Reasons why I love inking: Ian Akin and Brian Garvey
Today I introduce a new segment on this blog.
Last year I started to realize that my eye is showing symptoms of being trained to see the work of inkers and see what are their main characteristics: Scott Williams ‘s three “inking” eras, Jonathan Glapion’s elegant brush strokes, which inker suits JR JR the best, Mark Framer’s delightful and modulated line, Klaus Janson’s characteristic artwork… et al.
So… I thought that it would be great to note what I see on each one of them and share it with you.
So, as a pilot I want to introduce you not one, but two inkers who worked as a duo in the first part of the 80’s, then went solo and recently (2010) reunited again.
Why them? well, this is a personal choice.
Ian Akin and Brian Garvey were part of the team who produced the first comic I have ever collected. Marvel’s Transformers, which lasted 80 issues and 2 miniseries and the team of inkers dealt with them on and off between the issues 19 to 37 , giving their best work from issues 23 to 32.
The edition I collected back in the days was the spanish one, published by Comics Forum. On the 17th issue of that comic came with a 8 page complement comic ROM, with Sal Buscema on pencils, being helped in inks by Joe Sinnott, Danny Bulanadi and then more as a stablished team, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey. The spanish edition of Rom published from the ROM 2nd Annual and then, and then from Issue 25 to 47.
Let me point that Ian Akin and Brian Garvey also worked together on many titles, publishers and other pencilers but I’ll be focusing on these two titles since they were the ones I had the most time on my hands.
The Akin / Garvey team shown a great deal of brush technique on rendering metallic materials and the reflection of light over chromed surfaces. Since both titles, Rom and Transformers’s main characters were made of metal, The brushwork on these pages really were the main character.
On Transformers, Akin / Garvey inked over Don Perlin’s pencils. After the first miniseries, penciled by Frank Springer the title went ongoing with an unstable set of pencilers and inkers (Alan Kupperberg, Ricadro Villamonte, Mike Manley, Herb Trimpe, William Johnson), keeping Bob Budiansky (writer) and Nelson Yomtov almost all the run. Then, Don Perlin took the art duties and the team Ian Akin and Brian garvey who came from Rom, took the inking.
They represented the mechanics of the robots precisely, lots of straight lines made with ruler and not many spotted blacks. On the page, each robot seems like at some technically crafter blueprint. Grey areas were done with elegant parallel fine strokes giving depth to the metals as a clever trick to separate foreground figures from the background scene. But the most noticeable thing to my eye is the straight thin line used for shadowing. it’s neat, clear and cuts like a razor. You can see spots of the brilliant pages on the head shots and the detail shots, while the medium and long shots are usually clearer and less texture detailed. But, you may think that all the cleanliness of the stroke may cut some of the characters’s personality, but it’s weird since they don’t. Drawing robots must not be as fun as you may think if you are an artist with long time in the business, right? That’s probably why there were that many pencilers on the first 12 issues. The Perlin / Akin / Garvey team managed to show their craft mixing rigidness of the characters with appealing personality using ink hierarchy and not messing with the hatching.
Well, Rom is another story. Each page should be hung in a gallery wall.
The duo here, simply they bested themselves to the level of bringing Sal Buscema’s pencils to the best of his career. Each page shows lots of hours, experimental attitude, zip a tones, grey areas to show from the most bizarre underworld to the elegancy of Atlantis. Amazing. IDW should make an Artists Edition out of this.
Big Scenes, lots of details, some panels and (splash pages mostly) seems taken from the 90’s back to the 80’s, or better said, the future 90’s inkers might have seen on these pages the full potential of the ink to take the pages to another level. I read on another blog that Sal Buscemi disliked the A&G inks on his ROM, comparing the duo to Vince Colletta (an early Silver Age Marvel Comics inker who work on almost every title not without controversy of erasing/ruining some of the penciler’s jobs in order to ink faster and meet deadlines) . For me, that’s too much. I have been a lifetime follower of Sal Buscema’s work and I can say that his work on Rom, who was also inked by Joe Sinnott and Danny Bulanadi grows exponentially when inked by A&G.
Akin and Garvey here gets thicker line, but spends more time on details like hair, sea and special evocative textures which are part of the plot, since Rom is always moody on his lost humanity and search for love. The Submariner saga (34-35) shows illustration book-like quality artwork on the issues they ink (34 and 36) while Danny Bulanadi shows an inkwork more entitled to a classic comic book. With Bulanadi faces expressions get tighter, lines are thicker without purpose and there is not a good readibility from foreground to backgrounds.
A&G sets you in a place where every scene is a mystery theatre, lights and shadows always casts in a way to grow the unrest. Even thou is set in the coast of Maine, you don’t want to be there. Even thou Namor comes to the rescue the lighting design shows that this won’t end well. Every story ends with a Pyrrhic victory. Not everyone wins completely. And that’s the main achievement of the Akin and Garvey duo. Elevating the pencils of Sal Buscema to a level not even lengendary Joe Sinnott can.
That’s what I like from them, they took the book to another different level, not only the product of entertainment we all know about comics. Here are some significancy on the artwork that deserves to be meet, to be enjoyed but most important, to be recognized.
Select biography from their wikipedia page:
Akin & Garvey
- ROM #34, 36–50 (Marvel)
- Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1–4 (Marvel)
- Starriors #1-4 (Marvel)
- Firestorm #38–42 (DC)
- Iron Man #190–209 (Marvel)
- Transformers: Headmasters #1–4 (Marvel)
- The Transformers #19–30, 32, 35–37 (Marvel)
You can pay a visit to Ian Akin and Brian Garvey here.