Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Kirby with Ducks, goddamit!
July 20, 2009 1:20 PM   Subscribe

21 artists who changed mainstream comics (for better or worse)
posted by Artw (53 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the comments:

Rob Liefield's 40 Worst Panels

POUCH POUCH POUCH
posted by GilloD at 1:31 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was kinda put off by this when I thought it was "21 artists who most changed mainstream comics," but on closer inspection, it's just some random-ass bunch of names.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:33 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


No on from EC but Kurtzman (whom I like, but really)? Wally Wood is spinning in his grave. Neil Adams should be should be in the top 5, basically all the 70's artists tried to draw like him, most of them just didn't have the chops (see Mike Grell and John Byrne).
posted by doctor_negative at 1:36 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I loved Bill Sienkiewicz's work on The Shadow. He really understood the absurdity of the material. And it helped introduce me to Helfer and Baker's work on Justice, Inc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2009


Nice to see the wonderful, overlooked Steve Rude getting his props.
posted by Scoo at 1:42 PM on July 20, 2009


Not that I would know, but Moebius didn't change mainstream comics? ::pout face::
posted by @troy at 1:42 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hating on Liefeld's work I get. On John Byrne's, I don't. Byrne is as good as it gets for costumed heroes in my book. There is no way on Earth X-Men would have ever taken off the way it did without Byrne.
posted by rahnefan at 1:42 PM on July 20, 2009


I'm surprised they included Greg Land. Yes, he's a tracing douchebag, but I don't know if his influence was that great - I'd argue that he's more symptom than pathogen.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:44 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


In defense of the AV club, I don't believe they're asserting this list is comprehensive. Merely a list of 21 artists who have changed mainstream comics rather than THE list of yadda yadda yadda.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:47 PM on July 20, 2009


Byrne, if he really tries hard, and pays attention to his inks, like the DC reboot of Superman in 1986, can do really great stuff. Byrne on a regular day (like Mike Grell, whom I like a lot more), however, can be lazy and scratchy, and I find him almost unreadable. I object to Carmine Infantino for the same reason, but I can understand Infantino's inclusion. Byrne and Grell, however, even though they were better than average, weren't huge innovators.
posted by bonehead at 1:48 PM on July 20, 2009


Should be comic books. Simply "comics" should necessarily include the newspaper boys, too. Milton Caniff? Walt Kelly?
posted by Thorzdad at 1:49 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


They did a little number on Alex Ross. I guess by their standards, and the fact that he's probably too new, it's understandable that James Jean didn't make their list.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:50 PM on July 20, 2009


As much as I love Chris Ware, I wouldn't say he has had that much influence on mainstream comic books, unless there's some ultra-formalist take on Spider-Man that I missed.

I'd probably swap him out for Frank Miller.
posted by turaho at 1:50 PM on July 20, 2009


So ... anybody else have San Diego Comic-Con on the brain?
posted by jabberjaw at 1:51 PM on July 20, 2009


Byrne is as good as it gets for costumed heroes in my book.

Yeah, but did you see what he did to the first Hellboy volume? He nearly sank that series with stiff, unispired cliches before Mignola got a chance to turn it into one of the most distinctive modern comics.
posted by martens at 1:51 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, one of the most influential artists on present "superhero" art doesn't even work in the medium: Bruce Timm, creator of the DC animated universe look, of Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited, to name a couple. DC has completely retooled their whole juvenile line to this style (The Brave and The Bold, Teen Titans, etc...) and it's even visible in things like Michael Avon Oeming's work on Powers, for example. If anyone is missing from this list, it's Timm.
posted by bonehead at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'd agree that James Jean, while being mindblowing and awesome, has not had that much of an influence just yet. The same could be said of J.H. Williams III, in fact.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2009


Can anybody here explain the pervasive love for Carl Barks? I consider myself something of a connoisseur of comics, comix, sequential art, what-have-you, but I have never been able to wrap my head around how Carl Barks became a fan-favorite.
posted by lekvar at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2009


Yeah, but did you see what he did to the first Hellboy volume? He nearly sank that series with stiff, unispired cliches before Mignola got a chance to turn it into one of the most distinctive modern comics.

