The artists on Black Orchid are both quite good. Outstanding actually.
I first became familiar with the cover artist Dave McKean through his work on Sandman with Neil Gaiman in the late 80s. His work, to me, was stunning. It was something I’d never seen before, especially in comics. Unique and surreal, his images are visceral and dreamlike. He works in oil and photography, charcoal and pencil, collages and found objects and digital manipulation. You can always tell a McKean cover, there is really no one like him. I’ve always been moved by his work and continue to be a fan whether it is in comics or film or any of the multitudes of other projects and media he’s worked in.
His work on Black Orchid is really a continuation of his work on Sandman; or at least his collaboration with Gaiman. I described it as dreamlike and surreal and this is generally apt, but he also seems to incorporate just the right elements of the story to invoke its essence. Even if the work inside was not up to snuff the covers are worth the cover price in and of themselves. But the work inside is quite good as well.
The penciler, or main artist on the book, is Rebecca Guay and I will admit that this is the first time I’ve seen her work. My first impression is that it has a fluidity to it; a kid of fairy-tale quality. It gives the comic that storybook feel; like it is something very old while at the same time the story itself is very modern. That adds to the effectiveness of the book itself. Even when the plot is moving quickly with a lot of exposition and multiple characters in multiple plotlines Quay is able to carry us along and keep all the disparate threads together without the reader getting lost. I came at this comic with no knowledge of it and basically jumping right into the middle of a storyline and was still able to pick up on it with no problem. This is in no small part due to the way the art engages us and moves us to read on.
That brings us to…