Why? Not who.

February 5, 2010

So in my recent interview I had to answer the age old question of “Who/what are (my) influences?”. Everyone asks that, it’s a standard question, and in most cases, I want to know the same thing about every artist I admire. Maybe it’s some daydream that if they like the same artists I do, then one day we’ll meet, and become the best of friends. OK, that’s not realistic, but I think secretly it’s what we all want to belive. I’ve been considering this over-and-over, but it seems that the real question ought to be, “Why are they influences?” So I decided to explain one of them.

Adam Hughes– huge influence. Why? There are a ton of reasons, and most people would assume it’s his ability to draw beautiful women. I’d be fibbing if I didn’t admit I’ve swiped… er, been influenced by that. Hair, eyes, lips, hands, fingernails, legs, heels, necks… I’ve studied it all. Yet, that’s not the reason I really go back to him as an influence. It’s more subtle than that, and the best way to explain it- is to show it.

One of his earlier works, the Star Trek graphic novel “Debt of Honor“, is a prime example of when, and why, he became a huge influence. I think a lot of his ability to capture likenesses was lost in process from pencil to final art, but Adam made up for any problems in that area with body language. His subtle use of posturing, how figures distribute their weight, and the way they carry themselves as individuals, are the real reasons I go back to his work constantly. A great example of this can be seen in two panels, almost identical, from different points in the story, set years apart.

It’s simply Spock and Kirk talking on the bridge, this one is obviously classic Trek. That’s apparent from the details, green Captain shirt, the classic red doors, Beatle boots, etc… The true beauty of it comes from how the body postures alone tell us which one is Spock and which is Kirk, heck you don’t even need the heads! Look at Spock’s board straight back in comparison to Kirk’s relaxed, but  always in command, stance. Kirk’s hands hanging at his side, ready to throw a punch at a moment’s notice, but Spock’s are tight behind him, ever stoic.

Classic Trek

The second panel is set during the film era, which we know from the uniforms and sleek bridge design. Again, you can tell instantly who is who just by how they’re standing, but if that weren’t enough, now he’s aged them. It’s not exaggerated with gray hair or big guts, it’s tweaks to their overall form. They still look like Spock and Kirk, they’re just obviously older.

Years later...

It’s handled so well, and it was that point I became a huge fan. So it wasn’t the curvaceous bombshells, sultry eyes, or luscious lips, rather it was the subtle grace he gave Starfleet. That’s one reason why he’s a major influence on me.