So, running around the NY Comic Con 2011 with a bag of goodies (prints signed by different artists) I turn a corner and what do I find? I nice corner table with the all the wares and books by artist Greg Horn.
And he is signing copies!!!
Thing is, I never got around to ask him a lot a questions or chatting with him, because he was in full sales-person mode, and his associate in the stand was also involved in sales. He was offering the first book he published, I think back in 2004, and a new gorgeous hardcover titled Cover Stories.
He was also bundling deals, like both books for $50.00 (the old one in softcover is already $24.95 by itself.)
Since my old copy of the book was in hands of an artist friend, and I believe that if you lend a book you shouldn’t expect it returned, I jumped at the chance of picking up the pair.
Greg Horn’s art is photorealistic and glamouresque. His covers have graced Marvel and independents/small publishers alike.
He is one of those artists that even if you are not a hardcore comic fan, or a die-hard art fan, you have seen and you have admired. One of those artists whose covers captured you and enticed you to buy a buy. He is that artists you know of, even though you may not know him by name.
When it cames to appreciating his style, his technique and his style throws a curve ball in my tastes. I used to think I knew what I liked and disliked, till he forced me into liking him.
I’ve always been partial to illustrators who tell a story o their covers. Graphical Story Telling in a cover is the highest form of art, since you only have one page to convey a myriad of emotions, and all of your story composition has to be butrassed by great technique. Well, Greg Horn embodies the perfect balance of telling a story, and providing technique, and capturing pinup glamour and other factors, that make me stand and take notice every time I see his art.
His attention to detail, and his appreciation for small minutia doesn’t shadow his magnificent sense of composition.
He is not the narrative-illustrator type, the Will Eisner type who would do one cover and in the cover tell a whole story, cramming details and side stories.
But he doesn’t purport to be that type of illustrator either. He is the closes thing we got to a classic pin up artists, in the class of Elvgreen, or Vargas.
Recently while chatting with some friend about having met Greg at his stand, they pointed me to a number of web articles where people complain about sexism and lack of correctness in portraying females in comics.
And I am all against about cheap objectification of women and sexism. I am. But like I stated in many blog entries before, everything in its proper place.
Greg Horn is a pinup artists, as such, women risk being objectified. The product of his artistry ends up as a poster in a wall, for someone (likely a guy) to admire it fleetingly, and forget it two seconds later.
As such, there is no freaking point on crying about the objectification of women, anymore than there is complaining about violence in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. I rather spend energy declaiming peoples predisposition to react the wrong way to this type of art, rather than condemning the art itself.
One of the most famous covers by Greg Horn, for Marvel
I can only say that I hope Greg Horn knows that there is no such thing as bad publicity on the web. Even negative articles increase search engine returns and enhance your web presence, so… to those who find time to complain about the objectification of women coming from a pinup artists…. There is a time and place to make your art commentaries. But either you open a moral blog, to bitch and whine about the moral decay of contemporary society, or you try to stick to art commentary and/or critique. But more and more I keep finding this well known websites reviewing comics and art that end up posting commentaries from “contributors” who misrepresent their subjective impressions as objective and well supported opinions.
Then there is the illustration that Greg Horn did about Catwoman lapping milk.
There are whole sites about people complaining about it, and how he suddenly became the top culprit of the objectification of women in the world.
Greg Horn is an artist. He can paint whatever he wants.
Just like you can bitch about whatever you don’t like, in your blog, and among your friends.
But I take exception if you have a widely recognized blog/review website, in which case I will consider you a journalistic venue. And despite what you see in Fox and Friends and Jerry Springer show, that is not the way to do journalism. And anyone who tells me they don’t like Greg Horn because he oversexualize women, doesn’t deserve to have his opinions related to the public in a journalistic source.
And the editorial powers of those sources should DO THEIR JOBS and edit the content of the article-writers to ensure the content is objective, and not ONLY subjective, unless it is intended to be a soap box.
For Example: The comic watcher is comic review blog. The comments on art and artists are supposed to be supported with logical arguments for or against it. When I post something that is just my opinion, I put a label, like RANT, or OPINION, or SOAPBOX, so the reader know that is me talking out of my ass. What gets me riled are those morons who write SUBJECTIVE opinions and consider them objective criticisms. That’s when I am most likely to turn vicious.
Back to the books I purchased: On the second book of Greg Horn we are presented tons of more covers and pinups, ranging from the fantastic, to the sexy, to the heroic. I stare for minutes, sometimes fractions of an hour at a particular drawing, analyzing it and decomposing in smaller segments and I am still fascinated by the brave choice of colors and the smart panel composition we see on his art.
On the downside, for fans who may have bought the first book, may be disappointed (I know I was) to find a lot of repeat plates in the second book. And I am not talking about one or three, but quite many more. That does should sit well for those fans who didn’t buy the first book, and now get to know Greg Horn for the first time.
Greg Horn goes beyond the poutty lips and the surprised expression that many masters of the Pinup perfected before him.
His composition choices incorporate choices of the everyday, the daily routines, as represented in some of the She-hulk covers, while others focus on the dramatic addition of elements, like you can see in the much critized (for the wrong reasons) illustration of PowerGirl in the army.
I consider him to be one of the most representative pinup artists for the early 21st century and that is a a pretty high compliment.
His subtlety flies so low under the radar that most uninformed critics just stare at what’s in front of them(Cheesecake), and they miss the moon for the finger (old Bruce Lee saying, Google it up) .
This is what I read from the web pundits about this illustration “OH the big boobies! Is objectifying! And the guys getting turned on! HORROR!”
This is what I take: Going beyond the marvelous choice of chromatic palette, Greg Horn does an amazing work of high-light contrasts: PowerGirl hair, her white-suited shoulders, the reflection of light stemming from the finger of the Drill Sergeant, the subtle contrasts on the soldiers on the front…
And then choice of putting the two back soldiers on different dramatic poses is a clear homage to Ron Embleton, and how he used background characters to finish his panels. Even the rendering style of those two characters, and their expressions is reminiscent of Ron Embleton.
Ah, and it has boobies, and a somewhat expresive cheesecake expression on Powergirl. I say “Somewhat”, because it is not pouting, but is not terrible worried either. It is the perfect amount of burlesque to make it cheesy, but adding a bit of dramatism that makes it current for this century and removes it from a frame of mind of pinup of the 1950’s
TO ME, it doesn’t objectify anything, becuase no matter what choices artists make on their work, IT IS UP TO ME TO INTERPRET IT.
Actually I do see a bit of humour on a superhero the caliber of a superman (superwoman in this case) being subjected to a drill sergeant’s rant. The fact that she has to live with her choice of impractical wardrobe in this case actually adds humour to the piece.
BUT AGAIN, it doesn’t make me smack my wife in the ass and yell at her “Go into the kitchen and make me a sam’wich, woman!!”
Nothing makes me do that. It is my own stupidity who would.
There are millions of external agents. WE , as individuals, are ultimately responsible for how we deal with them and what we take from facing those agents. (End of one-paragraph soapbox)
So, on my Critics rating, The Art of Greg Horn gets