Comic Art Friday: Everything old is new again (including this post)

[Note from your Uncle Swan: I’ve told this tale before — on March 21, 2005, to be precise. But since it’s been eight years to the month since I last told it, and inasmuch as that telling resides on my legacy blog which many of you have probably never visited, I think there’s little harm in telling it again. However, if you’re a long-time reader who followed me here from the old blog location, you may have read the following — minus an edit here or there — before. In that case, feel welcome to take this Comic Art Friday off.]

Someone — I believe it was Rod Stewart — once said, “Every picture tells a story, don’t it?” I don’t know whether that’s true of every picture, but it’s certainly the case with this one.

The Scarlet Witch, pencil art by Bob McLeod (1992)

I picked up this pencil sketch of Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, from an art dealer at WonderCon in February 2005. Drawn in 1992 according to the signature — and signatures never lie — it’s the work of the great Bob McLeod, who created the very first piece of custom art I ever commissioned, a gorgeous pinup of one of my favorite heroes, the Black Panther.

Bob McLeod is best known in the sequential art trade as an inker. In fact, in my never-humble opinion, Bob is one of the finest inkers in the business — in part because he’s also a terrific pencil artist. But because McLeod is most closely associated with inking, one doesn’t see very much of his raw pencil art. (Well, you might have if you ever checked out Rough Stuff, the short-lived magazine that Bob edited for Two Morrows Publishing, the folks who bring you Alter Ego, Back Issue, and The Jack Kirby Companion. In Rough Stuff, Bob frequently showcased uninked pencils from artists whose work is rarely seen in that condition.)

That’s one reason I was so excited to find this sketch, which shows Bob’s fine grasp of expression and anatomy to perfect, unvarnished advantage. The other reason was that I thought it would be fun to have Bob revisit and complete the drawing thirteen years after he began it.

So, a few days after I purchased it, I packed the sketch off to Bob. Below, you see the finished art, vintage 2005.

The Scarlet Witch, inked pencils by Bob McLeod (2005)

Dramatic, huh? Yes, believe it or not, both of these pictures are scans of the exact same physical piece of art, scanned (about four weeks apart) at two stages of its development. Not only can you see the amazing change a comic art drawing undergoes from its pencil origins to camera-ready inks, but you can also get a sense of the way one artist’s personal style evolves over the course of several years.

In comparing the two versions, Bob McLeod joked that the Scarlet Witch appears to have shed about 30 pounds between 1992 and 2005. I wish it were that easy to lose a few, by means of a handful of brush strokes and a strategically applied eraser!

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

(All-new material next week, I promise.)

Explore posts in the same categories: Comic Art Friday, Reminiscing, SwanStuff, That's Cool!

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