Off My Mind: Are Artists Telling A Story Or Trying To Sell Their Artwork?

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gmanfromheck

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Edited By gmanfromheck
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Let me start off by saying that I have a deep respect for comic book artists. A good comic book needs great writing and great artwork. We've heard the stories about artists in the past not getting their fair share of what they deserve. It's great that artists are allowed to retain their original artwork to keep or sell. Are some artists too concerned with selling their work rather than focusing on the story telling?
 
The other day I picked up an issue from last month to try to catch up on my reading. The story was good and the art was just okay, in my opinion. What struck me as odd was seeing the artist's signature on pages that apparently showed a major moment for the character. Maybe the artist was simply really proud of these pages but to me, it looked like they were making plans to sell them as soon as the ink was dry. Maybe I'm overreacting here.
 == TEASER ==
If this comic was drawn by a big name like Jim Lee or George Perez, I could see why a signature would by put on the page. I hate to say it but the artist here isn't anywhere near that level of recognition. As I mentioned, the art was good, but it didn't blow me away. When I read a comic, I want to get pulled into the story of the characters involved. A good story and good art can do that. Maybe I'm making too much out of this but seeing a signature seems to jolt you back to reality. It just really made me feel like the artist was seeking recognition or was making plans to sell the pages. I was aware who drew the comic since they were given credit. I just don't need to see their name plastered on an image where the character is making a momentous move in their life.
  
If it were on a splash page, I wouldn't mind. If it happens more than once, it's a distraction, especially if the signature stands out on the page. A signature in the bottom corner is fine but if it's practically in the middle, it just doesn't look right. Does anyone else notice this? Am I the only person bothered by this? I'm not trying to keep an artist from getting credit from their work. I just don't need to be constantly reminded when I'm reading an issue with their artwork.
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Turbo_Toaster

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#1  Edited By Turbo_Toaster

That's super obnoxious, I couldn't see myself doing that and it's definitely unnecessary.

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FadeToBlackBolt

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#2  Edited By FadeToBlackBolt

I think it really depends on the story. Some arcs are written in a way that accomodates more for flashy images rather than actual story; Siege, for example. Every page looked like a chance for Coipel to show how good he is; so putting his signature on that piece would make sense, because he's doing most of the work.

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Av0ndale

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#3  Edited By Av0ndale

Gonna agree with FadeToBlackBolt. It depends, but most of the time, that is annoying.

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mimschkin

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#4  Edited By mimschkin

 I get this. Simone Bianchi's signature is freaking huge, even though his art style is distinctive and it's not really necessary. But that's on the cover. I don't like it at all on the inside. It's like, I know who drew it because I read the cover and the first page with all the credits on, stop telling me! I guess it's more for when they want to sell the original artwork, then people can put it on their wall and the signature makes it more prestigious and unique. 

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Turbo_Toaster

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#5  Edited By Turbo_Toaster

If a signature is so noticeable that it takes away from a scene that the artist has put a painstaking amount of work in, he's pretty much cheapened his own work and made his efforts null, right? Being an artist is a gift and a curse, to get jobs doing it is a small miracle so I can sympathize with needing to keep that boat afloat. Bottom line is if someone really likes your stuff enough to want to hire you, they'll go out of their way to find out who was behind a certain segment.

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NightFang3

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#6  Edited By NightFang3

I think it's a little bit of both.

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Magian

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#7  Edited By Magian

This might be done as a way for people to identify the artwork when it is shown in pieces, in different sites or magazines because not all people know all the artists. That is just my opinion. It might be just nonsense.

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chalkshark

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#8  Edited By chalkshark

I can't think of a single instance where that practice would be considered acceptable. The artist gets to keep the original artwork, so if a signature is warranted for the sale, it can be added later. The artist gets his due in the credits. His actual signature can, generally, be found on the cover... assuming the interior artist is actually allowed to do the cover. The job is storytelling, not self-promotion. I'd liken it to a big yellow arrow suddenly appearing on screen to remind the audience of an actor's name whenever the actor's character does something cool on screen. It would be outrageous in a movie. It should be in comics, as well. I've got to ask, where's the editorial control?

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Nyogtha

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#9  Edited By Nyogtha

In a design aesthetic that is a HUGE no no. It detracts from the piece and draws your eye away from the panel. You're basically giving the reader ADD and they don't pay attention to the work because you put your signature on every panel and they are looking for it after repetition sets in. I only put mine on the cover or when I do work for bands, like t-shirts, posters and stuff. When doing album art they usually put it in the booklet. Name recognition is good, but it shouldn't be hammered in and obnoxious, they should remember your style anyways. Like I said on the cover, yea that's fine, I expect that. I know I remember when I like someones stuff I usually just go back and look it up on the inside cover.

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Baddamdog

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#10  Edited By Baddamdog

Am I the only one who wants to know what artist he's talking about??

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sora_thekey

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#12  Edited By sora_thekey

Could it be that the artist is just be trying to emphasize that the artwork is his?

