Friday, July 31, 2009

DC Style Guide Part 1: Group Shots

I will be posting pages/images from the DC Style Guide I found on-line. Since I don't have this book; which bumms me out to no end, that's all I can do. I would like them to put out these old style guides in book form, but I know that will not likely happen:( As I discover more designs I will post them. DC Comics Style Guide cover.One of the most awesome group shots EVER! Why DC or Dynamic Forces has not released this as a poster/lithograph is shameful. Just SHAMEFUL! Look at how Flash is holding Zatana's hand. Showing a moment in Justice League history where these two almost hooked up.

José Luis Garcia-Lopez and the DC Style Guide History by Bruce D. MacIntosh

Soon, DC assigned José to work on the DC Style Guide. According to Editor Andy Helfer (David Anthony Kraft’s Comic Interview #12, 1984): “the Style Guide was [and continues to be] a book filled with various drawings of all the DC characters. It’s in a looseleaf format so that we can add new characters every once in a while....

“It was designed as a guide to the licensors who create products using DC characters…. We decided to create a ‘house look’ by getting one artist to do various representations of all the characters…. [We] selected José to be the artist because everybody at DC always thought that he did the best Superman. So José spent about nine months doing maybe a hundred and fifty pages of characters and designs that have since been used all over the place on various products.”

José continued the story for the present interview: “From 1982, I was doing a lot of the stuff for licensing. At that time, I was living in Florida, for three years, more or less. And they called me to New York to talk about something new they were going to do. It was related to … in this case it was not DC, it was Warner. Warner had the rights to all the characters for Looney Tunes and things like that. What they wanted to do was characters for DC, show the characters for DC. They wanted to try to get just one style for DC.”

BDM: That was for licensing, not for their artists for the comic books?

JLG-L: No, it was for licensing – to sell the characters for all kinds of merchandising. [They were] drawings that a client could pick up from the book and use it right away, because the art was already approved by DC. The first one was done inspired by what Warner had done for its animated characters. From the beginning until now, Warner Bros. continues to supervise all these projects associated with merchandising.

I did most of the drawings for the [first] Style Guide. The part for the Teen Titans was done by Perez, and a few other things by other people. But for the most part I did the sketches, the layouts, the pencils. Dick Giordano did the inks. After that, we did a series of updates, but basically those first drawings are still circulating. I still see the stuff on clothes for kids… because it was a very special to try something especially for the kids…

BDM: Like shower curtains and pillow cases…

JLG-L: Yeah, yeah… A lot of the art, they are still using it.

BDM: How much instruction did (and do) they give you for these style guide images? Do they say, ‘We need Wonder Woman for a set of children’s dishes. We want her flying through the clouds and four birds…’ Or do they say, ‘We need one drawing each of Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin, Green Lantern...’ and they give you the freedom to do whatever comes to mind?

JLG-L: The guidelines were very loose. For example, they just told me they needed four classical images for Superman: Stopping a train, breaking a chain , etc. That was all.

In the first guide a lot of material was based in classical poses associated with the characters and that almost everybody could recognize (like the CocaCola’s Santa Claus.)

BDM: How often do you do new drawings for the style guides?

JLG-L: Right now we have a style guide for each of the chief characters included his/her principal villains. These are smaller than the first ones, perhaps 10 to 20 pages in all, and they are updated year ‘round. This year is the only one I did a limited amount of work for licensing, because I committed myself to a couple of comic book projects.

BDM: Do you remember any stories about seeing your own drawings on merchandise in a store, or somebody recognizing your work from a piece of merchandise?

JLG-L: Sometimes at conventions I see some of those on T-shirts. I tell the owner who, as usual, is not aware that its mine, and regularly they ask for a signature on it.

Now, thanks to the licensing stuff I see my work more often than if I were doing comic books: From dinner boxes to Six Flags parks and DK Encyclopedias.

BDM: Do you get any royalty fees from the use of your Style Guide art?

JLG-L: No, because they paid very well. You know, sometimes I was thinking I was wanting some extra royalties, because I was seeing them in all these places. But then when I got the bonus at the end of the year, I did not feel this. But anyway, [the Style Guides] are still being used.

BDM: That should make you proud!

JLG-L: Yeah, sure!