The Fine Art of the Thankless Task of Licensed Comics

Posted by Michael Pinto on Aug 3, 2009 in Comic Books |

Licensed comics never quite get the limelight that their original cousins always grab: There’s a cool factor to working on a Spiderman comic which may inspire a film, but there’s just no love for a comic book that’s based upon a toy or a pre-existing film or TV show. Yet while fandom looks down upon these books, they serve as an important “gateway drug” of sorts — attracting young and new readers into being the next generation of comic books fans. Recently I found myself guilty of this snobby fanboy mindset while looking at the work being produced by Boom! Studios — so I decided to give them a second chance and give them a serious look: And lo and behold I think they’re doing a rather decent job with their Finding Nemo and Muppets books!

The second issue of Finding Nemo will hit comic book stores this Wednesday on August 5th. Considering that Erica Leigh Currey had to translate a Pixar film into a flat cartoon she’s done a good job of it — add to that her coloring and layout really keep to the spirit of the property:

And next up we’ve got Muppet Robin Hood #3 — making the Muppets look good as cartoon characters is a bad bet! So much of what makes them lovable are the voices which you just wouldn’t hear in a comic book, add to that what makes a Muppet a Muppet is the texture on the puppet creatures. Trying to translate that into a drawing is a bad idea at best, the last time it was done well was the Muppet Babies back in the 80s and that had a moe factor going for it. However given the odds against them artist Armand Villavert Jr. and colorist Kat Valliant didn’t do a half bad job given the task:

Muppet Robin Hood #3

Muppet Robin Hood #3

Now I’ll grant you that Muppet Robin Hood #3 isn’t as strong as the Nemo comic, but the task at hand is much harder. And the challenge of bringing well known characters from the big and small screen into a comic book to engage non-comic books fans is frankly harder than drawing a set of characters which are designed with comic books in mind.

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