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 “Legs” from The Witching Hour, which was published by DC/Vertigo and is cover dated December 2013. Enjoy!
The Witching Hour was one of those anthologies that Vertigo puts out every once in a while, and in the most recent one, Doyle drew a story that Kelly Sue DeConnick wrote. Jordie Bellaire, naturally, colored it. It’s a short story and Doyle doesn’t really get to show off very much – this is all about the big twist and Bellaire’s surprising coloring – but I wanted to look at a couple of things before we move on from Doyle.
This first sample just shows some of the things that Doyle has been doing well since her early work, but a bit more refined. She’s using thin lines a lot more, as we can see, but she hasn’t completely abandoned thicker lines, which add richness and body to Ellen’s hair. The slightly thicker lines make her scarf bunch a bit around her neck, which is a nice touch. She’s always been good at body language, and she’s still good – the flirting between Ellen and the guy (whose name we never learn) – is well done, from the more spirited stuff in the first row to the clichéd pause after their hands touch. As clichéd as that may be, it works, and most of that is due to the way Doyle draws the faces in the second row. The final panel, in which the guy smiles deviously at Ellen (and the reader) is well done. It’s definitely a “I’m going to get laid” smile, and Doyle makes it work.
This is a flashback, so Doyle completely changes her style, and does it very well. “Legs” – the guy, whose nickname that is – tells Ellen about how he became interested in spiders, and Doyle draws it as if a small child is drawing it, with the spider invading the idyllic childhood world. She uses a heavy, thick brush for emphasis – on the mom’s legs, on the floor, on the sword – and frantic thin lines that help create a feeling of messy chaos, which is a good way to describe the method a lot of kids use. “Legs’s” face is far more abstract, of course, as that’s how kids draw, but she’s smart enough to use a little bit of hatching underneath the eyes in Panel 3 to heighten the child’s delight and interest in the spider – that’s something a kid probably wouldn’t do (having seen a lot of kids’ drawings, I think I can say this with some confidence). So the sequence becomes less of a way a kid would draw it and more of a reminiscence, but it still remains childlike enough that the spider’s giant presence – kids have very little idea about perspective – is both charming and a bit menacing. I’d love to know what kind of implement Doyle used on the page, because the lines look faintly blue-ish, and I don’t know if that’s because the actual ink was a bit blue or because the color scheme that Bellaire uses throughout this story has conditioned me to see blue. Whatever it is, it works well for this sequence.
Doyle is still honing her craft, which makes me think she’ll continue to get better. If you ever get a chance to see her work at a convention, I encourage you to stop and see what she’s doing. I’ve only met her a couple of times, but she’s a very nice person, so I don’t think she’d mind.
Tomorrow we’ll check out another legendary artist, one who doesn’t draw as much as he used to but can still bring it when he wants. If you’re looking for other legendary artists, I’ve already written about some, and you can find them in the archives!