Art evolution in comics

I read a lot of comics. I think I started with the Finnish version of Donald Duck: Aku Ankka as probably most Finnish children. I continued with Asterix, Lucky Luke, Valerian and other European comics I found in the librabry, then moved on to Marvel and DC superhero comics when a friend loaned a lot of Claremont X-Men comics to me.

Of course when I got an internet connection I started reading comics on the internet. One of the first ones I read was of course Dilbert. Then I found a lot of new comics, and nowadays I don’t read Dilbert that much.

Two of the best comics I read even now are Schlock Mercenary and Questionable Content. Schlock Mercenary started in 2000, QC started in 2003 and both seem to be going strong. They update regularily, Schlock every day and QC every weekday, but that’s to be expected as they are the jobs of the creators.

Posting a comic five or seven times a week means a lot of drawing. I started reading both comics when they were new. A link to Schlock Mercenary was posted to a mailing list I’m on, and the reference was to near-c projectiles, and Schlock has continued to be at least semi-hard scifi. I think this was sometime in the first year of Schlock.

I was pointed to Questionable content by the now sadly not updated webcomics blog Websnark, I think I first read the comic number 162.

Both of these comics have now been put into print, Schlock some years ago and Questionable Content later. When I got the books, they were obviously made of older strips, but I was still reading them daily, so I saw immediately the difference between the old and the new. Granted, the first Schlock book wasn’t made of the early strips, instead having more recent strips, but the difference was noticeable. Questionable Content seems to change the art every now and then.

Marten from Questionable Content 1

Marten from Questionable Content 2114

Here you can see the difference between one of the main characters in Questionable Content.

And here is the Schlock Mercenary.
Schlock Mercenary in the first strip

Schlock Mercenary in February 2012

For me these images show that very much of the skill of the cartoonist comes from the practice. Both these draughtsmen consistently draw, I suppose every day at least a bit, and after years of practice, it really shows. I remember when Howard Tayler was asking his readers if somebody would buy the books if he printed the comic and I answered ‘of course’. He had some qualms about the art quality, and I can only say I’m happy he waited until he finally made the real books. He probably got more new readers by publishing a nice-looking comic instead of what he had in the beginning.

Both these comics have also good storytelling in my opinion, but I’ll save discussing that into a later post.

Images from Schlock Mercenary are copyrighted to Howard Tayler and images from Questionable Content are copyrighted to Jeph Jacques.

The layout of this post is somewhat strange, I have to learn about the layouting in HTML (and WordPress) better soon.