Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Which Bronze Age Artist Rocked Your Socks the Most?

Doug: Perhaps by now you've seen the poll over on the sidebar that asks the same question. Since I'm not smart enough to figure out how to attach comments to one of our polls, this will have to suffice.

So, whether you voted or not, what's your opinion? Did you have a second choice that you would have loved to have shown some love (I set it up so you could only vote for one artist)? Were there specific titles or characters that really moved you when drawn by your artist of choice?

I gave my vote to John Buscema, which should surprise no one. When looking at the list I really had a tough time choosing between Perez on the Avengers and Fantastic Four (and New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths, if we want to stretch the timeline that far) and Neal Adams on the Batman books. I decided to go away from Adams due mostly to the bulk of the stuff I love from him landing in the late Silver Age.

Buscema, on the other hand, was quite active in the Bronze Age. While I'll admit that I don't care for him on everything, I'd have to cite his work on the FF (both runs), the Avengers, and of course Conan and Savage Sword of Conan as wonderful examples of all the goodness he brings. From heroes to barbarians to cars, gangsters, and monsters, there's nothing he can't make a masterpiece out of.

In conclusion, I might have included Frank Miller on the list -- if you feel so inclined, share a comment or memory of Mr. Miller.

NOTE: I've added a second poll below the first, which includes artists nominated by our readers in the comments section. Have at it! -- Doug


Steve Does Comics said...

My vote'd go to Jim Starlin but he's not on the list, so, of the ones who are, I think I'd have to go for John Buscema.

Favourite cover artist has to be Nick Cardy.

Anonymous said...

If I use your strategy I can knock Jack Kirby off the list in good conscience because of his amazing Silver Age work. (Creating, or at least designing, most of the Marvel universe and all.) Although I have to say that Kirby's Kamandi and his Manhunter one-shot, both very Bronze Age, did rock my socks back then. That leaves me with Colan.

Colan's Daredevil extends well into the Bronze Age, and it had a moody style that stood in such contrast to Spidey that it never failed to amaze me. I remember picking up a Giant-Size (that was actually a reprint from 1967) and getting my sock quite rocked. This moodiness spread over to Tomb of Dracula, with the definitive character design for the Lord of Vampires.

Honorable mention to Starlin, who should be on the list, Trimpe who I really noticed in "War of the Worlds" (maybe it was still Amazing Adventures?) of all places, and Buckler for Deathlok.

Doug said...

Gah!! I really apologize for not including the great Jim Starlin. See, had I consulted my partner prior to publishing that poll, that oversight would not have happened. Please, continue to spread the faith for Starlin here in the Forum. Man, I feel pretty dumb about doing that.

Kirby, too. The Bronze Age was a second breath for him.

Again, my apologies.

Red-faced with embarassment,


ChrisPV said...

Kirby's Fourth World was really something to behold, too. I love Darkseid to this very day.

As great as Neal Adams artwork is, I don't know how much credit he really should get on Batman. It's gorgeous and moody and atmospheric, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Denny was actively bringing Batman back to a point where he could be moody and atmospheric again. I don't think his work on the Bat would be nearly as well-remembered if it wasn't working with such a great story.

I'd like to personally nominate Curt Swan. I've been reading a lot of Superman lately, and it's incredibly fun to watch him get to move beyond the rigid house style of Superman (five stock poses, collect them all!) and really branch out and make the character dynamic.

And totally off topic, I have something I need to get off my chest.

I have never seen the appeal of Barry Windsor Smith's superhero work.

There, I said it. I feel like I've grown a little bit.

Doug said...

Chris --

I hear you on Curt Swan. Certainly his work spread into the 1980's. I left him off the list (I actually did think of him, unlike my total miss on Starlin) due in large part to his association with one character. Adams, although many associate him with Batman, did at one time work on just about every character at both Marvel and DC (if only fleeting and here/there).

I'm with you, too, on Barry Windsor-Smith. Give me his Conan (but a little into the run, not necessarily the first few issues), but I also didn't care much for his superhero stuff. And I liked him less in the late '80's and into the '90's. Yeah, call me a heretic.


Karen said...

I was shocked, shocked I say, that my esteemed colleague would forget the Mighty Starlin!! But I forgive him. You could also throw Frank Brunner and Craig Russell on that list, and John Romita Sr. could still fit in, although admittedly his regular input had dropped - he was mostly doing covers.

For me it would be a tough decision between John Buscema and George Perez. Those two were just such all-around great artists -masters of composition, pacing, and able to produce beautiful work.

I would agree with the previous comments regarding Barry Smith's superhero work, with the exception of Dr. Strange - I thought he was well-suited for that strip. His work on the Avengers though (when he wasn't aping Kirby) left me cold.


Sean Strange said...

