Does the art look like Kent Williams's style?

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Anyone familiar with Kent Williams's artwork? I'm most familiar with him through his comic book work, and I notice a lot of similarities between his work and some shots in AF. Who draws AF? Do they list Kent Williams as an influence?

Lee

-- John Rae, Jr. (red_halcyon@hotmail.com), July 02, 2001

Answers

This is nice work, wonder if he admired Aeon Flux? His paintings are well done, with a lot of raw emotion conveyed in the colors he chooses. Peter, it led me to wonder if you ever compose singular paintings? Oils or the like?

-- Barb e (Suesuesbeo9@cs.com), July 12, 2001.

Reading this column reminded me of that movie by Hitchock with one Sean Connery perking up his ears to Marnie, who appeared only a domestic cat but whose real nature is revealed when that cat is called upon to defend itself. Mark Mars is a tiger masquerading as a domestic writer. I think that's why he crystalized Aeon Flux's perplexing nature in his writing so effectively. Some Herodotus file ruminations of Agent Euphemia: "When the moment comes she will not hesitate to drive the blade home...and yet I am troubled...Something about this woman makes me uneasy...she is enjoying herself too much...she believes a moment exists in and of and for itself. You and I know this is a game. She thinks it is a dance. You cannot win or lose a dance, and without the prospect of gain or loss, there is nothing for us to hold over her head".

-- Barb e. (Suesuesbeo9@cs.com), September 03, 2002.

I've seen and enjoy Kent Williams' work. I honestly wouldn't cite him as an influence, though since I've been drawing characters in the Aeon Flux style before being exposed to it. Williams has stated that he's been influenced by Egon Schiele, the Viennese expressionist painter (1890-1918). That would explain similarities in our styles, since Schiele was the main influence on my drawing as well.

-- Peter Chung (neo830holy@orgio.net), July 08, 2001.

The artist known to me only as "Kent Williams" is an enthusiast of Japanese culture, especially the Samurai aspect. The themes of honor, duty and thick armor, both literal and figurative, appeal to him, as should most Southern Men. He also drinks three cokes a d

-- matt jernigan (mjernfourfourfour@hotmail.com), September 07, 2001.

Any guy who drinks 3 cokes a day is ok with me. What do you mean a Southern man? I get the impression you aren't speaking of Atlanta. Honor, duty and thick armor huh, quite the Flux profile.

-- Barb e. (Suesuebeo9@cs.com), September 14, 2001.


Did you know that the average American consumes more cola than normal water. Scary but true.

Also, by reading this thread, I see that Barb beat me to a question by about 2 months. I was thinking just the other day whether Peter had ever painted larger scale pieces. Coming from an animation background but with a focus on character and human movement I would hazard a guess that you (if you are around Peter?) would have developed some of your skills through life drawing/painting?

-- William (stateofflux@yahoo.com), September 14, 2001.


K Williams, is from New Bern, NC. A real beach boy. He's probably riding around right now, on his own personal tractor, cutting the tall blades of grass that grow in front of the wrap-around porch. (complete with rocking chairs, of cours

-- m jernigan (mjernfourfourfour@hotmail.com), September 24, 2001.

I miss him.

-- m jern (mjernfourfourfour@hotmail.com), October 19, 2001.

I don't.

-- Ritalin Boy (reesepiece@jahoopa.com), April 07, 2002.

