52 Weeks Project

By Greg Ruth
120 pages, black and white
Published by Allen Spiegel Fine Arts

By now, you’ve probably heard of Kickstarter, a website that allows people to try and find funding for projects, and offer as incentive various premiums for different levels. (Often starting out with a copy of the project, and then going up in scale from there.) One Kickstarter project I did help fund earlier this year recently arrived at my door. And now that I’ve got it, well, here’s hoping that people who missed the Kickstarter train for Greg Ruth’s The 52 Weeks Project will eventually get another chance to buy this book.

The book was published by Allen Spiegel Fine Arts, a boutique agency that represents a handful of excellent artists like Dave McKean, Scott Morse, Jon J Muth, George Pratt, Kent Williams… and in this case, of course, Greg Ruth. Visiting their table at Comic-Con every year to see what beautiful new art books and postcard sets they’d published is one of the few stops I genuinely miss since I stopped attending the show, and so I jumped at this chance to get Ruth’s new art book. I fell in love with Ruth’s art the very first time I saw it (the beautiful Freaks of the Heartland from Dark Horse Comics and written by Steve Niles), with his airy, dramatic brush strokes. And so while the simple subject matter of a best-of his "a drawing a week" project’s first two years made me a hesitate for a brief moment (having undertook two "a photo a day for a year" projects, I understand how easily they can get run down), ultimately the promise of new Ruth art was all it took.

The first year’s worth of drawings are of anything that popped into Ruth’s head that week. Sometimes Ruth followed a theme, like two drawings in a row being samurais staring at one another, or a series of bird-headed people feeding each other bugs (beak-to-beak). Sometimes it’s a sequence of Presidential portraits. And then, you’ll turn the page and find a beautiful mansion… with a pig staring it down while standing on an airplane. It’s a mixture of whimsy and seriousness, and it’s a good reminder on Ruth’s wide range.

For year two, Ruth stuck strictly to portraits. Of course, portraits can range from Matt Smith and the other ten lead actors from years past on Doctor Who, to a bust of Julius Caesar. Drawings are no less inventive than before, and if anything the strong focus helps Ruth harness his creativity even further. There’s something about the girl screaming at the Totoro balloon that makes you able to keep from laughing, even as the dark, shadowed child on the next page (inspired by Let The Right One In) brings a shiver down your spine. Regardless of the subject, Ruth’s art is punctuated by his lush, flowing brush strokes that somehow still look wet to the touch. Even when drawing portraits, his subjects never look stiff or posed; his inventive imagination and skill always makes his figures on the verge of bursting off the page and into life.

Hopefully down the line this book will be available to comic stores. (The Allen Spiegel Fine Arts website is woefully out of date, a problem that so many very-small publishers have since all of the energy needs to go onto getting the books out. But I would be thrilled if someone could create a better online store for their products that was kept up to date.) If you can’t wait for that possibility, though, Ruth is selling copies directly from his Etsy storefront. If you’re as much of an art book fan as I am, then trust me on this: buy it. It’s a lovely book that deserves a wider audience.

Comments are closed.