Thursday 16 October 2008

i only looked at this because wee Cal took a notion to dress up as the Ledger Joker for a party and I'm trying to tell the wife of my bosom that the purple tailed suit is not worn by this incarnation of the character. It's a four page preview of a one-off book by Azarello and Bermejo. It looks all very overdrawn and hideous; the wine is made from the same substance as the shrimps and there's a nauseous quality to it all which I suspect is not so much intentional as the artist's normal view of the world. Note that the Joker's coat folds right over left in the universal manner of women's coats instead of that of menswear, left over right. I apologise for picking on this artist, but I see the same problem all over the place. It can happen because the artist is looking in a mirror, but the overwhelming reason in the last twenty years is that comic book artists generally speaking, though there are a few fashion plates to give exception to the rule, are the worst dressed people in the world who mostly get around in t-shirts and draw people in leotards. Editors too, otherwise somebody would have picked up the mistake. The only other explanation is that it's intentional, in which case I'm full of baloney*. But if I arrived at the pub with a coat like that, somebody would have ridiculed me, probably Evans. Everybody else in the room has their coat open, and if I had done it intentionally I'd have made sure the reader knew it by showing all the others folding the opposite way.

The earliest example of the mistake that I own is contained in a double album of Duke Ellington's 1944 Carnegie Hall concert, released in 1977. Some hippy guy in the design department thought sports coats are symmetrical and flipped the image, putting the Duke's breast pocket on the right side. We can only imagine that the great man, who has strutted the world's stages in top hat and tails, was mortified, and I say guy because I have not yet met a woman who is unfamiliar with the niceties of dress differentiation, and have met at least one who wanted to make a political issue of it:

*after all, the Ledger Joker did look sweet in the nurse's uniform, an option I somewhat mischievously suggested to Callum.

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Blogger miriam beetle said...

well, i'm a woman, & i couldn't really tell you what side buttons over what on men's vs. women's jackets.

but i'm also a cartoonist, so that might cancel out the woman part (i think i clean up nice, but i'm more into wearing dresses, which don't generally have lapels).

most importantly, i suspect, is i'm a person who has to hold both my index fingers & thumbs out in "L" shapes to tell my own right from my left. several times a day, sometimes.

but i can agree that that is an ugly picture.

17 October 2008 at 00:12:00 GMT-5  
Blogger grantbond said...

this is the most refreshing critique of comic book art i have ever read.

17 October 2008 at 01:47:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Been a while since I've said hello, so hello.

Does the Joker's left arm seem wrongly grounded too? The perspective seems off along the upper arm. Of course the upper arm is the humerus, so maybe that was intentional too.

Steve Block

17 October 2008 at 04:39:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interestingly, he's roughly got the double breasted jacket right (in that it looks a bit awkward with the inner button correctly fastened ) other than it being the ladies cut. Perhaps he used photo reference of a woman. Also, on page three he's got the bald guy reaching into his inside suit pocket on the wrong side.

Overall, I think the art looks fine. It is a Joker book after all.

17 October 2008 at 04:47:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

In all seriousness, if Callum wants to be really popular with the Ladies at the party he's going to, and if he has the cojones to carry it off, he should do the Ledger Nurse outfit.

Possibly with a rocket launcher. ;}P>

But my point stands.

17 October 2008 at 08:02:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Mahendra Singh said...

Bad draftsmanship is the new Good Draftsmanship.

17 October 2008 at 11:02:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted the following at "The Beat". I'll post it here too (why not):

Regarding Lee Bermejo's joker coat: I get the feeling it's intentional. Take a look at the shirts on all the men. They're buttoned left to right, the correct way for a man. Perhaps Lee's take on the Joker is that the Joker would wear the jacket he wanted (whether it be for a man or woman).

Lee's art style is pretty harsh and and his shadows are almost like black shards of glass and it fits the dark tone of the story.

My beef is that the scene could have been told in two pages rather than the five it took.

17 October 2008 at 12:34:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Hayley Campbell said...

I bet that lovely Will Kane could tell you which side went over which, despite being surrounded by da funnybooks. I'd be you 10p an' all.

17 October 2008 at 13:05:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

19 October 2008 at 23:22:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

anonymous deleted.
sign your name next time

19 October 2008 at 23:26:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

19 October 2008 at 23:31:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

to anonymous deleted,
look, matey, I don't know if you're my regular heckler or a brand new one, but if you leave me an email address (by this stage i don't think I'd believe any old name you think up) I'll be glad to explain to you at length how it all works. In fact, I'll even make it the basis of a new blog essay.
We might even end up liking each other.

20 October 2008 at 00:08:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

Eddie, I'm impressed. That has got to be the very best reply to a Troll I've ever, ever seen. Well done.

20 October 2008 at 00:25:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

thanks, jon.
I didn't think anybody else was watching

20 October 2008 at 00:28:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

And to clarify (re other comments around the place), I didn't say the artist is a bad draughtsman. I would say quite the contrary.

20 October 2008 at 00:31:00 GMT-5  
Blogger SRBissette said...

Well done, Eddie -- and I hope we get to see pix of Cal, pre-Halloween Joker and in his final guise. If pix are permitted, of course.

20 October 2008 at 08:57:00 GMT-5  
Blogger MarkSullivan said...

Excellent point about the draftsmanship. It's possible to be a technically gifted artist and still create ugly pictures!

20 October 2008 at 14:31:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

I think all comic books are ugly, but that is part of their purpose. It wasn't my intention to single this one out on that account.

20 October 2008 at 14:56:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Mahendra Singh said...

Mr Campbell's last comment is particularly insightful & I hope he makes it the subject of another post.

Good draftsmanship can be ugly but ugly draftsmanship is never good … takers, anyone?

20 October 2008 at 16:19:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Alanna Smythee said...

All artists should be required to buy a visual dictionary and then actually look up the clothing they are trying to draw. A men's coat from Merriam Webster:

20 October 2008 at 16:53:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

Berko shows how easy it is.

Mahendra keeps flipping Two-face's coin to see if it has a third face.

20 October 2008 at 17:40:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Bobby.N said...

Yes, the drawing/inking is fairly rough and dirty - sort of like black paper cut out and stuck together to imitate inking.

I know they may have been going for a 'gritty' look (perhaps for mood), but to me the style says 'look at me!' a little too much.



20 October 2008 at 19:14:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joker's using his left hand for his gun at the end, there, too, which is odd (unless he's left-handed, of course).

23 October 2008 at 21:44:00 GMT-5  

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