That thing where I was placed in the position of defending an artist I really don’t like.
So, I was talking with one of my peeps about a creator whose work I really don’t like, and whose sales are less than 10% what they once were.
His comment about their work was that it has not grown or changed, and that the style is the same as it always was. And that’s why their appeal has tanked.
I don’t even like this person’s work, but I don’t think a critique of the standardization of the style of the work was a fair criticism.
The few times I’ve looked at it over the years shows the creator has not grown as an artist in terms of maturity of content, draughtsmanship basics, or storytelling technique: in fact, they’ve gotten worse. I guess this applies to a lot of creators. Comics can be grueling.
I’ve read their protests that they have grown so much as an artist they lost an audience that simply can’t keep up with their growth and new ideas, but from what I see, there’s nothing new in their work at all.
Computer coloring, for example, does not change the content or markedly change the fundamentals of your drawing style.
It makes sense to me that the style itself should remain consistent, because it is one project. And they are the main creator.
I don’t look at “Peanuts” and complain the style didn’t grow. I don’t look at “Prince Valiant” and wonder why Hal Foster didn’t explore cubism. And I see absolutely nothing wrong with this artist sticking to a homogenous look for a long term project.
Whenever they do make an effort to try something else, they smother it with their signature look. That’s unfortunate. It really doesn’t translate to other works.
But on their flagship project? Fair play to them. It would be very jarring to read a project over a long time only to see the art style waver all over the place. It would be as annoying as, say, watching a TV show swap out its look each new season. Only the actors don’t change, they just wear the masks of other people’s faces.
I don’t think the sales have tanked because the work has not improved. I think the sales have tanked because there is more competition in the marketplace than there used to be. I don’t think, if their work were first published today, it would do very well.
I try to keep the style in A DISTANT SOIL consistent, and the few times I’ve varied from that I’ve regretted it. This is one story that takes place over just a few months but took years to draw. If you sit down to read it all at once and see wide variances in style, it’s jarring.
When I do other projects, I vary my style. Sometimes so much, people don’t even recognize my work. I don’t know if other artists are quite as willing to do this.
But I don’t think it’s a fair criticism to say that a single creator’s work, with a consistent look, is an artistic failure for maintaining stylistic consistency. Even if I don’t like their work.
I think it’s fair play to critique other artist’s work, but for long form projects, slamming a consistent style is not a valid criticism.
Spending thirty years as an artist while still not being able to draw a decent kneecap is a valid criticism.