Alex Ross is a modern master photorealist. By making heavy use of photo reference, his paintings of superheroes look like they could step off the page. It also results in his figures looking a bit stiff, because they’re photos of people posing, stiffly. So what happens when the grand master of posed figures tries to emulate Kirby, the godfather of explosive dynamism? Oy.
OK, it’s got energy. Too much energy. As in “seven picoseconds after the Big Bang” energy. As in “ow! my eyes!” energy. The color palette is burning like magnesium and other exotic minerals in intense crimson, orange, and yellow, and a little intense blue and violet(!) to provide “rest” for the eyes.
Yes, it has a focal point. Dozens of them, in fact. It’s impossible to know where to look. Furthermore, it’s nearly impossible to tell what you’re looking at when you pick a spot. It’s better when you look at it full-size, but even then it’s just overwhelming.
As a promotional piece for an upcoming project, it… does the job. It’s eye-catching. It (briefly) makes you want to look at it. But as a work of art, this is just… bad.
In my inadequate attempt to fix it, I started by erasing most of the clutter, clearing out the crowd. Yes, I know: it’s no longer a representation of every character Kirby created for the Kirbyverse. That’s a job for a catalog. This creates some welcome negative space, which I’m forced to guess how to fill, because the background was almost completely obscured. This is a hack job, to be sure. But at least it’s readable, with some variety of color, variety of “business”, and a few clear focal points.