Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Who's the Best... Captain America Artist?



 




28 comments:

Rip Jagger said...

Here's my list:

1. Jack Kirby & Joe Simon
2. Jack Kirby & Any other inker
3. John Romita
4. Sal Buscema
5. Don Heck

I've never been that crazy about Gene Colan's version. Colan's a great storyteller most of time but his Cap seemed a bit unfocused to me.

Likewise I found Steranko's brief burst on the character keen but he didn't do enough to get the nod.

Frank Robbins almost got in, but not ahead of the guys I put down.

Don Heck is overlooked as a Cap artist. He delivered a handsome version of the All-American hero.

Sal Buscema's version was and is still rock solid.

John Romita might be the best guy to ever draw Cap other than the originals. Romita makes that wacky uniform work better than just about anyone.

Jack and Joe though are the masters. Their kinetic rendition is absolute marvelous, an utter revolution in how comics should function. I know they aren't Bronze Age, but they all-time.

Rip Off

Graham said...

It would be hard to not have Jack Kirby at the top of the list, mainly based on his Tales of Suspense/Cap run, followed by Romita.

Colan's stint depended on who was inking his pencils to me, Joe Sinnott being his best inking partner to me...otherwise I agree with the "unfocused" remark.

I always liked Don Heck's rendition of Cap in the Avengers, and Steady Sal Buscema was always dependable.

I also really liked John Byrne's stint in the late 70's/early 80's. It just didn't last long enough.

Edo Bosnar said...

Regardless of how short his time on the title was, Byrne is my absolute favorite Cap artist (just as the Stern/Byrne/Rubenstein period is my absolute favorite Captain America run). Even years later, when he did that Batman & Capt. America Elseworlds story, he still showed he had the stuff as far as depicting Cap goes.
I'll also give a shout-out to Mike Zeck. He had a long and distinguished run as the main Captain America artist, and did a damn fine job.

Inkstained Wretch said...

In Descending Order:

Jim Steranko (Just three issues but we still talk about them.)
John Byrne (His style is perfect for Cap.)
John Buscema (Love his work on Cap in the Avengers.)
Jack Kirby (Yes, fourth: Kirby's style was better suited to cosmic characters like Thor and Orion than regular costumed types. Still, his exaggerated style is fun with Cap.)
Sal Buscema (His long run on Cap is one of the best.)
Don Heck (His Kooky Quartet run on Avengers is the best art of his career.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Edo – Glad you mentioned Zeck. I have not got round to reading his run yet, so can’t really comment, but several of his covers have really leapt out at me.

I think Colan is not getting enough love here. Given that Cap is not really ultra-strong and doesn’t really have other super powers, fundamentally he’s just the ultimate fighting machine. I never really got that from Kirby’s square shouldered, lantern-jawed quarterback. Colan’s more fluid style captured Cap much better in my opinion.

Adams/Palmer – I agree with Karen that they make Thor too skinny, but that kind of lithe and toned-muscle look really suited Cap.

Kirby gets the sentimental nod for the TOS stories set in the war and post-wake-up issues which were really more of the same thing. The Sleeper Awakes. Ahhhhh.....remember the face of the Red Skull coalescing in the shadows on Cap’s ceiling? I still do after 35 years.

Big John – superb in his 60’s run on the Avengers, but also that 80’s run with Tom Palmer. Remember that panel where the mansion has been trashed and the few meagre possessions he had in his locker are destroyed and he just sinks to his knees holding a Lou Gehrig baseball card? He looked super muscular, but also like a helpless child at the same time. Big, bad John.

Sal Buscema – no. I think we remember that run too fondly because it was so well written by Englehart. If that run had been written by Tony Isabella or Gary Friedrich or someone, I really doubt we’d remember it so fondly based on the artwork alone.

Steranko – no, I don’t think so. Those issues are absolutely superb – cinematic, noirish, innovative, huge splash pages, rule book? What rule book? Loved them. But are they in any way intrinsically Captain America? Does that style bring something to Cap that it didn’t bring to Fury? And conversely, does Cap bring something thematic to Jaunty Jim that he didn't get from any other subject matter? I don’t theeenk so.

So I come back to Byrne /Rubinstein. Because they delivered it all. The huge built broad shouldered physique of Kirby, the quickness of Colan, the sleek dynamism of Adams/Palmer. I really believed he was wearing chain mail and I believed he was wearing it effortlessly. Shame it didn’t last longer.

Richard

bmcmolo said...

Whew, what a question... People have covered the reasons for these choices pretty well. My own criteria is they had to stay on the book long enough to define a particular era of Cap. So, I'll go with

1. Jack Kirby
2. John Romita
3. Mike Zeck
4. Don Heck
5. Sal Buscema

david_b said...

