Posts Tagged ‘lists’

Recent Obsessions


Thursday, September 10, 2009

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(As sort of related to Comics Comics)

Doug Johnson (A King)

Richard Powers (Great book on him from a few years back)

Russ Manning (via GP)

Kona (L.B. Cole, ed.)

Jean-Paul Goude (because)

Lou Fine (Because of Gil Kane)

Gil Kane (via Gary Groth)

Carter Scholz (Best prose writer on comics. Ever? And no damn image)
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Inventors & Refiners


Monday, August 17, 2009

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The Onion’s AV Club did a list of the 21 most influential mainstream comics artists (mainstream being a slightly inadequate term to designate contemporary commercial superhero comics).

It’s not a bad list, as these things go:

1. Jack Kirby 2. Steve Ditko 3. George Pérez 4. Alex Ross 5. Mike Mignola . 6. Carmine Infantino 7. Greg Land 8. George Tuska 9. Jim Lee 10. Carl Barks 11. Dan DeCarlo 12. Steve Rude 13. Will Eisner 14. Joe Kubert 15. Rob Liefeld 16. Todd McFarlane 17. Chris Ware 18. Basil Wolverton 19. Harvey Kurtzman 20. Neal Adams 21. Bill Sienkiewicz.

The people who did this list are much better versed in contemporary mainstream comics than I am, so I think they have a fair sense of who the large, living influences are right now. Even so, I think they made a mistake not to include Alex Toth, who continues to shape all sorts of artists (like Darwyn Cooke, Mazzuchelli, Michael Cho).

And I’m not sure that Chris Ware belongs on the list: I wish he did have a big impact on mainstream comics art but I don’t see it, aside from a few design licks that get stolen time and again. Nobody in the mainstream has learned to copy Ware’s delicate color sense or his ability to think freshly about inherited cartooning conventions, not to mention the emotional range and sensitivity of his work.

Aside from Toth, who else should be on the list bud didn’t make it? I’d say (for a start): 1. Jesse Marsh 2. Bernie Krigstein. 3. Wally Wood 4. Russ Manning. 5. Jack Cole. 6. Gil Kane. 7. Bernie Wrightson 8. Johnny Craig. 6. Al Williamson. 7. Gene Colan. 8. Reed Crandall. 9. Lou Fine. 9. John Romita.

What’s interesting about the artists that didn’t make the AV Club list (Toth to Romita on my list) is that they tend to come out of the illustrational tradition. They’re not, for the most part, master-innovators like Kirby, Kurtzman, or Eisner. Rather, their skill was in refining and extending already existing styles. It’s like the difference between Buster Keaton and Sergei Eisenstein (on the one hand) compared to Howard Hawks and John Ford on the other. The question is, are artists of this sort – refiners rather than inventors – worth remembering? Or are they simply part of the flotsam of history?

We could also have an interesting list of people who should be influential but aren’t: 1. Fletcher Hanks 2. Milt Gross. 3. Boody Rodgers. 4. John Stanley.

What all these lists demonstrate, I think, is the narrow artistic range of the mainstream. The gene-pool here is shallow and hasn’t been replenished by outside influences for a long time. To find a more inbred group, you’d have to go back to ancient Egypt when Pharaohs often married their own sisters.

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