The New Adventures of Little Sparrow: Comic Book Art, Volume 1

I have read approximately 2.5 graphic novels in my life – Both volumes of Batman HUSH, and, at the behest of our favorite Cave of Solitude podcast personalities, I’m currently working on Volume One of Batman: Under The Hood.

Honestly, comic books are not really my thing. 

Holy over reaction, Batman!  *smug chuckle*

Listen, I enjoy a good book, but most of the appeal comes from letting my creativity run wild in conjuring up depictions and bringing them to life in my imagination. In a sense, the characters are mine.  This is usually why reading a book and then watching a movie based on said book, more often than not, results in varying degrees of disappointment.

However, I also really enjoy art and this is where my frivolous sojourn into the world of comic books has (forgive the cliché) opened my eyes.

I had decided that all comic book art was the same. Variations on hard lines and basic coloring, highlights and shadows, with some being more “pop-art-like” than others, but all basically part of a cookie cutter genre that I have minimal interest in.  After reading the initial installment of HUSH, I realized my ignorance.

HUSH, illustrated by Jim Lee, is a dark and terrifying story, both for the Caped Crusader, and the reader. Jim Lee does an excellent job capturing this. Pivotal events in the story unfold in the alleys of Gotham, on rooftops, even in a cemetery; at night, in the dark. There are some lovely panels drawn in the opera house or in the ever prosperous and uplifting city of Metropolis that are brighter, but for the most part – as is with Bruce Wayne’s life – darkness abounds.

What really grabs my attention though, are the pages that depict Bruce’s flashback scenes of time spent with his childhood friend Tommy Elliot.

Gorgeous artwork here, people.

We’re still seeing a somewhat dark Wayne Manor – perhaps a subconscious darkness associated with the tragic events connected to it?
You can see the contrast more clearly when compared to the memories of events in Metropolis, when Bruce and Tommy happen to witness Green Lantern in action…


…but in both of these depictions, Jim Lee does a wonderful job with watercolors, capturing a kind of hazy nostalgia associated with childhood memories.


I very much appreciate and respect the talent required to accomplish what I would call “typical” comic book art, but this variation is refreshing. And, while trolling through his DeviantArt pages, it is obvious that Jim Lee possesses a wide range of artistic skills, not limited to comic book illustrations. He even designed a model of a certain Constitution-Class Starship (NCC-1701) for an art exhibit by Paramount Pictures, around the time of the release of J.J. Abram’s Star Trek.  His model features a female Borg-Romulan-Vulcan-Anime hybrid creature on the saucer section, which I’m not sure how I feel about, but he accomplished this with white out and silver Sharpies, so that’s cool.

Stay tuned for more comic art analysis! If I ever finish reading Under The Hood, I’m going to gush about Matt Wagner’s cover art, and stunning “visual interludes” between chapters.

Little Sparrow Out.

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