Cranboyz Online

A place for the members of the Cranboyz to share stories about Comic Books, Conventions and Artwork!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Popa's Horribly Long-Winded Dragon Con 2014 Report

I can only hope writing this is a touch less exhausting than Dragon Con was this year.  But it was worth EVERY BIT OF IT.

Here's the thing, I wasn't going to go to Dragon Con this year.  When I decided to go to NYC in May, I figured that would exhaust my fun funds for the rest of the year and that I'd have to miss Heroes Con in June and then Dragon Con.  Well, I missed Heroes but as spring turned into summer, I started to think I might be able to swing Dragon Con but I was kind of holding off to see who they'd have as guests and, honestly, wasn't sure I wanted to run the gauntlet that Dragon Con can be again.  It's a BIG show.  

Then they added Julie Benz, Darla from "Buffy" and "Angel" who's done all sorts of TV to the guest list.  I'd met Julie before (see previous Dragon Con posts) but, you know, it's not like I couldn't meet her again.  

Then they added Amy Acker.  She doesn't do a lot of cons.  She was Fred on 'Angel.'  SHE WAS IN "THE CABIN IN THE WOODS."  

I called my buddy Shane - "I think I can do Dragon Con."  Shane helps run an exhibit called The Armory and loves anyone who's insane enough to help out, so he supported my decision.  Besides, Shane and I always support one another's rash and often expensive ideas when it comes to fandom.  

Then they added Katie Cassidy, who most people know from the "Arrow" TV show but to me is the star of the "Black Christmas" remake and the good part of the "Nightmare On Elm Street" remake.  I'm a BIG fan.  I'd just missed a chance to miss her at Motor City Comicon.  I wasn't missing this one!

So I made my plans to go to Dragon Con again.  

Where to start ... well, at the beginning, which means, at The Vortex in Atlanta.  Once you get done reading this assuredly long but awesome recap I'm writing, bop over to The Vortex's website ( and check the place out.  The food is insanely decadent and the place has a really loose and irreverent attitude.  In fact, the one picture I took there I'm pretty sure Facebook would delete on my behalf, but you can find it on Twitter, where pictures of giant fake cock statues are perfectly acceptable.

Shane, our friend Nick and I spend most of our time on Twitter talking about The Vortex's patented Nacho Tots - nachos with tater tots instead of chips.  There are times during the cold Ohio winter, that the late summer promise of Nacho Tots are all that get us through.  When we get to Atlanta for Dragon Con, we IMMEDIATELY to go to The Vortex and order Nacho Tots.  This year was no exception.  And they were heavenly.   We were also joined by the Cranboyz' namesake himself, The Cran!  

My sandwich was called the Zombie Apocalypse.  It was two burger patties, pulled pork, two over easy eggs and BBQ sauce open-faced on a bun.  I pretty much could have gotten back on the plane and gone home satisfied after eating that meal, but we did decide to stick it out for the rest of the con.

Wednesday and Thursday (and some of Friday) were spent setting up The Armory, an exhibit of weapons, from ancient spears to the most modern guns, that's been at Dragon Con the past five years now, run by Kevin Dockery.  Look, anyone who's set up a travelling exhibit knows set-up and tear down run the gamut of 'oh, this isn't so bad' to 'WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH, GOD' often in the same minute.  It's a lot of work and it can be frustrating, but everyone hung tough and we got it done without any major disasters or blow-ups.  Sure, people got cranky here and there but it passed and no one held onto it.  You have to blow off steam sometimes.  

Oh, and 'a member of the Armory staff' may have hit one of the sprinklers inside the parking garage causing a mini-flood.  I don't want to say who it was, but for some reason we called the puddle 'Lake Cran.'  

