Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bracketology: The Best Penciler of the Bronze Age Starts Here!


Doug:  Here it is, kids -- the complete Best Penciler of the Bronze Age bracket!  I tried to fill it out as randomly as possible.  I recorded the nominees in the order that our readers suggested them, and then worked them onto the bracket in groups of four.  With each group of four, I put one artist in each quadrant, on the corresponding line.  Then I got the next four, and placed them.  I took just a few liberties:
  • I pulled the four artists that you see with a 1st-round bye and put them in those places of honor.  As the bracket adminstrator, I felt that I had the right to do that, so I hope you'll support that.
  • I looked at the four quadrants and then tried to balance them out -- at times, this meant exchanging artists across quadrants to create interesting match-ups in certain places and in others avoid big-timers going up against each other in the 1st round.  Obviously I did not always do the latter, as the Frank Miller-Jack Kirby opening round match-up attests.
  • No seeding per se took place; the quality of the nominees necessitates that overall some very good artists will exit early.
Doug:  So again, here is how you should vote:
  • We are only considering work that was new in the Bronze Age (1970-85); reprinted material should not be considered, nor should output done in prior or succeeding years.
  • Please vote only once, unless you are going to change a vote -- I'm sure there is some way to corrupt the system.  Hey, we're just here to have fun, not push any agendas.
  • We are looking for "best", not necessarily "favorite" artists, and all aspects of drawing should be considered -- storytelling, anatomy, backgrounds, animals, cars and buildings, etc.  Whatever your favorite book is/was should have no bearing.  In your own mind, try to be as objective as possible.
  • That being said, an artist's stature in the field, or perceived impact on the field, really shouldn't be considered.
Doug:  So here it is -- check it out, and vote on the sidebar!  We'll do the second half of the 1st round beginning on Wednesday.






40 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, I see no problems with your four picks for automatic second round placement; in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if those guys become the final four.
And looking at the results so far, I see it looks like Garcia Lopez and Miller may be hitting the locker room early. Oh, well...

Mike said...

I think I'm the only guy who voted for Infantino so far. I figured Starlin would win that match around these parts, maybe rightly so, but c'mon guys! - it should be closer than that.

And Edo ... Miller is making a comeback. For me, I think of Kirby as more of as EASILY the winner in the Silver Age, maybe not so much in the Bronze. I admit I voted for Miller, but even though I'm a Miller fan if it was overall work its Kirby in a landslide. In just the Bronze I had to go Miller.

Garett said...

Wow very interesting...love this even though some decisions are painful! Mike Zeck got a tough draw in this first round against Adams--too bad as I wanted to support him for Master of Kung Fu. Kubert was an easy choice for me vs Ploog, but I see they're neck-and-neck. Starlin vs Infantino was actually a tough choice for artistic ability, even though I far prefer Starlin...Infantino can draw very well, I just don't like his style after his early Flash stuff. I see Starlin is clobbering him, so my wrenching decision making was pointless. : )

Drucker-Simonson is tough...curse you Doug! It's like Sophie's choice! I nominated Drucker, so I voted for him, and he certainly has it over Simonson in faces. In other tough matchups, I'm going with Stevens, Kirby, and Garcia-Lopez. Reasons: Stevens I think is more of an original than Brunner...Kirby has that extra hit of power over Miller...and Garcia-Lopez has extra sharpness to his lines and anatomy, over Romita's more generalized look.

But all great fun! I love this...thanks Doug! I think the bye for those 4 guys is fine.

redartz said...

Another enjoyable exercise in comparative analysis begins! Taking out the designation "favorite" and placing emphasis on set time and creative parameters makes this an even more challenging bracket.

With these caveats, I had to select Dave Cockrum over Will Eisner. In many other polls, Eisner would top my list, but his Bronze Age output (other than the excellent "A Contract with God") is unknown to me. I loved the Warren "Spirit" magazines, but of course those were reprints...so Cockrum gets this nod.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Garett on Zeck...I loved his MOKF and Captain America stuff (and Kraven's Last Hunt of course), but objectively I had to vote for Adams.

For me the hardest one was Giffen/Pollard: both really good artists, about equal talentwise, both had great Bronze Age output...in the end I picked Pollard, but I could've almost flipped a coin on that one.

Mike W.

Garett said...

Here's a thought: what would Frank Miller's New Gods look like?
Or The Dark Knight by Jack Kirby?

Anonymous said...

Wow ... 'Sugar' Gil Kane and 'Gentle' Gene Colan didn't get byes? This is gonna be one tough vote! I'm pretty sure you'll hear some complaints before this is over!