I think what's under discussion is Byrne as an artist, not as a writer (though, yeah, the writing on the first Hellboy volume is pretty weak).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:57 PM on July 20, 2009


Byrne and Grell, however, even though they were better than average, weren't huge innovators.

did you see what he did to the first Hellboy volume

LOL I'm remembering Byrne from Doomsday+1 and later on the Dark Phoenix saga, which at the time, was just better than anything I'd ever seen (which was a lot, but granted, mostly Marvel stuff). Made me go back and buy every "All New, All Different" issue, which, for a pre-teen, wasn't cheap.
posted by rahnefan at 2:01 PM on July 20, 2009


I know he's young, just does covers, and so doesn't really count here, but I love the work of Marko Djurdjevic. The covers of recent issues of Thor have blown me away.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:06 PM on July 20, 2009


You know what really changed comics for better or worse? For Better or For Worse.

*rimshot*

we'll always love you, farley
posted by harperpitt at 2:08 PM on July 20, 2009


I'd put Hergé somewhere on that list.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 2:11 PM on July 20, 2009


This list was clearly compiled on Earth-2. That's the only way I can reconcile Greg Land placing above Will Eisner and Neal Adams, not to mention the absence of Walt Simonson, Curt Swan, John Romita, Brian Hitch and, well, several others, obviously.

However, I was pleased to see George Perez getting some love. His establishing shots alone put half the industry to shame.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:11 PM on July 20, 2009


When I saw the title of this list, with its qualifications, I immediately thought, "Well, that excludes Chris Ware." Then I went to the second page.

Even for a comics-related list, this is incredibly arbitrary. They also included George Tuska (who could be swapped out for any number of other similarly-forgotten or -forgettable Marvel artists, like Herb Trimpe or Don Heck) and Greg Land (hint, AV Club: "controversial" or "notorious" =/= "influential"), but left out Gil Kane and Byrne, who has influenced a generation of artists who are, at best, only vaguely acquainted with Neal Adams. Apologies to Scoo, but no matter how wonderful or overlooked Steve Rude was, he just wasn't that influential. Frank Miller? Well, duh. And the maximum expression of fail, here?

NO JAPANESE ARTISTS ON THE LIST.

For fuck's sake. Even leaving Frank Miller off the list isn't that egregious.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:18 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Greg Land appear to be the first artist that came to my attention that phototshopped things in quite that way. There have been others since, and it's kind of a nasty trend. I'm kind of hoping that people will start rejecting this nasty crap sooner or latter before he really can said to be influential.
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on July 20, 2009


What, no Jim Steranko? Come on.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:30 PM on July 20, 2009


I could get behind that, Artw - Greg Land as an anti-influence, a guy who encourages folks to do the opposite.

I'm willing to accept rather a lot of photo-sourcing, really. Alex Maleev, for instance, relies heavily on photographs and his art is absolutely badass. I guess the difference lies in some other nuts and bolts stuff. Maleev has mad story-telling skills, which he augments with photo-sourcing. Land has zero story-telling skills, which he papers over with photo-tracing.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:31 PM on July 20, 2009


Rob Liefield's 40 Worst Panels

POUCH POUCH POUCH


I have to say, this comes up every time there's a comics thread. I know little to nothing of the medium, and I haven't read a comic since GI Joe when I was around 13.

And yet I FREAKING LOVE THIS. it's such a well-executed takedown that even a layman like me can understand not only how much Liefeld sucks but exactly why. And it's hilarious.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:36 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


*cough*GregLandPornface *cough*
posted by Pronoiac at 2:42 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's something else from the AV Club that kind of makes up for the crappiness of this list: Seth talks about cartoonists. Much more nuanced, and Seth distinguishes between cartoonists that were/are really great and the ones that he was never, or no longer is, into.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:44 PM on July 20, 2009


Even for a comics-related list, this is incredibly arbitrary.