The two are completely unrelated. The style seems similar, but upon close inspection it's as different as night and day. Unfortunately Peter Chang has allowed, or through some form of commercial complicity for the AF character to be reduced to mere T&A under guise of symbolic significance. Of course I only mention this as a contrast between Mr. Williams work, and Mr. Chang's. Separately the styles suit the purpose for which they appear to have been developed. However, the artistic measure of Kent William's art will, in my oppinion outwiegh Mr. Chang's on a number of aspects and levels. Kent Williams emerged during a time of profound psychological and philosophical change in the genre of graphic illustration, what was formaly thought by many "comic books" This change that he was part of elevated the genre into something that had been well established in Europe and with obvious significance Japan. Illustration for narrative sequencing no longer had to be regarded as disposable, nor childish. The new graphic form, allowed illustration to become art, with serious consideration for a field once overshadowed by a stigma established during the late 50's By the mid eighties, Comics "grew up," as they say. Along with Richard Corben, Bruce Jones, Neal Adams, and others, Kent Williams followed a natural progression of using the narrative form of illustration to transcend the commercial boundaries and become realized wholly as works of art. Of course his illustrations for various mainstream magazines, and successful exhibitions (I assume,) has given Kent Williams quite a following. As for A.F. The character was birthed during the hieght of the character as commercial entity. Ultimately, A.F. is too vacuous to have survived her 15 minuteds of fame. The one dimensional, and predictable episodes which attempt to carry forth amalgamations of other genres isn't without some redeeming qualities. The pilot, or short from which the character appears isn't bad. The first short was indeed original, but said all that could be said about the enigmatic character. Subsequent episodes merely played on the very worn notion of female empowerment in the most obvious terms. (As a side assertion, I'm all for female empowerment in humanistic fashion.) A.F> therfore is a character reduced to qualities thet carries forth no introspection, and grounds the supporting characters into little more than predictable stereotypes. (But then again, this is MTV isn't it?) The designs of the two characters have never appeared similar to me. Kent Williams does make some effort to produce people with an aesthetic grounded in a kind of realism. Men are not perfect specimens of commercialized masculinity, nor is his portrayal of women idealized to the point of absurdity like those appearing in commercial advertisements. The attraction to oriental customs may be partially significant in Kent William's art. Who knows, perhaps I'll make a trip to see him and ask someday. Adam Narcross

-- Adam Augustus Narcross (adamnarcross@aol.com), August 25, 2002.


It seems that part of the problem involves people like you who seem to think that the character Aeon, as vacuous as she isnt, consists of nothing more than some accessible face values.

Not to mention finding the episodes one dimensional.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), August 26, 2002.


It's some tedious drudgery to wipe up the floor with you guys when you feel like coming around for a TKO'ing but WTF, you insist, so here comes...

-- Mark Mars (artian@charter.net), August 27, 2002.

"Mr. Chang", huh.....

Adam AUGUSTUS Narcrass, no less? So OK , pal , your charming 1-pager F-for-effort at some passive evisceration of our precious little exercise in television suicide has actually earned you dignification of some response here from yers clueless SFW. I'll ill you so fkn what you mailorder ph.U. . .

Not that this sort of exercise doesn't crop up here from time to time - nor not dealt with accordingly whenever someone here feels like wiping the fkn floor with some foo such as your own self here, it's just drudgery work but WTF I'll kick your fkn ass just because I feel like it today and I'm pissed as sht like a notherefkr man here go's I'll kut yur float mf- 1. "...carries forth no introspection." "...reduces supporing characters into little more than predictable stereotypes." Your pretensions to any appreciation or accord with any general critical cosensus as is at-large RE: AE/F as being anywhere near even consistent per your own conclusions as you present, are false and insupportable. Your take on our project you fkn sophist asho' is at impossible odds with the opinion of world critical renown about AEon Flux as presented in published critical discussion of considered and recognized opinion in decent respectable film or television review okay you assho' from all the way from Film Comment to Village Voice to yer Cinefantastique magazine anyway you stoopud ratass bitch. Your insult, couched in dismissive sophistry is contemptuous and unabashedly feckless (I take it you fancy yourself "feminist" or something, as an example of your evident impostures) and does not qualify your letter to us as "criticism." I'm probably telling you nothing you don't already know, but you know I sympathize and rilly am only trying to help you to understand a little more because I really care about you and for what you are trying to do to our work you piece of sht

2. We neither "allowed" or otherwise "the AF character to be reduced to mere t&a under guise of symbolic significance", you moron; YOU did. Get it straight. TO WIT: We neither "allowed" nor "accompliced" (sic - sorry) -- as if what we have done here we would ever plead ignorance or lack of deliberate intent so you imply us and our work the product of incompetence or foolishness and expect us to countenance your implication we should surrender our claim to what has been for us all a deliberate and critically successful effort toward the coup de farce so spectacularly acquisitioned if I may and you better know we already do - to us just like apparently only been fkn around dind mean anything by it. FKU WE DID THIS ON PURPOSE. WTF is your excuse you penis-gallery bookie.

