Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy 50th Birthday Trevor Von Eeden

Who’s birthday is it today? Well there’s always Alexandre Dumas, Amelia Earhart, Wonder Woman herself: Lynda Carter and J-Lo, but the one that counts for me is none other than Trevor Von Eeden, who turns 50 today - the 24th of July, 2009. There’s easily fifty good reasons why Trevor Von Eeden is a giant amongst comic book artists, but for the sake of space, I’ll list five big ones.

5: INTEGRITY. Anyone who knows Trevor knows that there’s one thing you cannot question – his integrity. When Trevor is right then he’s right. He’ll listen to another point of view, but ultimately he never looks backwards when he makes a decision – his focus is always on moving forward, and to that end he’s willing to sacrifice to reach his goals. Anyone who knows what Trevor has been through in the past few months knows what I mean. Trevor would rather work as a stockist than compromise his vision. I’m just as impressed by the jobs he’s turned down for his own, valid, reasons, and that includes his turning down Frank Miller’s offer for Trevor to draw Batman – Year One. To turn your back on that shows a lot of fortitude, and Trevor owns more of that than most armies.

You can’t buy Trevor, nor can you hire him for a while. If he doesn’t believe in the project then he’ll simply pass. You have to admire that, I know I do.

4: PERSISTANCE. Trevor is like the Terminator – he just doesn’t give up. If Trevor is right then he’ll keep going and politely, but firmly, put his views forward and walk away. If he doesn’t get the answer that he expects then he sticks with it. In an industry full of people who just give up because things are too hard, Trevor ranks up there with Alan Moore for integrity and persistence.

There's an expression amongst Australians - the measure of a man is judged on if you'd want them 'in the trenches' with you. I'd have Trevor alongside me anyday of the week, and twice on weekends.

3: ARTISTIC SKILLS. I have to say, if you know the name Trevor Von Eeden then you don’t need me to tell how good he is an artist. This is a guy who is totally self-taught. One look at his school days sketchbooks will tell you how damned good he was at an early age. He broke into mainstream comic books by co-creating and drawing Black Lightning at the age of seventeen. No child prodigy was Trevor, he showed artistic expression and storytelling that artists twice his age had yet to master. Not one to sit back and rest on his laurels, Trevor impressed readers with each and every job he did by allowing himself to continually move forward and improve. Trevor didn’t reach a plateau and remain there, nor did he deteriorate. Trevor became one of the most influential Batman artists of the early to mid 1980s and, given a chance, could easily return to the title and show the so called ‘young guns’ just how it’s all done.

His pencil work is incredibly detailed. It’s been a common topic between us, Trevor will mention how a job was ruined by an inker, he’ll show me the pencils and I’ll express utter amazement how any job he pencilled could be ruined in the inking process as everything is there on the page. No half lines, no sketchy drawings, no circles with three dots and a line for a head and face. I believe that anyone could successfully ink Trevor’s pencils, including a non-artist such as myself. Still, if there’s ever been an argument for printing straight from the pencils, it’s Trevor Von Eeden.

2: CREATIVITY. Three words: The Original Johnson. Trevor took an almost forgotten boxer, certainly one who was forgotten by the public at large and made his life story an epic. Hopefully we’ll see the entire story in print very shortly.

Trevor’s creativity ties into his artistic skills. Look at his Batman Annual, his Thriller work – hell, look at anything he’s done and see how creative it all is. I’ve seen scripts given to Trevor that simply say, in parts, “Trevor, just go nuts here.” There’s a lot of trust between a writer and an artist for such a direction to be given as the artist is handing over their own particular vision to an artist that they fully trust not to let them down. And frankly, I can’t think of one bad job that Trevor has done, nor any writer that he’s let down. Most artists wake up once a month with the ideas that Trevor has in his head each week. From commissions and beyond, Trevor just makes his art constantly interesting. He draws his influences from all sources around him, be it music as such as Prince, through to martial artists like Bruce Lee. it all goes into the melting pot and out comes some amazing art.

1: THE MAN. I’ve always liked Trevor. Much like me he operates from a viewpoint of if he likes you then he likes you, if he doesn’t then the boat sails next Tuesday, see you next time. He’s very warm, genuine, open with his praise and generous. Trevor has a way about him that you rarely see. He has the best qualities that you expect to find in a man, he’s intelligent, talented and damned if he’s not that bad looking. If I were a woman I’d be chasing him, hell, I’d even consider it now! Conversations with Trevor are, to me, like conversations with Alan Weiss, long, entertaining, never boring and stimulating.

His approach to the world never ceases to impress me. He doesn’t agonise over things that he has no control over, the same as he doesn’t look back and regret. If it’s done, then it’s done. Move onwards and upwards. I envy that. He doesn’t forget slights and when things have gone wrong, but he doesn’t sit there brooding over it all either. Again, I envy that, and I’ve often wondered how he manages to do it, but do it he does. This is a guy who stared down the face of racism within the comic book industry and broke through it. A lot of people owe a debt of gratitude to Trevor, for work that they know about and a lot of things that they don’t. There’s far more to Trevor than he being a mere artist.

Trevor, for decades you’ve given the world of comic books some of the finest examples of art that’s been published. May many, many more projects come from your pencil to delight and thrill the comic book and art worlds for decades to come. Take a bow brother, you’ve earned it.












2 comments:

DarkDragon247 said...

Time really flies.... Happy Birthday! Enjoy it and good luck for the next 50! :)

Satima Flavell said...

You know that I know nothing of art or comics - but I know that's seriously beautiful stuff! Happy birthday to Trevor. May he continue in like vein for many years to come.