MY TOP TEN ARTISTS AS OF OCTOBER 10, 2017
1- Francesco Francavilla
I absolutely love FF’s work. Hands down, he’s it for me right now. It helps that I dig the ‘noir’ scene and the whole ‘suspense’ comic motif. I’d seen his stuff in a limited capacity but when I saw Black Beetle I fell in love with Francavilla’s work. His penciling calls for dark tones and turns around and makes them pop off the page. What’s most impressive about his work though, is that it translates to any type of setting and story. From the classic noir/suspense angle of Black Beetle and The Spirit, to the horror of Afterlife with Archie, up to the stars in the cosmic real with Silver Surfer and Star Wars, and even across the plains with work like Django/Zorro … Francavilla can draw you into whatever he’s drawing. Oh, and if you haven’t seen his art cards for Batman ’72 you need to Google them. You’re welcome.
2- Robert Hack
As with Francavilla, this man’s work translates to any story. It excels with horror however, and his current Sabrina work just might be the best on the shelves presently. You’d swear you were reading an old EC title when thumbing through if you didn’t know better. This man is putting out a Golden/Silver Aged classic horror book in 2017. Oh by the way, he also managed to make Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys covers jump off the rack as if they were bad ass hardcase detectives. He can go across genres as well as evidenced by his work with Dr Who, the classic Archie Characters, and even Red Sonja. Do yourself a favor and dive nose first into Hack’s stuff. Just try to remember these are modern books.
3- Kenneth Rocafort
I’m not even sure how to start to describe Rocafort’s style. What I can do though, is state that his work makes me stop and look. There wasn’t too much about DC’s New 52 launch that got me excited. I did though, like that Red Hood was getting a run … and then I saw some images from it. I had to give it a go. I also had to figure out why the art was grabbing me like it was, and again it was my love for the ‘noir’ type. Madam Mirage, this was the same guy. Fast forward a bit and the Ultimates hits shelves and IMO there’s a classic cover daring you to NOT pick up the book. Galactus may not have ever looked better, and you’ve got Blue Marvel and even Spectrum looking like they can go toe to toe with him (not that I wouldn’t take Blue Marvel to cover, because I would). Rocafort needs a scale like the Ultimates because his work MAKES a grandiose scale of things. Though, if he’d like to do some more Madam Mirage I ain’t going to be mad at him.
4- Alex Ross
Captivating. That’d be the word to describe Ross’ art. Portrait quality covers and interiors are what this man puts out. While I consider myself an old soul, Ross’ portrayal of classic characters gives my theory validity. The perfect summation of this is Astro City. Not only did/does Ross provide the covers, but he provides the costume design and overall look for the title. Marvels, Kingdom Come, and his Justice League work only further this narrative. Some of the best work that shows of his design creativity and prowess is the “X” line of characters/costumes/designs (Earth, Universe, Paradise). Another encompassing work set, Project Superpowers, once again displays Ross’ work in magnificent fashion. Most recently he’s managed to make Hyperion look more imposing than Superman as well as bring the Silver Age flare back to Amazing Spider Man covers.
5- Todd McFarlane
This one goes back to my childhood “didn’t know better and just loved reading comics” days. I remember ASM 298, 299, and 300 hitting the shelves and barely being able to comprehend how my already insane love or Spidey managed to increase infinitely. I’d never seen anything like what I saw in those books. For lack of better phrasing, Spider-Man LOOKED like a superhero, in the sense of what comes to mind when you hear the word. Oh, and there’s this new baddy Venom who is everything Spidey villains have never been. The dark, in your face approach moved over to McFarlane’s own Spider-Man title that also gave us a dark Lizard and guest spots from Wendigo, Ghost Rider, and Wolverine! Of course I followed (still ready Spidey, always will) when this new IMAGE thing happened and McFarlane lead the charge with SPAWN, who just might be the biggest and most influential NON “big 2” character created in my lifetime. Hell, the guy can emote and bring out detail in masked characters. When he wants to he can create images that simply can’t be touched. I’ll always have a soft spot for Todd.
6- Nathan Gooden
Ever wondered what JSC’s art would look like past the pin-up and splash page? Check out Gooden to see what JSC wishes he could do. Yes, there’s a ‘feel’ that falls in line here but Nathan goes so far and away it’s borderline ridiculous. Just go back and find Dixie Vixens (Creative Mind) to see what I mean. Three lovely ladies are the lead and Gooden portrays them visually with the differences they exhibit in their personalities. They aren’t just the same pin-up girl with different clothes sporting a brunette mop instead of a blonde one. Killbox (American Gothic Press) is another example of this ability. It was Powerless (Vault) that put Gooden in the spotlight, and rightfully so. However, he’s really busted through the ceiling with Zojaqan. Gooden’s work envelopes and engrosses you in a completely fantasy world. This might as well be one of the old Curtis mags as the Frazetta-esque painted wonderfulness shines through. The more work Gooden puts out the more I fall in love with it.
7- Clayton Crain
As with Ross, Crain has the ability to bring paintings to life. I really got on board with Crain with his work on Carnage U.S.A. The flowing symbiote form was perfect to showcase his talent. I’d gotten a taste with some Sensational Spiderman work he’d done but man did that Carnage U.S.A. rendition make me take notice. Most recently he’s been KILLING it with Valiant on Rai, the 4001 AD event, and now X-O. It pretty much says it all when a publisher that has NAILED its re-emergence onto the comic scene hands over its flagship to you. Valiant did that with X-O.
8- Jerome Opena
For me, Opena is one of the most complete artists out there today. His range of work lends credence to that thought. The bleak but real Uncanny X-Force stands in stark contrast to the brightly fantasized 7 to Eternity. Both, however, have that very real guttural and gritty layout that truly catches the eye. Those two books also illustrate his ability to more than do justice to classic and beloved characters, as well as bring a brand new world to life. What I find most impressive though, is that like Rocafort he is equally effective as a cover and interior artist.
9- Tess Fowler
Yes, she’s helped launch Heathen (and Vault) into the stratosphere with hands down captivating cover art. Heathen #1, in my book, will go down as an all time classic cover. It’s gorgeous and it’s real. The following two covers showcase her ability quite nicely as well. The wolves on issue 2 and Freya on issue 3 bring strikingly different elements of the Heathen world front and center. Do yourself a favor though and go check out Rat Queens, specifically #8. Tess is beyond talented and I can’t wait for more.
10- Ricardo Drumond
The Atoll … go find it. I mean it’s a story about people having to fight a Great White Shark! Drumond though, REALLY brings it across. I want more of Drumond in comics. The Atoll is like a high budget, all star written, seedy underbelly of the world force fed (ha ha) reality check. The pacing is frantic (in the positive way) and Drumond’s work is up to the challenge and then some. He takes Daniel’s pacing and pushes it even further. Can we please get him on more books?