Some recent sketchbooks to check out!

We pretty often focus on the writing in comic book reviews, but I do think that art is just as important as story in comic books.  I’ve bought poorly written comics with amazing art, but it’s pretty rare I’ll give a comic book a shot if the art makes my eyes bleed.  We’ve dropped many stories because the art actually hurts the story.  A comic book artist has to be able to tell a story just as effectively as a writer, and, sometimes, even better.

Which is why, despite the fact that we rarely talk about it on Funnybooks, I’m a HUGE fan of sketchbooks.  I love flipping through pages and pages of art without story, so I can focus on what the artist really likes to draw.  I recently acquired a couple of amazing sketchbooks that I wanted to let you guys know about, from Jake Parker (Missile Mouse and friend of Funnybooks), Humberto Ramos (Amazing/Spectacular Spider-Man), and Creaturebox!

Regular Funnybooks listeners know I’m a bit addicted to Kickstarter.  I like helping artists achieve their dreams, and contributing to projects feels like good karma to me.  When we get that Knights of Reignsborough setting book put up on Kickstarter, I hope we’ll get the same support that some of these projects have.

MV_Standard_Shop_Plate_ACase in point: the Creaturebox Monster Volume.  You hear a couple of Kickstarter horror stories, and though the Monster Volume did see some slight delays in production, all backers (that I know of) are holding this 140-hardcover volume of amazing art in their hands now.  The book reached $176k of a $14.5k goal.  Yeah…people were pretty excited about it.

Which is funny because, until the Kickstarter, I’d not heard of Creaturebox, but now follow them pretty regularly.  They’re a design studio – graphic design, character design, etc. – with a very distinctive style.  Very comic book in style, they’ve done work for DC and Disney, and even Supernatural Magazine (based on the TV show).

Their Monster Volume is an amazing mix of science fiction, horror, and fantasy design, with quite possibly the craziest layout I’ve ever seen.  The book is a piece of art in and of itself, and you’ll find your eyes darting all over the page because there’s so much to look at on every single page.  If you’re a fan of anime, or exaggerated animation-style art, this is the one that’s up your alley.

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mymarvelramosA similar art style, though not quite as exaggerated as Creaturebox, is the art of Humberto Ramos, currently one of the rotating artists on Superior Spider-Man.  His current sketchbook, My Marvels, isn’t a Kickstarter, and I don’t really have a link to buy it other than Ebay.  The book was sold at SDCC 2013.

Ramos usually produces a similar format book yearly for SDCC, a slim hardcover much like a French graphic novel.  Previous years have included a FairyQuest sketchbook (and the first volume of the series), as well as his Art n’ Out books.  I’m a huge fan of Ramos’ art (have been since his days on DC’s Impulse, so I’ve picked up a good number of these sketchbooks.

While I typically enjoy seeing his takes on multiple characters (including non-superheroes), he decided this year to focus on his bread and butter: Marvel characters.  Ramos has never been as popular as he is now and a lot of that is due to his work at Marvel.  You’ll see some behind the scenes work on his Marvel stuff, including some never before seen art (like a Carnage story that got scrapped).  A must for fans of Ramos, and really Marvel in general.  Ramos does a fantastic job with so many of the Marvel staples, there’s almost something for every fan in this book.

I do hope Ramos returns to something more creator-owned for next year’s SDCC.  While I enjoy the look of his Marvel characters, there were a good number of pieces that I’d already seen (covers of books without the trade dress), and I’d really love to see more of his fantasy work.

kscover3-650x502Last, but certainly not least, on the list is Jake Parker’s new sketchbook, Drawings, which reached $64k against a $10.5k goal on Kickstarter and can be purchased from his official store in digital and pdf.

We’ve had Jake on the show before and I’ve been a huge fan of his for a while.  Followers of his blog know that he can do more than just draw cute animals, but I gotta tell ya…I didn’t realize just how talented he was until I picked up this book.  His art style is crazy varies, producing technical drawings of imaginary machines right down the the tiniest screw, giant mech robots, cute animals, and of course Space Skull.

Not only that, there are pages in the book, where he employs a looser style more akin to Jeff Lemire’s art and it surprised me that they came from his pen.  Where the Monster Volume may give you ADD, and My Marvels may bring about nostalgia for your favorite superhero, Drawings will leave you breathless and actually is a very inspiring book.  I’m sure tons of writers will flip through the pages of this book and find their imagination running a million miles a minute at the sheer number of original ideas on display in this volume.  Absolutely worth picking up.

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How about you guys?  Picked up any good art books lately?

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