Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Appropriating" Stephen D. Sullivan: Anatomy of a Swipe!

Here is a Uni-Ball sketch I made on canary yellow tracing paper from a print out of a figure from the cover of Steve Sullivan's Zombie Shark. The author and illustrator uses part of the image on his Google profile, and I fell in love with the pose (or "gesture," as they say in fine arts, or "motive" if you are Sir Kenneth Clark). In any event, it suggested a pose for Jenny Woodlore, so I traced a print out, and this is what I got. I'm going to blow it up again and trace it some more, something like what I imagine to have been Gil Kane's method of developing figure drawings, until I have something that will almost be original! If all goes according to plan, Steve will never find out...!

Sketch, approximately 8 1/2" x 11".
Sketch next to black and white printout; actual detail.
I must say that usually when I swipe (or "study," as I prefer to say), I simply copy the figure, that is to say, I just look at the original and eyeball it, drawing it freehand on paper, with the print or online source in view. Most such studies remain in my sketchbook, although some can lend themselves to repurposing. I never used to swipe in my early comics, if only because when I copied a photographic source of some sort it always stuck out like a sore thumb. Now I am able to make changes as I did here (reducing the bust and augmenting her calcaneus (heel bone). Tracing usually doesn't yield very useful results, and in this case she is a bit too "butty" in the way her torso is twisted, that I may address if I develop this further.


  1. Except, of course, that you tagged me... ;-)

  2. Back in the old days, nearly every "how to" book on cartooning, like one by Dave Breger, advocated that the wannabe cartoonist or illustrator subscribe to six magazines and spend hours each week clipping and carefully sorting pictures under different categories -- planes, cars, animals, politicians, etc. -- or future reference. I did that with a stack of Time magazines to which we subscribed -- I had entire folders full of Gerald R. Ford and Palestinian tanks (which should suggest the time period), and never used them. Now we have the Internet, thank God, and I can look up John Kerry (as I did for the Al Franken book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them in 2003 -- name dropping!) or anything else. Saves filing cabinet space. Of course, they almost already have software that can detect swiping, so I wouldn't be surprised to hear from the lawyers of certain beach volleyball players or their photographers if certain pages from my sketchbooks ever were to be posted. Hence, I advocate the "study" value of reference, be it an Old Master drawing or a new source, as a learning experience -- not to pass it off as original. Unless you know the creator of the image! :)