From Clark Kent to Dick Tracy, the comics of the early 20th century defined a distinctly American mode of storytelling that still dominates our imaginations and movie screens decades later. Paying homage to the BAMs and POWs of classic comics, Blackwing's Volume 64 Graphite Pencil Set sports the iconic halftone dots and other CMYK trickery that gives those legendary characters their unique feel.
The origin story of comics begins centuries earlier, with sequential art found in cultures around the world from India in 700 BCE to Maya script to the Bayeux Tapestry, but the modern form arguably starts with Swiss teacher Rodolphe Töpffer, whose illustrated stories featured familiar techniques like panels and captions to tell the story.
Jumping forward a century or two, and comics are a well-established art form in their own right. Visionary artists like Joe Shuster and Jack Kirby made comics a medium worthy of respect, while modern magicians like Kris Anka, JH Williams III, Declan Shalvey, Mike Allred, Becky Cloonan, Darwyn Cooke, Tamra Bonvillain, Jordie Bellaire and more expand the art form with each monthly issue. Comic storytelling has influenced cinema and TV, bringing those imaginative worlds to screens in triumphant style (just don't ask Martin Scorcese).
Blackwing's Volume 64 goes back to the Golden Age of comics, when stories of superheroes and two-fisted detectives were printed on cheap, flimsy paper. That paper quality made full-colour printing next to impossible, so artists and printers found crafty ways to communicate the colourful drama of these oversized adventures. The halftone printing method and Ben Day processing is what comes to mind when we think of comics, turning a limitation into an iconic feature. We've long since moved on from halftone dots, with advances in CMYK printing and digital colouring giving greater nuance and vibrancy, but we'll always hold a place in our heart for the spotty Supermans and dotted Dick Tracys of the early 20th century.