Friday, July 26, 2013

Take 5: Bronze Age Pencilers

Doug:  A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I used the image above in a post about our Top 5 childhood memories; we followed that one up with a post about favorite Halloween candies.  Today we'll begin an on-again/off-again series of posts that may range from top artists to top rock-n-roll groups to top TV shows.  This will be sort of an extension of our Bracketology polls -- but here you'll get to tell the world how you rank your favorites in a particular category.  Of course, we'd love to hear you sweat about why artist A is just ahead of artist B in your book.  Those should provide some interesting conversations and debates.

Doug:  As you see from the title, today's question asks you to list your Top 5 Bronze Age pencilers.  You decide if you are choosing the artist, his/her style, or his/her body of work -- totally your call.  As I stated, just give a detail or two that might be fodder for the rest of us.  Here's my list (Karen's follows) --

1.  John Buscema.  You name it, he can draw it.  Especially adept at the weird mage or monster, Big John drew beautiful women, cinematic action, and animals par excellence.  His total body of work, from the 1950's all the way up to the end, is unmatched.  He wasn't always the sexiest name du jour, but quality was his hallmark.

2.  George Perez.  Details, details, details.  It was exciting to watch him grow during the Bronze Age.  By the end (and you can choose Crisis on Infinite Earths for that parameter if you want; personally, I'd hate to exclude his Wonder Woman tenure or his partnership with Kurt Busiek on Avengers, volume 3), he was among the best ever.

3.  John Byrne.  I generally hold his tenure on Fantastic Four, sans Joe Sinnott, against him.  If I take that away, and focus only on his other work at Marvel and then onto Legends and the Superman books at DC, he's knocking on John Buscema's door.  In spite of the revitalization that he brought to Marvel's flagship title, I really do not care for the art on that specific run.  But there is no doubt he's a true master.

4.  Neal Adams.  If the man only worked in the Bronze Age, he might get the top spot.  I just love his work.  The energy and exploration he brought to comics was revolutionary.  When I think of Batman, I see Adams' work.  His run with Roy Thomas on the X-Men is a favorite.  And while I don't care for the stories in the GL/GA run, the pictures sure are pretty to look at.

5.  Jim Starlin.  Even I am surprised by this, as I expected to write Sal Buscema's or Joe Kubert's names here.  But after our Thanos reviews, and especially the wonderful Avengers Annual #7, I have to put Starlin on this list.  As Karen and I mentioned, his pencils fell under the influence of several inkers -- and he still looked great, the panels popped with energy, and the storytelling was solid.  That transcendence is the mark of a master, and Starlin wears that hat well.

Karen: I have a  hard time with lists. It seems like my mind changes a great deal depending on the mood I'm in. But I think in this case, I can say the first four men on my list would all be in my top  five no matter what -it's just a question of what order they'd be in on any given day! The fifth selection was more difficult. My list is also very similar to my pal Doug's, so it's going to be rather boring. But here we go:

1. Jim Starlin. I put Starlin first just because he really epitomizes that Bronze Age feel to me. His work is so unique, yet you can see glimpses of all the artists he has studied: the power of Kirby in a fight scene, Kane's sense of anatomy, and the bizarre otherworldliness of Ditko in the weird dimensions his characters roam. I love the detail in his work and his dramatic storytelling. At his best, reading one of his books is an experience.

2. John Buscema. The master of the classical look. Big John straddles both the Silver and Bronze ages, and much of his work that I love really fits in the Silver Age, but he was still prominent in the Bronze Age and when I think of certain characters, it's his work I see in my head.

3. John Byrne. Like my blog partner, I don't care for Byrne's self-inked work on Fantastic Four, but his work with Terry Austin on X-Men is one of my favorite runs of all time. I also liked Byrne on Marvel Team Up, Avengers, Champions, Iron Fist, and a ton of other Marvel titles. A great storyteller, able to convey both action and quiet moments.

4. George Perez. What can you say about the guy? Just an incredible artist, particularly on team titles. I think I liked him best during his Teen Titan years, even though that wasn't my favorite book. I thought he got a little over-wrought during Avengers vol. 3. But the man's work is just spectacular.

The first four were easy. After I had chosen them I came up blank. Who was number 5? I thought of Neal Adams and John Romita Sr., but I felt that my favorite work of theirs was more properly Silver Age. Then there were a number of others I enjoyed but just couldn't pull the trigger on: Sal Buscema, Rich Buckler, Mike Ploog, Mike Grell. Finally I went with:

5.  Dave Cockrum. Cockrum really never stayed on any one title very long, but when he was hot, he was on fire! His Legion work was incredible and revitalized the title. And of course, he brought the all-new, all-different X-Men to life. Beyond that, he was a gifted costume and character designer and came up with some of the best looks in the business. So he's more than worthy of a spot.

Doug:  Now how about you?


Rip Jagger said...

Interesting since we have the freedom to play with the criteria. I sort of went with a combo of impact and output to determine my listings.

Number One for me is always "Big" John Buscema. He was the ubermensch of the Bronze Age, the go-to penciller at Marvel, the guy they used to launch new series, and the mainstay on his favorite strip Conan the Barbarian. His output was awesome but his quality on that output was always impressive.

Number Two is Neal Adams. His talent is dazzling, and he was never better than during his runs on Batman. He was the template at DC, the guy they seemed to want to hang their rep on, and he performed, giving them great comics and some of the best covers the field has ever seen. He embraced the direct sales market offering up some exceedingly well drawn material.

