|My art incorporates a variety of styles and adaptability, reflecting the variety of my interests, and experience.|
I have often been asked about my artistic influences, and for my thoughts regarding instructional books for the aspiring comic book artist. After providing an answer that also contained some advice and opinions, the question was raised narrowing the focus to my disdain for the anatomy books of Burne Hogarth. Now, my purpose is not to personally attack the man whose past professional work I have respected. I offer my OPINION based on my own learning experiences (which did include Hogarth's books), and what I consider to be a strictly honest evaluation as it applies to the question. I apologize if it comes off like I'm slamming somebody. But in the interest of possibly benefiting a few of the curious, I see no point in withholding nor varnishing my opinion.
As I intimated, I studied the Hogarth anatomy books around the time when I was about to embark on a professional career illustrating for DC Comics. There are indeed useful lessons to be learned, for sure, especially if you can decipher the pedantic text. But, in looking back, I think it's a profound mistake to ever let them ever be more than a superficial reference tool. Use the drawings as a map to skeletal structure, and for placement of the various muscle groups. But try to avoid applying these verbatim to your own figure work. Never emulate that grotesque, stiff structure, or your art will be anything BUT 'dynamic.'
If you'll allow this quasi-tangent, something has always puzzled me, and even irked me. The default viewpoint of many superhero comics artists from the Silver Age onward seemed to be that every super-powered character must be likened to Greek gods, their bodies almost directly carved from the same marble as the sculpted statues of ancient times. One popular artist's figures come to mind, which, while impressively drawn, were all of monstrous physique, even while appearing at rest (not unlike the drawings of Hogarth in that instructional book). Personally, I think that's the wrong approach for story, and story should always be the primary concern, if not the primary motivation (Yes, everybody wants to be a superstar, and have their art stand out. But whenever you seek to promote your own art to the exclusion of all else, you degrade the storytelling medium which you profess to love in the first place.).
Why should a character who uses an alien power ring also have the physique of Schwarzenegger? Why should a being who relies on super-speed to thwart villains possess a physical bulk reminiscent of The Hulk? Because that's what sells? Then you're a shill more than an artist. Just own it. No, a variety of body shapes and sizes, with physiques constructed according to the specifics of each character and their traits is the beginning of sophisticated character design. And evidence of this sort of imagination is a mark of the truly serious comic book artist, cartoonist, animator, storyboard artist, game designer, and every commercial illustrator overall.
Burne Hogarth's anatomy books should only serve as a moderately-useful guide, and never as the primary or solitary influence for the aspiring illustrator. Let those books be the "gateway" to higher understanding and better study, to wider creativity, and deeper thought.
And, as always, your mileage may vary. Cheers!