- Mike 'glad I don't have to organize this thing' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Humanbelly said...

Hoo-boy-- my early-morning response did one of those "disappear from my screen" thingies. . . gnargh!

TOTALLY on-board w/ the four 1st round bye choices. I could imagine some harder-core fan types having an objection to Sal being there instead of perhaps some bigger or "hotter" names-- but even the term "best" can encompass some pretty broad criteria. Huge volume of high-quality work? Rock solid dependability? Looks good under practically any inker? Can be relied on to make pretty much every character in the MU look "right"? Perpetually worked at updating and expanding and improving his style? Heck yes-- there's room at (or near) the top for exactly that person-!

I'm finding the close Kirby/Starlin and Trimpe/Smith match-ups particularly gratifying. Don't know the final outcome, of course-- but glad to see a respectable competition at this point. And yeah, poor Mike Zeck had a rough draw-- geeze.

This is good stuff, though! Liking it a lot.

HB

Rip Jagger said...

Eisner fans unite!

It's an outrage!*

Rip Off

*Not really, but dang surprising. Eisner is one of the pillars of the field.

Garett said...

Romita and Garcia-Lopez are an appropriate pair, given their pleasing styles. I would like to have seen Romita's Superman and Garcia-Lopez's Spiderman...both would be great.

Anonymous said...

To ask who was the greatest penciler from the Bronze Age? That's a dangerous question, friend-o. With reservations, I'd have to say John Buscema. But the competition is so stiff I won't argue with anybody who disagrees.

Humanbelly said...

Ah, but the question isn't about "greatest", it's about "best". I know I might sound like a loopy hair-splitter, but I'm not sure they're perfectly synonymous--!

HB

ChrisPV said...

Man, you know this is going to be a hard fought contest when a fella gets all angsty about his votes in the very first round!

Voting down Mike Zeck was physically painful to me, but c'mon, it's Neal Adams!

Edo Bosnar said...

Not that I'm surprised, but I'm a bit disappointed that Bronze Age indie star Wendy Pini is getting trounced by Curt Swan, a guy who for me epitomizes Silver Age DC...

dbutler16 said...

Of course, there will always be first round toughies. Like ChrisPV, it was tough for me to knock out Mike Zeck in the first round, but I have to vote for Neal Adams.
I sure hope Kirby pulls it out over Frank Miller. Miller, along with Ditko, Simonson, JR jr., and Infantino, falls into that "I don't see what all the fuss is about" category.
I'm also sad to see that Jose Luis Garcie-Lopez is going bye-bye so early, at the hands of JR Jr.
I like Ernie Chan but had to vote for Iron Mike!
Giffen-Pollard was a tough one for me. Not only because I like Pollard, but because Giffen's style changed so much. I love his 70s work and despise his 80s work, but I voted in his favor, with the 70s stuff in mind, for this round anyway.

Garett said...

I voted for Pini after reading your plea, Edo. I haven't read Elfquest, but it looked good in a cartoony way. Are the stories good? I'm always disappointed with Curt Swan's comics...his lack of energy sucks the life out of the stories.

Edo Bosnar said...

Can't say I'm an expert on Elfquest - I read a some of the initial saga, and also read a prose novel (with illustrations by Pini) that covered some of the same material. It's pretty solid, though, and something I would like to revisit, and read all the way through.
Can't say I disagree with your criticism of Curt Swan, either. I usually avoided the two main Superman titles back in the '70s and early '80s, mainly because he was usually the artist.

Doug said...

Garett and Edo --

While I generally agree with your assessment of Swan's (and Plastino's, and Boring's) renditions of the Man of Steel, it does feel somewhat heretical to say such a thing.

Who is more closely associated with a character in our minds than Curt Swan and Superman?

Doug

William said...

I'm a bit disappointed that you put Miller and Kirby head to head in the very first round. They both deserve to be around for the later stages of voting.

It's like having Raphael Nadal and Roger Federer meet in the first round of Wimbledon.

How do you decide who to put up against who anyway? Instead of pulling names out of hat, you should do it more like a sporting event draw and give certain superstar artists a ranking so that the fan favorites don't all get eliminated in the early rounds.

Karen said...

Hi William, I think the problem with trying to do a bracket like this and assign spots for artists like sports stars is there is no quantitative measure by which to rank these individuals. Unlike sports, where you can compare records, we have nothing similar for artists. No matter what Doug came up with, it would all be entirely subjective, and bound to disappoint someone. I honestly think that the random selection was probably the fairest way to do it, although obviously it can lead to match ups that make for some tough decisions.

david_b said...