Number Three is John Byrne. He was the kahuna of the Bronze Age, despite the fact I've always regarded him as less of an artist than the previous two. He was a storyteller, and did a magnificent job on the X-Men and later on the Fantastic Four. His recent stuff is amazingly dull given the spirited nature of his early work, but there's no doubt he was the guy for much of the era. It was a pleasure to watch him develop, though the end result leaves me cold these days.

Number Four is Rich Buckler. Aside from the Buscema brothers, I think Buckler did more work during the Bronze Age than anyone. He brought his chameleon style to all sorts of titles, including The Avengers, the FF, the JLofA, World's Finest, and countless more. He spearheaded Red Circle Comics reviving the MLJ Heroes during the direct sales boom. He takes a lot of heat for his swipes, but he was able to deliver many different styles for many different editors along with his own distinctive look on memorable characters like Deathlok.

Number Five is Rich Corben. Lots of talents worked in relative anonymity at Warren, some fantastic Spanish talents for sure, but Corben stayed there offering up some incredibly tasty visions and some powerhouse covers in the waning days of Jim Warren's little company. I could've put a few names in this slot (Sal Buscema, Berni Wrightson, Barry Smith, Jim Aparo) but I went with Corben because was so distinctive and some memorable. No one draws like Corben.

Rip Off

Humanbelly said...

Number One, even though I was never fond of the man himself (and disliked him more and more pretty much after reading any interview with him), would still have to be John Byrne in my book. I can't think of a title where I didn't like his art, in fact. Honestly, I loved his run on Fantastic Four, with him inking himself-- although he got rather sketchy near the end, as he experimented w/ alternative shading techniques and what-not (same w/ NAMOR). He may have started to slip on that title at the point where he admitted he didn't draw in pencil anymore, "because I never erase", and made the art a one-step process. Just my guess. But MARVEL TEAM-UP, SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK, X-MEN, ALPHA FLIGHT, AVENGERS, SUPERMAN, NEXT MEN-- he was great on his own and w/ different inkers. And on WCA and INCREDIBLE HULK the art was first-rate even though his writing/plotting was abominable (IMO). He also had a very late, "modern age" DOOM PATROL revival that I was enjoying a heck of a lot before it got cancelled.

Number Two would still be Sal Buscema for me. Since the criteria is based on personal favoritism, I have no qualms in ranking Sal above other luminaries simply because, for me, he's the artistic equivalent of comfort food. You ALWAYS got a fun, clear, solid artistic effort from Sal, and everybody ALWAYS looked right. Plus just about every inker looked good on top of his pencils (he must have been an inker's dream-partner!).

Number Three. . . I'm going with George Perez. I always felt like he was flying under the radar early on. His first run on FF was amazingly good, and made a long, convoluted (and patently absurd) arc come across as must-read comics, y'know? And then there he was on that INHUMANS maxi-series that about 15 people read, tops. And I kept thinking, who is this guy? (I wasn't buying any DC titles at the time.) Why isn't he getting better, longer assignments??

And then I do get a bit stuck, 'cause the books I was buying weren't always staffed w/ great artists.

Number Four, I suppose, should still go to John Buscema-- but honestly, the only title he was doing steadily (that I bought) was CONAN, and I go bored w/ that book sometime around issue #100. I also tend to associate his best work w/ the Silver Age. But you know what? He penciled one of the Frankenstein serials on MONSTERS UNLEASHED, which lent an air of credibility to an awfully silly brain-swapping arc-- and it was good stuff. I'm not a huge fan of his "have JB do the first issue of a new title" phase, though, and honestly thought SHE-HULK #1 & NOVA #1 were auto-pilot efforts at best. But the talents are still undeniable. . . so he makes it a solid #4.

Number Five is gonna be Dave Cockrum, then. Just cut and paste Karen's explanation in for me here, as well, eh?


Edo Bosnar said...

1. John Byrne - no surpise coming from me, I've praised him before at length elsewhere on this blog. In terms of his art, I just love everything he's done, from his earliest assignments at Charlton, through his golden years at Marvel and DC in the '70s and '80s, up to the present.

2. Walt Simonson - comes close edging out Byrne as my favorite. He has all the bombast of Kirby, and the same knack for panel design and pacing, but with a much more consistent figure work and backgrounds and an overall style that, for me, is much more pleasing to the eye.

3. Sal Buscema - when someone says 'Bronze Age Marvel,' more often than not I picture something drawn by Sal in my head. His solid, unpretentious yet engaging art can be seen all across Marvel's line, and never once did he phone it in. (For me he's more than just comfort food.) Also, his work looks great with any number of inkers, but I think he's actually his own best inker.

5. Howard Chaykin - in many ways he's kind of like the Steranko of the Bronze Age, with his wonderful aesthetic sense. Some of his work from the 1970s, like Iron Wolf, Monark Starstalker (in Marvel Premiere), the Scorpion (for Atlas) or the various Dominic Fortune stories he drew, are simply brilliant and visually some of my favorite comics.

5. Gil Kane - what can I say? The guy just kept getting better and better and did some amazing work for both Marvel and DC during the '70s and '80s.

Matt Celis said...

John Buscema, Sal Buscema, Ross Andru, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger come to mind. I'm sure I'm blanking on many great talents.

