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Sunday, 23 October 2011

Here’s a page from New Teen Titans: Games with visuals I found particularly striking. In this scene, George Pérez shows Joey (Jericho) Wilson fighting villains called Knight and Squire in New York’s Guggenheim Museum. At the top, the Knight knocks Joe over the rail of a balcony.

As Joe falls down the page, the Guggenheim’s tiers define the tiers of the panels, providing strong horizontal lines yet uniting the fall into a single image. The effect reminds me of Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen, which in turn drew heavily from Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland. Near the bottom, Joe grabs onto the rail of a lower balcony, and thus in a way grabs onto the top border of that panel to hold himself up.

Meanwhile, on the left, Pérez offers framed vignettes of the museum staff reacting to the fight, and at the bottom (within a differently styled frame to signal the difference) the Squire taunting them. The shapes and scale of those panels are reflected in the picture frames that Joe falls past on the right.

In the years when no one expected Games to come out, some of Pérez’s artwork circulated among fans. Titans Tower has posted a scan of the line art of this page, showing the bare design.

The finished page includes the contributions of Hi-Fi, the firm that provided digital coloring for Games. That process added not just colors but Joe’s shadows on the wall, and the images of famous nineteenth-century art in the frames, under glowing lamps.

Of course, that’s not the type of art that gets displayed in the Guggenheim. Modernist works, particularly Pop and Op Art, might even have worked better in this scene, playing off the medievalism of the villains and Jericho’s costume. But those works have more copyright protection. And the choice of Impressionism enhances the surreal contrast between this fight and the dignified placidity of its museum setting.

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