4CP FTW (1)
By: John Hilgart | Categories: Comics, Spectacles


[First in a series of 10 posts from John Hilgart’s mesmerizing comic-book details site, 4CP (Four Color Process). We’re thrilled to share Hilgart’s hi-lo way of seeing with our readers.]

Click on image for larger version.

You’ve picked a great image to start your series. This is one of my favorites from the early weeks, when I was focused on abstraction. At that point, I didn’t want the original content or context of the source panel to be apparent.

What I love about this image is its indecision, the way it seems to shift back and forth between a row of bulbous snowman bunnies and a row of sharp-featured faces in profile. It’s almost an optical illusion. It reminds me of Peter Max. Sometimes the printing plates punched the paper, and sometimes they seemed to kiss it. This one was a kiss. The effect is so soft, and you can almost see the motion of the paper through the press.

It’s from a Jim Starlin frame in Captain Marvel #31 (1974). I’ve scanned the whole panel, so you can see the detail in context, but I used a recent Marvel Masterworks volume. Obviously, there would be no visual interest in the same crop taken from the reprint.

I’d forgotten about the copy at the top of this panel, but in retrospect, it could be my 4CP mantra.

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John Hilgart's 4CP blog is a gallery of minute fragments of vintage comic books, scanned to monumental size. The blog has been praised for its documentation of 20th century comic book print culture and for the aesthetics Hilgart brings to the selection and composition of material. His earlier gallery, Comic Book Cartography is a warehouse of maps, diagrams, cutaways, notable locations, and other information-rich comic book panels. Hilgart was formerly an English professor and is currently an ad man.