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X-Men Guernica by Theamat X-Men Guernica by Theamat
Another week of The Line it is Drawn! This week's theme was "Alternate Reality Character Designs", and my pick was X-Men, designed by Picasso.

See the other contributions here: goodcomics.comicbookresources.…

This piece is based on the painting Guernica: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia…

X-Men Guernica - SKETCH by Theamat

X-Men Guernica - INKS by Theamat

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:iconbeccablast:
The Spanish Civil War, if thought of at all today, is usually discussed and dismissed as "the dress rehearsal for World War II", in that it involved active participation from Hitler's Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Soviet Union. The glibness of that phrase glosses over what that really means -- despite the brutality of the First World War, the Second was exponentially worse -- most certainly in terms of the destruction visited on civilians. That was something all sides engaged in in Spain, most famously in the annihilation of a Basque town called Guernica by the German Luftwaffe. Pablo Picasso, an expatriate Spaniard living in Paris, took the atrocity as a subject for a mural -- a painting that he vowed would never be seen in Spain until democracy was restored. "Guernica" is the best-known and perhaps greatest artwork of the 20th century, and virtually synonymous with Picasso.

When a comics artist is given the challenge of "show the X-Men as designed by Picasso", the bait is tempting -- the X-Men are by far the series most concerned with bigotry and intolerance -- one of their members is the descendant of Holocaust victims, and their greatest rival/ally is a direct survivor. Not to mention that when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby invented the series, it was a direct metaphor to the racial issues of the 1960's. The Xavier Institute for Gifted Students has been devastated and rebuilt over and over. This is not the Justice League in their oh-so-safe satellite -- these are heroes under siege in a world that hates them. Their home HAS been bombed. If any comic characters can say to have experienced what happened in the original work, it's them.

The way of determining whether the piece is worthy of the concept is a different matter. We can admit the concept and not like the piece; we can admire the craft and dislike the subject. The craft here is exquisite -- even in the chaos of the piece, the X-Men are clearly identifiable. The use of angle light and shadow to create the cubist effects of the original piece -- Cyclops' eye beams, the small lightning bolts from Storm, making sure the white streak in Rogue's hair is visible -- are dead-on in the style prescribed. The arrangement of characters matches well with the original work (with a few exceptions I'll get to in a minute. We have in the original a wailing woman with a dead child under the eyes of a panicked animal -- here we have an anguished Rogue cradling Nightcrawler's body under the gaze of a panicked Beast. Two women appear like shrieking wraiths with candles and pleas -- here we have a fearful Storm and Emma Frost, of all people, in full desperation -- perhaps Emma because Cyclops is in danger; I would have thought Kitty to be more suited for her position. Where the original had a man on his knees hands up to the sky, the mandatory Wolverine has claws out but looks particularly helpless.

There are some differences, though, and that causes some troubles. Possibly the most famous of all the images in the mural is the panicked horse who has thrown his rider and readies to trample his prone master. That gets transformed here to a rampaging Magneto about to stomp the prone Cyclops. Storm seems to be casting lightning at Magnus as much as anything else; is he the one who attacked, ripping the iron gate in the foreground (no such barrier in the painting) apart? Or is he merely another victim? His inclusion in the position he is in adds an ambiguity that reinforces another problem, but this issue is with the very concept.

Part of the inhumanity of the Guernica attack, and the power of the piece, is the anonymity of the victims. The very evil Picasso was decrying was the dehumanization of the people. Making them famous characters like the X-men, with roles and backstories, adds a layer that works against the intent of Picasso. By cleverly slotting the characters, Thea manages to avoid this most of the time -- Beast mirrors the animal, for example, and Nightcrawler is dead. Magneto is the major problem, and he's in a bad place for ambiguity. If I had to answer, I'd say he's being attacked like the rest, but there is that question.

Inserting the Phoenix and the fence, items without a parallel, point this out more than they fill necessary gaps. Is the Phoenix supposed to be a replacement for the light bulb? Or is it simply, like Wolverine, something you have to have in the piece if it's going to be an X-work?

Because, I really miss the light bulb, or any equivalent to it. The electric light shaped like an eye is one of the great images in Western art; Picasso uses it to attack the viewer, and the culture that saw this happen, and yet did nothing in response. That eye is a challenge to the viewer of the painting to respond to the work. The viewer watches the painting; the eye is "watching" the viewer to see if they, like everyone else, lets this pass.

Which brings us back to the question of whether including the X-Men is damaging to the work. The best X-comics, such as "God Loves, Man Kills" or "Days of Future Passed" have always contained that element of challenge to the reader. (The only thing that makes modern Cyclops tolerable is that you can see how years of this struggle can warp even the best of people.) Through creative skill and a sense of arrangement, Thea has certainly done that. The questions are important, but the overall work is sublime. I have seen few others who would even attempt this, so give her full credit for audacity and vision and nearly full for execution.

