comic | episodes & e-books | store | about | forum 




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 
Sydney Jordan's "Jeff Hawke" 
Author Message
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm
Posts: 4260
    
Jeff Hawke is a sci-fi comic strip by Scottish illustrator Sydney Jordan that ran in the British tabloid The Daily Express from 1955 to 1974, all illustrated by Jordan, and for the most part written either by Jordan or William Patterson; Patterson wrote Jeff Hawke episodes on and off from 1956 through 1959, and seems to be credited with bringing a higher quality of storytelling to Hawke's adventures.

I had never heard of Hawke before reading an interview book with British superhero comic artist/writer Alan Davis in which, when discussing his influences, Davis mentions Jordan and Jeff Hawke, although he preferred Jordan's later strip, Lance McLane, which--aside from having a Scottish hero and being published in a Scottish newspaper--was apparently rather similar to Jeff Hawke, although when it failed to catch on, Jordan had McLane transform into Hawke. :o

But Jordan's art in the strip, if perhaps not always his writing, was fantastic. Here's a sample strip; not one of his most spectacular but it's the one Wikipedia uses and I'm not sure what others qualify under Fair Use, so eh:

Image

^ That's from the 1961 Patterson story "Counsel For The Defense."

Jordan is very good at depicting humans, drawn in a clear, strong-jawed 1950's style; his strips of men and women in plainclothes (as opposed to space suits) look thoroughly professional, and compare well against the some of the best comic illustrators of the day--which is to say, they're fairly bland-looking to the modern comic reader's eye.

It's his intricately cross-hatched depictions of space and spacecraft that really make the series stand out visually. Jordan was an illustrator and RAF pilot--my source for that is the Italian fan site jeffhawke.com, which is also where Wikipedia got the strip above--and also had experience drawing airplanes (perhaps from his pre-RAF schooling at the Aeronautical Technical School in Reading?), which would serve him well in drawing the many flying machines that would take to the skies in the strip. Space ships and scenes really seem to have inspired Jordan, and in those environments even his humans take on stunningly shaded, dramatic dimensions.

The series as far as I know is virtually unknown in the United States, but judging by the fan sites and lists of published collections, it enjoyed large success in continental Europe, particularly Italy, where extensive Jeff Hawke collections appear to have been published over the succeeding decades. All we have in the States are two fairly small collections put together in 2008, covering approximately the publication years 1960 through 1962: Jeff Hawke: Overlord and Jeff Hawke: The Ambassadors. I've ordered both and am awaiting them eagerly; if you want an idea of what they might be like, I noticed a perhaps somewhat unscrupulous soul has ripped the entirety of Overlord as high-resolution online scans.

Jordan's a genius with black and white rendered in a realistic style, and I think these books are going to be even more helpful and inspirational for my drawing in A* than Paul Gulacy's excellent full-color work in the Six from Sirius graphic novel has been. I'm really looking forward to checking out the two books up close.


Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:15 am
Profile

Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:27 am
Posts: 1
    
Actually Jeff Hawke was immensely popular just as Dan Dare was in Britain. I love the art style of those traditional pen and ink artists from the 1950s and 70s. Even the old James Bond strips were lush to look at even sporting the receding hairline ala Sean Connery. I'd say viewing those older works will definitely bring something to your project. SmbhA is wonderfully inspired by a lot of traditional strips or concepts. The level of craft and love for the concept shines through. Don't stop.

I might also add I have been noticing the more adept touch you've been applying to your artwork. Sometimes of course one might complain that well the "more refined" variety lacks the energy. But that can also mean that it lacks the clarity needed. Striking the right balance is the goal as It simply pays to take your time. I believe the 1-2 panels per day update schedule will allow you to keep up the quality. Having said that, what does this mean for the hundreds of older images in other chapters? Sure would be nice to see those tighten up to the present standard. Also, if you know any 3d animation programs I find building the models in in 3d saves a huge amount of time when trying to get environmental or vehicle work done. It also helps one to avoid the Jack Kirbyesque mode of technology changing from frame to frame. Try Sketchup. Its free and easy to learn. Something to consider.

Regards.


Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:18 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm
Posts: 4260
    
tacumacah wrote:
Actually Jeff Hawke was immensely popular just as Dan Dare was in Britain.

Oh yeah, I didn't do a very good job of spelling that out, did I? He had a ~20 year run so yes, I can only imagine he was very well known there.

tacumacah wrote:
I love the art style of those traditional pen and ink artists from the 1950s and 70s. Even the old James Bond strips were lush to look at even sporting the receding hairline ala Sean Connery. I'd say viewing those older works will definitely bring something to your project. SmbhA is wonderfully inspired by a lot of traditional strips or concepts. The level of craft and love for the concept shines through. Don't stop.

Huh, I didn't know there was a James Bond comic strip! From the little I've gathered from Alan Davis' comments on his influences, it certainly looks like the UK had a great tradition of very high quality adventure strips--Frank Hampson's Dan Dare, for instance, and Frank Bellamy's work in Garth.

I'm not aware of American strips that were quite at that level, and certainly by the time I was reading the funny pages, there wasn't much that really stood out; strips like The Phantom, Prince Valiant, and Spider-Man are the strips of that type that spring to mind, but they certainly weren't up to the level of Jordan or Hampson's work.