Matt Celis said...

Like Jim Aparo...!

And Joe Staton on E-Man!

david_b said...

Most everyone's names praised here would be on my list, but as I've said on a few occasions now, my enjoyment or appreciation of names is (like most) skewed towards when I actively collected (HB's 'personal favoritism'..), so it's going to be pre-Byrne, pre-Perez early Bronze. At times I tend to separate 'early-Bronze' with 'later-Bronze', the separation pretty much revolving 'round the first appearance of the new X-Men team.

So Byrne, Simonson, and Perez don't make my Top 5.

A brief synopsis follows..:

1) Sal Buscema - Drawing everything clean, great lines, introducing us to the 'Sal Blast' or what Doug's called it in the past.. He made dramatic art look so easy. Forever beloved in CA&F, MTIO and Defenders, most of the time on MTU. (Frankly NO ONE could make Robbins CA&F look worse by comparison..)

2) John Buscema - Great Avengers issues, loved him with Joe Sinnott on FF, love the 'little rocks' look on Ben Grimm like Starlin, and also like Starlin, drew the best emotion on Benjy's face.

3) John Romita, Sr - Spiderman, Spiderman, Spiderman. Kane has a very strong second place, but it's John all the way here.

4) Steranko - His high-ampage electricity on SHIELD and those fantastic Cap issues says it all. So much so that I started loving early Barry Smith (Avengers) who emulated that great style, but added better story pacing to the mix.

5) Dick Dillin - On JLA, he was the definitve artist, sort of a Adams-light. Drew awesome interior art for so many years. I would have listed Adams, but I know Adams primarily for his top-notch, beautiful DC covers more so than interior work (he was so-so on Avengers..).

Runners-up would have been Starlin (Avengers and MarVell), Cardy (late original Titans can be considered 'Bronze-ish'..) and Trimpe (on Hulk).

I liked Byrne and Perez at times, more so Perez. Perez would have great art, no question there, but would get TOO caught up on detail, so much so that your eyes don't focus dramatically on the action as older artists would showcase. Byrne..? Liked his work on Avengers, MTU and the X-Men issues reviewed here, but his FF looked to washed out and bland to me. Plus his stories took me nowhere.

Anonymous said...

OK, Using "personal" favs as my main criterion:

1. George Perez - Loved his late 70's Avengers.

2. Dave Cockrum - Just a half notch above my #3, because I liked his X-Men the best.

3. John Byrne - As others mentioned, not a big fan when he inked himself. But still great.

4. Paul Gulacy - Loved Master of Kung Fu. Everyone said he was a Steranko clone but since I didn't know who Jim Steranko was at that time what did I care.

5. John Romita - OK, I know people will balk and say he's really Silver Age. But, wasn't he the Marvel art director for much of the '70s? His stuff was still everywhere - covers, calendars, promotional items. So, yeah this was a way to sneak my favorite Silver Ager in here. Hey, it's my list.

Also, I think I am the only one so far NOT to list one of the Buscemas. I love both John and Sal but I went with personal favorites. If I were being more objective, Big John is way up there and Sal probably cracks the top 5.


Anonymous said...

Number 1 on my list would be Barry Windsor Smith. I am more Silver Age than Bronze Age and by the early Seventies I was fast losing interest in comic books. His evolving/improving art on Conan kept me coming back to the spinner rack month after month just to see what he would accomplish in the latest issue.
Number 1A is Jim Starlin. I wasn’t even reading comics when one of the local Detroit newspapers ran a feature on Starlin who grew up in the area. Samples of his art featured in the article knocked me out and was one reason that I came back to the world of comic books. Fortunately a comic book shop had opened nearby and I was able to catch up on his earlier work while buying anything new with his name on it. He is one of the all time best in terms of storytelling and page design.
Numbers 3 through 5 – Mike Zeck, I especially liked his early, slightly cartoon-y style on Master of Kung Fu.
Mike Ploog – I really enjoyed his Will Eisner influenced art styling on Werewolf By Night.
And finally Bernie Wrightson – those ten issues of Swamp Thing were awesome.
Honorable mention – Walt Simonson, though I really didn’t come to appreciate his art until much later

Garett said...

Great idea...Top 5 lists!

My list changes from month to month, depending on what I'm reading now, and getting excited about.

1- Jim Aparo. Looove his work on Brave and Bold, as well as Spectre. Dynamic compositions, flow to his lines, solidity and grounded personality, nice portraits, stylish. At his peak in the early '70s, I'd love to have seen him draw almost any title, including the guests in B+B: Sgt Rock, Demon, Black Canary, Wonder Woman, Mister Miracle etcetc. Also great use of shading: one of the few books that looks as good in black and white, as in color. Inventive poses, and camera angles. Things look "real" and yet it's certainly a comic book. Jim Aparo IS the Bronze Age! : )

2- Joe Kubert. TARZAN. Unique style, not based in Kirby or Adams. Solid construction, rough surfaces, every thing is firm. Draws animals, muscular action. I wouldn't want to see him draw say, Superman or the more polished characters, but for the tougher carved-from-the-earth of a kind.

