Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More on Hagio and Drawing

I got an interesting comment earlier today, which I will quote from, if I may:

"I suppose I always focused more on [Hagio's] page composition and the techniques she uses for expressing mood and atmosphere...Poe probably marks the peak of her most ostentatiously beautiful (literally Gothic) work, but I think she's better today than ever, in terms of technique and sheer skill in conveying precisely what she wants to convey...I would have asked her in my own interview if she had some kind of photographic memory...she may be one of those people (Winsor MacCay, the creator of Little Nemo in Slumberland, was one) who can draw anything she's ever seen for more than a few seconds. I really don't know."

(You can reference the entire quote at the bottom of the post previous to this one.)

Incidentally, Winsor McCay was one of the most popular comic strip illustrators at the beginning of the 20th century, producing extremely detailed, surrealistic, elaborate, many-panelled cartoons for newspaper publication. In addition he produced some of the very first animation, which preceded the use of cels in animation, meaning that each and every drawing, with every last detail including background, had to be drawn fresh for each frame (at that time I am not sure if he employed 24 frames per second, which is the current standard, but regardless, you can see how many hundreds of frames he would need to draw for even a brief animation.) It would also be safe to bet that having a photographic memory would probably be a useful tool in an artist's arsenal for that sort of purpose.

And for Hagio, it is interesting to surmise how that could have affected her work...for example, I would guess that it allowed her to either take on more challenging visual subjects, or else become more prolific (by wasting less time on research and reviewing that research), or else just allow her to spend more time on whatever aspects of drafting or storytelling might have been more of a weak point for her.

Moto Hagio probably would have been an excellent crime witness as well! But joking aside, I wonder if she felt particularly blessed by this "gift" and I wonder especially how she must have had to draw on other resources as it gradually diminished with age.

Also I haven't seen the newer work of Hagio, so I can't offer my own subjective opinion of her evolved visual style, but based on the above comment, it seems like Hagio has streamlined her style tremendously. And whether this is a direct reaction to losing that "photographic memory," or more likely a higher sense of confidence in her abilities and a less-is-more approach, I find it a good study in adaptation--making the most of an unusual gift, and then letting go of one's reliance on it.

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