OH, and before I forget -- this was done in her SPARE TIME, over the course of perhaps a week at most. That is nothing short of phenomenal!
What do you think?
The Artist thought this was FAIR
7 out of 7 deviants thought this was fair.

The Artist has requested Critique on this Artwork

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:iconjosh-gowdy:
Josh-Gowdy Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012
A brilliant piece Thea -- my brain has trouble taking it in all at once -- I can't imagine how tricky it was to put on paper.
Reply
:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012   Digital Artist
Thanks! It was tough. I kept wanting to correct my lines and had to keep convincing myself to let the shapes just be shapes. It's much harder than it looks. Lol
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:iconsauronct:
sauronct Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012
In the Wolverine Vol 2 issue 36, Wolverine WAS really in Guernica the same date of the attack. Good mash-up
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012   Digital Artist
Wow! that's a blast from the past. Thanks for the info!
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:iconplupluche:
plupluche Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012
The idea is excellent ! You strike a big blow.
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012   Digital Artist
thank you!
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:iconjfmolinera:
jfmolinera Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Excelent !!! great job !!
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012   Digital Artist
Thanks!
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:iconanthrodiva:
anthrodiva Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012
It sounds like there were other possibilities for you to interpret? This one is a poor image to choose, to say the least. It is important artistically, historically, and even topically. They covered the tapestry version of this at the UN for Colin Powell's address in 2002 in favor of going to war. It is powerful because it shows the death of innocent citizens (and their children) essentially as part of a product demonstration -- Hitler was showing off Messerschmidt's to Franco. Distinct parallels to today.

I understand your argument, except that X-Men are not real and real people died in Guernica. There is no way, regardless of execution, that this treatment of such a massively important painting in this manner, could fail to be read as trivializing those deaths.
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012   Digital Artist
I respectfully disagree with the premise of comparing my piece to the original, especially outside of the context of The Line It Is Drawn. It artificially inflates the value of my piece in the cultural milieu and unjustly degrades the original's. But as I have stated before, I apologize to all for any unintended misperceptions.
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:iconazuthell:
azuthell Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012
this is so rude! guernica was made, about the bombings of the town guernica.. there are tears on it, there are sorrow and grief on it.. and you made it with xmen? and think that its so funny and clever? for me its so rude, and an insult to humankind!!
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012   Digital Artist
Sorry that you do not see the purpose, thank you for posting your commentary.
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:iconarachnidman:
arachnidman Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
This is truly AMAZING! Not much more I can say to express how I feel about it. I'm by no means an art critic but I know what I like and I really like this!
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
Thanks for the stamp of approval!
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:icondavel-jonez:
davel-jonez Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
This is a very good execution of disgusting idea.
The only Guernica comic mashup I can imagine not being offensive is perhaps Art Spiegelman’s Maus.
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
Thanks, I appreciate that you give me props for skill, if not for content.
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:iconquiltg8rl70:
quiltg8rl70 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
Fabulous, wish it was for sale.
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
Nope! Sorry, not a penny! But you can download to your heart's content.
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:iconquiltg8rl70:
quiltg8rl70 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
Fabulous, I wish it was for sale
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:iconm7781:
m7781 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
very glad you lost that coin toss.. you are brave for tackling this one..
you couldnt have made it any better..
perfection!
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
Your so nice, thanks. It does take the sting out of that coin toss! Lol
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:iconbrainflowcrash:
brainflowcrash Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You've really captured the expression of the original, and thanks for the high-res download :) What were your thoughts about the context of the original painting when you tackled this? Did it influence your decision to choose Guernica or was it mainly an experiment with the iconic look of his work?
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
I love Picasso's work and guernica is my favorite of his pieces. I chose it because it is so visceral and naked in it its depiction of war.

I've gotten little flack for mashing these two genres because there are some people who believe the message is empty. I'd just like to go on record as saying that I am not the first to point out appropriate social commentary in comics. The xmen, in particular, are the poster children of the oppressed. They fight government, society, enemies, allies, alien threats, eachother, not to mention their own inner demons. What would Picasso have thought of their place in society? Their constant struggle for recognition? should we turn a blind eye to injustice just because its a fictional comic book?

I wanted to show that Picasso's style and message can be interpreted through the comic book genre, which in many ways is more relevant to today's audience, the same way his contoversial style was relevant to HIS audience. War, any war, whether real or fiction, is still about oppression of the weak, violence, casualties and grief.

Thank you for asking and for liking it!
Reply
:iconbrainflowcrash:
brainflowcrash Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for your reply, I feel the same about the original, even though it's very abstract it couldn't be any more haunting in a realistic depiction. Though - you have to forgive me - I don't know much about the X-Men universe, your undertaking of readapting Guernica in this way woke my interest.

