Simplicity is often overlooked in heavy metal art, which makes sense. Metal is the musical embodiment of More Means More, and as such the art surrounding it often tries to be as bloody, ugly, confusing and cluttered as real life seems to be. But there is a way to convey metal’s dark dramatic atmosphere with a clean line. By clearly defining the contours of evil, one can more clearly see it for what it is.
Becky Cloonan uses this discipline excellently. Cloonan’s art is in many ways simple, with firm black lines and clean swaths of discernible color. And yet her practiced hand, attention to detail, and solid grasp of human facial expressions add a poetry and humanity that a lot of cross-hatching would only muddle. Nothing is ever lost in Cloonan’s art; even the odd creature or killer standing in the shadows has a defined intention.
Cloonan’s style works perfectly with literary characters like Conan and Count Dracula, comic book heroes like Batman and The Punisher, and musicians like The Sword and Deafheaven. Like her art, all of these subjects are classic and unwavering, strong in their dedication to an ideal. Their plans are anything but vague. So is Cloonan’s work emotionally inspiring due to its direct approach.