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Krappy Komix Klub: Stormquest #1 (or Greg Land's first tracing job)

Posted on 2009.06.07 at 13:06
Yesterday's photo post came from my weekend "job". I beginning to go through literally thousands of comics to get ready to have them to sell next weekend at a local fair/event/race. It's one step up from the dirt mall, so I was removing obviously trouble causing "naughty comics" from the boxes and taking bags and backing boards off any comics in my Quarter Bin books.

As I was looking through the myriad of twenty five cent wonders (most of which are from the glorious wasteland of 90's comics) I found an archaeological gem. Evidence of the first job by comic tracer and swipe artist extraordinaire, Greg Land! Way back in mid 90's he was lightboxing the hot artists of the day, instead of women's magazine ads and pornography. Only in comics can you manage to get 15 years of work by plagerizing others (okay, maybe Hollywood too)

From Stormquest #1, published by Caliber in 1994.

Right on the cover we get a smörgåsbord of styles. The most obvious copying is the large female coming at you from the top of the image who looks just like Donna Troy from Travis Charest's artwork on Darkstars at the time. The two blonde characters are even mirror images of each other and seem to come from Jim Lee's cover to Stormwatch #1. I was surprised by the mirror image thing, since most people think that is a new trick of Land's. The difference in the clothing almost hides it. Pretty sneaky Greg!

I might have spoken too soon when I said he hadn't yet started using porn as reference?

And from that same page, a 'name that artist' jam knock off. With appearances by Mike Deodato, Brett Booth, Marc Silvestri, and Scott Clark! I find it amazing that he often does not even change the linework in any attempt to deceive. The only time he radically alters anything from the original work is when the costume of the character forces him to.

Holy Jim Lee! It's Spartanolverine!

Yet another Deodato clone. I had to show this one off just because of it is so silly and obviously Deodato with that crazy bent/cracked spine and bulging ass! That poor woman.. having her back broken while drowning....

What an odd combination of styles? Excuse me Mister Land. you seem to have gotten your photo reference mixed into your Rob Liefeld! It is almost surreal to see a copy of Liefeld's unnatural anatomy just panels away from semi realistic photo reproduction. Really, I just could not resist putting up a page where he just redrew Shatterstar but with breasts attached.

I wonder how long it took him to draw this. because you do see some progression. The first part of the book uses other comic books for most of the referencing, but by the end he is depending on the style he is known for now, xeroxing photos of models. I'm pretty sure he used the above pose later in the book that made him well-known, Sojourn.

Right out of the gate the guy is doing this stuff! I am almost afraid to start looking at his work over at DC, like Birds of Prey. It is almost always the work people point to as proof he actually could draw without these tricks. Theres almost good money to be had by betting that you can find this sloppy hack job trash in there too, if you know where to look. Perhaps his editors at DC were just smart enough to give him inkers who could cover it up? Face it tiger, everyone looks good with finishes by Brian Steelfreeze!

Damn I spoke too soon... Huntress also looks like the Pam Anderson pose he keeps recycling.


(Deleted comment)
Doktor Kamisama
thekamisama at 2009-06-08 05:24 (UTC) (Link)
I don't even think using a reference is bad. Many artists use them. Life drawing is referencing. But most artists use/pay their own models/pictures. When you go using somebody elses art or photos, that is damn near stealing.
You want some side by sides? I can do that.
http://pics.livejournal.com/lolcomics/pic/0000f7e6.png Thats the Pam anderson one. NSFW and all that.

some animated ones!

Kingston C. Rockwell
aliasjack at 2009-06-10 03:49 (UTC) (Link)
Definitely an anti-fan of the guy, but if you want to talk about the times he's known as being good for, the post-Sojourn Birds Of Prey covers are not them, especially Sensei & Student era. They are the worst or his worst.

Try his run on Nightwing before he moved on to CrossGen. It could easily still be photo-referenced, but it's at least tolerable. (oh, apparently he did interiors on BoP around that time too, but i haven't seen them)
(Deleted comment)
Doktor Kamisama
thekamisama at 2009-06-10 19:17 (UTC) (Link)
See, I will agee on background elements. Pool tables, particular brands of cars, specific citiyscapes, furniture, etc. I can see reference being used, so long as you are not directly copying it.

So what is your thought on basing a character on a real life individual? Not directly copying pictures of them, but giving them a likeness. There may be a need for that in the Wonder Woman story idea kaltrop threw out there.
(Deleted comment)
Doktor Kamisama
thekamisama at 2009-06-11 04:25 (UTC) (Link)
Norman Osbourne/Green Goblin now looks like Tommy Lee Jones too! Which must send lots of mixed signals as to who they would get to play him if they ever brought him back in another Spider-Man flick.
(Deleted comment)
Tequila Zaire
tequilazaire at 2009-06-13 22:37 (UTC) (Link)
Wow that's pretty blatant. There is a fine line between photo reference and flat out copying...and this line seems to be utterly ignored here. Guess it comes down to expectations. Some poses, expressions, etc of course pop up regardless since they are simply standard human actions...but in that last one even the shadows are copied. If this has taken him so far I doubt he'll ever stop but it sure if forgettable. Some of them see like it would waste MORE time in trying to copy, like that Spider-Man lift...I mean how hard is it to simply imagine that and do more fitting shadows?

This reminds me of the stuff that was lifted from Masamune Shirow's comics...badly at that. If you're gonna do it at least be open about it. Even Japanese hentai artists openly lift poses from their favorite idol shoots...then they perv em up more. Still even then the pose is a skeleton, usually everything else changes.

As far as environments go, less of an issue with that since building and such are static. Regardless of what angle you take a pic at it's gonna be the same for everyone. You see this a lot in Japanese animation...when it's NOT cool is when the artistic qualities of a photograph are stolen along with it (shadows, lighting, darkroom elements, etc.) Then it's no longer reference...but it is amazing how much laziness plays a part. An afternoon out with a camera and friends would save the need for so much of this...
Doktor Kamisama
thekamisama at 2009-06-14 03:25 (UTC) (Link)
Japan does seem a bit more tolerant of it, so far as to even sell pose books with models and AV actresses. But from what I have always perceived, there is a glass ceiling that most manga artists seem to hit there if they don't get past a certain level of professional ability as an illustrator.
Tequila Zaire
tequilazaire at 2009-06-14 06:05 (UTC) (Link)
Indeed, it's what separates those who actually end up doing their own title and books as opposed to those on creative teams that simply mimic the lead artist.

Nowadays pose books and really sites dedicated to just that exist to a level it's nearly inexcusable to copy others work. More so with programs that exist specifically to visualize stuff like this...let alone the age old lil wooden model.

I think it's an issue that will change more and more as you have artists who mix in various methods and techniques ranging from animation to 3D modeling. Areas where "copying" works a bit differently but still has a fine line.
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