Friday, October 13, 2006

In Memory of: Zipatone

JG Jones used to say that he hated the look of the stuff, Dave Sim probably used more of it during his run on Cerebus than any one individual in the entire world, I particularly loved the look of the stuff from the early 70's when inkers would us it to add texture or a special effect to a panel. Terry Austin was great for using it on clothing so that not every person had the same damn suit on in the comics.

RIP Zipatone. RIP Letraset.

In the same way that the early '90's look dated by the early computer color, there is no question that certain inkers overused the stuff to create a quentissential "look" to their work in the '70's and '80's. But, what the hell. Zip was a tool, and like any tool you can overuse it or use it to great effect.

This all came to a head, of course, on the Pistoleras project. Working Manga size, I found myself jealous that much of the manga work that I've been looking at uses the venerable Zip, and I realized that I still love that look. Its fun. Looks like comics to me, not comics trying to be painted. Maybe Zipatone sent all their trademarks overseas and you can still find the stuff in Japan. Who knows. I do know that Akira wouldn't have looked the same without zipatone.

I'll end up mimicing the stuff on computer, but it's not the same as being able to actually touch and cut and scrape the stuff like you used to. Tactility is control more often than not, and I miss that in the computer age, even while loving so much other stuff that I now do in Illustrator and Photoshope that would have been impossible just 10 years ago.

RIP Zipatone. You'll be missed.

1 comment:

RAB said...

You remind me of when I got my first Mac, many years ago, and was demonstrating the pre-Photoshop graphics program MacPaint for my father. I showed him the "paint bucket" tool which let you fill an enclosed region with a repeating pattern of pixels, and I said "See, it's like an infinite stack of Zipatone in every pattern, you can use as much as you want and never run out!"

I wanted to show him that most of all, because not so many years before that, my father -- who was an accomplished medical illustrator in addition to being a surgeon -- had taught me how to use Zipatone and Letraset, how to use the frisket tool, how to care for the sheets so they didn't get ruined or stick together when you put away the unused portions. And I started recognizing the different patterns and gradients being used in comics art, and it all fuelled my growing love of creating comics and graphic design.

My dad was never comfortable with computers, and he resisted my efforts to persuade him to even look at graphics programs. Which stung...but even then I understood maybe he just felt it came too late for him, but I wanted to show him that it still mattered to me, all the stuff he'd taught me, and it was still the standard by which I evaluated everything that came along later. But I think my father and I were never closer than we were when he let me borrow from his selection of Zipatone.