Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Who's the Best... Thor Artist?

Doug:  Today we begin a new series of posts allowing our readers to state their case (and kudos to one of our commenters for suggesting this sort of topic -- my apologies for failing to recall who (but I believe the original suggestion was for best Conan artist)).  We've had a lot of success through the years with our Open Forums, Discuss..., Face-Offs, and Versus posts.  Today we are asking you to consider which, of all the artists who have penciled the God of Thunder, is the best.  Certainly that's a subjective question, so what we're really after is the Why? Because! that you'll bring to the table.  We've already scheduled our next edition for next week, as we're optimistic this will once again provide a wonderful opportunity for our community to engage in conversation.  And as always, thanks in advance!


Anonymous said...

I think we have to do this as artist/inker combinations, don’t we?

Firstly, I think you have to nod to Kirby, but I would say his Thor art is only definitive when inked by Vince Colletta. I know Colletta has his detractors and he was famously too handy with the wrong end of the pencil on Kirby’s work, taking out a lot of the detail, but I submit he added vastly more that he took away and created a powerful and solid Thor in a creatively imagined universe, and for all that he is accused of removing detail, no one had drawn hair quite like him up to that point. Also, Colletta was always the go-to guy when strips were about to miss the deadline, so he is slightly unfairly maligned.

I love Adams, but he wasn’t right for Thor.

Hated Pollard.

Big John, well what can I say? But again, I make the point about inkers. I think his Thor art inked by Palmer is a high point. Doug has the cover of #276 above and that’s a wonderful story with great art (although that cover is plainly Sinnott, not Palmer).

I’d really like to put a vote in for Gil Kane. The only full issue I can remember him doing was 318 (the one with the Easter Islands heads on the cover), but he did some superb covers (205, 207 [the Halloween one] 208 209 222 223 233 234 [the one where he’s toe to toe with Loki] 236 240 to name but a few) and I think Kane’s angular, dynamic, wildly dramatic style would have been perfect for Thor. Real wasted opportunity there.


Chuck Wells said...

Kirby(as always)was a tough act to follow, John Buscema was quite excellent during his run on Thor. A personal favorite of mine; and while Simonson was visually interesting on the title, I found that the combination of Ron Frenz and Brett Breeding that followed Walt, was much more in tone with the early Marvel universe that I fondly remembered, and thus more to my personal taste.

I would rank Buscema, Kirby and Frenz as my picks!

Edo Bosnar said...

Since I noted in a recent post that he was my #1A to Byrne's #1, this is a no-brainer for me: Walt Simonson. All of his strengths really came to the forefront in his work on Thor: his dynamic pacing of action sequences, his solid, bombastic but never silly figure work, and his awesome sound effects. To me, Simonson has always been like Kirby ramped up to 11.

William said...

I have never been a big Thor fan, so I'm not the most qualified person to comment on this subject, but I have to go with Jack Kirby on this one. Aside from the Fantastic Four, I think that Thor was Kirby's best work. The character and his world was ideally suited to Kirby's powerful and quirky art style. He drew a very God-like Thor. And I don't think that anyone else working at Marvel at the time could have ever dreamed of Asgard the way the King did. All those crazy Kirby buildings and machines were so otherworldly, and they worked perfectly for a mythical realm inhabited by Gods.

david_b said...

I always found Vinnie's inks to be a nice softening touch to Kirby's layouts, actually complementing each other for a distinctive style, like a PBJ sandwich.

Now, if you had the Kirby/Colletta team on other titles like FF, it would be disasterous (Vinnie could never ink Ben Grimm right..).

I'm limited with my knowledge of artist/inker teams, but I look at Palmer and Colletta as being on opposite ends of the scale for both Kirby and Big John. I recall having an issue or two with Simonson and generally liking what he did, so I'd rank my order of favorite teams as Kirby/Colletta, Buscema/Sinnott (John, followed by Sal..), then Simonson (and whoever inked him.., again, my ignorance..). As mentioned for the Defenders issues, I tire quickly with Kane covers, and Adams was a novel guest artist, but not good as a regular.

Garett said...

Thor 221-225 is my favorite art and story, a teamup with Hercules. Buscema has power and grandeur.

Esposito and Sinnott ink, and of the two I'll give the nod to Esposito for his firmer look over Sinnott's smoothness.

I'd love to see a full Gil Kane Thor story. Also Garcia Lopez Thor would be great--you can see the powerful figures in his Superman stories, and the Hercules series he drew.

humanbelly said...

Man, I've been such a sporadic Thor reader over the years, too. And there's little artistic common ground among the artists that I've enjoyed.