I think that even though you get or got flak for it, simply by taking the piece and readapting it in popular fiction so to speak, you've put the original and its message back into the minds of many people, myself included. And that in itself, is of merit, isn't it? Good art is always controversial :)
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
Amen to that! I am loving this aspect of being an artist. Stir the pot! Start some discussion! Let's start thinking about this world and how the worlds we create in fiction are mirrors of our own perceptions.

I am doubly pleased that you chose to comment and know little about the xmen! I am happy to be a window into the comic book universe. It gets a bad rap for being empty of purpose and story, but I think some of the best stories are coming out of the genre of comics and graphic novels, especially the indie market.
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:iconbrainflowcrash:
brainflowcrash Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I concur - but I'm sorry to maybe disappoint you a bit, being completely honest: I wouldn't say that I'm not a fan of comic books/graphic novels but I've simply steered clear of the superhero genre (I don't know why exactly, it's just difficult to catch up with the daceades of work I guess) except maybe for Hellboy. Mignola's minimalist style enchanted me the first time I saw it - plus, I'm a huge fan of Lovecraft's work. What I do know though, from reading a few things here and there, is that the writing and art of the genre is orders of magnitude better than its reputation.

Again, I have nothing but respect for you doing this, and on top of that how you handle people who register just to express how 'offended' they are by your most recent work. (Your work is on Boingboing.net by the way: [link] guernica.html , I hope you know this :) )
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
I can appreciate that, I had steered clear of much of the superhero genre as well up until 6 years ago, I could not tell you which characters were marvel and which where DC! Lol. But they've all grown on me and I find that many of the books have very good content. I'm not saying ther aren't some bad apples.... But the x men, in particular have always held an appeal to me because of their social status, their constant conflict.

In regards to those who are insulted by the piece... Well, I can feel proud that they felt something! That is really remarkable to me. I think they misunderstand my intent, but WOW! I'm actually contoversial! It's an artist's dream!

BTW - HUGE fan of Hellboy. Mignola's a big inspiration to me, his colorfields are amazing. I have a signed copy of Gotham by Gaslight... Bragging rights!
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:iconbrainflowcrash:
brainflowcrash Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Bragging rights indeed. Here in Europe I only get the black & white versions of Mignola's work as hard cover, which are still very atmospheric. I've seen these pages colored though, I think either has its charm.

Without looking at Wikipedia now... X-Men are... um... DC? Feels like DC. I don't know.

If I wanted to read one of the best X-Men stories there is, what would I have to read, in your opinion?
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012   Digital Artist
Well, the series 'God loves, man kills' is a good start. It's a classic story about prejudice. I also enjoyed the series written by Josh Whedon, the first run of Astonishing Xmen, illustrated by another favorite artist of mine Hohn cassaday. Oh, and Second Coming. Great covers for that book, good story. :)
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:iconroystanton:
RoyStanton Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional General Artist
That is awesome!
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
thanks!
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:iconferrignofan:
ferrignofan Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
wow,thats pretty unique.
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
tnx
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:iconferrignofan:
ferrignofan Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
no probs
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:icondaywalkerb:
DayWalkerB Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great concept. :thumbsup:
If you compare this to the original painting it's quite impressive how you managed to fit the X-Men characters into the composition. And you imitated the style pretty well too.
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
thank you!
Reply
:iconseanmcfarland:
SeanMcFarland Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Incredibly well executed! Super ambitious composition and it really works. I can't imagine trying to tackle Guernica, really impressive.
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012   Digital Artist
Thanks so much! I was hesitant to tackle this, but I missed the opportunity during our homage to great artists week, when I did the power girl/son of man piece. I've been thinking about it ever since. Glad I got a second shot! It was my second choice bout I suppose fate (AKA my nemeses, the coin toss) intervened.
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:iconthecreatorhd:
thecreatorhd Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012
So crazy. Can't wrap my head around it.
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012   Digital Artist
I'll take that as a compliment!
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:iconthecreatorhd:
thecreatorhd Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012
It was meant as one, so yes, please do!
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:icontheclawtheysay:
TheClawTheySay Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Brilliant and incredible execution!
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012   Digital Artist
Thanks so much!
Reply
:icontheclawtheysay:
TheClawTheySay Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Check it out, i09 is showing the love again: [link]
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:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
I know! saw it this afternoon. I'm giddy!
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:icontheclawtheysay:
TheClawTheySay Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Haa - now that's a nice surprise. "doo de doo *le surfing le web* doo de doo - Oh look! I'm showcased on another article!"
Reply
:icontheamat:
Theamat Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012   Digital Artist
Well it's not like I'm soliciting, but it's fun when I see three or four blogs repost this. Not expected, but much appreciated.
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