Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Fantastic in the Fine Arts: Comics Edition

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryEarlier this week, Tia Mansouri wrote about the new cover of Roald Dahl's classic children's novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and a closer look at the cover made me think about other, similar artwork--in particular, comics that use simply drawn characters to tell their stories.

As Tia mentions in her article, one of the reasons the new cover is able to portray most of the major goings-on in the novel is because of these simple lines.  They keep the drawing looking uncluttered, thus allowing the image to contain more details from the book.

One comic that I really enjoy that uses a similar aesthetic--and has a similar effect, I think--is Randall Monroe's xkcd webcomic.  While most of Monroe's comics don't directly deal with science fiction and fantasy, many of them do cover topics near and dear to many a nerd's heart--math, physics, computers, etc.  And every once in a while, there is one about fantasy literature:

Children's Fantasy

Bill Amend's Foxtrot cartoons also fit into this aesthetic, and while I don't think the simplicity of his characters is used to balance out the complexity of ideas in quite the same way that it is in Brunetti and Monroe's work, it still does make his cartoons extremely familiar and approachable.

Orlando Bloom has ruined everythingAmend's work is also a lot of fun because he is clearly a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and all things geek-related.  He plays World of Warcraft and works it into his strips, a LOTR movie reference appears in the title of one of his collections, Jason (the younger son) has plans to write the next book in the Song of Ice and Fire sequence (which GRRM himself was a very good sport about), and he has a hilarious interpretation of what fantasy football is.

In all of these cases, it's an aesthetic that I really enjoy--the simplicity is refreshing, and makes me feel like there's room for me in these images as well.