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….


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

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


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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