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.
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,
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!
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.
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.
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