shorter to begin with (i.e. different head-to-body ratio), aged at a different rate, completely differently shaped faces, what from smoking and bad diet probably. Large format book, most photos full page size. Luc Sante's book does look like the same thing for NY.

14 July 2009 5:07:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Schmurgen, glad you are enjoying pour page. My own favourite from the book.

14 July 2009 5:09:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of City of Shadows and it is indeed a most extraordinary volume.
Fascinating, each picture a story.
Thanks for the tip, Eddie.

23 July 2009 5:40:00 am GMT-5  

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