Walt Simonson is certainly my first pick, as his run was the first one that kept me coming back consistently. What would you call Walt's look-- "Stylized Realism", maybe? He managed to create a look that was the perfect balance between traditional super-heroics and straight fantasy.

Next would be Jack Kirby, based mostly on his later Journey into Mystery issues that I have reprints of. Particularly a lengthy Absorbing Man arc that I'm very fond of.

Then John Buscema, as he depicts a Thor that is very big and powerful, and yet capable of moving with athletic grace. He also looks comfortably mature in Buscema's hands. Thor, to me, should be a character that reads consistently in his mid-to-late 30's.

Then the recent Olivier Coipel. A terrific artist who seems to have retained the cinematic, story-telling eye that so many other "hot" artists have eshewed.

I know this'll make jaws drop. . . but I was also taken with Mike Deodato's run (with the major exception of the "Look-at-my-tummy" outfit he came up with at one point; and I guess the fact that Thor looked about 20 years old in his hands). There was an awfully good artist hiding inside of that overwrought 1990's stylization. Note that his artistic style has changed COMPLETELY as the readers' tastes have.

I did kind of like Alan Davis' take on Asgard & its peoples in the Avengers Prime series, too.


Fred W. Hill said...

I have to give the nod to Walt Simonson as both as an artist and a writer, even during those issues when Sal Buscema was doing the art in a Simonsonesque manner, he brought Thor to its most consistent and longest lasting level of greatness, at least during the period of its first 25 or so years of publication. Kirby comes in a strong second and I believe Thor was really his signature series -- even The New Gods and The Eternals are rife with themes he initially explored in Thor and in one of his Tales of Asgard stories he even gives a glimpse of what he would bring to fruition in his Fourth World series -- the death of the old gods and birth of the new. And I do believe that at least by 1965, Kirby was the primary storyteller on Thor, with Stan's "writing" consisting of mainly of editorial overview and final scripting.
John Buscema certainly provided the best artwork during the long era between Kirby's departure and Simonson's dynamic stint as writer/artist, but IMO lacked the majestic, mythic magic those two titans brought to the series.

Rip Jagger said...

Bow before Jack!

Kirby was and is the definitive artist on the series. John Buscema brought a nice rugged aspect to the glory of Asgard, and certainly Walt Simonson took the toys and dialed it all up to eleven, but Kirby ably inked by Vinnie Colletta set the table.

Rip Off

vancouver mark said...

Definitely Kirby, for the sense of grandeur and power that he depicted, but especially for the outstanding run of creativity and character designs. The three-part Thunder in the Netherworld story where he saved Hercules from Pluto and the sci-fi Rigel/Recorder/ Living Planet story that followed were some of my favorite comics anywhere, by anyone.

Humanbelly said...

Heh-- totally a nitpick, but--- take a look at the cover of #151, up there. Where. . . where, exactly, is Thor's hammer supposed to going while it's spinning? It appears to be somehow phasing right through Thor's cape.

Boy, there's a "Scenes We'd Like To See"--- Thor doing the big hammer-spin to launch himself into the sky, and having it tangle in his cape, with the unchecked velocity hurling him into a nearby hot-dog cart. "Look at dis, ya big oaf!! Lookit my red-hots! My chips is all crushed!! Who's gonna pay fer all dis, Mistah Big-Deal Thunda-god, huh??"

Verily. . .


Anonymous said...

Big John; power, drama, an instinctive use of contro-posto and his women have an unmatched beauty.

Inkstained Wretch said...

Waaay late to this, but...

Kirby all the way. I would submit that this work on Thor was his best art of all time. It perfectly played to all of his strengths: The bold, larger-than-life characters; the kinetic action; the bizarre alien landscapes and creatures; the tendency to mix contrasting ideas, like putting a Norse god into cosmic battle...

Both John Buscema and Simonson were both great too though. Buscema was just great generally and I think Simonson gave his art a quality that seemed vaguely Nordic to me.

Vintage Bob said...

I for one never cared for John Buscema on Thor. I've never been a fan of Big John. He doesn't even crack my Top 50 Artists list. All his faces look the same, even the women look like men.

Sal Buscema on the other hand, could really do Thor well. Some of the Mercurio/Xorr the God Jewel/Sssthgar stories featuring Sal Buscema pencils with Jim Mooney inks were amongst my favorite Thor art renderings of all time.

Simonson also rocked.

But no one, I mean NO ONE, touches Kirby on Thor. He truly is the King!

spencer said...

I also cast a strong vote on Kirby as #1 by a long shot. For my second, tho, gonna go off the rails a bit and say esad ribic. I find his art to be awesome and very fitting for a god.

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