Wow.., a SUPER question today.

In order of greatness (and loyalty):

1) Sal Buscema (with Frank Giacoia, perhaps Verpoorten or Tartaglione) were the definitive step up from Romita, Sal's the stalwart as far as I'm concerned as represented 'my Cap'. I mention those inkers because when Sal returned after Kirby's stint, inks by Marcos and Esposito weren't nearly as strong, but I blame the lack of strong Thomas or Englehart storylines as well.

2) Kirby solely for his greatness in those TOS stories, most of which comprised the Marvel cartoons of the 60s, where my love began. Richard's mention of the Skull on Cap's ceiling was an awesome example. The Sleeper saga and Cap's recollection of losing Peggy were the pinnacle of 'Cap by Kirby' story-telling.

3) Steranko, after a few dabbles of Cap art in Strange Tales via visits with Fury, his ever-so-brief tenure is considered landmark reading for it's style and innovative surreal artscapes (with Rick being hit with hallucinogenic knockout gas in ish 111), effectively lifting Cap out of the muck and mire he was allowed to slide into with Kirby after the first couple of issues of his own mag. I credit Steranko solely for making Cap's solo title both exciting and relevant again.

4) Big John, immediately following Steranko (um, "Who.. else.. could..??") with a beefier, more traditional hero style and zest.

5) I'd say Zeck, since like Edo mentioned, provided some nice art in unfortunately a lot of forgettable stories.

6) Byrne, not that I didn't like him, just seemed too clean and routine at times. Beautiful, but nothing too striking.

And a big shout out to Alan Weiss for a oddly-cool guest stint in ish 164.

As for Romita, loved him in Spidey of course, but just seemed too weak as a Cap artist, making me prefer Colan. Colan was super as a fill-in 'done-in-one' artist and did add some good depth and fluid motion, but I'd agree didn't depict Cap's fighting style as well as Sal or Kirby, which is different than say, Daredevil, which Colan's more well known for.

Great point made for Heck as well by a few folks here. His early Avengers art remains his finest in my book, his DD stint comes in second. Any other Silver or Bronze work ALWAYS made me regret picking up the comic ('70s Teen Titans and Batman Family, anyone..??).

William said...

John Byrne had my favorite stint on Cap (issue 247-255). It was helped even further by his pairing with writer Roger Stern.

Sal Buscema is a close second. He was the artist during my second favorite run on the book (issue 227-237).

I also enjoyed the book when Mike Zeck was drawing it.

William said...

For future reference John Byrne is also my answer for the questions "Who's the Best... X-Men Artist, Fantastic Four Artist, Avengers Artist (East and West Coast), Hulk Artist and Superman Artist."

Anonymous said...

Cap NEVER looked better than when Big John rendered him in his first great run on The Avengers.

david_b said...

On a side note/tangent, I was fairly disappointed when Mego rolled out their Cap figure back in '73. Was waiting for this figure MORE than any other.

The Kirby box art used was fine, but the head was obviously painted to reflect Kirby-esque intensity.

It just looked silly.

Inkstained Wretch said...

In response to Richard regarding Gene Colan, I have to disagree. Colan was a great artist but his style just wasn't particularly well-suited to Cap. A patriotic hero like him needs a more traditional style that emphasizes the heroic.

Colan's fluid style is better suited to mystery and horror, which is why it worked so well for Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Batman, etc...

Anonymous said...

Mike Zeck--

2nd place-- George Perez

starfoxxx

Doug said...

Are there any thoughts about more recent artists such as John Cassaday or Alex Ross? If you like chain mail, these two guys will give you chain mail!

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Chain mail? Isn't that, like, a federal offense? Cap would never get involved in anything like that ... ;)

Ray Tomczak said...

I've never really been a big fan of Captain America. I've always preferred him in Avengers to his solo adventures, and the best Avengers artist ever was John Buscema.

Anonymous said...

I'm going with Sal B. It's a close call, but that's only fitting on this Tuesday of all Tuesday's.

Simon & Kirby not only set the template for Cap in the 40's, but also crystalized that amazingly kenetic sense of energy they had at the same time. Kirby was great on Cap in the 60's too, but it was nothing like his brilliant work on the FF or Thor.

Steranko was mind-bendingly brilliant. But that's more for his overall design work, which is where his innovations lay.

Sal, on the other hand, captured the soul of Cap for me. Artistically speaking, Sal was not in the same class as innovators like Kirby or Steranko. But he held up his end on the Englehart run. And you sure can't argue with that great looking cover adorning the BAB today. Classic Cap!

I like Colan, but his moody swath of shadows never worked for me on Cap. Maybe if the Falcon had been a vampire...