3. George Perez. So appealing, how can you not like him? And so well constructed. I just picked up a Marvel Two-in-One book, The Project Pegasus Saga, with both Byrne and Perez in it, nice find, and I prefer Perez. Perez on Teen Titans and Avengers. His characters are appealing, the faces, the backgrounds, his long panels...physically the characters are well-built, but not overly exaggerated. Perez gives me a warm happy feeling! : )

4. Jack Kirby. Kamandi, New Gods, The Demon--great powerful compositions, action poses, restless heart beats faster looking at these. There's an impact going from panel to panel, and those big double page spreads are cool...whammo!!

Neal Adams. Inventive, crystal clear, fine anatomy, buffed up to a polished sheen...the most realistic appearance of the bunch. Batman and Green Lantern.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to pick just five, but I'd probably have to say Perez, Gulacy, Grell...maybe Neal Adams and John Byrne to round it out. Ask me again next week and I'll probably have a different answer!


david_b said...

Interesting, Mike's mention of Grell was the first. For all the favorable discussion here on Mr. Grell's art, I would have thought he would have made someone's Top 5 sooner.

Ward Hill Terry said...

I'm thinking back to the books I bought, the ones I anticipated, and the new ones I tried because of the penciler. 1. Jose-Luis Garcia Lopez; after Neal Adams, his work defined the looks of DC characters for all marketing purposes. I loved his fill-in work on Superman and wish he could have stayed on DC Presents. In his World's Finest stories, Clark looked like Clark and Bruce looked like Adam West. 2. Mike Grell; he was the reason my sister bought the Legion, which is how I got introduced to it, he was drawing Batman when I started buying that title, and Green Lantern-Green Arrow as well. Started reading Warlord because of his art. 3. Marshall Rogers; at first it took a couple of months, but, man-o-man, the more I saw, the more I liked! Finding his work in books like Superman Family was such a treat! 4. Don Newton; had the unenviable task of following ROgers on Detective. The style change was jarring to me at first, but again the closer I looked the more I liked. There are some panels he did that are just etched in my memory. 5. John Byrne; I remember being so excited about his art, but the bloom quickly faded for me. Especially when he started writing. It seemed the pictures were no longer in service to the words. However, for that brief time I sought out the books he worked on.

Garett said...

Hey David, I like Grell's art, but I really like him as a Writer-Artist...and Creator to boot! Perhaps another Top 5 could be, "Favorite Writer/Artist".

Anonymous said...

Big John would me my first, and no need for reasons, they've all been stated above. After that, gets a little tougher. I loved Byrne but most of all w/Terry Austin. Loved Simonson's work on Thor, sometimes not as much on other titles. Perez, though I'm really mostly familiar w/his Avengers work. I've always been drawn (no pun intended) to Jim Steranko's art, same w/Bernie Wrightson. I loved Starlin's rendition of Adam Warlock. Sometimes his anatomy seemed a little off to me though. Mostly in his earlier work, however, not so much later on. Body part proportions seemed not to match once in awhile. That's just my opinion though.

Anyway, I'll shut up now.

David in Wisconsin

Graham said...

The way my list is compiled is based on the way I bought comics way back then.....if I saw one of these folks listed as the artist, I was going to buy it.

1) George Perez - I liked the incredible detail in his work and how all of his characters had different faces....not sure if that makes sense, but I know what it means. Plus, he could draw EVERYBODY well.
2) Dave Cockrum - I absolutely loved his LSH work then both stints with X-Men. I wish he'd stayed with each longer.
3) Mike Grell - Dating back to his LSH and Aquaman work in the early 70' when I look at it, the anatomy is sort of funny and the poses are awkward, but I loved it then.
4) Barry Windsor-Smith - His work was sort of hard to find, but when I found it, I bought it. Hard to top Red Nails and his contributions to Worms of the Earth
5) Marshall Rogers - That run with Batman outdoes Adams to me, but w/o Adams' run, you probably don't have Rogers'.

Dick Dillin would be my Sixth Man.

Fun list to do. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

My top 5 :

1. John Buscema - powerful heroes, beautiful women, he's my pick for #1 here!

2. Jack Kirby - no one could convey a sense of power and action in his pencils like the King, blocky fingers and all.

3. Gil Kane - Kane's figures had their arms and legs bent in contortions that would be impossible in reality but dammit no one could make it look better than the Sugar Man!

4. George Perez - when I first saw his work on the Avengers I said to myself 'Whoa! Who is this cat and why haven't I heard of him before?'.

5. Gene Colan - Dracula. Nuff said!

- Mike 'draws in pen mostly' from Trinidad & Tobago.

J.A. Morris said...

Late to another discussion, here's my top 5:

1.Sal Buscema. He's the "Patron Saint" of my blog, how could I not have him at the top? Like HB said, Sal is comfort food, and his output was prolific during the Bronze Age.

2.John Byrne. If he was drawing the book, I was buying it. Byrne is at his best when inked by Austin, he did some great Bronze Age work on Avengers & Marvel Team-Up that also looked great. I don't mind his self-inked stuff in FF either,but it's hit & miss.

3.George Perez. The quintessential Avengers and Teen Titans artist, also did some great work on FF & JLA.

4.Ross Andru. More Spider-Man art than anyone during the 70s, when the webhead was solidified as the biggest star in comicdom, plus his DC work was good too. Andru penciled the first DC/Marvel crossover, which makes him special in my book.

5.John Buscema. All over the place, Avengers, FF, Conan, Nova,Ms. Marvel, even the 2nd Superman/Spider-Man tabloid, not to mention all the covers & calendars he did.