Agreed on Swan and Supes.. He was 'the King' on Supes and WF primarily in the Silver Age (probably THE artist on Silver Age Bats after Infantino, although never recognized as such..). Granted we're talking strictly Bronze Age, but Swan is definitely THE artist along side Dillin prior to Byrne.

To say Byrne is THE definative artist in the Bronze is partially true, definitely 'ending the Bronze era, but by NO MEANS the definative artist/creative force.

I really like Garett's idea on what certain milestones would have looked like with different artists.

Robbins or Kirby on Kree-Skrull War, anyone...??

Starlin would have been the best choice, given his latter cosmic storylines.

Doug said...

William, if you don't mind if I bill you for my time, I'd be happy to come up with some sort of seeding system. My going rate for work outside my normal salaried teaching position is, and has been, $30/hour.

As I said from the beginning, this should be considered as "fun". When the blog becomes "work", I'll quit doing it.

Doug

david_b said...

Karen, that's been the point I've raised here in the past.

A wholly-subjective measurement in an objective framework.

But, it's still BAB discussion, so let's all enjoy..!!

William said...

Jeez Louise (Simonson), sorry, I wasn't trying to be snarky, just making a suggestion.

Garett said...

Some images for Dave Stevens.

Great page from the Rocketeer:
http://www.comicbookdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/betty_full.jpg

Crossfire with Marilyn Monroe:
http://i629.photobucket.com/albums/uu12/brude2000/MISCELLANEOUS%20POSTERS/DaveStevens-CrossfireMarilyn.jpg

Ahem...SPACE VIXENS:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_PB-O1yT5EYg/TKvOhrzYkYI/AAAAAAABGAA/z_8DBIXjW50/s1600/stevens_1989_spacevixens3D.jpg

Stevens drew beautiful pinups, but could also draw sequential comics with character.

humanbelly said...

$30/hr for an established professional? I think. . . I think you're kinda under-valuing yourself, Doug. ('Course, you're operating with the field of education as your base-line. . . so the relative monetary value is already all out of whack. Much like being a public servant or an artistic professional or non-profit employee. . . )

Hmm-- maybe align yourself w/ professional baseball?

Personally, I think the angst of potential early exits is part of the game. And it certainly instills weight and drama to the process right from the beginning. And in theory still shouldn't change any final outcome.

Heh-- again, we can ask Mike Zeck about the Luck of the Draw, right?

HB

Doug said...

I am surprised that Kirby is hanging in with Miller, to be honest. Those voting for Kirby as a penciler must be thinking of his early '70's work at DC rather than his return-to-Marvel work. Miller's pencils brought an athletic, ballet-like quality to a book that seemed a perfect host for his style at the time. At least that would be my two cents on the subject.

If I'm going to grouse about a match-up in the 1st round, for me the true toughie will be Paul Gulacy vs. Marshall Rogers. Now that's not even fair to have to choose between those two!

Oh, and HB -- we think nothing of paying our accountants $125 for 30 minutes of their time each spring, but yeah -- $30 (if you can get it) is the going rate for "extra time" for an educator. At least where I live.

Doug

Garett said...

It would be interesting to hear why people like Miller over Kirby, or vice-versa. Miller certainly experimented with page layouts more.

Same for the other pairings--how could you pick that two-bit hack John Romita over the glorious Garcia-Lopez? : ) I kid! But I'd still like to hear why. Both drew gorgeous women's faces, attractive people, and were like the art styles of their companies.

For your Superman question Doug, buying the giant size reprint of Superman #1 as a kid cemented Joe Shuster and Garcia Lopez (who drew pinups inside) as THE artists for Superman.

Hey David B, yeah if I'm having trouble picking who's better, I imagine the artists switching titles. Carmine Infantino on Captain Marvel?

Doug said...

Another poll I'd be curious to get some rationale on is the Keiths Giffen and Pollard. Not even close in my mind. I do not care at all for Giffen's style, any era. Pollard, on the other hand, is a solid artist very much in the Marvel "house style" mold, which I guess I am pretty partial to. When I look back at the list I wrote for consideration (anatomy, etc.), I just feel Pollard wins across the board against Giffen.

Doug

medusa2005 said...

For me, John Byrne goes to the top of the Bronze Age list. (I was one of those teens that couldn't wait for those Byrne/Clairmont X-Men issues every month. Loved his Marvel Team-Up Spider-Man comics too.)

vancouver mark said...

