Tim Sale: Black and White

By Richard Starkings, John "JG" Roshell, and Tim Sale
272 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

There’s nothing better than a good art book, and nothing worse than a bad one. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but it does sum up the excitement and fear that I feel whenever I pick up a new art book. I always desperately want them to be good, but I’ve been burned by my fair share of disasters in the past. As a result, I was a little nervous about cracking the plastic wrap around Tim Sale: Black and White, with its new "revised and expanded" edition. I hadn’t picked Tim Sale: Black and White in the past, so I really had no idea what to expect. Good? Bad? In-between? Well, let’s just say that it didn’t land in the in-between category.

Tim Sale: Black and White is as much a massive interview as it is a showcase of Tim Sale’s art. This turned out to be a good thing; Richard Starkings clearly knows Sale quite well and as such can avoid a lot of the surface, cliché questions and dive right into the heart of the matter. Tim Sale: Black and White hits all of Sale’s major projects over the years, running from Thieves’ World to Heroes, as well as his art education and creations before his professional debut. No stone is left unturned, and Sale is extremely candid in his views on the different projects he worked on, both from an artistic and a commercial standpoint.

In addition to talking about the creation of different works over the years, Sale also talks about the craft of his art as well. This was one of my favorite sections of the book, with his discussing the art of inking, as well as color. Coloring is probably the big unsung artistic contribution towards comics, and Sale breaks down on his major projects who he’s worked with and why, as well as ideas that he’s had for different approaches towards his art. The more I read of Tim Sale: Black and White, the more clear it quickly became that Sale puts an immense amount of thought and effort into his creations.

And of course, there’s art. A lot of art. In each chapter, Sale provides pieces of art from the project that he’s discussing; not just the final product, though, but often breakdowns, rejected covers, and every sort of behind-the-scenes scrap that he could think of. Even more of a jackpot, though, is almost 100 pages of sketchbook material, unpublished or hard-to-find short stories, and some color pages. Honestly, you’ve gotten your money’s worth just from this part alone. (If nothing else, it makes me want to commission some art from Sale.) It’s the most traditional "art book" section of the volume, and it’s quite handsome.

Tim Sale: Black and White is a must for anyone who’s a fan of Sale’s art; presented in a slick oversized hardcover, it’s the art of book that you’ll be quite proud to leave sitting on your coffee table. After some recent disappointing art books that I’d hoped would be so much better, Tim Sale: Black and White has restored my faith in the idea that good art books are still being produced.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

1 comment to Tim Sale: Black and White

  • Ya, after meeting Tim Sale for the first time at Emerald City Comic Con 2008, I got pretty much hooked on to his works, and started collecting his books, comics, and graphic novels. He gives you free head sketches at the conventions, so you should look into doing that if you ever go to a convention where he would be there.

    Tim is a very nice guy!

    I bought Tim Sale: Black and White Revised and Expanded about 2 1/2 weeks ago, and was very satisfied with the purchase. A++ on the book!