Honorable mention:
Miller,Rogers, Starlin, Gulacy, Cockrum, Pollard, Buckler, Brunner, Colan., Aparo, Chaykin.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

My top five would have to be:

1) Jack Kirby : I thought anyone could draw like Kirby. That is until I started drawing myself. It took me a long time but I have to say he was truly one of Marvel's founding fathers. Without him Marvel would have been a footnote in comics history. It was his visual style that defined Marvel Comics. If not for him none of those other artists would be working.

2) George Perez: I loved his work on the Fantastic Four and Avengers in the 70's. I read how he has left Marvel and DC because of corporate interference in his work. He's now working for Boom! Studios. However, next to Kirby he is my favorite all time artist.

3) John Byrne: Like one reader said, I don't care for his personality, however he was one of the defining artists of the 70's. I followed his X-Men with Chris Clearmont, his version of the Fantastic Four and Avengers.

4) John Buscema: I always admired his classical style of illustration. He admitted in one interview how he studied Kirby's style and adapted it to his own. All the Marvel artists were told to draw like Kirby. He confirmed all my suspicions. I liked his Conan, Avengers and Wolverine runs.

5) Sal Buscema: He was one of the defining artists of the 70's. An inkers dream. He could be interpreted in so many ways by different inkers. His work was clean and simple and yet very powerful. I prefer his style of art over some of the more photo realistic artists that were just showing off and not telling a good story.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

Just to further comment on my favorite top five: There will never be an era like this again. We never get to see creative teams work on a book for a sustained period of time. We'll never see 8 year runs like Herb Trimpe's on the Incredible Hulk. Now, DC and Marvel just care about their quarterly reports and stock holders. You don't see the same quality that you had in the 1970's.

Humanbelly said...

Can't believe I overlooked inserting personal favorite Herb Trimpe on my list. This may cause a few of my respected colleagues to do a morning Cheerios spit-take, but I'm sticking him in at #4 on my list, bumping John Buscema down a notch, and eliminating Dave Cockrum. Remember, it's not "best", it's "favorite", right? Right?

In fact, I'm planning to attend the Baltimore ComicCon this fall simply because Herb will be there, and I'd like to tell him thanks & good job (and have him sign my TATTERED copy of Incredible Hulk #111 and probably #150. Possibly #189, too.).


Unknown said...

Hmmm, I say, hmmmm.

1. Neal Adams: He was easily the most influential artist in comics during the 70's when I was collecting. And he did just enough work in the Bronze Age to justify his presence here. Whenever we were on vacation, I would make a beeline for a comic shop, and search out back issues of GL/GA. They were hideously expensive compared to anything else, so it was a monetary dilemma every time. The GS X-Men #2 that reprinted his Sentinals trilogy was a revelation. Who knew that the original X-Men could be cool? And Ant-Man's trip through The Vision was another high point for me. Every once in a while, I would find an Adams back issue mixed in a cheap pile at a comic shop or used book store. I would buy it and head home as fast as my bike could carry me, before the store realized it's error.

2. Walt Simonson: Manhunter was a revolutionary tour-de-force. I later figured out that he was influenced by Kirby and Eisner, but he integrated and transcended those influences immediately. After that...he made Dr. Fate cool! Seriously, that had never been done before. I avidly collected his work on Metal Men, Hercules Unbound and the Alien graphic novel adaption.

3. Gil Kane: I always responded to his work as a kid, but didn't realize how goo he was until I saw late silver-age reprints with inks by Wally Wood. I became a Kane aficionado after that, and my love for his work just kept growing. He had his stock shots and poses (which I liked), but he really did keep growing struggle to advance his style for his entire career. My favorite artist on Marvel Team-Up and marvel covers.

4. Dave Cockrum: First he made the Legion cool, then he made the X-Men cool. Marvel and DC should've given him a healthy pension after that for what he did to revitalize two of their deadest properties. But they didn't, and for that they suck. I like Grell and Byrne fine, and you could certainly make a case for either of them being more accomplished artists than Cockrum. But Cockrum's energy and sense of design win out for me everytime. I loved his Marvel covers and John Carter work too. He was a great inker for Gil Kane. I wish he'd been more prolific, but it is what it is.

5. Jim Aparo. Aparo was the Batman artist for me. He drew the definitive versions of Aquaman, Spectre and the Phantom Stranger as well (not to mention Wildcat). He was so dependable, that I took him for granted at first. Every other month brought the Brave & the Bold with Aparo as brilliant as ever. His uniquely crisp style was long on atmosphere and dynamism. I was always excited to see his interpretations of DC characters. One look at his Batman, and you know what his thinking ("Blazes!").

There were plenty of other's work that I sought out, although some involved Golden & Silver age reprints. Wood, Ditko, Steranko, Starlin, Wrightson, Cardy, Eisner, Crandall, Cole, were all artists I sought out as a kid. Kirby and Dillin always seemed to be around, so even though I appreciated thier work,I never had to go out of my way to find it. I came to appreciate Chaykin, Moebius, Corben, Crepax, & Morrow as I grew older and broadened my horizons.

Bronze Age pencillers rule!

James Chatterton

Edo Bosnar said...

James, re: Dave Cockrum and no (richly deserved) pension from Marvel - hear, hear.

