Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Adam Hughes

22 February 2012 by Nicholas in Comics

Adam Hughes did 3 pages of interior art for Fables recently, and it looked gorgeous. The backgrounds were largely design elements, ornately crafted to look like swirls and rendered to show the foreground characters at their best. What little information he does show in the backgrounds actually communicates a lot: the trees in the initial panel show that the characters are in a wood or forest, the bushes show that they are strawberry bushes and low hanging, the axe and house later on tell you that this a woodcutter’s hut and the bathroom is beautifully realised. Economical and beautiful, Adam Hughes sells you on the settings.

But the characters, especially the women, are the selling point of Hughes’ art. It is as is Mucha has done sequential art. Hughes has always had an Art Nouveau influence, especially Mucha, but it is incredibly apparent here: the hair, especially, is painstakingly rendered and looks like Mucha’s art. Contour lines are thick and distinct, but interior lines are coloured according to the areas of colour within them. The colour, in general, is non primary and features more muted and secondary tones. It’s subtle and beautiful.

Hughes has also been providing the covers for the Fables spin-off The Fairest. It again showcases his technical ability, but there is less of the Art Nouveau influence on display. His art brings to mind classic pin up artists of the 1940s and 1950s, albeit rendered with markers and thick lines rather than oils or gauche. Hughes has a style that somehow suggest realism and idealism, without straying too far into realistic territory. There is a lot of stylisation that shouldn’t really work that he somehow pulls off. He uses thick contour lines and his eyes tend to be abstracted beyond the point they should be convincing. But he does everything so skilfully, so well, that he sells you on whatever he is drawing and makes it look so beautiful that most other art pales in comparison.