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posted May 5, 2005
AdHouse Books, $25, 2005
Well, this thing is just lovely. James Jean
is probably best known in comics circles for covers to Batgirl
, for which he won an Eisner in 2004. I'm not terribly familiar with his work at all, but this small and terrifically conceived sketchbook from AdHouse Books
has had me for a cover to cover visit not once but twice so far. The small size is only a hassle in latter sketchbook session when it become difficult to read accompanying text written on the page by the artist. But for the most part, bringing the workd down makes it easier to grasp the entirety of the design before delving into the details. A lot of the illustration work and some of the paintings seem to depend on the artist depicting a basic sweep across the page -- as opposed to dueling elements or stuff that focuses one's towards a specific object.
The quality of the visual imagination is pretty high, too, although I can't say that there's any one subconscious element that stands out as particularly innovative. With chops like these, though, who cares? A young artist should have plenty of time to build a unique visual vocabulary and it looks like Jean is still exploring what exactly it is that catches his eye. I like the way that often one element that sticks out from the picture's foreground distracts from something more troubling but not highlighted at another place in the art. There are a couple of nice extras here; I particularly enjoyed the photos of the equipment used in back. Just a really solid book, and an exemplary one of this type within the comics field.