Doug said pick five, so I picked five, but given some of the other comments here, I probably should have added that I could have just as easily placed Jim Aparo or Joe Staton at my no. 5 spot (think of them as 5a and 5b).

Doug said...

Everyone keeps remarking about Adams as a "Silver Age artist". As I commented during our last polls, Avengers, Batman, and GL/GA were all printed post-1970. That's about as Bronze as you get...


William said...

1. John Byrne. What can I say, except that (to me anyway) Byrne is the greatest comic book artist of all-time. Back in the day, if Byrne drew it, I bought it. I can't say that about any other artist, ever. He was the first name I ever paid attention to in the creator credits box. I remember that I found myself buying books that I usually didn't buy (like Iron Fist and X-Men), and I didn't know why. Then one day I noticed that they all had one thing in common-- the penciler. That's when I first realized that the artist made a huge difference in my enjoyment of a given comic. In case no one remembers, Byrne was pretty much a rock star in the late 70's and well into the 80's. He also won this website's "Best Artist of the Bronze Age" bracketology poll. (Which we never discussed on here for some reason).

2. George Perez. No artist renders detail like Perez. He is one of my favorites because of his spot on anatomy and super clean line-work. He is also the master of the multi-character panel (and cover). My favorite work by Perez was on the Avengers and the New Teen Titans. Those books were both must reads of mine in the Bronze Age, mostly due to his pencils. He didn't make my #1 spot, because his artwork alone couldn't compel me to buy a title that I wouldn't have otherwise picked up. For example, I never read his run on Wonder Woman (although I hear it was pretty good). By comparison, I never missed an issue of John Byrne's She-Hulk series, even though I didn't care much for the character.

3. Frank Miller. Here's a Bronze Age superstar that doesn't seem to get much love around here. That surprises me, because Miller was responsible for redefining (and revitalizing) not one, but two long running classic characters. I'm speaking of course of Daredevil, and then later, Batman. Frank Miller's DD remains to me the definitive version of the character. At the time, I loved that book so much that Daredevil actually became my favorite superhero for many years (and still remains my #2). Then, after Miller left that title, he went over to DC and basically changed Batman forever. Even though I didn't care for it at the time, Miller's "Dark Knight Returns" remains for many the definitive version of that character. The influence of DKR is still being felt today, and it was a huge inspiration for all of the live-action movies, as well as much of the Bruce Timm Animated Series.

4. Sal Buscema. I chose Sal over his more famous brother, because I personally like Sal a little better. Mainly for his runs on Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and to a lesser extent PPTS Spider-Man. Sal was (and is) and incredibly talented and consistent penciler, who has worked, at one time or another, on almost every character in the Marvel Universe. Big John is probably technically a better artist, but I prefer Sal's clean lines over his bros more sketch approach. Plus I have more fond memories of Sal's work personally.

5. Ross Andru. (Yes, I said Ross Andru) Why, you ask? Because he was THE Spider-Man artist of the Bronze Age. And Spider-Man was/and is Marvel's flagship (and my personal favorite) character. So, I have very, very fond memories of Andru's art on Amazing Spider-Man. He was very underrated artist, and he was dedicated to his work. He stayed on ASM for around 5 years (1973-1978) and penciled almost every single issue in that time period. He drew some of my most enduring favorite Spider-Man stories, and that is why I chose him as my #5 pick of Favorite Bronze Age Artists. FYI, ToyBiz even honored Ross Andru by basing the very popular "Snap-Shot Spider-Man" action figure on his artwork. How's that for being immortalized?

Here is a link to a pic of the figure (it's my own photograph, btw).

William said...

Sorry for the previous two "deleted" posts, but I kept finding typos that were unforgivable. (This site could really use an "Edit" button) lol. :)

Doug said...

Yes, William - I believe Edo had commented earlier that we never had an official ending to our last Bracketology. I did suggest that on that particular day folks could use that day's post to reflect on the polls; I think there were only 1-2 comments in that vein. So consider this post the official opportunity.

And if Jack Kirby never existed, John Byrne wouldn't be so great, would he?

And there is a "preview" function for comments, next to "publish".


Edo Bosnar said...

William, very eloquently stated case for Byrne - you pretty much sum up quite a few of my own views (and buying habits back then) quite eloquently.
I find your list interesting, in that your first three choices, in that order, would have been my response if someone had asked me this question back in, say, 1981 or 1982. (The other two would have been Neal Adams and either Walt Simonson or maybe Keith Giffen - I was really loving his work on Legion back then.)

Doug, re: Kirby. You mean because of his influence on Byrne? I think Kirby influenced so many pencilers of later generations, esp. those who first started to get work in the 1970s, that the point almost goes without saying. However, I would add that in terms of inspiration, I always thought Byrne's style reflected the influence of Kirby, Ditko and Neal Adams in equal parts - although I'm not saying his art is derivative. Simonson is someone I see as almost a direct "descendent" of Kirby (again, not derivative, just strongly influenced).

Garett said...

Yes I'm also surprised at the lack of Miller talk around here. For myself, I loved DD when it came out, and Dark Knight...not really Ronin. Now I find I don't look at him much, although he's still on my shelf. Others like Aparo and Kirby and Kubert have grown in my eyes, and I look at them regularly now and get inspired.

Doug said...