Another part of our responsibilities is we have to work two shifts inside the exhibit, assisting patrons and making sure no one accidentally beheads themself on a spear.  Nick and I decided to work both our shifts on Friday so we could do the show the rest of the weekend.  A good idea -- but working two shifts is 10 hours in a row, and 10 hours in a row on the day where we were in the exhibit a couple hours early finishing set-up.  It was a long day, but it was fine.  The exhibit is fun.  We were aided and ebedded this year by a group called USA Knights, a group that does what they call 'MMA in armor.'  Basically they get together with huge groups of people from all over the world and do medieval battles.  "Like Medieval Times," you might ask.  No.  These are SHOOT FIGHTS.  They're REAL.  No, they don't stab one another and there are a couple places they can't hit one another (back of the knees and the throat basically) but the punches are not pulled and the goal is to KO the opponents.  They use historically accurate weapons, armor and strategy.  They ran some of the panel discussions in The Armory, too, which were great.  They know their stuff and they got a great reaction from The Armory crowd.  They were also really great people to have in the room for the weekend.

But after the exhibit closed on Friday, I was free to wander Dragon Con until Sunday night, when we did tear down.  

Friday night, me, Shane, Nick and our friend Kaz walked the hotel lobbies - which at Dragon Con is something of an Olympic sport.  There are 60,000 or so attendees at Dragon Con and over half of them cosplay for the weekend.  Friday night we just went around and took pictures of people, most of which are posted here.  There are a LOT of amazing costumes and the great thing about Dragon Con is you can cosplay as ANYTHING and people love it.  It's not just super heroes or fantasy or sci fi, there are people dressed as characters from kids' shows, from books, from any movie imaginable, Disney characters - there were 3 guys dressed like Kurt Russell characters, one as Snake Plisskin, one as Jack Burton and one as CAPTAIN RON.  They were having a good time.  The only downside to the night was that when you cram a big chunk of 60,000 people into a couple hotel lobbies, it gets a little tight and a lot hot.  After a couple hours, we packed it in.

Saturday my priority was to meet Amy Acker, who, as I mentioned doesn't do a lot of shows and who I figured would have a huge line.  Katie Cassidy wasn't showing up until Sunday so I knew I could get her the next day.  

I walked into the autograph room when it opened at 10 but Acker wasn't going to get to the show until noon, she'd been filming something the night before and was flying straight to the con.  So I started waiting in line with a couple other people, who were nice as can be.  Two hours in a con line -- that's NOTHING.

While I was waiting for Acker, Julie Benz came to her table which was right next door.  I met her before but when I met her last time she didn't have any pictures from Buffy or Angel, just headshots.  This time she had a great picture from Angel so I got that signed and we chatted for a bit about nothing of huge consequence.

As time went on, though, I was really on about five feet from Benz's table and could hear what her fans were saying to her, which was no big deal, until one guy went up to her and, I am not making this up, asked her why her first marriage ended.  She was, obviously, a little surprised but handled it fine.  When the guy was gone I looked over and asked her if he asked what I thought he asked and she said he had.  A few minutes later her line thinned out and we started talking about all the dumb things people say to her, not necessarily malicious things, but things that one probably shouldn't say to someone.  For example, Julie has dark hair now, which she dyed for a movie.  She said people constantly walk up to her and just say 'oh, I hate your hair like that.'  She said she's going to write a book called 'Things You Shouldn't Say To Celebrities At Conventions.'  As time went on and more people talked to her, whenever they said something on the list, Julie would look at me and we'd smile.  Look, Julie's like the most attractive woman ON EARTH, the fact that we were sharing a moment made this old dude pretty happy.  

Acker did show up, although it was later than 12 but, come on, we're on con time, and we had a nice chat about making "Cabin in the Woods" and also about "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," which she'd Tweeted about seeing after the first preview.  As most people know, if I can talk to an actor about musicals, I jump at the chance.  We also talked a bit about the revival coming up of "You Can't Take It With You" that "Cabin" alum Fran Kranz is part of.  She was nice as could be and seemed surprised at her rather lengthy line, which stayed long all weekend.

After I met Acker, I briefly met Emma Caufield, Anya from "Buffy."  I'm trying to get as many pictures from Buffy/Angel people as I can as I wander through all these cons.  I also met J. August Richards who played Gunn on "Angel."  He's about as tall as me, which I didn't realize.  He was very cool, too.  

