I’ve mentioned in a few places (most recently here) that Japanese comics artists are in my view by and large better than American ones. I should probably expand that to just be “Eastern artists” or maybe “Japanese and Korean artists.” I just started the series Dokebi Bride, by Korean creator Marley. So far, I’m liking it, if not loving it. I’m a little wavery on some of her drawings of people; the occasionally look awkward in a way that doesn’t seem thematic or intentional. However, when she needs to pull out the big guns and draw something that really rocks you back….

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Even with my shitty scan, that’s pretty impressive.

On the other hand, here’s one of mainstream comics’ leading lights:

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I think both of these images are supposed to be doing similar things. They’re supposed to be spiritual/aesthetic money shots, inspiring awe, reverence, and wonder. In Marley’s, it’s the summoning of a dragon spirit; in Quiteley’s, it’s the contemplation of Superman’s sacrifice/inspiration.

I don’t know. Maybe somebody out there prefers the Quitely drawing. I don’t hate it or anything, but compared to the dragon, it seems fairly unambitious and staid, relying on fairly pat cues (goodness = light!) to convey its spiritual oomph. I think it’s going for a 30s constructivist/socialist feel, probably as a homage to the characters roots — which is fine, but the use of it doesn’t seem especially adventurous, which leaves it feeling cliched, almost advertising. You look at it and think “tum ta-daaaah”, which I guess is the point, but how exciting is that, really? Whereas I feel like Marley is much more full-bore about her embrace of traditional printmaking; the dress the woman is wearing, for example, is beautifully detailed; the dragon’s horns and hair are carefully designed; the use of scale is very nicely managed…. She’s just a better artist and better at using that art to convey the emotions and themes of her story.

Or maybe I’m just sick of super-heroes and prefer water spirits. I don’t know. I can say, though, that I looked at that Marley picture and said, “holy shit,” which happens to me somewhat frequently when I’m reading manga (like YKK for example), but just about never when I read contemporary mainstream stuff. Make of that what you will.

Update: I know somebody out there was hoping this was about hentai. Sorry about that.

Update 2: Follow up post here.

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