Tuesday, October 20, 2015
2015 J'onn J'onzz Space City Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Carlo Barberi
If I recall correctly, my enjoyment of Carlo Barberi's work predated his professional career, when I first noted his fan art. From there, he continued a legacy of high quality cartooning begun by Humberto Ramos on Impulse, facing the unenviable task of replacing Ethan Van Sciver and staying with the book for the rest of its run. He went on to notable stints on Deadpool, Gen13 (with Gail Simone,) and Ultimate Comics X-Men (with Nick Spencer & Brian Wood,) as well as various brief spots with Spider-Man and my personal favorite, the Batman: Orphans micro-series. Barberi first drew the Martian Manhunter in adorable form for Sins of Youth, then in the animated "Timmverse" fashion as regular artist on the Justice League Unlimited comic adaptation.
After Brett Booth established the scale and quality bar with T'omm J'onzz (still only penciled at this stage of the project) and Ken Lashley maintained it with M'yri'ah J'onzz, it was time to form the centerpiece character, J'onn J'onzz. I wanted this take to be as close to ideal as possible, capturing a contented Alien Atlas in the midst of his family. I was confident Carlo Barberi was the best choice for the joyful J'Onn of my heart and in my head for this jam effort.
The main figure stands nearly 11" on the page, so he's quite a bit grander in scale than this scan represents. I'm afraid the small scale of this scan reduces your ability to spot the finer details of Barberi's work, and also adulteration in the scan causes it to be overly contrasted and appear rougher in the tones than on the physical art. However, Barberi did such a great job of incorporating J'Onn into the presence of the previous pieces of his wife and kid brother that I wanted to focus on that. I love the slightly cocked beetle-brow, the soft smile, the curve of the collar and drape of the cape. Barberi is wonderfully on model for the Martian Marvel of my childhood with his body posture and specifics like the "pie" symbol belt buckle. J'onn holds M'yri'ah's shoulder, and his expression is both loving and slightly curious about his bride's distracted glance away toward T'omm. That's an element we got to build upon further down the line.
For the record, Barberi had a very limited color palette at his disposal to produce the tones, and while the scan gives the appearances of bright green skin and clear reds on his straps & eyes, the actual piece is all shades of gray that merely give the impression of color. Barberi's J'Onn J'Onzz is rich with subtle style and dimension, and he proved the perfect choice for my favorite subject on this "grail" piece. Of course, with J'Onn in the middle, there's a lot more of this portrait to reveal in due time...
More from Carlo Barberi