Then I went to the front of the room and met Ralph Macchio and C. Thomas Howell.  I can't imagine I have to tell many of you who they are.  Macchio had the bigger line but they were signing "Outsiders" pictures together, although Macchio obviously has his huge Karate Kid following.  Martin Kove who played the mean-spirited head of the Cobra Kai dojo in "Karate Kid" was there too and it was hysterical how many people were cosplaying in full Cobra Kai gear, and he loved every second of it.  I posed for a picture with Macchio and Howell and both guys were great, especially Macchio who is just one of those guys who's easy to talk to and tried to engage everyone as much as he could.  At one point someone said to him that she worried they were weird for liking "The Outsiders" as much as they did and Macchio told her "you're not weird, this is why we do this stuff, it's great that 30 years later people still want to talk about it."  That was a class thing to say.  

Ok, Saturday night was big because I was cosplaying for the first time, as Dr. Horrible - from the Whdeon-penned sing-a-long blog that starred Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day.  Shane dressed as Grifter from Image Comics "Wild CATS," old school Grifter too, right out of the pages when Jim Lee was on the book.  I've done theater, so I wasn't so nervous about being in a costume, but I was a little worried that no one would notice or care.  It's not like I'm a gorgeous girl or a buff guy in a cool 'Avengers'-themed super hero outfit, I'm a 41 year-old guy who could lose a couple pounds in a somewhat obscure costume.  I got dressed and we headed down the elevator and as soon as the doors opened and we stepped out, within a few seconds someone said 'good to see you Doctor.'  That made me feel a little better, then a few seconds later a girl ran up to me and asked for a picture, which was also cool.  We basically did the same thing we did Friday night, walk the hotels and look at people in costume, stopping for anyone who asked for pictures.  It's not like I was besieged with photo requests, but a decent amount of people did take pictures, there were a lot of high fives and 'Hey, Doctor' or just people yelling 'Dr. Horrible!" and pointing and smiling when I walked past.  I even got into a scrap with a corporate tool, Captain Hammer, at one point.  People loved Shane's Grifter costume too and we did set out at one point to get a picture of him putting down a Deadpool.  There are a million people dressed as Deadpool at Dragon Con and we're old enough to know how lame Deadpool is.  The guy we found who Shane 'killed' was a great sport and got into the picture as much as we did.  At first Shane just asked for a picture with him and the guy said sure, then Shane said 'the bad news is I want to be shooting you in the head in the picture' and the guy just said 'oh sure' and got on his knees in a really funny pose, begging Grifter not to shoot.  Shane was a bit upset that only guys asked for his picture and only girls asked for mine.  Story of our lives :)

The whole cosplay experience, I gotta say, was FUN.  Everyone supports everyone and enjoys the costumes and the party and the comraderie.  The only drawback was the smothering heat of too many bodies in too small a space and wearing a full body suit and rubber gloves didn't exactly help.  My goggles kept sliding down my sweaty forehead.  Honestly, it was too crowded in one lobby, which made the other lobbies kind of dead.  We'd thought we might stay out all night but we were wiped out by midnight.  As a first foray into cosplay, it was the best, though.  Just sweaty.  

Sunday the priority was finally meeting Katie Cassidy.  I got inside the room at 10 but they weren't even letting people line up for her until 10:45, so I promptly walked across the aisle and waited there (if you see the 'restraining order' picture Shane took, that's when it was taken.)  When we finally got the line started I got into Cranboy Con Mode and started directing traffic and organizing the line.  It's what we do.  Katie got to the show a bit after 11 and, like Acker, had been shooting scenes (in VANCOUVER) the night before and had come to the con.  She was very sweet but did seem pretty worn out.  We talked a bit about the "Black Christmas" remake that not a lot of people like and she was really happy when I told her I was looking forward to a new indie horror movie she has coming out called "Scribbler."  

