Monday, March 22, 2010

Being Able to Draw...Anything

This morning (which I apparently have off, score!), I was doing what I so often do and searching for new cartoonists and comic artists, both to steal from and be inspired by, and I came across a gentleman by the name of Raymond Macherot. And I use the word gentleman here because, well...


I've been into the Belgian cartoonists for a while now. I originally got drawn in with Lewis Trondheim's Dungeon series (though he is French, not Belgian). This led me to look more into artists like Hergé and André Franquin who continue to blow my mind.

But I had never heard of Raymond Macherot before this morning. Like all of the Belgian cartoonists, his clean layouts, simple and expressive characters and sense of balance were immediately noticeable.

What I love about the Belgian cartoonists is their ability to communicate so much story with such ease. I was impressed with his work but there was nothing exactly mind-blowing about it, that is until I came across this page.

This page is so good that it melted my brain. Why?

Well, first off, the color is great. The washes of watercolor set the tone perfectly for this scene, pale blues and greens with those spots of bright yellow light in every panel to keep your eye interested and focused on the action. The layout is good, clean and effective. The characters are emotive, there are no words on this page (aside from sound effects) yet you understand the feeling of what's happening. And the line work is wonderfully fluid and varied to keep the look playful. But that's not what impressed me the most.

What really impressed me was how Raymond Macherot can draw...ANYTHING.

I mean seriously! Just look at what he chooses to show on that page and how much more effective it makes the scene. If you asked any modern comic artist to draw a scene with that many motorcycles and cop cars you better believe they'd take shortcuts. Hiding bikes in shadows, using easier angles, etc. Take a look at the first two panels and notice how he shows the motorcycles from essentially four different angles in only two panels and keeps them absolutely solid, believable and seemingly drawn with ease.

That's what impresses me most about Macherot here. It's not just that he simply chooses to draw very complicated scenes, but that he executes them in such an effortless way that it keeps the scene light and fun. He doesn't draw every single detail on his vehicles but he clearly knows where every one is at, what it does, and how it moves through space. His understanding of form and depth is extraordinary.

It has been a while since I've seen a single comic page that has impressed me this much. Good show, Mr. Macherot, good show.

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