Every once in a while and all too rarely, something magnificent stays hidden from the HoB team for too long. Knowing something’s brilliant and not indulging yourself in and all over it isn’t really excusable. I’m ashamed to say that the very sin I describe was committed by me, and here I aim to rectify my error in the hopes that this misfortune should skip all other souls.
Somehow, inexplicably even to me, I totally missed Becky Cloonan. I am a girl-fan of comics and all things gorgeous, and her delicious art was a mystery to me until very recently. A friend of mine called Tom practially imploded when he found out Becky would be at Thought Bubble again this year, so I thought I’d better pull on my adventure boots and get lost in this.
I’d seen and heard her name being bandied around (and bloody-well rightly so) loads over the years and to this very nano-moment I can’t tell you why I didn’t thrust myself, doubled-footed into her amazing worlds.
While chatting to a favourite of mine (Gary Erskine) at London Expo in May this year, I couldn’t help but notice the lovely Miss Cloonan’s vibrant and fantastical pennings nearby. In my rushing around, only being able to spend one day at the convention, I didn’t get a chance to speak with her, or explore her art more closely. So, I put her on the ever-growing list of people and things that I meant to check out. As is the case many a time, life got in the way and I just didn’t get around to it.
Then, I stumbled upon this little beauty:
(Front, top. Back, below)
I instantly loved the use of the space; like it was a canvas or page that simply had the shirt shape cut out of it, after the image had been created. Usually we see t-shirts designs making use of the front and/or the back because it’s easy. Easy doesn’t make for awesome. Bold and clever, featuring my favourite colour (turquoiseyish-blues) and my least favourite colour (pink) with an incredibly effective chunk of black in there. Basic pallete to maximum effect.
This theme runs throughout Miss Cloonan’s back cat., I’m pleased to say. I really enjoy seeing examples of an artist playing around with the ingrediants in their favourite recipes and seeing how each version turns out. The turquoisey-blues, links and blacks, for example, taste totally different in this version from ‘DEMO':
There’s something about this static image that’s so charged with movement. Check out the rearing horse on the back – I can all but hear it’s “Neeeeh!”. Creating the illusion of movement like that is something i’ve stuggled with since my Art GCSE. I got an A* for a cubist-inspired piece and all the while envied folk who could bring such life to a blank page.
Then we move onto another ocean of brilliant, a whole new species of fish for our kettle!
I can’t think of another place where i’ve seen such lush blends and clashed of textures, shadows, depth and simplicity that works in such perfect harmony.
Pinks and reds signal danger and terror, blues are cold and hard and though opposite on the colour wheel, they work perfectly together here to deliver their intended emotion and message.
The only white used in the whole image, is in Doom’s eyes which both highlight and darken them and him. Magic.
What could excite me more than getting my fangs finally into Becky Cloonan’s art for Dracula? One of the most atmospheric, sinister, yet beautiful and deeply brilliant classics that school forced on us – one that I love to this very day.
Shockingly slow off the mark on this one – but hopefully my chat here will prevent any other from befalling the same, shameful fate.
The newest sampling of Becky’s visual treats can be found in her latest, self-contained comic ‘The Mire‘, “set on the eve of battle, when a humble squire is given the task of delivering a letter to a decomposing castle in a swamp. Met with mysterious apparitions, he slowly unveils the truth about why he was sent there, as his past is re-written over the course of twenty two pages.”
Go forth and lavish this delight on your peepers!