Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Alchemy of Art: David Mack (2007)

David Mack is the artist behind Kabuki, a comic book series that breaks most, if not all, of the boundaries that had been placed on what comic book art could consist of. He has also produced many issues of Daredevil for the very mainstream Marvel Comics, all without compromising his personal artistic vision. In this DVD, a very in-depth interview with Mack gives you insights into how and why he became capable of producing such uniquely styled art. Over the course of learning about his childhood, you are also treated to seeing much of his art. This is an interview DVD in which the interviewers are neither seen nor heard; it is edited in such a way that Mack is just freely talking about how and why he creates the art that he does. There are clips interwoven from friends and relatives who share some insights as to what makes Mack tick. One of the central influences in his life, his mother, is discussed frequently. As a schoolteacher, she was very encouraging in his artistic development, and seems to have also filled him with the confidence he carries about himself so easily. And over the course of watching the DVD, you'll understand where the title of it comes from, and the thought that goes into his artwork.

One of the bonus features on the DVD is perhaps the most interesting one of the whole disc. Mack gives a page-by-page "commentary track" to an issue of Kabuki. As he flips thru each original page of art, he explains why he made some of the choices he did, enhancing the viewers' understanding of just what you're looking at. It's an excellent piece for either a comic book novice or seasoned Mack fan. Being allowed to peer inside his mind and understand a little more of why things are done a certain way is worth the admission price alone. My only complaint is that this was done for just one issue...this is the kind of thing that would have an art geek like myself coming back for more and more. Especially for someone new to comic books in general, this should be required viewing, as it demonstrates the amount of thought and planning that goes into effectively laying out a story, and each page therein. Seeing how each drawing helps comprise a page, and how in turn each page makes a cohesive whole book, shows the level of love and intensity Mack brings to his work.

In talking with Mack about the DVD, he says the makers of the piece, Hero Video Productions, approached him about being the subject of a documentary at one of his many convention appearances. While it is available from the company directly, it can also be ordered thru comic book stores, or bought straight from Mack himself at a convention (how certain members of Unseen acquired their copies...). Mack is very approachable and personable, and this comes across in the DVD as well. If you do go to a comic book convention that he is at (as Unseen recently did in Seattle this past March), make it a point to go and see him. Barring that, get this DVD...excellent for students of art, or just lovers of good art in general, and a great way to at least get to meet the artistic mind of David Mack.

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