Shane wanted to meet actor Stephen Collins and get his "Tales From the Gold Monkey" book signed so I went over while he did that.  As he was waiting I said I was going to go bug Benz again.  I walked over when Julie didn't have a crowd and asked if she'd gotten anymore weird questions and she laughed and told a friend sitting next to her that I was the guy who was next to her the day before and heard all the crazy questions she got asked.  Yes, this means Julie Benz told someone a story about me and, yes, I plan to have that put on my gravestone.  From there though we had a pretty interesting talk about actresses in Hollywood, about how they're perceived, the pressures of looking young but, at the same time, being criticized for getting work done to keep looking young and things of that nature.  She certainly made me realize that telling someone 'you look good for your age' is kind of a dick move (seriously, don't say that.)  I'm under no delusions that if I ever see Julie again that she'll have any clue who I am but, you know, as a fan, it was pretty cool to have two memorable moments with her.  

The next thing I had to do Sunday was get my professional photos taken with Acker, Benz and Cassidy.  I had to go find where the pictures were taken and when I got down there I realized it was quiet and that there was room to sit on the floor, with a water cooler right there.  In other words, for a comicon it was Nirvana, and I sat down for about two hours and uploaded pictures, drank water and talked to people who were also hanging around waiting for their photo ops (including one lady who looked and sounded just like my late Aunt Margaret, which was bittersweet, she was kind as can be but it made me miss my aunt, which was a random thing to have happen at a con.)  

Late Sunday is also when Adam Baldwin of "Angel," "Firefly" and currently on "The Last Ship" popped by The Armory and was very generous with his time, playing around with the crew.  He likes to play with big guns and has been at The Armory two years in a row now.  Lou Ferrigno came down this year 3 days in a row and Peter Weller also came by (but I missed those guys.)  

Sunday night we started tear down of The Armory before calling it a night.  The USA Knights stuck around to help with tear down and came back the next morning for as long as they could to help us breakdown the walls and stage lumber for load out.  This was incredibly cool of them, way beyond the call of duty.  The plan seems to be for The Armory the the Knights to keep working together in the future, hopefully that's the case.  They're some really stand-up people.  (Check out their website if you get a minute.)  

There's always one night at Dragon Con where The Armory staff gets back to the room and just gets silly.  That was Sunday night.  We sat on our beds and laughed uproariously about the weirdest and most random stuff.  At one point we all googled ourselves to try and find the most ridiculous story about someone with our name, which I won (there's a John Popa who is a former pro wrestler who went to jail for mislabeling fish.)  

Monday was all tear down.  As tear downs go, it was smooth.  We got everything torn apart (keep in mind we build The Armory from the walls up) and loaded pretty quickly, then got everything over to the storage facility, where we loaded everything from the truck into storage.  Oh, there was one drawback for this part - it was 97 degrees.  In Atlanta.  In Summer.  We had a case of water bottles but everyone was still sweating out.  It was just miserable but everyone pushed through.  Cran went into his Buddha pose.  We got it done, though, and, by dinner time, The Armory was torn down and put away and we gave ourselves a round of applause, then headed off for the now annual post-Armory BBQ at our friend Lamar's house, all the food prepared by another friend Fred's wife.

The BBQ was great and we even had alligator (because why not eat dragon after Dragon Con?)  We all cooled down, talked a bit, laughed, Kevin Dockery, the head of The Armory thanked everyone and we gave ourselves another round of applause.  Hey, we worked our tails off, we deserved some applause!  

It's tough to put into words (no matter how many I write) but in terms of interacting with people - fans and celebrities alike - this was the best con I've ever been to.  No matter who I was stuck with in line, there weren't any dicks, everyone was nice, everyone was just talking about whatever and I bumped into a lot of line partners later in the show and chatted some more.  And the celebrities I talked to were also all great, no divas, no one thinking they were too good for the room.  Believe me, Amy Acker and Katie Cassidy were TIRED, they easily could have cancelled, but they made the show and they made you happy you took the time to come talk to them for a couple minutes.