Edo -

My point about Kirby was that, in my opinion, he is in a class by himself. Not technically skilled, but nonetheless the greatest comic artist of all time. Everyone else is vying for second place. Is Kirby a favorite of mine? Nah - unless I zero in on his FF and Thor runs. But he is the greatest.


J.A. Morris said...

Re the lack of love for Frank Miller, I put him on my "honorable mention" list because, as much as I enjoyed his work on DD, his Bronze Age output was nothing compared to the volume of work produced by Byrne & the Buscemas. "Volume" isn't everything, but it has to count for something.
Also, when I think of those Daredevil stories, I think of the art as "Miller-Janson" art rather than Miller by himself. Most of the guys on my list did great work with & without their best inkers. I've said that here before,and on my reprints blog, I stand by that belief.

And I should have added Trimpe & Kane to my "honorable mentions" as well. I always enjoyed their Bronze Age work, and some of the first back issues I ever bought were Trimpe-drawn Hulk stories. Not to mention his work on Godzilla!

Doug said...

I wouldn't dispute any of the comments made about Frank Miller, but for me I'd put Sal Buscema, Joe Kubert's Tarzan work, and probably Jim Aparo's DC output as work I enjoy and would go to before I'd go to Miller. That doesn't in any way mean I don't like him -- again, his impact in the 1980's is well-known and respected -- but I just have become so jaded to the ninja onslaught of the 00's and the darkening of comics in general that I perhaps place unfair blame on Miller. Shoot -- he was the trendsetter, not the trend itself. I get that.

But it's still always in the back of my mind and forms that prejudice.


Humanbelly said...

There was a Marvel Team-Up Annual that was penciled by Miller- pre-Daredevil, I believe- and it was like seeing the emperor w/ no clothes on. I don't remember if he inked himself, or if it was just a weak inker, but the pencils were just dreadful. It may have been a rush or fill-in job, but there was simply nothing there that would make me think, "Oo, great potential talent!". Clearly, his layouts got better w/ time-- but I honestly was never as enamored as most by his basic drawing ability.

I may be too harsh a critic, though.


J.A. Morris said...

Doug,I can't speak for everyone, but I'm guessing Adams is seen as a "Silver Age" penciler because he never had a long run on a title in the 70s, like Andru on ASM,Sal Buscema on Hulk, Aparo on various Bat-titles.

I've said before, Adams is the greatest of all time, to this day, bar none. But I think of those other guys first when I think of the Bronze Age.

Doug said...

J.A. --

Yeah, I'm puzzled by this, too. Adams' career is funny, in that what you say about no long runs is actually true throughout the late Silver and Bronze Ages. His association with the Batman is far and away his longest "run" on any title/character.

If you use the URL below, it will take you to a chronological listing of Adams' output. I think anyone interested will find that by and large Neal's career has been as a cover artist, with 1-2 year tenures on various titles. But my claim that he is indeed a Bronze Age artist seems a more appropriate characterization than Adams as a Silver Age artist.


Garett said...

I'd like to shoehorn Frazetta in here somehow, even though I don't think he drew any comic pages during the Bronze age. Has he been discussed at BAB? What if...he'd been an artist at Marvel during the Bronze age?

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, interesting that you should mention Frazetta: I love his comic book art as well (and yes, I almost 100% sure he did no comic work in the Bronze Age - I think he drew his last comic sometime in the 1950s). Over the past few years, I've managed to get a hold of cheap copies of those 1980s reprints of his some of his earlier work, i.e. Thun'da, Shining Knight, et., and just a few days ago my copy of White Indian tpb (kind of a birthday present to myself) arrived in the mail. It reprints all of the Dan Brand/White Indian stories from the late 1940s/early 1950s and is absolutely beautiful.

Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, and Doug, for what it's worth, I think Adams is definitely a Bronze Age artist: as you noted, his iconic work on GL/GA and Batman, perhaps the work for which he's best remembered, falls squarely in the Bronze Age. In fact, I'd go so far as to argue that even the work he did in in the late '60s, on X-men, Deadman, Brave & Bold, etc., can be considered a sort of preliminary Bronze Age rather than Silver Age.

William said...

Doug, I don't think that anyone would argue Kirby's title as the "King of Comics", but in this instance I'm just going by my own personal aesthetic preference.

For example if you put two of the exact same comics in front of me, except that one has art by Byrne, and the other art by Kirby, and you told me to pick one-- I'd most likely pick the Byrne art. (BTW, Byrne himself thinks that Jack Kirby is the greatest and gets quite upset if anyone even suggests that he, or anyone else, is as good or better than Kirby).

So, to clarify-- if I was asked "Who is the greatest comic-book artist of all time?" I would honestly answer Jack Kirby. But, if you asked the question, "To you PERSONALLY, who is the greatest comic artist of all time?" (Which is the same as saying who is your all-time favorite comic-book artist, because to you that person would be the greatest). In that case I'd say, for me it's John Byrne.

Now, if this was a question of "Who (in your opinion) are the 5 Best Comic Artist Of ALL TIME" and not just who is the best of the Bronze Age, my list would look like this:

1. John Byrne
2. Jack Kirby
3. Steve Ditko
4. Bruce Timm
5. Ron Frenz

You'll notice my 4 and 5 picks are heavily influenced by Kirby. I know this is kind of a weird list, but I have my own reasons for it. The first 3 choices speak for themselves, but the last two might require some explanation.

