Hergé

Comic Artists Inspiration, Part 2

The second comic artist I highlighted as an inspiration was Hergé, the creator of Tintin. His artwork was defined by his 'ligne claire' style: clean lines, all of the same weight and without the shading and solid black areas that define much of the genre. The tidy, considered style appealed to me on an aesthetic level and his choice of colors looked so refined. It seemed like he was making a lot of smart  and informed decisions.

If Dudley Watkins was the first comic artist I actually realized was creating this artwork, Hergé was the first I saw to be elevating the medium and going beyond what was either necessary or expected. I didn’t immediately appreciate this, but he studied Constructivist design, Modernist architecture, and Eastern art. They all influenced his work and as a result his compositions and color schemes were far beyond anything else I saw. It made the whole genre seem more credible.

Today one of my favorite comic artists and writers is John Arne Sæterøy (usually just called Jason), a Norwegian who tells short stories with expressionless anthropomorphic animals. They’re often dark, subtle and touching stories, delivered with a very dry sense of humor. These are perfectly to my taste, and while they’re not for kids, I see a direct relationship in the artwork to Hergé’s style. To think that you can find inspiration in one aspect of something, then take in another completely different direction and make your own thing is very exciting.

If there’s one other aspect of Hergé's work I find inspiring it’s the evolution of his craft. Looking at the early books beside the later ones you can see how the artwork evolved from simple comic strips to sophisticated graphics. And it wasn’t just the artwork. Some of the early books have been called racist. They're certainly of their time and occasionally depict characters that are, at best, racial stereotypes, but just as the drawings evolved so did his writing. Hergé not only improved in that aspect, he became critical of racist attitudes and attempted to educate his audience on that subject in books like The Blue Lotus. In a time when artists aren’t always given the opportunity to develop it’s fascinating to study the transitions in Hergé's work. 

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