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The World of Wayward Comic Book Artist (Review)

Sandy Plunkett, Swallow Press

By Jane Durrell · August 11th, 2010 · Lit
Sandy Plunkett reverses the normal order of things. Instead of languishing through youth somewhere in Ohio, longing for New York, he did his languishing in New York’s Upper West Side and came to southeast Ohio to find his creative home. The World of a Wayward Comic Book Artist reflects sketchbook/journals Plunkett has kept since 1992, by which time Athens, Ohio, was his town.

The book is a delight, partly for the terrific drawings that spill through it, and partly for the narrative that reveals Plunkett’s engaging, self-effacing personality. He’s never quite sure he’s good enough, even while evidence of his talent is on the facing page.

He was drawing just about as early as he can remember and before long was crazy about comic books, along with most of his peers. The two interests coalesced by the time he was 20 and a career as an artist for comics and other outlets began.

This book reflects not only the swagger and dramatic perspectives demanded by the comic book form but also gentler drawings, often in pencil, that seem to speak more directly from the man himself. Plunkett brings order and a fine hand to the melodrama of the comic strip story but is equally at home elsewhere. He regrets, often, his inability to work as fast as other artists, but slower in his case means better.

Like all good journals, the book is a potpourri of ideas. There’s a thoughtful take on the 2003 film Lost in Translation, a discussion of how basic printing presses influenced comic drawing styles, the “huge shot of energy” computers gave the field and plenty of interesting observations.

“Commercial art forces you to not wait for inspiration,” Plunkett says, and also mentions his preference for drawing “structurally dubious architecture.” The notes at the back of the book explain the drawings, which appear mostly without caption. It helps to refer as you go. Grade: A



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