Old-School Comics Art Gets A Lot Older
Remember Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg? Roy Crane’s Buz
Sawyer and Captain Easy? Alex
Toth? How about much of that beautiful black and white art in Warren’s
magazines Creepy, Eerie and Blazing Combat?
The one thing they all had in common – along with a hell
of a lot of other great art – is the fact that they were drawn on Duoshade
boards. That’s a certain rather expensive type of paper that allowed an artist
to brush a developer solution over an inked drawing creating different types of
horizontal lines for shading. Originally, they boards replaced the painstaking
task of cutting and pasting the effect onto the original art. It allowed certain
types of dramatic shading and feathering techniques (that’s a line that
consists of teensy tiny lines, giving a softer edge to that line).
Note my use of the past tense.
Now Graphix, the company that makes Duoshade boards (as
well as the Unishade boards, which is a similar type of stuff) has discontinued
production because production has grown more difficult and costly to produce
and demand as declined over the years. Younger artists use their computers –
not necessarily a complete substitute – and many are unaware of the existence
of the product.
Sadly, this comes at a time when the reproduction of comic
art in America has never been better. In the past, some of these types of
effects would close up or turn to mud. With better printing and better paper,
Duoshade – when properly used – gave us some beautiful artwork.