Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Greatest Penciler of the Bronze Age of Comics -- the Championship

Doug:  Here's the latest bracket, below.  Polls are on the sidebar, live since last night.  I've included a 3rd place match-up, as well as consolation polls for the other members of the final eight, just for fun.  Thanks to all for their comments throughout our little "tournament" -- it's been fun.


Anonymous said...

Good Morning all the way down here from Trinidad & Tobago!

OK just voted for Big John & Gil Kane - even though they look like they're trailing in the polls!

Seriously, though - I chose Kane because his output was just so consistent during this era; as for Big John, hey, you know I was gonna vote for him!

- Mike 'do I smell an upset?' from Trinidad & Tobago.

J.A. Morris said...

No question for me, it's Byrne. Yes, he's become an online curmudgeon who treats his fans like crap and his recent work hasn't done much for me. But during the Bronze Age, no other artist motivated me to pick up an issue the way Byrne's work did.
I even bought an issue of Ghost Rider just because he penciled it.
So as much as I love Big John Buscema, Byrne wins.

J.A. Morris said...

I didn't see the the other artists until now. I'm going with Kane over Adams because he penciled a whole lot more issues than Adams during the Bronze Age.

The other was tough, but I'm going with Perez, because his work has more diversity (for lack of a better word). Starlin did cosmic stories better than anyone else, but Perez could draw any type of story and make it look great.

Edo Bosnar said...

Well, my prediction for the final four (Byrne, Perez, and the Bros. Buscema), but I was pretty convinced from the start that the two John Bs would be the finalists. Normally I vote for Byrne in situations like this without thinking, but now that it's come to this, I'm surprised to say that I'm a bit torn - mainly because of that Bronze Age stipulation. During what I considered the 'high' Bronze Age (i.e., early to late '70s) I think Buscema really reigned supreme. So I'm actually going to give this one some thought...
As for the others, Kane and Buscema without doubt, while the Perez/Starlin match-up again has me surprisingly torn, probably because I've been reading all that Captain Marvel and Warlock material recently, and have developed a new appreciation for this work.

Doug said...

If we use the original criteria, which was to look at the artist as an artist - anatomy, faces, animals, inanimate objects, storytelling... then it's John Buscema, in my mind no questions asked. To me, it's like that 3-point contest years ago at the NBA All-Star game when Larry Bird walked into the locker room and asked who wanted to be second!

If I ranked these guys, trying to keep the subjectivity out of it, I'd go:

John Buscema
Neal Adams
Hand-wringer between John Byrne and George Perez
Then probably a toss-up between Jim Starlin and Joe Kubert


Redartz said...

Like Edo, Buscema vs Byrne required some thought. Both are responsible for some of my favorite stories, both have a large body of top notch work. Both made the Avengers look mighty fine. The tipping point to Byrne, though, is visceral. When I hear John Buscema is doing the art, I know it will be solid, well done, attractive . Clear storytelling is certain, as is a good read. Yet when I hear that Mr. Byrne did the art, there is a certain level of anticipation generated, as if waiting to see what visual envelope he would try to push next. Still, all in all, a very tough call.

Rip Jagger said...

Argument for John Buscema -

Buscema was a seasoned pro when the Bronze Age began, having worked in comics for many years at Dell, Charlton, and most famously at Marvel during the end of the Timely era, during the Atlas period and the Mighty Marvel Age. He became the go-to artist at Marvel building his reputation on The Avengers and the Silver Surfer. After the departure of Jack Kirby, he took over the reigns of Thor and Fantastic Four. He worked on nearly every long-running Marvel project. But most famously during the Bronze Age he became the artist on Conan the Barbarian, being the artist of first choice before being denied the assignment because his page rate was too high. After Conan achieved some level of success, Buscema took over and essentially worked on the character throughout the remainder of his career. For all of the Bronze Age, Buscema was the top Marvel talent.

Argument for John Byrne -

Byrne was a fan-artist when the Bronze Age began, but soon at Charlton developed his skills and reputation sufficiently on Doomsday+1 and Rog-2000 to jump over to Marvel on projects like Iron Fist and Tigra, before landing the gig on the New X-Men comic. He became justly a sensation and built on this outstanding beginning by drawing all sorts of memorable runs on Marvel Team-Up and Avengers. He even created his own series with Alpha Flight. His crowning achievement though was his epic run on the Fantastic Four which cemented his role as the guy who could deliver both in terms of artwork and writing. At the end of the Bronze Age he jumped to DC taking on Superman.