John Buscema, Adams, Romita, Perez, Byrne and 60's Heck all did fine work, I thought. But when I think of Cap, I picture him as drawn by Sal B.

Just to show that I can conform with the best of them: I hated Robbins' work on Cap, and Batman. And yet, he worked for me on The Invaders, inked by Colletta no less. Go figure.

Robbins was an old-time adventure strip artist who switched to comic books late in his career. He was actually pretty good (kind of like Canniff or Sickles). I can see why he was afforded so much respect by editors at the time. Syndicated strips were considered the big leagues back then.

My brother-in-law gave me that Alan Weiss issue last year. It was beyond horrible. Well, not beyond Robbins-horrible, but pretty bad. The fact that the story and dialogue sucked didn't help.

James Chatterton

Fred W. Hill said...

I'll go with Kirby, mainly for the latter or so issues of Tales of Suspense, with the Red Skull, the Cosmic Cube, A.I.M., the Super Adaptoid & MODOK, among other crazy stuff. Sal Buscema is a sentimental favorite for his run with Englehart in the early to mid-70s. Steranko was too brief, but, yeah, what an impact! Byrne, however, really drew the best Cap, IMO, at least of all the depictions I'd seen up to the late '80s.

Garett said...

As I said yesterday, I love Kirby's Cap in Tales of Suspense from issues 82-100. It's vaulted over Thor and Kamandi to become my favorite Kirby work! Action nonstop, cool villains, some romance...and Kirby's art is realistic and detailed. I think he hit a peak in about '67, with earlier stuff being on the small side, and later stuff becoming too abstract and slapdash.

So Kirby takes my #1 spot for Cap. I loved Byrne's run as a kid, find it just so-so now. John Buscema is always great, so he's up there...Romita's quick run around #140 was really appealing. I liked Zeck when it came out, but now prefer his Master of Kung Fu art--he suits that title better. Colan is striking, but not quite the right mood as others have mentioned.

How about Jack Sparling in ToS #87? I looked at the splash page, and I couldn'a look at any more! : ( Garcia Lopez would do Cap well, with his strength and clean lines. For modern guys, I liked Steve Epting's run. I read John Cassaday's run, but didn't find he worked with Cap that well, just ok. I like Cassaday's art, but he's a bit peculiar, with so much sharpness in the faces--better on his X-Men run, or Planetary. I don't get a thrill from Gil Kane's Cap--much better on the Atom.

Anonymous said...

Gotta go with the original - Jack Kirby! Sure, you might not like how he draws blocky fingers, but no one captured the essence of Cap more than he did. Second would be Our Pal Sal Buscema.

- Mike 'Captain Trinidad' from Trinidad & Tobago.

vancouver mark said...

Kirby of course.

Sal Buscema in second place, and George Perez in third.

Unknown said...

Jack Sparling drew Cap!?! Yeeeesshhh! He makes Don Heck in the 70's look like a genius. I can safely say I will never be tempted to google that one.

Today's topic has illuminated a very important fact to me. Captain America has been rendered by an amazing number of the best that American comic books has to offer since 1941. There are two names that I feel should be added to the roll-call. Syd Shores, whom I believe was the primary artist after S & K left in the 40's, and Alex Schomburg, who drew those amazingly crazy Timely covers. They also served.

James Chatterton

Karen said...

I really like John Romita's version of Cap, but then, he was drawing the book when I first started reading it. Still, I think he did a great job on the character, and on the Falcon.

I also like both the Buscema brothers.

Anonymous said...

Joe Simon
Jack Kirby
John Buscema
Sal Buscema

Tom Spasic said...

Sal Buscema, closely followed by Jack Kirby, then John Buscema, then Romita (Sr.), then Byrne, Heck, Perez.
Sal gets the nod in part because he had the good fortune to draw the Englehart stuff, but so did Frank Robbins, so it's not just the scripts.
He's a great story teller, but can do fantastic action and "poster" type shots too.
To be fair to Kirby, I do think if he's been Englehart's artist he's probably get my top Cap artist spot.

medusa2005 said...

My list for Cap's best of:

Syd Shores
Jack Kirby (60's)
Joe Simon & Kirby 40's
Jim Steranko
John Byrne

medusa2005 said...

Whoops! The first line should be Al Avison/Syd Shores.

spencer said...

Repeating what a ton of others on here have already said:

1) Kirby(just...iconic.)
2) Romita (just had a certain panache.)
3) Heck (complimented the Kirby look.)

and for the record, yes, i agree, Colan, as good as he was, wasn't suited for Cap. (for all the reasons already mentioned...Tomb of Dracula, anyone?)

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