Saturday, December 28, 2013

10 Artists I Want To Work With - #2 Geof Darrow

I remember when I went into the local comic shop and saw the oversized comics that was Big Guy and Rusty the Toy Robot for the first time. I might have read about it in Wizard magazine and I might have just stumbled across it. I knew Frank Miller from Sin City and possibly Daredevil at that point, but no one had prepared me for Geof Darrow.

Geof Darrow is one of the best artists period. Alive. In my humble opinion (good enough to make my sentences in sentence fragments). He is probably not blasting through pages at a high rate, but he is creating work that last, and work that he can look at and go, "Damn, that was fun." You can't say that about every artist working today. Darrow makes his pages count, and his splash pages as detailed as humanly possible and I have to admire him for that. These can't be easy pages to finish, you have to pencil and ink every single line on each page, and I am sure that takes patience (and a lot of wonderful arm muscles).

Once again I must say that Darrow's line is calm, although his subject matter isn't. His lines are clean, precise and measured. His pages are well put together. In the Conan cover up above, your eye focuses on Conan in the midst of the carnage that he is doling out. And within that chaos Darrow manages to do that. It is talent, it is knowing how to lay out a page and to make the reader's eye move along the page and focus where you want it to. I've read the theory on how to do this, but Darrow is a master at this.

After Big Guy I didn't see Darrow art until I came across the fact that Miller and he had collaborate on something called Hard Boiled before Big Guy. I immediately started saving my money and found a copy as soon as I could (this was before I had a credit card, and maybe even before ebay or Amazon). I was blown away by Hard Boiled.

Hard Boiled was mind-bendingly violent, hyper-detailed and kinetic pulp sci-fi. As a young man I felt like I had looked into the face of God as I read this book. It was unlike anything I had encountered up until that point, a blend of Blade Runner, a b-movie slasher flick (in terms of gore), and the best of film noir (think Cagney). Darrow was the champion of the book. He took Miller's insane fantasies and brought them to life in a way that no one else could have, with a vision of a singular man. 

Do you remember how you felt when you watched the Matrix for the first time? That is how I felt reading Hard Boiled. And guess what, Darrow was one of the artists that designed the look of the Matrix. Some of the images that you marvelled at onscreen came directly from his head to be filtered by the Wachowskis, and their effects crew and camera artists.

I think the three movies kept Darrow quite busy, you didn't see him around the comics scene for awhile and then he showed up under a banner at Dark Horse, something that had the blessing of the Wachowskis with a project unlike anything I had seen, Shaolin Cowboy. There weren't a lot of words between the pages, and there wasn't any solid plotline, but it seemed as though Darrow had forsaken linear and had just started taking his subconscious and putting it on the page with a character that he liked a lot. I was mesmerized. 

Shaolin Cowboy still drops an issue now and then, and I await every one with anticipation. There really is nothing like it on the stands. There is one scene that takes place in the belly of a colossal beast, wherein the Shaolin Cowboy uses a staff with two chainsaws on it to eviscerate a shark. You have to see this, it is absolute insanity. 

Most recently Darrow has done a couple of covers for Deadpool, and I believe he dropped an 'Adventure Magazine' based on Shaolin Cowboy modelled after pulp mags and written by Andrew Vachss. 

What do I want to write for Darrow? Let me see. I would love to do an Isle of Doctor Moureau in the middle of New York city type of story. Just crazy shit stitched together by a madman and let loose on the unsuspecting. And why not make it a little surreal why I was at it. That would be so much fun.

Until next time,

Martin John

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