3. If you feel you need to get defensive about your art-appreciation RE: Mr. Willius or whomever how it is you decide you must do it as such pointed and desultory offense against us? What purpose does it serve your outspoken appreciation of this Mr. Wankious for you to defend your ostensible feminist (uh huh ) position with your citing of Richard (Mr, T&A) Corben as some sort of an exmple to the contrary of wht it is in your considered opinion we have attempted to have been doing?

4. You attempt to temper or mitigate your attack on our work with a few obligatory, grudging and spurious pseudoconcessions to us: "...isn't without some redeeming qualities", you persist. Teah sure. Like you've any depth of critical facility ready to hand or available to you to render insightful or considered contribution to some critical consensus argumnt or discussion RE: our project in the 1st place.

5. "The pilot isn't bad." You know we know you know we know the fkn pilot sucked. You sure give lousy head for some soort of an asslicker. Get another vocation. I hope you can get paid what you're worth and you probably will.

6. "...merely played on the very worn notion of female empowerment in the most obvious terms." Obvious to whom - to you, you self-possessed acolyte of feminist discourse?

7. Your repeated use of the invective, " REDUCTIVE", is indicative and telling. It evinces a reductionist tendency on your own part, I must tell you, when it comes to you trying you hand at something like CRITICAL ANALYSIS.

Burn in Hell You MTHRFKR,

Mark Mars aka DANGERBOY stick this up your ass and smoke it

-- dangerboy (artian@charter.net), August 27, 2002.


One of the first things I thought when I saw Adams post was, oh boy now we get to see Danger Boy in action again.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), August 27, 2002.

That's RIGHT. Thank you again, Sam. But for you, you ratass shtholemthrfker I think we ought to be BETTER hearing from you right away now - I don't think we ought to be finished with you nowhere near yet - I'm certainly not finished with you but if you think you better get TFAWAY from this board you mthrfkr you indeed may be quite better off picking on those smaller than you seem to think some other people are. Pseudointellectual abuser, you - WE ARE PROUD OF OUR WORK ASSHO. I doubt you yourself should have any right to be.

Take yer sht and shake yer lil moneymaker out on the 'vard before someone mistakes it for a spitoon

-- db (artian@charter.net), August 27, 2002.



DB, your message was just as invective-filled as our friend AAN's. Maybe he started it, but if you want to engage in a critically significant debate, it's traditional that profane personal attacks remain at the door. More constructive too. And please don't confuse AAN with Kent Williams himself. Mr. Williams is a talented chap indeed.

Anyway, re: AAN's claims. First, the division between commercial and so-called high art is a fallacious distinction that also enforces a binaristic construct of art and pop culture. As a matter of fact, these two "poles" really are indistinguishable -- Kent Williams's work -- namely in comix -- is a supremely prime and obvious example. Just because the conventional opinion of the medium in which the work appears is held as pulpy or lowbrow does not and cannot brand the work as pulpy/lowbrow. Thus, something of significant cultural value (and btw, who exactly assigns the value to a work? When it's a person doing it, his/her opinions have no more or less weight than the next individual's) can exist in a seemingly vapid environment. The thinking that a cartoon (on MTV no less) is flimsy and artistically void is no different from assigning comix to the realm of juvenalia (nb. I suspect that AAN is taking issue with AF as 1. a cartoon and 2. one that airs on MTV). By AAN's reasoning, Kent Williams would have a hard time defending his involvement in comix.

Now to specifics in more or less random order.

