My Top 5 Inspiring Comic Artists
Last month as the years was ending Comic Book Resources made a list of the top 100 artists of 2014 and that got me thinking about who some of my favorite artists were. They probably wouldn’t make CBR’s list so I decided I would make my own list of illustration luminaries and whoever stumbled across it might pick up a little education on the wider comic book world and see some of the inspiration that goes into Atomsplit.
1. The frist one on my list is a French fellow that goes by the pen name Moebius. Moebius is most well known for his work on LT. Blueberry and Arzach as well as tons of other shorter pieces in Heavy Metal magazine. He also once made a Silver Surfer story for Marvel at Stan Lee’s request because he was resprected by Stan Lee as well as many others in his peer group. Actually, I think it was the Heavy Metal movie that got me interested in Moebius to begin with. What I like most about Moebius is his tight and almost deliberate hatching. He was mainly into hatching and not really into crosshatching and he used it to give his pieces soft grays that eventually gathered into blacks.
2. The second guy on my list of faves is an American illustrator named R. Crumb. Crumb is the creator many classic cartoons including Fritz The Cat, Keep On Truckin’, and Mr. Natural. He has been published in iconic monthly comic magazines like Weirdo and Zap Comix. What I like about Crumb is he is like Moebius in that he is a tight hatcher, but in many cases crosshatches as well. I like to crosshatch too and often look back to my many Crumb books to see how the boss did it.
3. The third man on my list is the great Italian Illustrator Hugo Pratt. Pratt created many comics in his time. such as war comics for Fleetway Publications and adaptations of classic literature like Treasure Island, but he was best know for his sailing adventuring character Corto Maltese. I have three Hugo Pratt novels. I have no clue what they are about, but I still love looking at the pictures. Hugo Pratt is a masterful scribbler. He is loose and wild with his thin lines and flat and blobby with his spotted blacks. If anyone else but an absolute professional like Hugo Pratt tried this their illustrations would look like a hot mess. This loose black and thin lines give his work a unique sense of playfulness.
4. The fourth fellow on my list hails from the land of the rising sun, Japan. His name is Akira Toriyama and he made the, in my opinion of course, greatest fighting/adventure/superhero comics of all time called Draonball Z. Of course he had a few other hits such as Dr. Slump and Sandland, but for myself and many many others DBZ is the most important of his work. The one word that I instantly think of when I think of DBZ is big. It’s got big muscles, big hair, and most importantly big fights, and that’s what I love most about it. As far as style he mainly keeps it traditional with a lot of thin line work in the background, the blacks up front, and tapering and shading with brush strokes where needed.
5. The last guy on my last is not the last guy to me by any means. This list could be read in any order and all of these guys would carry the same weight for me. Actually, I could go on and on with even more guys and the reasons I like them, but I’ll keep it to my desert island guys right now. Anyway, number five is a fellow American who goes by the name Walt Simonson. As far as characters he’s done it all, but what I want to focus on now is Thor. I have almost every issue of Simonson’s work on Thor and they are a big reason I wanted to get into this kind of work as a kid. The cool thing about his work on Thor was when he started he was basically told to have at it and boy did he. He rebuilt the entire universe and played in that amazing sandbox for a long time making many legendary Thor issues during his run including Frog Thor, Thor with a beard, and the introduction of Beta Ray Bill. There is a lot I like about Simonson’s work. He strokes loose and oftentimes thick, but when going thin he has a little of Pratt’s playfulness in his strokes. He gets in there with a lot of blacks giving things a lot more depth especially in the background where it would usually be thin. He’s a lot more like Pratt than the other guys on this list and just like Pratt I could look at his illustrations for days and days, never get bored, and sometimes find something new and cool in there. So there you have it.
This is a lot of the ingredients that goes into the Atomsplit stew and I always hope you find it tasty and enjoyable.