Monday, October 13, 2008

Illustration, part one: Content

What makes great illustration?

In her very clear and thorough analysis of the illustrations of the great Charles Mikolaycak, Judith Johnson, PhD gives these three elements of illustration: Content, Composition, and Control. (She adds one other, Color, which is not applicable to Seth's work, because his color was added later by someone else.) Today I will look at content, and we will think about the others on subsequent days.
Content: What is in the foreground? What is in the background? the middle ground?

What is the cultural context? That is, where and when are the people living that we are looking at? What does their clothing tell us about them? The drawings should give us a clue to their modernity or antiquity, their relative wealth, the culture they live in.

What is the emotional content of the art? What is the position of the actors on the page? --Are they sitting, lying, crouched down, cowering, standing at attention? How are they placed in relation to each other? We should be able to read from the picture something about how the characters feel, without words.
It's interesting to go over this image with these things in mind. The place is clear from the picture: a large city in Japan. We see the chaos and destruction, and we see where it is coming from: the huge monster whose wings are so widespread that the picture frame cannot contain them. and whose face is so angry and menacing that we know at a glance that his destructiveness is not accidental, but methodical, deliberate, and malignant.
The only human we see in the photo is a guy sitting on the sidewalk selling electronic doo-dads, who seems to be the only one in town who didn't get the word that the monsters had struck.
There are people driving the tanks and other army equipment, but they are faceless in this image.
So we read terror here, but with a couple of clues that tell us not to take it too seriously. The large slug on top of the building on the right grimaces down at everything like a large, impotent playmobil figure, and below him a billboard celebrates Seth's son 登風(Tofu). These give us a wink from Seth, "Relax and have fun. Enjoy the ride!"

1 comment:

j_ay said...

Incredible illustration. It really couldn't be better in any way.