Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Dave Gibbons Doctor Who art

I was struck recently by the brilliance of Dave Gibbons art for Doctor Who from 1979 to 1982. Partly, I think, because I had no idea he had done so much art for the title, every issue bar 4 from issue 1 to 69. I've attached some images from 'The Tides of Time' with Steve Parkhouse in 1982. Here Gibbons demonstrates all the key skills a great comic artist needs. The speed, consistency and variety of the art, the mastery of  character ( in this case a great likeness of Peter Davidson), the scale and sense of wonder, the dynamism, the body language and figure work are all from the top drawer.   

The page below has an interesting reverse S formation to its panel flow, which works in this case because the screen the Doctor's looking at in the second panel acts as a panel border leading the eye unequivocally to the right. It helps that Dave letters his own work. The storytelling flows beautifully, and you can see the talent and sequential precision that would lead to the groundbreaking Watchmen art some four years later. 

Talking of Watchmen this panel amused me: Check out Shayde's circlar head in the center panel. See how it foreshadows the Watchmen badge logo four years in advance, even down to the dolop of proto ketchup above the eye? Pure coincidence, but good fuel for conspiracy theorists and scholars of the subliminal.

Most of all I was stunned by how cohesive and expressive the work was, hand drawn and inked with Letratone. It seemed to move me more than recent digital work. Of late I've come to believe, rightly or wrongly, that there's a certain human element that gets subtly removed from digital art. Something about the cohesiveness of the page gets lost in the scale of the linework, perhaps due to the constant zooming in Photoshop and the tools used. It's only a personal opinion, but I would love to see Dave's art fully hand drawn again.

'The Tides of Time' is a Panini graphic novel containing 221 pages of Doctor Who strips from 1982 with art by Dave Gibbons, Mick Austin, Steve Dillon and written by Steve Parkhouse.