If you’re asking which artist kept me buying their comics as a kid, then I’d probably have to say Herb Trimpe, since I was a confirmed Hulk fanatic, or Jack Kirby because I gobbled up his Bronze Age Marvel stuff like the Eternals and Captain America (and he’s the King -- ‘nuff said!). If you’re asking which artist, looking back now that I’m older and wiser, rocks my socks the most today, then I might have to go with Neal Adams on Batman or even Bernie Wrightson on Swamp Thing. I never touched DC titles back in the day, but I think those two runs have aged better than most of the Marvel stuff and are true Bronze Age masterpieces.

J.A. Morris said...

Perez is the first name that popped into my head,so I'll go with him.
He's not my favorite artist,but I like the 70s art of Sal Buscema,and as your blog notes,he certainly was the quintessential Bronze Age penciler. In fact,to this day,when I think of what comic book art is "supposed to look like",I think of Sal's work. I prefer other artists' techniques,but Sal gets my vote on output alone. Besides the obvious titles(Hulk,Avengers),I always enjoyed his work in Defenders,Captain America,Marvel Team-Up,PPTSSM,etc.
I love brother John's work,but mostly in the Silver Age. Never got into any of his "barbarian" series.
Honorable mention:Colan,Byrne,Cockrum.
Favorites who didn't do work enough to "qualify" as "the best":Rogers,Golden,Brunner.

Andrew Wahl said...

I had to go with John Byrne. From a column about my 10 favorite Bronze Age artists I wrote last year:

"Along with X-Men partner Chris Claremont, John Byrne is largely responsible for your my lifelong love affair with the medium. For fans who counted themselves among his “faithful 50,000,” Byrne could do little wrong during the Bronze Age. His X-Men work — beautifully inked by Terry Austin — was a gateway drug that led back to Byrne’s Charlton work and forward to his long writer/artist stint on Marvel’s flagship title, Fantastic Four. Success would continue far beyond the Bronze Age, though the artist has limited his output in recent years to focus on commissions. The circumstances surrounding the cancellation of X-Men: Hidden Years apparently left Byrne estranged from Marvel; here’s wishing all involved could find a way for him to 'come home.' "

Great topic!


Edo Bosnar said...

I'm also an unabashed fan of Byrne's art. After I started reading Uncanny X-men in the late 70s, he became my absolutely favorite comic artist bar none. I still remember re-reading any comic with his art in it three or four times in the same day after buying it...

Karen said...

I enjoy Byrne's art MUCH more when Terry Austin is inking him. After Byrne's run on X-Men, I was surprised to see how different his work looked when he had other inkers (including himself). Austin gave Byrne's art a very polished and detailed look that was often lacking when others inked Byrne.


Doug said...

Concerning artists active in the Bronze Age: Karen and I have been involved in conversations over the years about Don Heck. I am wondering if anyone can discuss another artist whose talents seemed to leave him/her as much as did Mr. Heck's?

I think Heck's early work on the Kooky Quartet in the pages of the Avengers, as well as his early Iron Man, is one of the highlights of the Silver Age. But then to see his work at both Marvel and DC in the Bronze Age is alarming. What was once his style had become overtly stiff; the beautiful faces were gone as was the illusion of movement. It was really a pity to watch that skill erode.


Inkstained Wretch said...

I cast my vote for Gil Kane. His Silver Age work on Green Lantern and the Atom was excellent but he got even better in the Bronze Age as his style matured and grew more distinctive.

Kane seemed to possess the best elements of Jack Kirby's style: strong, clear lines; clever use of perspective; a style that could convey both earth-bound grittiness and cosmic otherworlds; and an ability to instill dynamism in a still image.

But he had none of Kirby's flaws. Kane was great with anatomy and facial expressions.

As Marvel's go-to cover artist of the 70s, Kane is as responsible as anyone else for how Bronze Age comics looked on the spinning racks (remember those?).

His latter-day DC work was splendid too. He is my favorite Superman artist and Sword of the Atom is a weird, wonderful gem.

MOCK! said...

I went with Perez (mostly based on his Avengers and Justice League of America work) but passing Byrne/Austin over was tough....

david_b said...

Yep, Starlin gets honorable mention, but I'd go with Sal Buscema as well.

Sal ALWAYS drew so clean, and since Cap and Falc was my favorite(followed oh so close with FF, Avengers, and Spidey) and SHUDDERED when Frank Robbins followed him in CA&F 182, it was rough.

I agree Sal's Defenders stint was excellent as well, with YellowJacket finally being used well in the Bronze days.

I loved John Buscema's work on FF, so the Buscema brothers are my picks..

Fred W. Hill said...

The artist who most rocked my socks (& other clothes) was none other than Jim Starlin! I first caught his artistry in Captain Marvel #27 and, wow, that was amazing, unlike anything I'd seen before yet it (mostly) served the interests of telling the story and setting the appropriate mood. The Magus saga in Warlock was his masterpiece in that regard. Certainly there were many other great artists, including Sal Buscema who wasn't nearly as spectacular but still provided some wonderful art on Captain America and the Defenders, among many other titles.

MaGnUs said...

I'm gonna go with Byrne. Just a personal taste. Oh, and Sienkiewicz.

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