Robot 6

Industry vet Bart Sears releases first sketchbook

An interesting thing popped up in my morning stroll through RSS feeds of interesting sites: artist Bart Sears is doing his first sketchbook. Titled Odds-n-Ends, the book promises 52 pages “crammed with sketches, drawings, designs” including many unpublished works. It’s an interesting piece from an interesting, and largely overlooked, comic artist.

Sears is a unique figure in comics. He’s worked in most every corner of the comics industry, from Justice League Europe to Todd McFarlane’s Violator, and was even the art director at CrossGen for a time. Many fans probably remember him for his instructive art column “Brutes & Babes,” in Wizard magazine. In the past few years, Sears has worked largely outside of comics, as an in-house concept artist for video game developer Heatwave Interactive. The few comics he has done recently were published by Dark Horse: a miniseries titled The Helm and a two-issue Conan series with fellow CrossGen alum Ron Marz.

Sears’s art style is like a dynamic mind-meld of the sinewy style of Barry Windsor-Smith crossed with the muscled men and women of Boris Vallejo. His work goes to the root of power-fantasy, making him hyper-specialized so that only certain kinds of books would fit his work. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel, DC or another publisher someday finds that right book that shows off Sears’ work to its fullest. This sketchbook offers a unique glimpse at what the artist himself  might want to draw, and might give some ideas for readers and comics staffers as to where Sears could fit.

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Wait, so this is Bart Sears drawing full-body shots and pinups of characters without paying attention to any kind of script or storytelling.

How, exactly, does this differ from a published Bart Sears comic?

Not a fan then, Dave? Anyway Bart’s stuff is dynamic and stylized. It’s not always been paired with appropriate scripts but to be honest I’m getting bored with the current crop of realistic artists and would love to see him back on some mainstream stuff.

Always a fan of Sears. Looking forward to checking out this sketchbook.

And for $10 extra Bart adds an original headshot drawing? Loved him since JLE introduced me to his work. Good stuff.

David’s point doesn’t really have to do with whether one likes Sears style or not, Paul. I myself enjoy his work stylistically, however towards the end of his mainstream comics career Sears basically ignored his writers script, and drew what he wanted to. This was made even worse by Sears seemingly abandoning any notion or want to tell a story with his art, and led to pages of pinups put next to, or even sometimes over, panels that themselves were only loosely connected, if at all.

While Bart Sears best work was never composed of brilliant story telling and panel to panel flow, he certainly had a grasp on it. Towards the end, he just seemed to have lost any interest in it, he was just drawing the characters in the script, not the script.

Concept artist is probably a better position for Bart, and likely more rewarding for him. Bart was always an excellent cover artist, a great splash page guy, and very imaginative, all skills that lend themselves quite well to coming up with inspiring concept art.

I have one of the Justice League Europe issues he worked on, #3. Don’t forget, this is the guy who co-created one of the X-Men’s longtime villains, Apocalypse.

Acer,

That’s incorrect. Bart Sears had absolutely nothing to do with Apocalypse. That honor goes to Walt & Louise Simonson who introduced Apocalypse in X-Factor #3.

It seems odd to me that folks are having a go at Bart’s storytelling ability. I assume that the cases mentioned are refering to Captain America and The Falcon? That is the one that is always pointed out. In this instance, Bart was handed a script that was adhered to very strictly at the drawing board. Some people may not like what he did, others will like it, but Bart can hardly be blamed for doing what the script asked of him.
It will interest some of you to know that Bart considers storytelling and page flow very important, vitally important. I would suggest checking out his recent Deadlands OS to see what I mean.

And yes, Bart did not co-create Apocalypse. He draws a mean one though.

Christopher Priest would disagree that Bart followed the script, and Priest might know, because he wrote it.

Sears Warlord was also a mess, and his later Turok work was as well.

Priest can disagree all he wishes, but the printed word does not lie! I’ve actually read those original scripts and I can’t see how Bart could have done things any different. As for Warlord, I’ll agree that it is not my favourite work of his, but I think it’s a case of him trying out something different, which happens so little with comic artists these days, and Bart should not be condemned for trying to mix things up, I feel. And Turok, the later work he did for that (remembering that he only did a handful of comics with that character), Bart only provided breakdowns for it, with finishes by Sean Chen.

Stylized? Certainly, but after a while it hurts my eyes. Seriously, when did comic heroes grow all those extra muscles? Dynamic? Websters defines dynamic as: ‘of or relating to physical force or energy’. That’s a purely subjective way to describe his work as a fan, and Jay is most certainly a fan.

I just wish that for the sake of the comic world someone would travel back in time and give the guy a copy of Gray’s Anatomy.

Bart has always held the belief that when drawing superheroes, one should make them larger than life and have them look dynamic and powerful. I see no problem with that. And it isn’t as if he draws every character with rippling muscles. That wouldn’t work. But if you look at Bart’s work, you’ll see that he plays close attention to varied mass and proportion through different characters.
As for Gray’s Anatomy… Bart has obviously studied the human form extensively. He even has a blurb on a recent edition of a Hogarth anatomy book. I always say that Bart exagerates anatomy, he doesn’t invent it. I feel that is true. I have never come across a muscle drawn by Bart that doesn’t exist in reality. He may push its size and mass to the extreme, but the muscle exists on every body.
I also don’t think Bart is solely reponsible for the charge of drawing superheroes with ample muscle. Whilst the 90’s were certainly the era of muscular heroes, there are plenty still to be seen. Jim Lee, David Finch (a proclaimed follower of Bart’s teachings), the list goes on. These are heroic comics these guys draw. I say meake ‘em look heroic.
I think it all comes down to style. Bart has, for decades, drawn heroic anatomy in a style of his own, but if you look at bodybuilders and even moderately toned people, you’ll se that Bart is far more realistic than most artists, especially people like Jim Lee, who’s figures are rather weak, once looked at anatomically.
But everybody has a right to either like or dislike his, or any other artist’s, work.

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