The sad part is I probably left out a ton of stories.  Granted, a lot of them involve Nick's toxic ass gas.  Still, a lot happens at Dragon Con.  You should totally go next year.  Just don't plan on sleeping much.  But you'll laugh.  Believe me, you'll laugh.  At least if you're with us :)  

Oh, and at the end of it all, I got home with exactly one dollar in my pocket.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Popa's 10 Favorite Uncanny X-Men Covers

Remember when comic book covers were awesome and told stories instead of just being random posed shots of characters?  I do, too.  Mostly because I'm as old as you.  Probably older.

Anyway, how this should work is pretty obvious - my 10 favorite covers from the run of "Uncanny X-Men."  There's no consideration here to historical worth or anything like that, these are just the 10 that make me go "ooooh, that's a cool cover."  While the list goes back long before I started reading the book, it doesn't go long after when I stopped reading.  This is for a couple reasons, 1 - favorite always implies a personal attachment, so books I never looked at are a bit tougher to add to a list like this.  And reason 2 goes back to my initial statement about covers now being less awesome than they were years ago.

10. - Uncanny X-Men #251

I stopped reading comics for awhile, right after Mutant Massacre but it was this cover, seen at a drugstore one random day, that started to get me back into wanting to read comics again.

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9. Uncanny X-Men #173

This follow-up story to the great Chris Claremont/Frank Miller "Wolverine" story is pretty super, with top notch art from Paul Smith.  This cover tells us a lot about Wolverine and Rogue, who's in charge and who isn't.  Rogue was just joining the team and would take a long time to become the iconic character she is now.

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8. Uncanny X-Men #185

Or maybe Rogue didn't become a heroine, after all!  I love the image here and John Romita Jr. was on fire at this point on the title.  Rogue looks menacing (even though she's really not in the story) and Storm looks tough but beaten.

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7. Uncanny X-Men #141

Ok, there's nothing wrong with an iconic, historic cover.  If I need to tell you about this cover, you shoudn't be reading this post!

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6. Uncanny X-Men #209

I don't know what to tell you if you don't want to read this comic!!  And NIMROD.

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5. X-Men #46

Ok, our one jump into the way, way back machine.  I love covers that imply the heroes are beaten, as heroes should always be.

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4. Uncanny X-Men #168

Another dramatic character shot.  I guess I don't love noisy covers with a million things going on.  This cover says "Kitty's Last Stand" to me and Paul Smith always drew a great Kitty, even if she wouldn't be given the correct costume until a later date (but that's a blog post for another time.)

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3. Uncanny X-Men #207

See?  Another dramatic character shot.  As a kid especially, this cover was the greatest thing in the history of mankind.  This is when Wolverine was awesome.  Some of you don't know Wolverine used to be awesome.  Now you think Deadpool is awesome.  You're wrong.

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2. Uncanny X-Men #145


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1. Uncanny X-Men #101

Yes, this one's iconic too.  It's also the first 'expensive' back issue I ever bought (I think I paid $30 in 1990 for it.)  But this shot has everything - danger, intrigue, Phoenix's cool green costume.  And Dave Cockrum.

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Honorable mentions:

These covers were on various drafts but didn't make the final cut.  But on another day, they might have.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Andy's Top Ten Spider-man Artists

I’ve had a soft spot for ol’ Web Head since before I even started reading comics, back when I would tune in to Spider-man and His Amazing Friends every Saturday morning.  The first time I went to the comic store, I was mesmerized by the cover of Spider-man #1 on the stands and I was hooked!  So when Shane challenged me to come up with a Top 10 list of my favorite Spidey artists, I knew it would be difficult, but a hell of a lot of fun!  So, here we go:

10) Steve Ditko is responsible for the design of an iconic costume that has withstood the test of time. No matter how many changes the costume has undergone over the years, Peter Parker always seems to find his way back to Ditko’s classic look. Ditko is also responsible for the design of many classic Spidey villains. No matter how cheesy they can be, I always enjoy flipping back through early issues of Amazing Spider-man just to see the energy present in those early stories.

9) Erik Larsen was penciling the Amazing Spider-man when I first started buying comics.  I’ve always enjoyed how wonderfully dynamic and acrobatic Larsen’s Spidey was.  Also, Web-Head has the best Rogue’s Gallery there is, and I think Larsen drew them as the bad-asses they were always supposed to be.

8) Todd McFarlane’s adjective-less Spider-man book was the first Spidey comic I ever bought, and it did not disappoint!  My favorite part of reading any McFarlane Spidey book was the sheer amount of detail he managed to put into each and every page.  From the intricate backgrounds right down to the webbing on the costum, I could get lost on those panels as I read.

7) Pat Olliffe was responsible for most of the fantastic Untold Tales of Spider-man series.  Pat really channeled the classic look of the Ditko/Romita era of Spidey, to tell stories that were interwoven amongst Peter Parker’s earliest adventures.  The art was clean, bright and fun and Pat’s style lent itself well to a classic superhero book.

6) Ron Frenz is a classic Marvel artist, and his work on Amazing Spider-man is simply terrific.  He make the Wall Crawler jump off the page and his work is a favorite to revisit.  He’s also a hell of a lot of fun to talk to and get original artwork from at conventions!

5) John Romita, Jr.’s Spidey is just a fantastic rendition.  His father’s style is clearly an inspiration, but he draws Spidey like no other.  Some of his best work on Spidey has portrayed him as a dark, gritty, street-level hero, but still with a touch of classic superhero.  It’s a take that I think no-one else can quite capture the way he can. 

4) Mark Bagley had lengthy runs on two Spidey books that I enjoyed over my years of reading.  He had big shoes to fill on Amazing Spider-man after Erik Larsen’s departure, but I remember loving his art right away when he jumped in with the New Warriors.  Later, after not having read too many new Spidey comics for awhile, Bagley’s art drew me back with Ultimate Spider-man, where he made his work on Amazing seem like practice.

3) Gil Kane is one of the two men responsible for molding Ditko’s Spidey into one of Marvel’s flagship characters.  Along with Romita, Sr., Kane helped define the look of Spidey and his cast of characters for years to come and when I get into a mood to read classic Spidey stories, Kane is one of the ones I turn to.

2) John Romita, Sr. took Ditko’s original design for Spidey and made it a classic!  During his tenure on Amazing Spider-man, he polished up the look of ol’ Web Head and transformed him into the superhero he is today.  His mark on the character and his supporting cast has remained constantly visible in the production of both comics and film, and he is one of the best artists to revist.

1) Mike Wieringo drew my favorite rendition of Spider-man.  His style seemed to incorporate elements from my favorite parts of comic books and animation, which really lends itself well to a Spidey book.  His work was always fun and lighthearted and was a perfect fit to tell the stories of Peter Parker.  I felt extremely fortunate to actually get a sketch of Spidey from him at the 2004 Heroes Convention.  I never grow tired of looking at that sketch, nor any of ‘Ringo’s Spider-man art.

Honorable Mention: Alex Ross
I couldn’t really post the final list without at least mentioning Alex Ross.  When I originally made the list, I left Ross off due to his style being more illustrative in nature, but his work on the fourth issue of Marvels is really some of my favorite Spidey art there is.  Here is another artist that can successfully channel the classic Spidey artists, while creating his own take on the character.  The photorealistic nature of his work makes it all the more interesting and gives me a reason to revisit that book often.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Popa's 10 Favorite Wolverine Artists

I couldn't pass up the trend of favorite artist lists - the only catch is I don't really have one main character that I'm associated with - and the characters I am associated with probably don't even have 10 artists that have drawn them!  I mean - the 10 favorite Tiger Shark artists would be pretty short.

I thought about doing just X-Men artists but that's pretty broad and I trying to figure out what books to count and which not annoyed me so I went a LITTLE smaller - but not much.


In as much an order as these things can be.

10. Andy Kubert

I love the dynamics of Andy's style - his faces can be a little off sometimes but when he's drawing a costumed Wolverine in full bad assery, he's pretty tough to beat.

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9. Jim Lee

Jim Lee drew the Wolverine of record in the 90's and it's tough to dispute that he drew a pretty fine one.  Jim Lee's Wolverine was always in full pin-up action mode.

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8. Marc Silvestri

By contrast, finding a big splash of Wolverine by Silvestri was tougher than I imagined (at least finding one online anyway.) Silvestri didn't get really splashy with his art until he left for Image.  Still, his Wolverine was top notch and I've always thought Jim Lee's X-Stuff was heavily influenced by Silvestri.  And I'll always like Marc better.

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7. Rick Leonardi

While Leonardi only did fill-in work on X-Men he did so much of it that I consider him a regular X-Men artist.  And he drew the first big Wolverine/Sabretooth fight to boot!  Leonardi's stuff was loose and sketchy but his Wolverine was always right on.

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6. Frank Miller

Frank made Wolverine his own and really created the out of costume Wolverine look that most artists still use today.  He also gave him the Samurai sword claws.   Frank added a lot of depth, shadow and mood to Wolverine, which made him a different super hero than a lot of people were used to.

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5. John Buscema

Big John Buscema draws everything right, especially tough guys.  He drew the first Marvel Comics Presents arcs with Wolvie as well as the beginning of Wolverine's solo series.  Everyone looks tougher when John Buscema draws them.

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4. Paul Smith

On the other hand, Paul Smith draws everyone sleek and clean and his Wolverine is no different.  But who doesn't love a Paul Smith Wolverine?

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3. Art Adams

Well, this is the Wolverine shot heard 'round the world, right?  Art gave Wolvie this perfect pose and always gave us a kinetic and intense Wolverine.  Asgardian Wars, baby.  ASGARDIAN WARS.  (And those spectacular Classic X-Men covers.)

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2. John Byrne

No matter what people do with Wolverine, it really all starts with John Byrne.  He not only gave the character his brown (and still best) costume, he also drew the classic X-Men stories that took Wolverine from one guy on the team to the break-out star of the book.  The Hellfire Club story should keep Byrne near the top of this list pretty much forever.

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1. John Romita Jr.

As much as I go crazy for everyone on this list, John Romita Jr. drew the Wolverine of my youth when I started reading comics and that'll always be the tops for me.  Romita Jr. draws a thick and powerhouse Wolverine that is just the right combination of Byrne's splashy superheroics and Miller's street-level ninja warrior.  Claremont and Romita Jr. put Wolverine through the ringer and you could see it in Romita's Jr.'s art - this wasn't invincible sociopath Wolverine, this was tough as nails Wolverine who took his licks but kept coming, even when he could barely get up afterward.

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In fact, I found a page from Uncanny 195 to show off more what I mean - there's so much character in this page - Wolverine in a tracking pose, but also sly and charismatic as he talks to Katie Power and, thanks to Claremont, still busting Kitty's balls as she leads her first mission.  (Also note Kitty's correct costume, but that's a blog post for another day.)

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HONORABLE MENTIONS - Lee Weeks and Steve Epting have drawn great Wolverine images but not a lot of them, Mike Zeck drew that classic cover of Wolverine and Captain America but, again, not a lot more.  Alan Davis has drawn a ton of Wolverine but just missed the cut, same with Mark Texeira who was over the top but that's what I like about Tex.

Lots of guys left off, of course, but with a character this popular, everyone's gotten their shot.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My top 10 Iron Man artists.

A Few weeks ago Shane challenged me to come up with my top 10 Iron Man artists and it got me started thinking (there are a few surprises in there), it has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. Anyway, here goes nothing...

Before I get into it though I should mention that I started reading Iron Man at issue #198. The first three artists on those first three books were Sal Buscema, Herb Trimpe and Mark Bright! I am not sure how you can get off to a better start than that.

Anyway... here goes nothing.

Honorable mention:

Tom Morgan (Issues #307-319)

Tom did a run toward the end of the first series. Issue 319 was an issue where I believe he said "It's going downhill from here. Better get off the ship. He did stories that involved the Mandarin, War Machine, Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo, Cap, and Black Widow. Very solid artwork, especially considering the armor he had to work with. My book met him once and is grateful for it!