Exactly. It really is what it appears to be: A totally arbitrary assemblage of people who drew comic books. The Kirby/Ditko two-fer up top makes it appear that it's some kind of ranking, but actually, it's just a bunch of artists they felt like talking about for some unknown reason. I mean, look, probably every comic book artist is influential to someone -- you could put any name in there and the feature would work. Other than sparking conversation, the article as an article doesn't have very much point, really.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:47 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Greg Land appear to be the first artist that came to my attention that phototshopped things in quite that way.

The autotune of comics art.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:48 PM on July 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


Heh. So exactly right...
posted by Artw at 2:51 PM on July 20, 2009


Can anybody here explain the pervasive love for Carl Barks? I consider myself something of a connoisseur of comics, comix, sequential art, what-have-you, but I have never been able to wrap my head around how Carl Barks became a fan-favorite.

I am not a comic connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination - I tend to avoid the genre, and I haven't heard of most of the guys on that list - but I did recognize Carl Barks.

When I was a kid, my dad bought a big hardbound collection of Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge comics. It was a present for himself, because he loved the old Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic books, but I read that book over and over, cover to cover. I loved those stories.

Shortly after he got the book, DuckTales went on the air, and it was the greatest thing ever to my third-grade mind, because it was like those comic books came to life.

I even recall giving a presentation on The Seven Cities of Cibola for one of my college classes for some reason.

I can't exactly speak for Barks as compared to any other comic book artist, or why any other comic fans like Barks, but I personally love him. The guy invented Duckburg!
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:53 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Glad to see Mike Mignola getting some due credit. I don't keep up with it as much as I used to but Hellboy's still my all-time favorite comic.
posted by kryptondog at 2:59 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


In defense of the AV club, I don't believe they're asserting this list is comprehensive.

Repeated for emphasis. Also, everyone complaining that somebody ranked above somebody else should know that the list, though numbered, is presented in more-or-less random order.
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:04 PM on July 20, 2009


Sucky list, or I'm just too long out of the genre... no Berni Wrightson? No Howard Chaykin? There's no Mignola without Walt Simonson, imho. Jim Starlin, with his stiff and awkward figure drawing, paved the way for the turd-rendering that is Liefeld. Barry Windsor-Smith's line work is the start of Jim Lee's. And if Chris Ware gets in, that opens up a whole 'nother bunch: Jeff Jones, Vaughn Bode, Crumb, Corben, etc.
posted by Bron at 3:12 PM on July 20, 2009


Yeah, that R. Crumb guy could learn a few things from this guy. Well, maybe not.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:15 PM on July 20, 2009


Ian A.T. - I wish they'd declare it was ranked or not ranked one way or another in the actual piece. The first sentence - "Simply put, no artist had more of an influence on American comics this century than Jack Kirby." next to a bold "1." kinda says "ranked" to me. But a few entries in, it becomes clear that not a lot of thought went into the order of the list.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:19 PM on July 20, 2009


Moore/Gibbons? Jamie Hewlett? Otomo Katsuhiro? Tezuka? Not that the list can't have Americans on it, but there are lots of artists who have had a broader, or else more recent and stylistic effects on comics. Comics beyond the biggest names have been influential.
posted by Camel of Space at 3:57 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not only Chris Ware, but Ware followed by .. Basil Wolverton? Influential on whom? Quick Monday write-up so they could be off to the pre-Comic-Con meet + greets? Why not cut it back to 19 people? Or was the author's love of Ware and Wolverton too strong to let them slip by?
posted by filthy light thief at 4:06 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Basil Wolverton? Influential on whom?

Well, you know that one guy was complaining that Robert Crumb wasn't on the list?
posted by Artw at 4:10 PM on July 20, 2009


I had been getting into comic books pretty heavily when Bill Sienkiewicz started drawing New Mutants, and his work, hailed at the time as the next big thing, cooled my newfound love to the point where I stopped reading comics altogether.

His drawing style always struck me as if he'd eaten a box of toothpicks, washed them down with watercolor paints and then threw up on paper and called it a day.
posted by xingcat at 5:50 PM on July 20, 2009


What, no Alan Davis? Harumph. Fine. But as far as I'm concerned, he's one of the most versatile, under-appreciated guys working; the guy can draw anyone, doing anything, and make it look good. He's exactly the person I think of when someone says "comic book artist."

