Ross Campbell and the Art of GloryA column article by: Michelle Six
Ah, '90s cheesecake art -- when thongs prevailed and the only thing bigger than super-ladies' hair was their boobs. It's nice to see Glory retooled for modern times.
Originally appearing in 1993, Glory has been years out of print. Image has resurrected the character for an ongoing series, written by Joe Keatinge, drawn by Ross Campbell, and colored by Ms,Shatia Hamilton.
Campbell hooks the reader right away with a devastatingly awesome cover for Glory #23, the first issue of the run. A stark white background frames a full-body shot of Glory atop a pile of mangled alien flesh and gore. As potentially disturbing as this image is, Campbell softens it with light inking, and a color scheme dominated by light blues and purples.
This is a huge departure from both Campbell and Hamilton's past work. Hamilton's web comic, Fungus Grotto, is mostly manga-style, with a touch of fantasy. Campbell's most-known work, Wet Moon, has a similar use of line and complex setting, but a more decompressed, slice-of-life method of storytelling.
The cover is our first glimpse of Glory's reinvented character design. Her figure has the bulky buffness of a female body-builder. Her costume is a mixture of medieval and futuristic, with overlapping bulky plate armor, boots, and gauntlets, all with a shiny red and gold finish. Campbell adds a feminine touch with an impossible amount of flowing white hair, acting visually like a cape, to add movement.
Campbell has paid attention to practical details, adding straps, soft cloth "under armor," and screw heads at points where the armor would need some rotation. He also subtly varies Glory's outfit as the years pass in her origin recap -- in the WW2-era introductory scenes, she has cloth gear, which gets updated to the futuristic ensemble in present-time.
The supporting cast also exhibits strong character design, with characters sporting plausible outfits and hairstyles. The only off-putting visual quality is Riley's baby-face. She is supposed to be college-aged, but Campbell's penchant for large eyes, button noses, and round faces makes her look excessively young.
The complexity of the settings adds depth to the characters. Campbell has created an aesthetic that is part futuristic alien, part cavewoman. At the beginning of issue 23, we see Glory's abode on her home planet. The organic furniture, and fungal-looking architecture, establishes the aesthetic of Glory's culture. We see her same preference for this style in issue 24, when she takes Riley into her cave command center, where organic roots and decorative exotic skulls coexist with futuristic gadgets.
Hamilton's colors are key to the tone of this series. We clearly sense the lighting, from candle-lit rooms to sunny beaches, through her use of unified color. She uses a hard-edged rendering style, a departure from the gradient with airbrush approach of most cape-comics, and the pointy forms of her shadow shapes give an edge to Campbell's more soft and rounded characters.
The fighting scenes exude kinetic energy, but their brutality is toned down through Campbell's flowing style and Hamilton's de-saturated colors. This art team makes outrageous blood splatters looks downright pretty. Additionally, Campbell draws an effective dialogue scene, using stacked wide-format panels to avoid text-bubble clutter or confusing reading order.
Ross Campbell and Ms,Shatia Hamilton have modernized the rebooted Glory, and placed her in an fascinating and deep visual environment.
Michelle was born in the '80s in a reasonably sized Midwestern town, which she never left. She teaches art and creative technology to kids, who keep her in the know about Top 40 music and the most annoyingly silly YouTube videos.
A big chunk of her free time is put towards drawing -- in her fantasy world, she will be awesome enough to draw comics as sweet as those she reviews. You can see her artwork on Deviant Art or, if you are a Tumblr fan at michellesix.tumblr.com.
Michelle also likes video games, pets, pizza, music, and ranting.