Neal Adams was probably the most technically skillful comic artist of his generation. He was justly famous for his ability to squeeze fine lines and complex poses into densely packed panels:
Consider this disastrous reverse profile from an Adams illustration for Playboy:
A subtler artist might have exercised restraint and implied what was on the far side of that face. The truth is, it often requires more talent to draw a simple contour than to fill in supporting details.
|With one crayon stroke, Austin Briggs brilliantly captures the reverse profile of a balding man|
In the following drawing, Kathe Kollwitz buries all of Adams' details in a shadow. Yet, there is more honest observation in the contour of the silhouette than in the hundred lines Adams drew.
For Robert Fawcett, being a master of details included knowing when to stop. As the head turns and facial features go out of the viewer's sight...
...Fawcett knew enough to let them go for the sake of the picture:
I've previously expressed my admiration for this drawing by John Cuneo, who was able to use just a few skittering marks along the circumference of a circle to convey a face turning away:
Here are a couple of other examples of Cuneo's sensitive line giving us far more information through judicious restraint:
Last, another favorite I've shown on this blog before-- Richard Thompson's delightful drawing of Santa's spokesman walking away:
All it took was something as delicate as the perspective on the elf eyeglasses (behind the cheek, in front of the nose) to show us the position of his head. There's nothing heavy handed in Thompson's work.
I'm a big admirer of Neal Adams' draftsmanship but sometimes his technical skill seems to run away with the picture. He seems to have drawn the reverse profile above like the man who searched for his car keys under the streetlight, despite losing them down the block, because "the light is better here." Adams forced details where they did not belong because that was the only space he had.