"The Time Machine"....no, I'm not talking about my current comic book project (although the Time machine plays a large part in it). I'm talking about the time machine we as artists use to look back at the work of the master artists that preceded us. I've always tried to learn what influenced the artists that influence me...to track the lineage of what makes me want to draw. I'll be the first to admit that I worship the art of Bernie Wrightson. His work on Swampthing and the Warren magazines of the 1970s was the biggest shaper of my desire to become a cartoonist. In the maiden voyage of my time machine, I learned that Wrighson was hugely influence by the amazing E.C. horror and science fiction comics from the 1950s. There I discovered the work of Wallace Wood, Al Williamson, George Evans, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis and "Ghastly" Graham Ingles. I love this stuff. I could literally see how E.C. directly shaped Bernie's art. But, these masters had their influences too. My trusty time machine lead me them. My next stop was the 1930s. There, in living four color majesty, I found Alex Raymond and Hal Foster. Most artists I know have no idea how much they owe to Foster and Raymond. I dare to say that every cartoonist in North America either directly or indirectly has been influence by these titans. Foster's Prince Valiant and Raymond's Flash Gordan are a gold mine of study material on how to draw a great comic. They left a legacy that is still teaching us. But...you may ask. Who influence them?
Climb into YOUR time machine. Find Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, and J.C. Leyendecker. Search out Maxfield Parrish, James Montgomery Flagg, and Charles Dana Gibson. And if you're truly lucky, you may bump into Joseph Clement Coll. So....in closing, I'll tell you this. Whenever a young artist asks me for advice on drawing. I tell them, "If you want to learn where to go, look behind you."