Photoreference vs Comics

Not photo 'reference,' but photo 'use.'

Not photo “reference,” but photo “use.”

There’s an attitude I adopted back in my music days: it’s not the tool, it’s what you do with it. Whether it was guitars, drum machines, filtered and refiltered samples of my daughter’s voice, answering machine messages, or various unrecognizable sound sources, when the result was musical, mood-inducing, or it just plain grooved, IMO it didn’t matter what the sound sources were.

It was a departure from our local song-circle attendees, some of whom had/have strong opinions about adding any technology to acoustic instrumentation. One folk purist would exhort on the evils of electricity (amplification of any kind was unnatural) and glory of the warmth of wood (natural). I said I’d never seen a guitar string tree, in an attempt to illustrate that he considered acceptable a certain amount of tech. I said he and I simply chose to draw our lines in different places.

Also not photo 'reference,' but 'use.'

Also not photo “reference,” but “use.”

With this in mind, I find I’m a hypocrite when it comes to comics. I want to see comics drawn, so I draw. I disapprove of blatant tracers (Greg Land et al). I also kinda-sorta disapprove of photo-users, but artists like Maleev pull it off (mainly b/c he seems to do his own photography). But I’ve used samples in occasional panels, influenced by Byrne’s use of photocopies for cityscapes in his Marvel work.

But that’s beside the point I wish to make. The term photoreference is where you get some photos, and use them as reference when you draw. It’s what the elder statesmen of comics called one’s clip file.

This article, as delightfully snarky as it is, misuses it. I wouldn’t care, except it’s CBR, one of the mainstream comics criticism sites. The author uses the term “photoreference” not as “reference to draw from” but as “inclusion in a montage/collage.” *cringe*

Let me guess – he could care less about my opinion.

The 'Who Wants to Fuck Mary Jane' cover of ASM #602

The Who Wants to Fuck Mary Jane cover of ASM #602; the inward pointed toes say No, but the conveniently-angled pubis says Yes… to nice guys jerks.

*sigh* This post wanted to be a diatribe about the sexism in mainstream comics, but I find the topic increasingly exhausting (<- giving in to this is a luxury of maleness).


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