Monday, June 18, 2012

Original Art Stories: The REAL Von Eeden Black Canary

If you thought that the practice of companies re-drawing art without the permission or knowledge of the credited artist stopped in the 1970s then you'd be wrong.  It's well known that Murphy Anderson and Al Plastino routinely re-drew the heads of Superman and Jimmy Olsen on Jack Kirby's Fourth World run to keep it in line with their corporate style, John Romita used to do the same at Marvel Comics from the 1960s through to the late 1980s.  It's a practice that has annoyed artists for years as the majority of artists never had a clue about art alterations until the book was published and they saw the finished product, and it has been the source of both frustration and a refusal to work for particular companies.  Thus it should come as no great surprise when Trevor Von Eeden explains the real reasons why he now disowns the art for at least two issues of Black Canary.

In 1993 DC Comics launched a new series for Black Canary, which lasted for twelve issues.  Trevor Von Eeden was tapped to be the pencil artist and he threw himself into the job with his usual enthusiasm, and, in doing so, continued to evolve his style to the point of contributing a fully painted cover.  Initially edited by Mike Gold, issue #8 saw a change in editors, with Denny O'Neill and Jordan Gorfinkle coming on board, and issue #9 is where the problems started.  "I'd been given a design for Black Canary's new costume, which I pencilled and handed in," says Trevor.  "THE VERY SAME DAY, Assistant Editor Jordan Gorfinkel had some drone in Production erase and re-pencil every drawing of Black Canary that I'd done - because yet another costume design had been approved (the crew-cut look, seen in the book) while I'd been in my studio drawing the first version.
 

"When always-absentee Editor Denny O'Neil finally came into the office weeks later, and I broached this to him, he told me Gorfinkel had said that I'd refused to make the changes - so the poor dear had no choice but to resort to DC's Production Department, in order to correct the mistakes.  So every picture of Black Canary in that Huntress issue was inked over some faceless Production Department person's repencilling of my original work."  The series was cancelled after issue #12, by which time Trevor had ceased drawing the covers, only completing the cover art for issue #10 and leaving the book completely after handing in issue #11.  Even now, nearly twenty years after the event, the saga still leaves such a bad taste in Trevor's mouth that he has expressed a desire to see the original art for the issues in question destroyed forever lest people think that he drew all of the art credited to him.

Revealed here, for the very first time, are some of Trevor Von Eeden's original penciled pages, side by side with the finished/published versions for the contentious issue #9.  You can decide if DC was right in having it redrawn or if Trevor's costume design was superior...and you can catch up with Trevor Von Eeden at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con - stop by and say hello.

3 comments:

Ian Miller said...

On one hand, I understand that DC has to do whatever it takes to keep characters "on model". On the other hand, it was wrong of them to change Trevor's art without telling him. I'm not sure of the ethics involving the production department altering work/faces/clothes as an everyday thing, but I know I'd be mad if I handed something in only to see the finished book was completely altered without my knowledge.

The production artist stayed very faithful to Trevor's original pencils, but it's not the same. In a lot of the panels you can tell something is off. The new design is also kind of....Well.....I like the original pencils better :)

Daniel Best said...

I guess, where I sit, Trevor's original drawings show proper anatomy and an understanding of the female form. Some of those re-drawn BC figures are horrid, to say the least.

I like Trevor's design - it works for me. The crew-cut version just looks weedy.

Don Hudson said...

I love this posting Daniel! To see Trevor's original pencils and read the story about that issue is really amazing. Excellent!