Week 41: Jamie McKelvie
“The Wicked + The Divine #16” (Cover A) (2015)
I know Jamie McKelvie through his work on The Wicked + The Divine. However, you might also know him through his work on Phonogram, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, or band art for bands such as Chvrches and Tegan and Sara.
The art for WicDiv is done by McKelvie and colored by Matt Wilson, who I featured here. It is precisely McKelvie’s incredible character design and personality that snagged me on the WicDic series, however, and it continues to be by far one of my favorite comics in terms of attractive character design (and just attractive characters in general).
Kelvie’s covers are especially eye-catching and are the perfect example of how he commands a space. They are art as well as marketing, pulling a person in with bold poses and demanding linework while still seeming like they could be a portrait in a really badass gallery.
It’s not hard to decide that what I love most about McKelvie is his people. They are so full of strength and emotion, and their eyes never fail to pull me further in. Compelling, dynamic posing, and truly awesome character design (including badass wardrobes) make me fall in love with basically every character McKelvie draws. They’re all just so interesting.
McKelvie is not just great at character design, however. As primarily a comic artist, it would be unfair to omit how good he is at drawing for that specific type of storytelling. A good deal many people can draw well. It’s another step up to tell a story with them in pictures, an action story, and for you to even know what’s going on page to page. McKelvie does this in clever, clear, beautiful ways. To me, he’s among my favorites like David Mazucchelli in that (and if you ask me, there’s almost no higher compliment in graphic storytelling).
McKelvie’s design work is also pretty damn stellar, because if you can tell a story on a page, you can make probably make a compelling graphic design too. His trademark clean lines and simple but effective shading carries over here too, making for super clean, super attractive design.
You can catch his animation work in this video by synthpop band Chvrches, featuring Hayley Williams of Paramore. (It’s a catchy song.)
Overall, McKelvie’s work just makes me happy to see. There’s diversity in characters, there’s clever design, there’s super solid art talent, there’s interest and movement and personality. They feel like real people. They feel interesting, compelling. They feel cool.