Both were clearly significant powerhouse talents during the Bronze Age.

I voted for "Big" John Buscema, because frankly he might just the best pure artist comics has ever seen.

Rip Off

William said...

I think that the right artists made it to the final two, but for me personally, John Byrne definitely takes the top spot.

Much like J.A. Morris, I used to buy books that I didn't usually buy (like Ghost Rider) just because Byrne did the art. And like Retardz, I always got a little extra excited about a comic that Byrne drew.

I really like John Buscema, but his artwork was just more generic than Byrne's. What I mean by that is that Buscema tended to draw all of his "normal" male (and female) figures with pretty much the same standard body type. For example I was just looking at an issue of the Avengers he drew and Captain America, Iron Man, Black Panther, and the Vision all had the exact same height, weight, and build. This seemed to be a common practice among many of the old-time Silver and Bronze-Age artists. (For example John Romita Sr. did the same thing).

However, John Byrne was the first artist that I ever noticed that started drawing each character with a more individual body type. For example, when Byrne' drew them Spider-Man was small, thinner, and more wiry than Daredevil, his Captain America was more muscular and broad shouldered than the Falcon, Reed Richards was thinner and less built than the Black Panther, Cyclops was tall and thin, while Wolverine was short, super-stocky, and oh so hairy. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. I think that kind of attention to detail really set Byrne apart from the other artists of the day. I remember I used to comment to my friends at the time how I loved that aspect of Byrne's art.

I also found John Buscema's style to be a little too loose and sketchy for my tastes. Whereas Byrne always seemed to have a crisp, clean line (some of which depended on who was inking him). Plus Byrne's anatomy and perspective was always spot on, and his artwork just had a certain dynamic aesthetic that really made him stand out amongst his contemporaries.

Doug said...

William --

Your point about Byrne's individualizing of characters is absolutely correct. However, what he put the Storm siblings through in regard to hairstyles is heinous!

Here's a thought: Byrne was best when inked by Sinnott, Austin, or Ordway; I do not care for him doing full art. Buscema, to me, transcends all inkers, even himself.


david_b said...

Agreed with doug on this. Byrne's later work on FF was terrible, way too sketchy, poorly laid out.

Buscema on the other hand, could make a bad title however ludricris or absurd entirely readable with nearly any inker.

Garett said...

I'm going with Buscema. Although I relate to the comments about anticipating Byrne's comics during the Bronze age. I think Byrne has an appealing style, but Buscema has a magnificent style.

For the others, I'll go:
Adams over Kane--Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, Avengers...I prefer Adams for his experimental dynamism over Kane's sculptural solidity.

Perez over Starlin--I think Perez's characters look more firm and well-proportioned, over Starlin's curviness.

Wrightson over Sal Buscema--I find Wrightson to have a more original style, over Sal's steady look. I loved when Batman guest-starred in Swamp Thing, and as mentioned a Dr. Strange story by Wrightson would be fantastic.

Garett said...

Doug in your Bracketology photos, I notice a pattern: clean-shaven artist, then bearded-with-glasses artist! What can this mean? : )

Anonymous said...

Since my personal Bronze Age favorites (Starlin, Simonson, Wrightson, Windsor-Smith) were knocked out in earlier rounds, I feel I can be relatively objective on this choice. A big part of my decision is where each gentleman was at in his career relative to the period being considered. To me, Buscema peaked late Silver Age, early Bronze Age and continued to produce nice art working in a style he had become comfortable with. Byrne on the other hand is certainly a product of the Bronze Age, assimilating what had come before and providing a fresh outlook with his art. Sooo… going with Bryne.

david_b said...

I'd essentially agree with the 'early Buscema peaking theory'..., until..

Avengers 'Under Seige'.

Big John came ROARing back to effectively close out the Bronze Age in those final years.

Anonymous said...

Who won? I've scoured the site and there's no mention of anyone ever winning this thing.

Doug said...

Anonymous --

John Byrne received more votes than did John Buscema (I refuse to use the work "defeated", but that's my bias toward Big John).


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