Sunday, March 21, 2010

Art Discussion Month 2010: Global Frequency #11 by Jason Pearson

[Continuing Art Discussion Month 2010. 31 days, 31 artists, a whole lot of discussion. The explanation behind my choice of comics and the archive can be found here.]

Global Frequency #11 ("Aleph"). Written by Warren Ellis. Drawn by Jason Pearson. Coloured by David Baron.

Visually, this is my least favourite issue of Global Frequency. Jason Pearson's style here turns me off, as does David Baron's colouring. I'd go so far as to say that it's the only issue of the series that I just don't like. Even from a writing standpoint, it doesn't thrill me. Is that a function of the art, though? The story here isn't all that different from any other issue of the series: a group of bad people have discovered where Global Frequency Central is and, now, Aleph has to eavacuate/secure the HQ. After ten issues of her being in her room of monitors, she's put in action. If anything, it should be a better issue since we're more inclined to feel a sense of connection to Aleph than we did to any other characters previously. But, yeah, I could just never get into this issue.

Looking at Pearson's art closely, I don't know why I don't like it. It does things that I generally want from art. There are expressive faces, dynamic layouts (both page layouts and the interior of panels), and it's easy to tell what's going on by just looking at the page. But there's something so generic about it. Something mediocre, something broad... something unaccomplished. Yes, I can tell what's going on and what characters are thinking, but it doesn't look good. The art is ugly.

It's sharp corners and misshapen head, awkward poses, and perspectives that try to be too fancy. There's an anime influence in the art that I'm not sure helps. It reminds me a bit of the unpolished art you see online on fan sites that people praise because everyone is friendly, but no one really thinks matches up against what's on the stands that week. That sounds harsh, but that's what I'm seeing. There's just something missing, because there's nothing immediately wrong with the art -- I just don't like it.

I run into that problem doing reviews sometimes, those artists that don't really do anything wrong, but their style turns you off. Do you praise them or slam them when it's beyond an objective examination, it's just direct subjective personal preference? You can recognise that something is objectively good, but, for whatever reason, it just doesn't appeal to you personally. Now, maybe that means it isn't really objectively good, but it is possible that the sensibilities of the art and yourself just don't click.

There are parts of the art I like. One panel where Aleph dives, covering her head, trying to avoid gunshots in the sewers... it's a great panel. The angle on it (her diving to us, we're looking up slightly) is great. But that's about it.

David Baron's colours just look sloppy, possibly reflecting what I see as sloppiness in the art. Neither the line work nor the colours look polished, just thrown down on the page. Pages bathed in red light lack the subtle look of previous issues where the same thing happened. It's too bright, too grating, too much in your face.

Tomorrow: Global Frequency #12 by Gene Ha with Art Lyon along to do colours. (But I do believe David Baron shows up again in some other comics this month, so don't say goodbye just yet...)