And not to to defend Greg Land (because I personally find his art stilted, lacking any sense of "flow" from one panel to the next), but aren't the complaints about tracing a bit hyperbolic? He's drawn the Thing, Dr. Doom, Skrulls, and all kinds of non-human characters that would be impossible to trace from a photo, and they're in the exact same style, at the same level of quality, as the rest of his stuff. I get that he needs to lay off the photo-reference and put down the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues, but I don't even see how it's possible that he's "just tracing."

Oh, also: a big fan of Phil Noto. He's not super prolific, but man, his kinda-retro girls ... hubba hubba.
posted by Amanojaku at 6:21 PM on July 20, 2009


Osamu Tezuka.
posted by klangklangston at 6:58 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


What a ridiculous list. 21 Comic Book Artists Whose Names I Know; Some of Whom I Know Because They Are Talented, Others Because They Bring Infamy to the Profession
posted by graventy at 7:46 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metroid Baby: "Shortly after he got the book, DuckTales went on the air, and it was the greatest thing ever to my third-grade mind, because it was like those comic books came to life.

Hell yes. I generally dislike those Disney syndicated things (Darkwing Duck wasn't bad, but... ripping up Kipling to make an airplane adventure show? Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers? Pah!) but DuckTales turned out great, even after they added that damnable caveduck.

I even recall giving a presentation on The Seven Cities of Cibola for one of my college classes for some reason.

I followed the link. Just four pages in and I was hooked. What an awesome story.
posted by JHarris at 8:22 PM on July 20, 2009


Oh, another thing I realized reading both the list and this thread is that I don't hate comics as much as I thought I did. Back when I had the opportunity to be interested in comics stuff like McFarlane and Liefield littered the comics and turned me the hell off. I didn't find out about Carl Barks, Osamu Tezuka or Jack Kirby until years later.
posted by JHarris at 8:25 PM on July 20, 2009


When I was a kid, my dad bought a big hardbound collection of Carl Barks' Uncle Scrooge comics. It was a present for himself, because he loved the old Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic books, but I read that book over and over, cover to cover. I loved those stories.

When I was a kid, we used to go see my grandma who lived in Washington DC every summer. We'd to go to a big ass Brentano's bookstore, and I'd make a beeline for that same hardcover Duck book, and pick up reading where I'd left it the last week, month or year I'd been there. I never had the money to buy it, but it would always be there waiting.

One of my all time favorite books, I think. A tangible piece of my childhood, and a spark in my lifelong love of books, comic- and the other kind.
posted by signal at 9:11 PM on July 20, 2009


I have no particular objections to the list, except perhaps the omissions of JRsr and Gil Kane, but it really should be called 21 artists who influenced mainstream American comics, surely.
posted by bettafish at 5:49 AM on July 21, 2009


What a mediocre article. I understand some people don't like the ideas behind some of Frank Miller's work, but to claim he's less influential than Ware, Wolverton, Land or Liefeld is absurd.

Most of what they write about Ditko is wrong as far as the second half of his writeup is concerned (he's been publishing regularly since he left Marvel, has been very active over the last few years and has explained his beef with Stan Lee in great detail).

Also, I think Dave Sim is being excluded strictly on political grounds. He's probably the best letterer in the history of the medium. His linework is absolutely stunning. In a recent interview about his new book 'Comic Book Design,' Gary Spencer Millidge tells TCJ's Tom Spurgeon, "But in terms of innovation and experimentation, you have just got to hand it to Dave Sim, no matter what you think of his political views. Apart from the chapter on color, I could have quite easily filled the book with examples from Cerebus, and that's no exaggeration."
posted by antihostile at 9:01 AM on July 21, 2009


antihostile, it's been mentioned several times already, but the list is completely arbitrary. It's not ranked, and it's not the most influential, it's just a grab bag of artists they've selected as influential.
posted by mikeh at 9:31 AM on July 21, 2009


« Older Gordon Waller of British duo Peter and Gordon had ...  |  Jimmy Carter leaves the Southe... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments