Cranboyz Online

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

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.