Art of J Scott Campbell: Fairy Tale Fantasies and Femme Fatale
The World of Comics
Generations of teenage boys grow up on a diet of comic books. Superheroes, snarling villains, world conquering plots and death defying feats are an addictive mix to their fertile imaginations. Parents may despair the comic book obsessions and video game playing as puerile distractions. But one only has to look at the current crop of Hollywood screenwriting and directing talents that such a diet can also be inspirational for future creativity.
Comic book fandom is similar. Several of the current writers and artists who may have made it 'big' in the industry did so because of their childhood obsessions with the format that has become part of American and world culture.
The incredible artistic endeavours that goes on in creating some top comics deserve much wider recognition. These are artists in their own merit, now considered worthy of collectibility and wider public appreciation.The medium may have changed from oils and pastels to digital palettes and rendered colours but the creativity remains firmly in their wonderful hands.
Jeffrey Scott Campbell is one such artist who has garnered a huge following among comic book fans due to his impressive creative talent - and his ability to draw women!
'Scott's superb imagination and great artwork rank with the best efforts of professional designers. and who knows, at 15 years old, Scott may become just that...'
- Nintendo Power Magazine, 1989
A Boy with a Dream
J Scott Campbell is currently one of a talented pool of artists creating top quality comic art. His work is recognised in America and worldwide thanks to the internet and digital comic downloads. While the comic books he has contributed sell well more importantly his art and sketches are also much sought after. He is someone who is in tune with the fans and the artistic community and is generous in sharing his craft through his own webpages and social media.
Like many of his generation he grew up on a diet of comic books and video games and was truly inspired by the art and creativity he saw in his formative years. An early sign of his future greatness came when he submitted an entry to a competition in a video game magazine.
Back in 1989, the magazine Nintendo power asked budding talents to enter a 'invent your own video game' competition. Jeffrey Scott Campbell, then a mere 15 year old, rose to the challenge and submitted a complete set of ideas for a new game called 'Lockarm'. His submission blew away the judges not only because of the originality of his idea but all the drawings he submitted with the his concept - he had designed each character and each level explaining how the central concept pans out. Needless to say he won the first prize and the magazine printed his winning entry with a prediction of his future success in the field of graphic design.
The Big Break
Scott was born in East Tawas, Michigan but moved soon to Denver, Colorado when very young. He grew up in Denver with his two younger siblings - a brother who is a musician and a sister who is a digital architect.
Growing up on a steady diet of comic books, after his initial success with Nintendo Power magazine, Scott replied to a 'talent search' advertisement on the back of a comic published by the image comics - WILDC.A.T.S # 2.
WILDC.A.T.S was the brainchild of artist and image comics founder Jim Lee. The comic creator broke away from his successful run at Marvel to create his own imprint with 5 other artists and publish creator owned titles. He was looking also for a fresh pool of talent to develop several new lines of comic concepts notably Gen 13 and Stormwatch in his stable.
So impressed was Jim with Scott's submissions that he personally phoned to hire this young new artist.
Scott's work first appeared in Stormwatch - I am sure he would've bene pretty pleased to see his name on the cover of a comic - especially one published by his own inspiration and influences.
Gen 13Click thumbnail to view full-size
Scott's first major co-creation and collaboration was Gen 13 comic series. Here he worked with some major talent such as Frank Choi, Adam Hughes and Jim Lee. His creativity blossomed and his confidence grew as he did many a cover and artwork for this series.
Scott's ascent to superstardom came when he created the series Danger Girl with fellow comic book writer Andy Hartnell in 1998. A heady cocktail of James Bond , Charlie's Angels and Indiana Jones Danger Girl was a cult hit.
The heroine Abbey Chase was an adventurer,treasure hunter and member of a worldwide network of female espionage agents called Danger Girls. The fun filled action storylines borrowed freely from the many cultural influences - spy thrillers, action movies and video games. All presented with Scott's impeccable artwork that brought everything to life.
What was immediately apparent was Scott's ability to draw women. Sassy, sexy and sultry - it was for his rendering of women that Scott's artistry became more and more well known among the fans.
Danger Girl's immense popularity was sealed with the development of a Playstation game of the same name using the characters created by Scott and Andy.
Wildstorm was sold to DC comics. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell, flush with the success of Danger girl, announced a new 6 part series for Wildstorm called 'Wildsiderz'. Despite much fanfare and some stunning artwork, the series failed to take off and the run ended with issue 2.
Scott's tenure with wildstorm and the subsequent success with Danger girl brought him wider recognition. He was soon approached by Marvel to do some work on their staple : The amazing spiderman. Scott's iconic renditions of Spiderman were appreciated but even more so were the brilliant drawings of Spidey's girlfriend MJ - Mary Jane Watson.
Fairy Tale Fantasies
Scott has always declared his love of all things Disney. Even though he had done most of his work in the contemporary genre he decided to draw of series of paintings featuring fairy tale princesses.
Most of the fairy tales picked were from the Disney stable but they weren't a direct take on the Disney Princesses. Instead Scott chose to draw the princesses as pin-ups issued them as calendars.
The result was both a commercial and internet sensation. To date his three calendars ( 2010, 2011 and 2012) have sold several thousands of copies and became highly collectable. He has also issued standalone prints featuring Fairy tale characters.
What more thousands of online blogs and fansite raced to feature Scott's seriously sexy take on the characters. Have a look below...
Sharing the craft
Not many artists are keen to share their rough sketches, projects in development and their steps towards a finished product. J Scott Campbell excels in this area and perhaps serves as an inspiration to many aspiring artists ( One can already see several online uploads of artwork that others have done 'inspired by' Scott's artwork).
Scott regularly updates his Deviant-art website/blog and treats us with projects in development as well as random sketches
He is generous with his sketches for fans during his visits to Comic-con and other events.
He has published several 'sketchbooks' containing his projects.
The reason for choosing someone who works in the comic book world, who uses traditional pencils to sketch his work but at the same time uses the wonders of modern technology to digitally ink, color and produce wonderfully vibrant imagery is twofold.
One- to illustrate how the world of art is changing and adapting to innovative ways of creativity. Two, the oldest perspective of all... while the highbrow among us may scorn the sheer titillatory aspect of his art underwhelming, one cannot argue with the fact that it has attracted millions of followers who not only enjoy the artform but strive to create some of their own.
If the purpose of art is to give pleasure to the senses, inspire new forms of creativity and induce further talent to participate then what more can we ask form our art?
All artwork copyright J Scott Campbell
Commercial reproductions/prints are available to buy at Scott Campbell's Online Store
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Mohan Kumar