I don’t know if you ever check out Warren Ellis’ weekly newsletter, but in this week’s edition, he wrote a little bit about Davis-Hunt’s artwork in The Wild Storm:
I have to wrap this up, because I also need to work on the expanded outline of issues 19-24 of THE WILD STORM, connecting up all the things, setting up the introductions of characters, trying to get everything to come together on issue 24 to wrap up the series relatively neatly. Hopefully without breaking Jon, who I think I’ve done serious damage to lately. It’s nice that enough of you followed along that we’re actually going to get to the end of our story, so thanks for that. It would have been really gutting if Steve Cook had built that issue-number indicator into the logo and we didn’t get to the end of it.
Right now, I’ll be glad when it’s over, because three-quarters of the way in I’m walking around yelling I NEVER WANT TO SEE A GRID AGAIN. I chose the grid because it’s classical – it dates back to the earliest comics. You can find grids in Alex Raymond’s FLASH GORDON, in LITTLE NEMO, even on occasional in KRAZY KAT and ALLY SLOPER’S HALF HOLIDAY. It’s the language of comic strips, as well as the language of Kirby (six-grids) and Ditko (nine-grids). Grids impose clarity and order. They’re really simple to read.
(When I was a kid, Paul Gravett said something very important to me. It’s easy, relative to skill and vision, to make a fantastic looking comics page. It is very much harder to make a comics page that communicates so clearly that anyone can read it. Clarity is the gold standard.)
(One of the most interesting treatments of the grid in comics is Bryan Talbot’s THE TALE OF ONE BAD RAT, which is built on a nine-panel-grid and its ratios - so you’ll see a half-panel, or a panel plus the gutter, or other peculiar fractions of the basic grid, all painstakingly worked out. Bryan and I were on a train to Glasgow once and he had the art boards with him, and he walked me through the entire process behind the book.)
A lot of choices in WILD STORM were taken to separate the book from its origins in the Wildstorm comics of the 1990s. Textured watercolour style colours instead of slick digital colouring. Grids instead of splash pages and exploded layouts. There were a lot of reasons for this. Everything Wildstorm did in terms of production back then is now standard, so steps had to be taken to make THE WILD STORM feel as different from the standard commercial superhero comic today as the Image stuff did back then. But the grids, the colours and Jon’s linework also suggest a “pre-superhero” state to some extent – the sense of the days before the explosion. Hopefully, as we progress, you’ll see what I mean. (What I meant all along.)