Saturday, February 25, 2012

Review: Naughty and Nice - the Good Girl Art of Bruce Timm

Of late I've been trying to spend less time and money on Marvel and DC comic books - however, I still want to find entertainment in the comic book medium; I don't offer many reviews on this blog, but over the next few days I'll be reviewing a recent stack of purchases I made on graphic novels, collections and suchlike. First up: Naughty and Nice - the Good Girl Art of Bruce Timm.

This isn't actually a comic book or graphic novel - it's a collection of images by Bruce Timm, an artist best known for his work on Batman: the Animated Series and nearly every other animated DC super hero project of the last 20 years. I didn't quite understand what I was buying, however. Personally, to me the phrase "good girl art" means risque pictures of women; to the editors of this tome, it means any provocative image of females. Consequently, there's quite a lot of full frontal female nudity in this book, much to my embarrassment. Still, it's Bruce Timm, so it looks terrific.

It's interesting to note there are also several female characters from DC on display (all of them clothed), with copyright credit given to their corporate owners; likewise for an image of the Rocketeer. And yet, there are numerous images of Dejah Thoris of the John Carter franchise with no credit given to the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. Perhaps this isn't surprising, since the Burroughs material is beginning to fall into the public domain... and yet, Timm also has plenty of images taken from Hammer's horror movies and they're still under copyright, yet no credit is given. Peculiar, I call it.

The introduction is by Jim Steranko, himself quite a ladies' man (and a "good girl artist" by anyone's definition). I don't think I've ever read a biography on Timm and Steranko's outline of Timm's career is very interesting; when Timm first became involved in animation he had to learn how to draw with fewer lines, which was against the values he'd learned from comic books where more lines are supposed to equal a better figure. It reminds me of the notion I've seen in a few places about great literature using as few words as possible to tell their story.

In all, it's a handsome package from Flesk; earlier, I enjoyed their books Al Williamson's Flash Gordon and Xenozoic, but those tomes were printed primarily in black & white; Naughty and Nice uses full colour more often than not, sometimes providing Timm's art in the black & white originals opposite the coloured versions; it's interesting to compare the strengths of the two versions and see what the colour adds or removes from Timm's lines. In all, it's a fine book, but not one I'm comfortable leaving on the coffee table!

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