Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Album Covers by Comic Book Artists

The best people in the comic book industry are able to move their talent freely. Let's face it, being a comic book artist or writer is not necessarily a lucrative gig. I haven't yet tasted the life of a "professional" in the field, but I would imagine that the time between jobs can put a hurtin' on your finances, whether an industry name, or not. Ultimately, expressing oneself across media platforms will keep one from being pigeonholed, will expand the variety of people with whom one will interact, and, if executed properly, will allow one to reach a greater audience, including people that would not otherwise pick up a comic book.

Some obvious examples of this type of cross-genre movement are Geof Darrow's conceptual designs for The Matrix, Paul Chadwick's scripting of the Matrix MMORPG, and Brian K. Vaughan's recent stint as a scribe on Lost, to name a very few. These, of course, all seem to represent a stepping up.

Sometimes a lateral step can be just as cool. Illustrating an album cover can give an artist a chance to fully utilize all the quirks in his or her visual arsenal, without the encumbrance of having to tell a sequential story. With less space to work with, the result is more raw, and obviously more traditional in an artistic sense.

He is best known for Stray Toasters, Elektra:Assassin, and his New Mutant work, as his wiki will attest. I chose him first because I think that the album covers he illustrated say a lot about the diversity of his talent. His work has a dreamlike feel, illustrating nightmares frozen in silent terror, as evidenced by Stray Toasters

Dreamlike is rarely a word used in describing Hip-Hop, yet his style translates extremely well to his cover for Wu-Tang's The RZA's first album, Bobby Digital in Stereo.

In one picture, Sienkiewicz manages to capture all the recurring themes of the album: sci-fi, blaxploitation movies, comic book excess, and hip-hop righteousness in the face of cultural excess. He juxtaposes the chaos of the gangster lifestyle with the clean lines of the Wu-Tang W, which could be an allusion to the stability that the Wu philosophy brought to RZA's life. It's perfect. His other album work includes EPMD's Business as Usual .
You can read Sienkiewicz's thoughts on doing album covers on his website.
Next Time: Charles Burns.

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