Rough Stuff #1

By Leroy Douresseaux
October 9, 2007 - 12:42



What started as a regular feature in TwoMorrows Publishing’s Back Issue magazine became the magazine Rough Stuff.  Edited by respected inker Bob McLeod (also a superb penciller), the emphasis of the magazine is to present comic book art in pencil form, as well as sketches, thumbnails, cover roughs, and comic book art before and after inking.

The inaugural issue, Rough Stuff #1 (published in 2006), is the “Modern Masters Special” because the artists featured in this edition are each the focus of an individual volume of TwoMorrows’ Modern Masters series – a line of trade paperbacks that are part career retrospective and part art book.  The cover feature is Bruce Timm (Modern Master Vol. 3), best known for his work on “Batman: The Animated Series.”  Over the course of 13 pages, McLeod presents a generous sampling of sketches and drawings related to Timm’s comic book and illustration work – the best of the lot being a page of drawings of Jack Kirby’s The Demon, a Flash Gordon convention illo, and a Hulk/Wolverine commission.

The ten pages built around Alan Davis (Modern Masters Vol. 1) are a treat, especially the two pages of Spider-Man and X-Men comic book thumbnails, while the 10 pages of Art Adams (Modern Masters Vol. 6) are a bit disappointing (although the Hulk Toybiz drawings her nice).  Ten pages of Walter Simonson (Modern Masters Vol. 8) are an antidote, as this selection of pencil works explodes off the page.  Simonson is one of the very few artists who can recreate the volatile energy of Kirby’s work, as well as the sense of the epic evident in many Jack Kirby drawn comics including Fantastic Four and New Gods.

Next up is John Byrne (Modern Master Vol. 7).  Often lost in the inking of Byrne’s pencils (and even on occasion when Byrne inks his own work) is the kind of delicate line work only an accomplished veteran and skilled illustrator can pull off.  Seeing these “naked” pencils will reveal how Byrne subtly builds such powerful evocative comic book art.  Finally fans can see what was lost in the inking of much of his late DC work (Action Comics, Doom Patrol, and Blood of the Demon).  It’s not that these inkers weren’t any good.  It’s likely that they don’t have the eye and experience to embellish an old master without drowning his vision.

Kevin Nowlan (Modern Masters Vol. 4) is the subject of a McLeod interview as well as a gallery section, although there is nothing here that will make you think less or more of Nowlan.  They same can’t be said about the sections featuring pencils and sketches from George Perez (Modern Masters Vol. 2) and José Luis García López (Modern Masters Vol. 5).  You’ll only love them more and these rough examples of their work prove once again that they are so good that other artists should get together and break Perez and López’s hands.

McLeod also offers up the essay, “Tight Pencils: The Answer or the Problem?,” which is about the current state of affairs in inking pencils, particularly for comics published by Marvel Comics and DC Comics.  I’ll go with “tight pencils – the problem.”  This magazine, however, isn’t a problem.  It’s crack for readers addicted to the examination of drawing for comic books.


All of TwoMorrows in-print books and magazines are available directly from the publisher at


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