In case you’re new to the blog, Jim and I have loved the work of Alex Sheikman since the first Robotika series. While we love to talk about him, he’s not a household name yet. But, you can imagine our excitement when he first told us that sending us a sketchbook to review.
The sketchbook serves as an introduction to Skeikman’s art and storytelling abilities. The first thing that struck me about the sketchbook was the size. I thought it would be 10-15 pages, and comic book sized. Boy, was I wrong. This is 30 or more magazine sized pages on some of the heaviest paper I’ve seen outside of a Marvel Masterwork or DC Archive.
In terms of content, half the book is filled with splashes. They comprise typical comic book elements such as barbarians, Deja Thoris, and some horror type settings. There’s also some character stuff like Davis’s Marquis and Marvel’s Warlock.
As expected, the splash pages are all very good. Some are fully inked, and some are partially inked so you can see Sheikman’s pencil lines. Skeikman’s original splashes really shine. When Sheikman worked with other characters, the art was more hit or miss. The problem with doing other people’s characters is an artist opens himself to comparison. For example, I thought Alex was able to capture the power, and tortured-soul-ness (yes I know it’s not a word) of Warlock. But his Thanos was lacking because he wasn’t big and foreboding enough. The Marquis was good because Sheikman does great monsters, but the Dreadstar was weak because he wasn’t heroic enough.
There’s a smattering of older material in the sketchbook too. Some of the older work has some minor perspective and figure problems that get worked out in later years. But, I liked seeing it because it showed how Sheikman has grown as an artist.
The real test of an artist is his panel work. Splash pages are easy when compared to panel pages. A splash page doesn’t need to tell a story, it is the story. And, making the transition from splash guy to story guy is harder than it looks. The sketchbook includes a couple of short stories. There are six & four page wordless stories so you can see Sheikman’s story telling technique. And, without doubt Skeikman can tell a story. His composition was solid and the flow to the stories was smooth.
Finally, there is a four page story with dialogue written by Norm Felchle. I thought this was a great inclusion because it shows how Sheikman works with other people’s ideas, and his composition ability when you have to include dialogue boxes.
Overall, if your unfamiliar with Skeikman’s work, this is a great book to get because it will show you what he’s all about. If you’re already a fan such as myself, then this is just gravy because it’s all good.
I’m not one to buy Sketchbooks that often but when it is an artist that has that certain je ne sais quoi then I’m interested.
Alex’s work has a heavy lined style that is dark, moody and very expressive. This book gives us ton of samples of his work. He spots blacks with the best of the, can do the details of armor clad warriors like few other artists and knows how to tell a story. This book is filled with examples of not only his artwork but samples of his story telling ability. He also includes a piece that is a Batman cover that may have been a commission, but I could easily see him being a cover artist as his work is striking, well done and has a singular voice.
You can visit Alex's blog here. Tell him we said hi.