I had a momentary pause before selecting Kirby over Miller (am I really knocking away Miller in the 1st round??) but it passed quick.
Doug, you say people voting for Kirby "must be thinking of his early 70s work," and that's definately true, but what did Miller do in the Bronze Age except for some "early 80's work?"

My favorite artwork of all time is in the New Gods issues I cited the other day, most especially in #7. There was a power, majesty, bizarre creativity abd very personal vision in his work that has never been matched, at least to me.
He did other great stuff like Kamandi (check out some of those covers!), Omac, the early Eternals issues.


With all due respect, saying that Frank Miller "experimented with page layouts more" isn't that much of an endorsement. I loved his Daredevil and Dark Knight, but always saw strong influences from Eisner, Simonson, and even Ditko and Kirby himself. He deserves better than a first round exit, but his Bronze Age work doesn't match Kirby's, imo.

And Doug I did pick Giffen over Pollard, most particularly for the great Defenders issues he did.

I'm saddened by the low support for Rick Veitch, but figure not a lot of voters may have seen "The One" or "Abraxas and the Earthman." Awesome stories, oncredible art.

vancouver mark said...

Wow, excuse all the pselling errors. Dinner is ready and I'm typing fast.

Humanbelly said...

I voted Pollard over Giffen myself, but I think that's because Keith Pollard always had a bit of a consistent "Sal Buscema" vibe goin' on--- where his characters always consistently looked like themselves (I seem to recall his Thing was particularly good, too). Now, Keith Giffen of OMEGA MEN was something I liked a LOT. . . conventional, clean, but good layout and storytelling as well. Honestly, his sort of Kirby-esque influenced work on DEFENDERS is when I started to enjoy him less-- too self-conciously stylized for my tastes. And then that ultimately gave way to his uber-minimalist, exaggerated penciling style of later years, which I abhored. Oddly enough, his layouts for JUSTICE LEAGUE (which were then completely penciled over) made for a distinctive and rather cool look. But he's just been too much all over the stylistic map for my tastes.

I'm judging Rick Veitch solely on his SWAMP THING run. . . and that was good enough to get my vote-!

HB

Doug said...

Thanks for the voting comments, guys -- I appreciate hearing everyone's mindset. There is no shame in being an apologist for anyone on this bracket. Every single candidate I'm sure has a following of their own, and justifiably so.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

The Giffen/Pollard match-up was actually the toughest for me in this set of votes. I agree with all of Doug's points about Pollard, but unlike him, I also like Giffen's style, esp. on Dr. Fate and the Legion. So I went with him, even though I still feel kind of bad about it (but then again, if I had voted for Pollard, I would have felt the same way).
By the way, that next bracket is going to have a lot more tough choices for me: not just Rogers v. Gulacy, but also Fradon v. Colan, Buckler v. Wrightson...

Humanbelly said...

Hey, I'm gonna go out on a prediction-limb, here, and prognosticate that bracket 53 will be John Buscema vs. Jim Starlin, and bracket 54 will be George Perez vs. Neal Adams.

*Whew!* Those'd be some Bronze Age heavy hitters in the playoffs on that left side of the brackets!

HB

Redartz said...

Regarding Giffen vs Pollard- I liked Pollard's work, some fond memories particularly of his Amazing Spiderman ( Black Cat's debut, anyone?). But Giffen really caught my eye, starting with his Defenders stint. Yes, his style shifted, but I rather like experimentation. Loved his Legion art, and actually got a kick out of Ambush Bug. Artists like Ditko, Simonson, and Giffen may sometimes lean towards stylization rather than representation; I enthusiastically applaud this!

dbutler16 said...

I liked Giffen's original Legion run, and that's what got him my vote, but I HATED his art in the second Legion run in the late 80's. I may hold that against him next round.

Doug said...

RE: Giffen.

Admittedly, I've not seen his run on the Defenders. But if any of you recall, I personally did not care for his art on the Great Darkness Saga, which we've reviewed. I felt he went with a lot of stock poses, most notably the constant (repeat -- constant) use of profile headshots. It was maddening, as I believe in some of the issues there were 5-6 instances of these profiles. For me that didn't show much imagination in creating interesting camera angles.

I have seen his second Legion run (never read it) -- uh uh. I would call that style "ugly".

Doug

Humanbelly said...

BIG fist pump for my man Happy Herbie Trimpe (Rhymes With Blimpie)gettin' through the first round! Woo-hoo!

Now, can he take down Keith Giffen in the next round? Ohhhhh, I know where my vote's going to go, but that could be a tough battle, eh? Ironically, both of them spent some time on the Defenders in its middle years. . .

HB

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