For example, Bruce Timm is known more for animation than his comic book work, but he has done quite a bit of comic stuff as well. Plus, to me, those TV episodes are just comic books that move. I also consider his Animated Universe to be the definitive versions of the DC characters. I love Timm's art style, and he was the main creative force behind BTAS, Justice League, Batman Beyond, and etc. His work on those shows set a whole new standard for animation and cartoon art, and it created an entire new legion of DC fans (myself included). So, that is why Timm made my all-time greatest list.

Ron Frenz is simply my favorite Spider-Man artist. When he started as penciller on Amazing Spider-Man, his artwork blew my mind. The retro Ditiko style he brought to the book reignited my excitement for Spider-Man like nothing has before or since. That alone puts him squarely in my top 5. (BTW, that time period was also the best writing that DeFalco ever produced as well).

We now return to our regularly scheduled Bronze Age programming. :)

Garett said...

Hey Edo, yes it's cool that they're reprinting Frazetta's early comic art. There are some real gems. That White Indian is can see Frazetta's dynamic personality already there. I have a book called Telling Stories, The Comic Art of Frank Frazetta, with some beautifully drawn romance stories, Thunda, an EC criminal story called Squeeze Play...also a few very early stories that aren't as well drawn, but the sparkling gems make it well worth it. Preview:

Garett said...

Don't you remember when Frazetta returned to comics in 1972 and drew Black Panther's Jungle Stories for Marvel? Ahh, woulda been sweet! Then a 10-issue run on Conan. : )

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, a 10-issue run on Conan (plus, say, a dozen b&w stories in Savage Sword) by Frazetta would have been unspeakably awesome.

And thanks for the tip on that Telling Stories book; unfortunately, it's a little pricey for my wallet, and looking at that review, I see I already have some of that stuff in other formats: Thun'da as I mentioned, plus the romance stories (they're in a reprint comic called Untamed Love) and that early material in Tally Ho is actually available for free (and legal) download online.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how to do a top five of this, but-

Warlock, with Starlin, to me says excellent bronze age art.

Colan's Dr. Strange and Dracula evokes bronze age.

A couple of Spiderman artists from that period epitomize Spiderman.

Adventure Comics Spectre- by Aparo- is excellent.

Do the beginning issues of Sub-Mariner (late 60's) count? Great art. The cover where he is heading towards a submarine, I will never forget. Buscema and Colan in some of those, I think.

I thought more of Byrne back when I actually bought those FF comics- don't think much of him at all, now. His work seems like more of a caricature of itself. Over-rated-- to me.

This was not really a bronze age artist- unless you count the change in spirit of the book I will mention- but I am aware of the artist Bruno Premiani on Doom Patrol; that is excellent art. There are a number of unsung (or 'undersung') artists like that.

Vintage Bob said...

Amazingly some of the most commonly highly rated artists from the Bronze Age just don't cut it for me. John Buscema, for one. To me, all his characters looked generic. Same eyes, same lips, same noses,same bodies. Like generic mannequins in different costumes. I remember once reading an issue of FF drawn by JB and saying to myself - "OMG, Sue Richards has a man's face!" And sure enough, it was identical (aside from the hair) to Reed's face in another panel. Sal Buscema, I thought, was much better. More solid lines, cleaner, less sketchy. Add an inker like Mooney and Sal Buscema was one of the best.

Adams is another I think is overrated. His GL and Batman work was usually good, but I find myself liking him less every time I see his art. His work on Deadman and Spectre are unreadable to me. It seems to me that sometimes he put in his best effort, in which case he was really awesome. In others, he phoned it in and it was Never liked almost anything he did at Marvel. I think maybe his style doesn't fit many superheroes.

My all time favorite was Kirby. He was called "The King" for a reason. Although his style didn't perfectly fit every character (I never did like how he drew Spiderman for example), his rendition of Thor, Capt. America, the Fantastic Four, Avengers, New Gods, Eternals, and just about everything he ever did is the standard I measure everyone else against - and everyone else falls short.

John Byrne and George Perez sort of share the second spot. Both had their prime, both had their lows. Byrne on X-men was some of the best art I've ever seen. George Perez on Avengers and Teen Titans was some of the best art I've ever seen. Byrne on FF was a low point, as is most of Perez's modern stuff. His Barbara Streisand-nosed Scarlet Witch, his Wonder man with the etched side-burn to simulate the jawline, his cutesy Thor with tiny upturned pixie nose and varicose veined arms - how the great have fallen! Of the two, perhaps Byrne pulls ahead as being more consistent over time. Back in the day, I usually bought anything drawn by either artist.

Marshal Rogers is in my top five. He seemed to have two styles, perhaps due to different inkers, although I still contend that his Detective Comics and his Dr. Strange work looks very different to me. His Detective/Batman work was sharper, more angular, whereas on Dr. Strange he was smoother, rounder, almost more "cartoony" but in a good way. I could almost say that at their best, it would be a tie between Byrne, Perez and Rogers. Just splitting hairs over which I like more.

The last artist to round out my top five would be either Walt Simonson, Michael Golden, Don Newton, Sal Buscema, Gil Kane, or Frank Brunner. Just the hardest call in the world. Sal did some of my favorite issues of Thor ever - especially when he was inked by Mooney or Jansen. Of these, it could almost depend on what day of the week it is, and which one I have a taste, for so to speak.

Related Posts with Thumbnails