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The Jeff

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#13  Edited By The Jeff

I like how in some of the old Romita issues of Spider-Man you had to look for the sig. That adds a little to the cover IMO

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Gennadius

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#14  Edited By Gennadius

I didnt really think about it this way but I think that its unnecessary, 
If people really want to know who the artist is they propably will look at the cover like I did when I wanted to find more art of Bachalo.

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Nova`Prime`

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#15  Edited By Nova`Prime`

Huge no no for this, if you plan on selling the piece eventually then you can add the signature. There is no reason to do self promoting within the artwork of any issue, interior or cover because they all get credit on the first page. This is just as bad if a writer put his name in a word bubble during a big speech. I get the industry was pretty dismissive of the artists of the past, but today's artists don't have those same problems so they don't need to slap their name on everything they do.

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yescas

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#16  Edited By yescas

Signing a big splash page, a cover or a really good part is not bad, but G-man is right, happening more than once in the comic or placing it on a noticeable place is just not right.  
I like to think of the pages in my comic as art, and that the artist really drew a bigger image with a signature so f someone wants the art it would be showing more stuff. Sometimes I also like to think the art is good and the fact that a signature is not there is because it is under a panel (like in those spread pages that have panels on the sides) 

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gmanfromheck

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#17  Edited By gmanfromheck
@Baddamdog: I really don't want to "out" this particular artist since this is something that's been done many many times. This isn't directed just at this artist. Although, as I told Turbo Toaster on Twitter, there was a shot of a signature right between a dude's legs. 
 
Also, Turbo Toaster brings up a good point (her awesome art is what you see in the Quests), if an artist's stuff is recognizable, a signature isn't required. Look at Jim Lee, John Byrne, Mike Allred, Amanda Connor, etc. You see their stuff and right away you know who drew it.
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jordama

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#18  Edited By jordama

a signiture has no place inside the normal comic pages unless it is done subtlly like in a billboard or graffetti or something
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xerox_kitty

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#19  Edited By xerox_kitty

I must be completely blind, because I never notice the signature inside the covers.  I do find it distracting on the covers, but I've been oblivious to any on the internal art.

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ArtisticNeedham

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#20  Edited By ArtisticNeedham

Being an artist myself, I feel that the art should serve the story.  The art is what people see first and what brings them in, and the story should keep them interested.   One shouldn't try and be more important than the other and seem disjointed, maybe.
I once heard that the artist should do such a great job you shouldn't even think about the art.  Like it just flows so well you aren't distracted from the story by the art.

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Cosmic Sentinel

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#21  Edited By Cosmic Sentinel

While I know artists can be poorly paid, surely they have to keep in mind that their first customer, the comic book company (and by extension comic book buyers), who are commissioning their work in the first place. I don't see why they can't just add a signature later if they resell the piece. 

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Magian

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#22  Edited By Magian

I have never noticed that before.

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Magian

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#23  Edited By Magian

I have never noticed that before.

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Silkcuts

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#24  Edited By Silkcuts

I think it is a lot of the time a way to make ends meet.  A lot of the artist I have met who sell there work hold on to the ones most dear to them, such as Francis Manapul has kept a lot of the romantic images he has created during his Adventure run.  The reasons are his alone for that, but I suspect that they are personal representations that he got to express.  The rest of those pages in those issues, why not sell? Jeff Lemire as well is not selling any of the first two Sweet Tooth issues original works. I live in Toronto and both Men mentioned above are down to earth kind of guys who will gladly sketch a picture in a trade book and I was never charged by either of them.
 
It is the superstars like Jim Lee who use their name as leverage and fame to make even more money.  Comics to him is a bueiness hence Wildstorm.
 
There are many artist that do comics for the love.  If they sell their works, there is reasons for it.  Maybe money to pay for luxuries, maybe to make space, maybe because they have no love for that peice.
 
I think that the artist most of the time is telling the story first.

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Silkcuts

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#25  Edited By Silkcuts
@aztek the lost: I never noticed that.  I like it when the sig is nicely placed, like on a package wrapping.  As long as it is kind of hidden.  Not every artist has a style people notice as theirs, so some have to tag every page.
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goldenkey

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#26  Edited By goldenkey

I don't really care if their signatures are one EVERY page.  If they want to sell them to make money then go for it.  Artists are only as good the hype they get and if they sell their work its just mareketing themselves.  They're artists, let them do what they want to do. 
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DarkSyde79

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#27  Edited By DarkSyde79

I just hope in the process of them trying to sell their art, I can get a good story...

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#28  Edited By IcePrince_X

That is why in my paintings and commissioned works, I don't put my signature in front, I usually put it at the back of the canvass or paper. I want people to appreciate the work that is good enough for me.  
 
I guess, some comic book artist do this because of the onset of limited print editions so as to save them time, they quickly resort to this. But I agree, it should be not too overwhelming to distract the reader.... in fact if the artist have humor in him, he makes his signature part of the scene and the reader will be inclined to look for it for fun.   

We have a local artist here in the Philippines who does that, he was the late Larry Alcala. Anyway, just a short trivia, nobody knew that he was doing it because it was  done for his daughter or niece who loves his work. Well, the secret leaked out and people during that time went gaga and started looking for his famous insignia in his artworks. In short, you see his artwork first before you start realizing there is more the meets the eye once you stare at it long enough.