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Rough Justice by Ross and Kidd

01/06/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Rough Justice in the USA - or Buy Rough Justice in the UK

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Rough Justice by Alex Ross and Chip Kidd. pub: Titan Books. 256 page hardback. Price: about GBP 11.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 978-1-84856-703-0).

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Alex Ross is a somewhat unusual commodity in the comicbook community, especially in the digital age, in that he is best known for working in watercolours. If you thought that all it takes was to sit down and paint then this book, ‘Rough Justice’, will show just how much of a good penciller you have to be as well.

Through the pages of this book you will the designs for a variety of covers Alex Ross has worked on, a few attempted projects that DC rejected for one reason or another and even the designs that were ultimately coloured out for full-size cut-outs to scale models. I wish with the latter two there had been room to show the finished projects for those who might have missed them but this is still an unusual opportunity.

Although none of the pictures equal his final colour work, there are some samples where a rough colour guide is fleshed out as well. Considering the multiple times Ross must sketch and colour the same pictures, you have to admire how he keeps the freshness there for the final paintings. There’s no denying that he comes from a fine arts background from the way he arches a line to using rounded lines on the likes of Zatanna’s tights to give her legs dimension. He also conveys emotion from body language. Ross does rely on live models for a lot of his work and I would have liked to have seen the occasional snapshot of the poses they took but that’s more the artist in me.

Ross, through his writer here, Chip Kidd, explains his reasons for doing some things. There are things I wish I could see more of. I mean, Ross demonstrates his version of the Batmobile and the occasional background which I wish was explored more to show he does credibly there as much as with his figurework. He also plays with comicbook titles as well and how he integrates them into the covers.

If you’re into comicbook art then you’ll love this. If you think comicbook illustrating is a possible career move then the pencilwork here will point out that you really have to live and breath drawing and do it well every time. No easy feat because there is so much you need to be capable of. The fact that when Alex Ross first entered the comicbook scene everyone’s jaws dropped explains why he’s still admired today and up there with the likes of Jack Kirby, Steranko and Neal Adams. Let’s see more books.

GF Willmetts

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This book has 58 votes in the sci-fi charts

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