The critique that Aeon is a stereotypical T&A portrayal and that there isn't much introspection etc is a pretty slippery slope, as the trite "eye of the beholder" element comes into play here. I know someone who thought the dreadful plot to Star Trek: Nemesis offered profound philosophical questions. I thought it was a ridiculous and overused moral exercise. Whatever. The apparent superficiality may derive from the lack of traditionally strong narrative elements, a gambit that's personally right up my alley but may put off others as extrospective. So it boils down to how much time and energy you want to invest into a given episode to derive meaning and pleasure from it. For people who are pre-disposed to liking something like AF, the amount of energy required, or the willingness to enjoy, is significantly more accessible than someone who prefers conventional narration. And "female empowerment" never seemed to be much of an issue to me, as it was taken for granted that Aeon happened to be a woman agent. And this was way back in '91 mind you, before physically adept chick agents were de rigeur. More like sexual dynamics/gender wars (as Peter Chung sez in one interview), and also an overarching tendency to engage in mindswerves la David Lynch.

The designs of the two characters have never appeared similar to me. Kent Williams does make some effort to produce people with an aesthetic grounded in a kind of realism. Men are not perfect specimens of commercialized masculinity, nor is his portrayal of women idealized to the point of absurdity like those appearing in commercial advertisements.

AF never claims to be grounded in realism. It's heavily stylized (the animation and character design, the plots, etc). Both sexes are at times not idealized, but simply portrayed to an extreme that reaches absurdity -- a conscious effort likely responding to certain social norms.

Ok, I'm tired and never really intended to write this.

-- Leee (red_halcyon@hotmail.com), August 27, 2002.


Lee ("red halcyon"),

My only regret is your closing apology for having sent your thoughtful post. I appreciate everything you said. But I'm one of the writers who busted my sorry ass on this show and it incenses me to have to see some nitwit doing that to our work especially when posing as some sort of respectable critical faculty member from some ivy league fratboy club. It hurts. It enrages me personally and I believe that it ought to for every moral reason - I appreciate criticism, but revile underhanded vicious slights and deliberately hurtful insult especially when (cleverly or not-so cleverly) disguised as exercises in considered or thoughtful, legitimate deconstructions. I should leave my wrathful, acerbic, raging insults at the door here it's true just as a matter of respect for all concerned. Not to mention as I think you suggest, it only detracts from anything I'd have to say that should make any sense or otherwise have had the potential to retain any weight for sake of argument in the first place, I detract from my own credibility when I lose it like that, no matter how bad it makes me feel or how clever I think I'm being or how much it kills me to be so outrageously insulted by somebody.

Thank you, especially, for stepping in here and doing such a fine job of addressing AAN's "issues" and "criticisms."

Yet I would only offer in regard to some of what you said, that as for me, I actually consider Art and Entertainment to be mutually-exclusive disciplines in most cases. That's just my personal philosophy.

-- Mark Mars aka db(dangerboy) (atrian@charter.net), August 28, 2002.


