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Monday, June 17, 2002

Entry 0014 -- Inking is a fairly disrespected art, mainly because it inherently corrupts the primary artist's creative intention. When the factory system of assembling comic book pages was developed, though, it became a necessary evil.

Some pencillers, notably Jack Kirby (and including the Galaxy's own Jason Marcy) prefer to have someone else ink their pencils, often to better effect. Many great artists are obviously great inkers as well -- Mike Mignola and Mike Avon Oeming spring to mind -- but being a great inker of yourself is not what I'm talking about here.

Some inkers have a destructive or otherwise distasteful effect on every penciller they touch. Vince Colletta, known for actually erasing Kirby's pencils to save himself time and energy, is certainly one of the worst inkers in the history of comics, although many actually like his inks on Kirby's Thor.

A few, like Terry Austin and Klaus Janson, bring a true artist's sensibility to their work. I don't think I've ever seen any work inked by Janson that wasn't better for his involvement. Compare, for example, the Janson-inked DK1 to the Jansonless DK2. I doubt any but the most rabid Frank Miller apologists would fail to concede that the current series would be better if Klaus was involved.

I personally am fascinated by good inking. There's not been a lot of it in the history of mainstream comics -- probably fewer than 20 people are worthy of note -- but the ones that are good are really good, and always make the artwork fascinating to study.



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