Sunday, March 27, 2011


Today, I've got a drawing I did of one of my very favorite comics - Belladone, a french book drawn by former Disney animator Pierre Alary. It's an adventure story set in France in 1680, and is full of some of the best comic art I've ever seen.  Alary does what I'd like to do with my art, but much, much better.

Click the image for a full-sized version

I so love Alary's approach to the swashbuckling subject matter and the masterful way that he conveys both movement in his characters and sense of place with his environments that I have twice committed against him the cardinal sin of comic art: swiping.

Now, neither instance is a direct copy, but in both I took directly from him, which I have not done elsewhere and which still makes me feel a little sick to my stomach.  Each artist conveys visual information in his or her own unique way, and in these instances mine were not unique.  They were variations on what Alary had already done.

The first such instance is from Crogan's Vengeance.  I wanted to show after the fact that Catfoot had dived from the ship into the water, and Alary had conveyed this with such clarity that I simply incorporated the same technique.  I did not look at his panel when doing this, but had it clearly in mind.  His use of air escaping from Marie's mouth or nose in the form of bubbles is a beautiful stroke, and one I didn't think to incorporate.

The second is from Crogan's March.  In Alary's Sinbad book, he handles the metal inlay of designs atop the domed roofs of Islamic architecture in a very specific and very aesthetically appealing way.  He employs shadow, texture, and weathering on the earthen buildings, and leaves the designs atop them free of such effects.  This gives it a noticeably different texture, inferring metal.  On the stonework itself he uses the occasional white line to infer scratches and weathering on top of shadow.

I consciously employed both of these methods on my foreground buildings in an establishing shot of Tazifet in March, again, not looking at the original but keeping those principles in mind.  Had I looked at the original, I'd have seen how similar in design my tower is to his, and how the angle of the shots is far too similar.  Were I to have another go at it, I would very my composition considerably so as to better distance it from its inspiration.

The tower I used as the model for mine, and the model for the design of the cupola.

My choice to avoid looking at the panels so consciously influencing my own was well-meant, but foolish.  An idea of the panels I was using as "inspiration" was clearly fixed in my mind, making it unlikely that I would stray far from them in my own compositions, and resulting in not one but two art swipes.  As I try to do service to the medium by always striving to do my best, I feel especially rotten about this, and hope that my readers, and Alary's, will forgive me such blatant transgressions.

I use this as an object lesson for any future such intentions - should one of Monsieur Alary's wonderfully executed panels again tempt me with its perfection to try and employ a similar thought process, I'll do my best to abstain, and, should my resolve fail me, I'll at least look at it the next time around to ensure a striking difference. 


Costa said...

Daaaang...one more comic for the to-read/to-get pile!

Audrey Morris said...

Awwww yeah Alary. Was able to get Belladone trades on Canadian amazon at the expense of microwaved dinners for a week. No regrets.

Your rendition is rad.

Audrey Morris said...

Awwww yeah Alary. Was able to snag Belladone trades on Canadian amazon at the expense of microwaved dinners for a week. No regrets.

Your rendition is rad.

Kyle T. Webster said...

Great drawing and great post. Alary is amazing.

Alexis Fajardo said...

I often have the same problem, being so inspired (and crushed) by Alary's work it's hard not to want to draw just like him.

You've done a good job establishing the world of Crogan tho'; I've never felt I was looking at a panel I've seen before. Keep up the good work!

pierre alary said...

wooooaaaaah!! very impressive!! thanks so lot for your nice words . i tried to answer your question on my blog ....ha!ha! ..i see you find and use the same references as me for the tower ..ha!ha!..well done....yor belladone is very nice!!!