Some time ago i wrote a commentary on the question concerning differences between Kent Williams art as it relates to possible similarities to Aeon Flux. Needless to say what i wrot has been interpreted as a vicious attack on Aeon Flux the pilot short and the series. Which in turn was responded by a few individuals who surely let me have it. I honestly had no idea that the response would be so profound, and I wish to extend sincere apologies to anyone who was offended. Such was not my intent. My opinion of Aeon Flux was really only an observation in carrisson to the art of Kent Williams. I tried to point out some differences between the two, and highlight that the motivations between the two could be perceived through the different methods of art as oppossed to media entertainment. What I said about Aeon Flux in regards to vacuous, or empty, could be said for the majority of TV shows, which utilize predictable plot elements to engage an audience within a commerial format. I don't think I've made any personal attacks to Mr. Chang, nor should I want to. Redeemable qualities in TV are rare enough, but not impossible. This concession is not without an element of truth that can be observed. To create animation in a serialized TV format is a tremendous undertaking from which several hands and minds are utilized to deliver a finished product. The creator, or writers (who may function as both) supervises this undertaking, no doubt to appeal to an audience that identifies with his or her vision. My critique of Aeon Flux is not so much an attack on the animated series as such, but on the format that through appeasing sponsors has not allowed Mr. Chang the full range of choices with Aeon Flux as Kent Williams has with the paintings and illustration work he sometimes produces. Theres only so far you can go even on Mtv in terms of story, character design and content. How far should one be willing to go is of course up to the artist. The stereotype is present however, There are countless characters in TV and cinema who could fit the same basic description as Aeon Flux. Lara Croft, The female character on "Dark Angel" Three characters in "Charlie's Angels," The lead character in "Alias" and so on. All can be attributed the same description of sexy empowered women. Of course there are some differences, but the basic format is consistent enough to give some credibility to the concept of stereotype. What makes Kent Williams women different in this regard is that they seem less remote than the plethora of bionic enhanced beauties that seem to play to an increasingly crowded genre where examples of their power and strength are exhibited in similar ways. This is what I find "predictable." For instance, I know exactly how most episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will conclude. Now this is not to say that all predictable endings can't be satisfying. No, in fact such endings to a particular episode can be reassuring, especially for those who have tremendous affinity for the lead character. The same can be said of male characters as well. And even if such is the case in terms of what defines a stereotype, then one is welcomed to state fundamental differences between the various characters. "Do they shoot guns? Do they engage in fights predominantly with men and usually win? Do they have a propensity for pithy dismissals or insults when on the verge of victory, is there a sense that each conflict has a foregone conclusion for the main protagonists. Are they all sexy? Is there ever an istant where they don't utilize their sexuality as a means to an end that isn't part of a deception? I realize that defenders of Aeon Flux may continue to beleive that I am launching a personal attack on Mr. Chang. I am not. This is just opinions that I think are reasonably valid. Anyone can disagree with my comments. After all I'm sure the creator has more insights into his character than I will ever have. And if there are those whom are still offended and feel that responding hatefully to me. I understand your feelings and only hope that simply saying "I disagree" is enough.

Adam

-- Adam Augustus Narcross (adamnarcross@aol.com), February 27, 2004.


It's "Chung", stupid.

-- Ashly Kehl (stefburk@metrocast.net), February 27, 2004.

Hey, he's right, Peter's work is similar to the style of Kent Williams...

-- Max W. (antiflarm@hotmail.com), February 29, 2004.

I agree that the character Aeon Flux is a sexy empowered woman, and I agree that these aspects alone do not exclude her from being a stereotyped hook. So having had no experience with him at all, I'll have to take your word for it Adam; that being commercial enough to let characters like Aeon pervade the story, prevents writers from being able to make choices quite like Kant William's can. I disagree though, that including characters of this stereotype, (within which Aeon can be found) lords anywhere near enough of the choice restriction over a storyline, that would be required to make it unavoidably vacuous - Even if a lot of what's on TV does make it seem that way.

You say that vacuousness applies to, sponsor appeasing shows that engage within commercial formats, like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Aeon Flux". (BTVS is a very successful and long running show). You said in your first post, "AF was too vacuous to have survived her 15 minuets of fame". Do you mean, then, that AF, the show, was too devoid of substance, on account of its preoccupation with commercial success, to be commercially successful?

Well, I'm going to assume, with a level of confidence, that you don't think BTVS is a show with more substance than AF. Maybe, you'd put BTVS's having better staying power than AF, towards animation not being as commercially prominent as live-action. Or maybe your opinion is that the AF team wasn't terribly adept at commercial cop-outs. In any case, I think there are a few of us here who feel that AF's not fairing especially well commercially in the long term, is due to its being, (beyond admitted hooks), not commercial enough.

-- Sam (janecherrington@paradise.net.nz), February 29, 2004.


And due to it's not being utter bullshit.

-- your hair is good to eat (stefburk@metrocast.net), February 29, 2004.

(first let me close that damn stray italics tag)

Wow this was a long time ago haha. I have a whole new interweb stylee and everything now do you see? I also come off like a schmuck, damn.

More important is I've even moved on to other comic artists in the same aesthetic arena as KW e.g. Sienkiewicz, McKean, Muth (who shares a beautiful artbook with KW called Koan) et al.

But I'm dead tired from backing up files from a bum hard drive so I'll have to read all this some other time.

-- Leee (red_halcyon@hotmail.com), March 02, 2004.


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