Tim Sale on looking outside of comics

“Increasingly my influences are from outside of comics. More expressionist than impressionist, though I certainly love the impressionist work of Monet, though it does not work very well being color-blind. The impressionists play of light and shade has influenced me a lot, especially since so much of my recent work has involved ink wash. But there are also artists like Egon Schiele or Heinrich Clay, who are important peripherally as influences as a way of exaggerating reality or a point, or expression of emotion though not entirely in a cartoony manner. Superheroes are like that, they are myths and metaphors, so I’m drawn to the darker ones because I like to use a lot of black ink.

I also like Film Noir, I’m very much a fan of the films of the forties and fifties and I like that play of light and shade. Those hourglass figures I draw come from here too. I try very hard when drawing women to have a buxom quality that is lacking in so much of mainstream comics. An hourglass figure, but fleshy is much more my take. My figures are very expressionistic, they don’t have to be cartoony, but they generally are. I push that line, sometimes that is just the way things go, some if it is on purpose though as equally not. It is that combination that I am attracted to. My personal inclination can as easily go to Gina Lollobrigida as Claudia Cardinale, round, strong women. One particular influence has been French fashion illustrator Gruau who illustrated for Vogue Magazine. He had a great sense of design and boldness of composition, cropping images in the weirdest ways. As soon as I discovered his work, it had an immediate influence on my Catwoman work, and certainly all of the covers are intentionally in his style. He would sign his work with a little asterisk, so on all of my Catwoman covers there’s a little asterisk as a tip of the hat to him. That’s a great example of looking outside of comics.”

— Tim Sale, Studio Space