A few days ago I scrolled past an ASK on Tumblr where Greg Land was the discussion. The recipient of the message went through the list of reasons, the usual issues people have about Land like the obvious ‘same faceness’ which is actually one of the most common criticisms in a lot of Western comic art (or maybe comics in general). Now, I’m not a Land fan so a number of these I got behind. Some I did not, some I felt were exaggerated or not as detailed as they could be. Example of an issue that I thought was more glaring than given time for was in fact the same faceness. It is worse on Lands part because he has a bad habit of doing everything the same down to the cut of the eyebrows nearly all the time. Then the expressions-Land has a number of faces he really favors when it comes to women. Some artists with similar problems are smart enough to try to make small differences like in the eyebrows or even the lips or nose or the facial expressions. Things to separate the similar looking characters, especially if more than one are going to be on the page at the same time where as Lands ladies would look the same in black and white save the hair styles.
The tracing/photo reference criticisms don’t fly nearly as well because there are a number of artists who have done the same to some extant. Especially in the 90s. Land may be more blatant and unapologetic but that issue is much less a big deal because a lot of readers will have a harder time picking that out or just don’t care nearly as much as others. The “he draws them like pornstars” is way off the mark because most pornstars do not look like his women. Adult actress come in all body types but you’d probably find more women similar to a Sasha Grey than Jenna Jameson. Even the bustier pornstars in the industry are usually a bit thicker than what is presented in his panels. Though a study said that the average bra size is 34 B, not the Double Ds people expect. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are the “classic blonde bombshell” ladies but dark haired bronzed skinned ladies with tattoos of the same body type are probably more popular than the stereotypical expectations. If anything, Land does take his expressions from porn, but his ladies are off base.
The one thing I rolled my eyes at when reading through was the notion of “I expect more from a pro artists.” People-stop. Professional artists are people who get paid (and art grads sure). Art is obviously subjective and as it is, the person buys what they like or pays for what they think will sell. The level of skill has nothing to do with it. Greg Land is an artist I don’t want to buy books from but his level of craft does not make him any less a pro. As critics you need to remove this notion that there is a standard of skill to which pro artists in comics need to live up to. There is no standard. There won’t ever be a standard. Its about what works for you and what doesn’t. What works for the book you’re reading. You want better of the pros, take that up with Marvel and DC. Not that it will matter because they hire who they think sells, who they like, who they like to work with, who they know makes schedules, etc. It sucks, yeah, but that’s how its is. Greg Land may be horrible, but he’s a professional comic artist. Criticize his work for sure but don’t think for a moment he falls below a make believe bar of acceptability to work in the industry. There is no bar for being a professional.