The wonderful watercolors and ink drawings of John J Muth

It takes years and years of practice and refinement to really nail a simple brush drawing. The trick is in minimal, controlled marks and it's waaaay harder than it looks. Watercolor and ink paintings alike are dependent on confidence and fine motor control. John J. Muth is a master of these elegant gestures. You've probably seen his work in the later issues of Sandman, children's books and Magic: The Gathering cards. If you haven't, it's high time you took a look at his pieces! His sense of color, dynamic compositions and gestural mark are unmatched. It's especially wonderful to see his work paired with writers that match his caliber.

I'm most familiar with his work on Neil Gaiman's Sandman. A few of the final issues were beautifully rendered by Muth, whose minimal style matched the reverential tone of The Wake. Take a look at this page that expertly blends the format of a classic comic book layout with calligraphic linework.

Source: Neil Gaiman's Sandman

Muth also penned his own adaptation of Dracula, told here in spare watercolor. This wordless adaptation compliments his storytelling and gives Dracula the feeling of an old silent film, but with a smattering of color.

Source: John J. Muth's Dracula

I think that these wordless panels evoke horror exceptionally well.

Source: John J. Muth's Dracula
Source: Neil Gaiman's Sandman

Take a look at the above panel alone. What an elegant interpretation of the comic book panel format. It takes remarkable conviction to paint like this. The negative space implies light, form and gesture all on it's own. Todd Klein's lettering is fantastic also.

Source: Grant Morrison's The Mystery Play

I love the layered watercolor effect here. The background's vague and moody, rendered with wet into wet technique. This page is full of wonderful half muted, half vibrant images. The figures are somewhat hazy but with defining shadows. Creepy. Beautiful.

Source: Jon J. Muth's The Three Questions

He's not limited to horror comics, though. Muth is also the illustrator (and sometimes author) of children's books in a much lighter vein, in both palette and subject matter. Talking animals are a favorite subject of his.

Source: John J. Muth's Zen Shorts