Every day this year, I will be examining the artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Ming Doyle, and the story is “Moritat” from Girl Comics #1, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated May 2010. Enjoy!
Doyle’s first Marvel work was for this all-female anthology, with G. Willow Wilson writing, Cris Peter coloring, and Kathleen Marinaccio lettering. I’m not quite sure why this has to star Nightcrawler, but it does. Let’s see what’s going on in this story!
If you’ll allow me to make a wild generalization, female artists tend to be better at clothing than male artists. I wonder if it’s because women still don’t draw a lot of superhero comics, so they have to draw actual people wearing actual clothes and they get better at it. Anyway, Doyle does a nice job with the clothing in this story, as we’ll see throughout. She puts the MC (let’s call him Joel Grey) in a nice vest/tie combo with what my wife assures is a “poet shirt” with the flared sleeves, she puts Kurt in a nice tie, and Claire de Lune in a sumptuous fur coat and long gloves. We can see what Doyle is good at – she gives Joel a bit of a devilish look as he introduces Claire, and Kurt has that half-smile that implies he knows something is about to happen. Joel has those crooked eyebrows and that viperish smile in Panel 3, and Doyle leads us back to Claire, with her heavy mascara and sexy haircut. Doyle’s choices of clothing and facial expressions give this sequence a theatrical and even dangerous vibe, which foreshadows what’s going to happen later in the story.
Joel is, I guess, in love with that woman (let’s call her Liza), so of course he has to stab her to death. Kurt, however, has already figured this out, so he comes to the rescue. This panel shows off some good things about Doyle’s art and some things she still needs to work on. Once again, she pays close attention to what people wear. She also does a good job with Joel’s face, as we see him become even more evil as he strikes. Liza’s face isn’t quite as well done – she doesn’t look terribly scared, which is a bit strange. Doyle does a nice job in other panels, so I’m not sure why she doesn’t nail it here. But Doyle has the problem that so many young artists have – action is difficult for them. Joel and Liza look very stiff and posed, so that even though all comic book panels are static images, it doesn’t look like Liza moved her arm into that position naturally or that Joel is about to bring the knife down. It’s unfortunate, but that doesn’t make it a bad drawing. Doyle’s placement of the props behind the two turns this into a far creepier cabaret than what we see on the stage, and makes Joel’s attack more eerie. Notice that there’s a word balloon by Joel’s head – I don’t know if it’s not supposed to be there and was not completely erased or if it’s supposed to be there and didn’t get printed correctly, but either way, I don’t know what Joel says here. Maybe it was corrected in the trade?
Here’s an even better example of the good and the not-so-good with Doyle. I love that Kurt is wearing socks with the garter – it’s just weird, but it adds a touch of realism to the scene. Doyle’s inking lines give the clothing a tactility – you can feel the folds as Kurt leaps at Joel and as Joel defends himself in Panel 4. He looks like he’s shoving Kurt awkwardly, and that’s partly because he’s wearing clothing that doesn’t really flow very well. Doyle lays the page out well – Kurt leaps from left to right, and when our eyes reach Joel, we go straight down to Panel 2, where our eyes move back from the right to the left, following the smack Kurt lays on Joel. Then we shift right to Panel 3, which continues the action. Doyle once again does a nice job with the faces – Kurt looks like he’s enjoying himself in Panel 3, which aligns with his personality, and Joel looks both evil and cowardly in Panel 4, as he lashes out to smack Kurt even as he’s shrinking away. Note, though, that Doyle doesn’t quite do a great job with the action. Panel 1 is pretty good, but Panel 2 is strange – it appears that Joel is falling backward before Kurt hits him, as it seems that Kurt is still reaching for him. Panel 3 is also a bit awkward – the lack of motion lines (which isn’t that big a deal if other things are working) and the stiffness of Kurt’s arm makes it appear he simply placed his fist against Joel’s cheek and might be stroking it lovingly. We know, instinctively, that he’s punching Joel, but Doyle makes us work to get there.
Still, there’s some cool work here. I didn’t mention Peter too much, but she does a great job with the colors, doesn’t she? Over the next few days, we’ll see if Doyle gets better at action to match her other impressive chops. Come back and check it out, after you check out the archives!