Every day this month, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. This month I will be doing theme weeks, with each week devoted to a single artist. First up: Bill Sienkiewicz! Today’s page is from Daredevil: Love and War (Marvel Graphic Novel #24, in case you’re keeping track), which was published by Marvel and is cover dated 1986. Enjoy!
In the mid-1980s, Bill Sienkiewicz began to experiment more with painting, and today’s entry and tomorrow’s show that very nicely. Neither first page shows his distortion of figures that he began in New Mutants and would continue in his work, but that’s something for another day!
The first page of Love and War, the graphic novel by Sienkiewicz and Frank Miller, is not all that dynamic but it does show some interesting things. First of all, the cityscape shows Wilson Fisk’s tower dominating, to an almost absurd degree, the rest of the New York buildings. The sun reflecting off the windows is also interesting – it makes Fisk’s building glow but casts the lower section in shadows, symbolically showing that Fisk, a “respectable” businessman on the surface, built his “empire on human sin.” I’m not sure how deliberate this is, but Sienkiewicz puts two prongs at the top of the tower, making it a bit devilish. I’d love it if he thought that while he was painting this. And this page, while not as abstract as Sienkiewicz could get, is a nice example of “less is more” – the buildings are indistinct blocks, but Sienkiewicz gives them just enough detail and adds just enough color that we get the impression of a vast landscape of skyscrapers without needing all the details.
Miller’s writing is typically Miller-esque, but gives us a good idea of Wilson Fisk and leads nicely into the story, which is about Fisk’s attempts to rebuild the life of his wife, Vanessa, after amnesia and mental instability have destroyed her (yes, this story fits into Marvel continuity). Fisk states baldly that he’s a bad man, and that he always gets everything he wants. He can’t connect to his wife, however, and that is, naturally, the only thing he wants now. It’s a theme as old as the hills, but Miller runs with it, and this first page does a good job presenting the central problem of the book succinctly.
The lettering of the credits is neat, too. Novak (presumably) uses a font that is distinctly art-deco, and it really does lend both a sense of modernity to the page (perhaps counter-intuitively) while also remaining classic. Novak uses fairly standard font throughout the rest of the book, but the credits make the entire page look cool, and that’s not a bad way to introduce your creative team.
Sienkiewicz painted this page, obviously, something he would do quite a bit in subsequent years. We’ll see something else he would do quite a bit … next time! Meanwhile, here are the archives.
Remember – I’m taking suggestions for the third and fourth artists I will feature in February. This is the last day for it, because I need to get going on putting the posts together (which I’m planning to do this weekend), so get your suggestions in!