August 19, 2012

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SPX Spotlight 2012: Dustin Harbin

Welcome to another entry in my SPX Spotlight 2012!  You can find all of my SPX Spotlight posts, including those from past years, by clicking here.

Dustin Harbin is not a cartoonist for the faint of heart.  He's knowledgeable, witty, insightful, and blunt.  Shy is only in his vocabulary so he can accuse others of being too timid to say what they think.  He's the type of guy you want on your side, but woe to those on the other side of the table, especially if it's you.

What that means is that when Dustin takes his talent for argument and humor and brings it into the comics world, sparks fly, and I mean that in a good way.  Regardless of the subjects covered in any of his Diary comics collections or other works, Harbin will play straight with his readers, offering facts to back up his opinions.  He's not afraid to offend, which I think makes for better comics, and I also appreciate that when he's thinking about a sensitive topic, Dustin's also willing to admit that his views may not be popular or appealing.  When this honesty is blended with an eye towards a clever joke, visual or verbal, it makes for a creator I'll keeping buying from, time and time again.

But enough about the text, let's talk about his art!  I chose the print above for this piece because it's one of my favorite Harbin works.  (I own a print of it, and I buy maybe 2 prints a year.)  If you look carefully at it, you'll see that the drawing is full of meticulous line work, which is typical of Harbin's style.  When I had Dustin sketch something for me, I got to see this process close-up, and even for a quick piece, he took time to use the same style, carefully connecting his pen strokes to make a complete picture.

Whether it's his cartoonish visage of himself, a quick history piece on a US President, or a reflection of a childhood memory, Dustin puts a lot of effort into making his fine lines into a complete picture.  Though each drawing involves quite a bit of lines, not unlike Rafer Roberts, the result is less sketchy than you'd think it might be and the end result is delicate, rather than the rougher style I tend to expect from that type of work.  The lines come together so well, especially if you take the time to examine them carefully.  I highly recommend that you do so!

For SPX, Harbin should have his usual array of books, including past editions of his Diary Comics series, the DHARBIN 1-2 collection (which is my favorite of his, I think), and his thoughts on awards, which I reviewed earlier this year.  I also expect prints, and fans of prints should buy at least one, maybe two.  (I recommend the Dinosaur one, which I sadly have no place to put in my apartment.)

Dustin will be with the Koyama Press folks, who are getting the Spotlight treatment later this month, and you should be able to get his newest diary collection at SPX, printer willing.

Can't make SPX?  I'm sorry, it will be fun, but you can find Dustin Harbin's website here, where you can pick up some of his books and prints.