Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why I Don't Like Photorealism - An Essay By Willow

It sucks.

What? You were expecting some sort of well detailed, neutral, example filled assembly of words? Ahh did the title fake you out? Awwh, poor baby.

Seriously though, photorealism sucks. I can appreciate the technique and artistry that goes into it. But I don't want it in my comics. And not just because photorealism often relies on photo referencing and leads to my favourite characters looking like whomever is hot this week in porn, celebrity news or occasionally that really cool movie that came on near midnight that inspired the artist to hunt down some picture archives online otherwise they wouldn't know how to draw a black person.

Photorealism sucks because I don't want to see some real person's face on the page, I want to see the character's face.

Photorealism sucks because comics are fantasy to me; super heroes, flying horses, ancient gods long deemed mythology, immortal weak hearted 80yr old women. Fantasy and reality shouldn't mesh except in terms of context.

Photorealism sucks because Gothom as a city is a place of shadows and tone, not Seattle at night; not Chicago, not NYC. Once you start making the characters look like flesh and blood people I can recognize, the cityscapes in the background would be jarring in what used to be their hyper-realized glory.

I have to give credit where credit is due but it's sad to realize that Manga artists seem to realize and proudly promote a style (within individual expression) that says THIS HERE BE YAR FANTASY.

BLEACH for example is easily recognized as fantasy compared with the pseudo historical realism of Lady Snow Blood.

But the link previous, to the Harry Osborn 'I was in Europe' on Scans_Daily, take a panel from any of those scanned scenes and show it to someone who doesn't know or read Super Hero fantasy and aside from Harry's distinctive hair it could be from any graphic story telling medium.

Aside:By the way, does anyone know if Harry's bi-racial? Because I've always wondered about his hair and in photorealism it looks distinctive for a whole host of other reasons and makes me curious to see him rocking the redhaired afro. Though not when he's being photorealized as Adam Sandler. I don't need to see Adam Sandler in much of anything.

How did this photorealism trend start? When did comic readers decide it was a good thing and they wanted more of it? Why do they want more of it?

If I want to see wonderful stills, I'll go to a museum, or art gallery or somewhere a wonderful artist is willing to paint on commission. If I want to see a movie, I'll watch a damn movie.

What I don't want is to pick up a comic book and instead of finding myself thinking the artist did a good job with their own interpretation of Superman's strong jaw, or Batman's eyes in Bruce Wayne's face - find myself going 'Oh, so I guess he sees Scarlet Witch as Angelina Jolie doing cosplay' or in the case of Greg Land 'And another random porn actress'.

When did doing comics as comics begin to go out of favour?

Is it that the newer crop of artists don't know how to show motion when characters are standing still? Is it that they don't know how to make their creations leap off the page, so instead they do movie still after stagnant movie still? A collection of screen caps done with ink and colours and set with speech bubbles?

Cause note to them, DM of the Rings did it better and Darths & Droids isn't letting there be any slack.

Aside: And how much do you wish IWC was doing Wands & Warts for real? Just raise your hands. Mine's up already.

Comics informed how I read. In fact I think comics might be responsible for the fact that I think in pictures.

- Regular baby book: This is an apple [ picture of an apple ]

- Comic book: This is an apple [ picture of Wolverine giving a smack down one handed while eating an apple ]

Any wonder why the image with action stuck with me? Any wonder why I find this change over infuriating ? Any wonder why this is all important to me?

Right then.

Conclusion; photorealism sucks. It might be pretty, but it's lifeless with a focus on slick over active story telling and is an avenue easily abused by lazy and or overworked artists.

And if I think of more reasons why, I'll be sure to let the world know.

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