My own inspirations as a kid were mostly Marvel comics, particularly work by John Byrne, who was extremely prolific--and talented--as I was growing up. Probably my very favorite stuff of his was his long run on The Fantastic Four, over which time his style really evolved, and which also featured some of his best writing--just issue after issue of mind-blowing adventures.

Thanks very much for the flattering comments on A*, I don't plan on stopping any time real soon!

tacumacah wrote:
I might also add I have been noticing the more adept touch you've been applying to your artwork. Sometimes of course one might complain that well the "more refined" variety lacks the energy. But that can also mean that it lacks the clarity needed. Striking the right balance is the goal as It simply pays to take your time. I believe the 1-2 panels per day update schedule will allow you to keep up the quality.

Yay somebody noticed. :D Not that I've been fishing for compliments about it or anything >_>... *ahem* That's a very good observation about refinement vs energy, and something I am concerned about; so far though the odd method I have seems reasonably able to resist losing energy as I refine it, as it has the ability to preserve fairly well the very quick gesture drawing with which each image begins--and I find that I'm gradually getting better at requiring fewer large-scale revisions as I work through a drawing, which helps immensely as well. For the most part I still can't just dash off an amazingly dynamic and polished page with zero revisions right from the get-go, but I am getting closer to that--slowly--which is encouraging.

And the quality over quantity thing really does seem to work out in terms of getting people interested in the strip; I really can see day to day that if I end the previous day with a higher quality page, more readers will read more pages the next day, despite there being fewer brand-new pages to read through. I used to think that there was a sort of optimal balance I could strike with cranking out a ton of reasonably decent pages day after day, but that really hasn't been born out by the data; I was definitely in that mode at the beginning, though, where A* was primarily conceived as animated movies, and I felt that I needed to crank through the individual drawings to produce the movie as quickly as possible. At a slower page rate I do worry--constantly--about the story moving too slowly, but I take encouragement from the relative success of my one-page-per-week Princess and the Giant, which now takes something in the range of 8-12 hours of solid work to produce a single page (:o), as well as the many other webcomics I've been finding that have built significant audiences off of high-quality but very slowly produced work--hmm grr and the one really extreme example I have of this is one whose name I can never remember, maybe it will come back to me... Anyway, massive pages, very sporadic update rate, but huge following nonetheless.

tacumacah wrote:
Having said that, what does this mean for the hundreds of older images in other chapters? Sure would be nice to see those tighten up to the present standard.

A *lot* of webcomic artists agonize over that, but I find that it doesn't worry me at all. It certainly *would* be nice to see all 1000+ A* pages up to the level of page #1017, but really the choice is: do you work on redoing the old stuff, or do you continue ahead with new stuff?--and it's a very easy answer for me, because I feel that the stories I have sketched out for the future will blow the older stories away, so moving forward is the obvious choice! And I really don't mind if someone comes in and finds the old stuff, because they see the new work on the front page anyway, so in fact the most likely reaction is probably something like "gosh this comic really got better with time, I wonder if it will improve even more if I stick with it?" And what I've heard from other, much more experienced webcomic artists is that yeah, you always want to keep moving forward, and not to worry about your previous work being more primitive, it won't turn off your new readers.

tacumacah wrote:
Also, if you know any 3d animation programs I find building the models in in 3d saves a huge amount of time when trying to get environmental or vehicle work done. It also helps one to avoid the Jack Kirbyesque mode of technology changing from frame to frame. Try Sketchup. Its free and easy to learn. Something to consider.

That's an excellent point, and certainly if I felt that really consistent, efficient quality was my primary goal, I'd likely have to be doing something like that. But currently my goal--while trying to produce the best work I can--is to keep learning and improving, and I think that tracing over models would slow down progress in that area. Also I'll admit that I do rather enjoy the look of certain things evolving over time, whereas if you're following a model they're pretty much locked in place. I don't want to be at a Kirby level of metamorphoses, but I think there's some middle ground there where I can play with things a bit without confusing people too much. :D


Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:03 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm
Posts: 4260
    
BC wrote:
At a slower page rate I do worry--constantly--about the story moving too slowly, but I take encouragement from the relative success of my one-page-per-week Princess and the Giant, which now takes something in the range of 8-12 hours of solid work to produce a single page (:o), as well as the many other webcomics I've been finding that have built significant audiences off of high-quality but very slowly produced work--hmm grr and the one really extreme example I have of this is one whose name I can never remember, maybe it will come back to me... Anyway, massive pages, very sporadic update rate, but huge following nonetheless.

Ah, the big sporadic pages comic I was trying to think of there was Dresden Codak--which has coincidentally (or IS it????) just started a "dark" science fiction story.


Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:28 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 4:18 pm
Posts: 4260
    
Sydney Jordan's chapter notes in "Overlord" indicate that some of my favorite sections of drawing in the early stories were actually drawn primarily by his friend and fellow Scot, Colin Andrew. I haven't been able to find much information about this illustrator, although apparently he drew some Doctor Who comics.


Wed Jul 14, 2010 7:34 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 5 posts ] 


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group.
Modified from the "Hestia" theme designed by Vjacheslav Trushkin.