Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Maxon's Young Earth

Having ferreted home the latest issue of Turok, I always treasured any appearance of Rex Maxon's irregular feature, Young Earth, if only because he kept his prehistory straight. He knew his Jurassic from his Cretaceous and what lived when. Such specificity was in high contrast to the depicted world of the feature stories, where dinos, mammals (including humans), reptiles, birds--even bunnies--all lived a freewheeling co-existence in the same lost valley. The writers for Turok can be forgiven for bad science; their Indians especially needed the cavemen because you can't base a line of adventure comics on poison arrows and killing saurians all day. The boys needed human conflict, not to mention a buddy here and there.

But in spite of drawing several feature stories (including the first), Maxon's role seems to have been one of educator, but as such, he was a poet, too. Visually, I mean. At the time--I was anywhere from 10 to 14 years old--I thought, in comparison with the other artists' more illustrational styles, that maybe Maxon couldn't draw as well as the others, but instinctively I liked his stuff better. Now I also know better. He was the superior draftsman.

For several hard-to-articulate reasons. First, better form. Maxon keeps it simple, implying mass more than rendering it. This leads to the second reason: because Maxon favors the open blocking of shapes (abstraction) instead of filled-in delineation (illustration), his work has a bolder graphic look, less penciled than painted. Bolder, yet, at the same time understated, gentle, as if by the hand of Raphael--even when the carnivore attacks.

No comments:

Post a Comment