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!
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.