10) Kevin Hopgood (issues 280-288, 290-297, 299-306)

Kevin transitioned Iron Man through War Machine to the armor that was used in the television show. Both are difficult to draw without making them look crappy. It was a good run with a lot of great covers. Very solid.

9) Don Heck (Tales of Suspense 46-62, 64-72)

Don Heck was one of the original Iron Man artists and although the style is simple I adore the classic looks and this was a period where they were being innovative (for the time) and subtle changes were being made(look at the rivets in the mask)..

8) Gene Colan (issues 1, 253, Annual 10, 13, 15 Tales of Suspense issues 39, 73-99, Iron Man/SubMariner #1)

A legend. Classic style that was very consistent. Lots of longevity as well. I love the cover to issue #1.

7) George Tuska (issues 5-13, 15-24, 32, 38, 40-46, 48-54, 57-61, 63-72, 78-79, 86-92, 96-106, Annual 4)

I met George Tuska at a show back in the 90's(and embarrassed myself greatly in the process) and since then I have really grown to appreciate his work on Iron Man. He created the looks of many characters over his run and although later in his life I feel all of his artwork looked the same, I have great respect for the groundbreaking artist who were consistent and were able to do it without computers or other modern technology.

6) Paul Ryan (Issues 202, 267-273, 275-279, vol. 3 issues 34, 36)

I am surprised that Paul Ryan ended up this low on my list since I LOVE his work so much.  Most of the work he did was during the period with the bubble arms and legs Iron Man and everyone that had draw it made it look more cartoonish and less clean than I generally like. If he would have done more work in other periods he would be higher on the list. Still, I love Paul Ryan's work!


5) Herb Trimpe (issues 39, 82-85, 93-94, 113, 199, 246, 251-252, 255)

Herb Trimpe penciled the second issue of Iron Man that I ever purchased and although his work on Iron Man is not terribly extensive I have a soft spot in my heart for his work because of it. Once again, a master of consistency and polish. What is not to like?

Gotta love Iron Man mask emotion!!!

4) Luke McDonnell (issues 163-195, Annual 7)

Luke McDonnell does an excellent job of the essence of Iron Man and even when Rhodey takes over he is able to portray Rhodey's personality in the armor's look. He had longevity and was the artist through some of the most classic of stories. He also drew my favorite issue, Assistant editor's month Iron Man #178. A great run and very consistent.

3) Bob Layton (issues 91, 116-128, 130-135, 137-153, 215-244, 246-250, 254, 256, vol. 3 issues 2, 25, Bad Blood 1-4, Legacy of Doom 1-4)

Bob Layton is an absolute legend as far as Iron Man is concerned and would probably be higher on the list if he wasn't such an arrogant douche bag. He also did a lot of covers and inked many issues but did not draw as many as you would think. I have not had any luck getting what I want from him over the years although what he gave me has been excellent. His artwork is clean and consistent and he designed several versions of the armor over the yearsv(although he won't draw at least one of them but I'm not bitter about it).


2) John Romita jr (issues 115-117, 119-121, 123-128, 141-150, 152-156, 256, 258-266)

I absolutely love John Romita jr's work and he is a really cool guy. I met him at a Motor City Con in the late 90's. He was walking up the aisle, slid across the table, sat down and started drawing. After he was done with my sketch he looked up at me and said my sketch was the easiest sketch he had ever done! It had taken him about a minute to do! Great style during a time when they were making lots of changes to the armor. He also draws a great drunk Tony!! (!Issue 128 is the Demon in a Bottle issue)


1) Mark Bright (issues 200-201, 203-208, 210, 215-217, 220-223, 225-231, 274, Annual 9, 15)

I absolutely love Mark Bright's take on Iron Man. From the Silver Centurion, which if not drawn with conviction looks like a crappy transformer, to the return of the traditional look, his work was always solid and worthy of a second and third look. He had longevity and did the pencils throughout the Armor Wars story. Anyone who can draw armors and make them always look great is amazing in my book.
 I absolutely adore the cover to 215.

Well that is what I have come up with. It is like choosing which of your children you like the best. Thank you for your time.