Sunday, January 26, 2014

My 10 favorite comic book artists.

So obviously I love comic books. A lot. Beyond that I really don't have any sort of clever way to introduce this list. These are my 10 favorite comic book artists. As with all my lists, this isn't meant to be a definitive "best" list, just the 10 I like the most.

10) Alex Ross. It's hard not to be impressed with Ross' near photo realistic paintings. Frankly the only thing that keeps Ross this low on the list for me is that, as I've said before, a comic book artist is in one sense an actor, and Ross is a bad actor. Characters seem to move in a very stiff and wooden way on those rare occasions he's doing interior art and not just covers. Granted he's nowhere near as bad of an "actor" as, say, Greg Land who seems incapable of drawing women who don't look like they're mid orgasm, but still. Even so you can't deny Ross is amazing at capturing the majesty and larger than life status of super heroes, and yet still be amazingly realistic about it.

9) Jack Kirby. What's to say about Kirby that hasn't already been said? Not just a great silver age artist, but arguably one of the most influential. To this day "Kirby dots" are the go to technique for artists trying to depict crackling forms of exotic fictional energy.

8) John Romita. As with Kirby, what do I even say here that hasn't been said. This guy's art is just simply beautiful. He was a master at depicting facial expressions and body language that really helped flesh out all of Spidey's supporting cast in a way I just never felt his predecessor Steve Ditko, as good as he was, ever could. But again, what more can I really say about the guy a million other people haven't said better than me.

7) Patrick "Spaz" Spaziante. Now here's one you're not likely to see on many people's favorites list and that's a shame. Spaziante, or "Spaz" as he tends to go by, is a long time artist on Sonic the Hedgehog, and in recent years Mega Man over at Archie comics. Take a look at this pic of a roboticized Sonic fighting a roboticized Knuckles. Despite the very cartoonish style that Sonic has, Spaz is able to make things so damn epic. And it's not just battle scenes, look at this pic from an upcomig Mega Man X story he's doing the art work for.
It's just a panel of a holographic message from Dr. Light, but look at it. The attention to detail, the dramatic perspective, and again, this is just what is likely to be a simple dialogue heavy exposition dump. To take the cartoony and simplistic designs of characters like Sonic, Mega Man, and Dr. Light and still give them such weight, well, that's the mark of a damn good story teller.

6) John Romita Jr. The thing I love mostly about this guy is that his art tends to have a rather dark tone to it many times, but it does do without excessively heavy shadowing guys like Jae Lee use. His strong attention to detail in backgrounds can also be a joy to behold.

5) Tom Grummett. There are few people who can do light hearted super hero fun like Grummett. His work on the 90's Superboy series was just fantastic. While also at home in darker stories, books like this were where he truly excelled. He depicted the "teen movie" antics of the skirt chasing, slightly douchey teenage clone of Superman in a way that still brings a smile to my face.

4) Mike Deodato Jr. Ahhh good old Mike. Not only is this guy the quintessential babe artist of the 90's but he also managed to grow as an artist and stay relevant, doing highly detailed artwork at Marvel to this day. But I for one still wax nostalgic for how he drew Enchantress during his Thor run.

3) Amanda Conner. So if a comic book artist is in one sense and actor, than Conner is the best actress in the industry today. The amount of feeling and range she can get from characters, even, perhaps especially in sequences with no dialogue are amazing. During her run on the Power Girl series from a few years ago, she actually fleshed out Power Girl's cat as a character. This wasn't a super smart mutated talking cat or something, this was just a normal cat. And she still managed to give it a ton of character just through the art of visual story telling.

2) Mark Bagely. You know, I kinda admit that objectively Amanda Conner is the better artist, and should probably be above Bagely. But this is a list of my favorites and damn I love Bagely. He is THE definitive Spider-man artists in my mind. Plus he also did the original Thunderbolts series, of which I think the first 12 issues are some of the best super hero books of the 90's and he did Ultimate Spider-man, back when that was awesome. And nobody ever did symbiote characters better than him.

1) George Perez. Perez' amazing Vol 3 run on Avengers along side writer Kurt Busiek is pretty much THE reason why I became a fan of the Avengers, long before an Avengers movie was anything more than a pipe dream. Not only is Perez a master at battle scenes, and really at the whole idea of a giant super hero epic, but Perez can make any character, no matter how silly the costume, look damn cool. He would draw huge line ups of dozens of characters on a splash page and you could tell who everyone was, no matter how far into the background they were, and they all looked badass. In a more perfect world this man would draw every issue of every team book like Avengers of Justice League. Perez' artwork exemplifies everything epic and awesome about the super hero genre.

So there you have it, my 10 favorite comic book artists. Don't agree, well then, you guessed it, go make your own list.

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