Sunday, November 3, 2013

Alex Ross does the Avengers, and Holiday Mastheads

Doug:  I know Alex Ross has his detractors around here -- neither Karen or I are in that camp.  We love the guy's work, and will feature it in our December reviews.  Anyway, Friday I saw the image below, which is a variant cover to Avengers #25, and is part of Marvel's 75th Anniversary.  Well done, Mr. Ross!  I want this as a poster!!

Doug:  With Halloween just past and Thanksgiving on the horizon, today's trip through our masthead history settles in on those holiday-themed greetings you've seen as you arrive here each day.  I've added a few of our "just for fun" mastheads to round out today's discussion.  And again -- man, I'm all over the place trying to get the "bronze" color right...  :/



david_b said...

Alex Ross is certainly very talented; much like Neal Adams, he brought forth a new benchmark in realism unlike no other.

Like Adams's early Bronze art, folks here have weighed in on whether they liked Adams depicting Marvel heroes better than DC, etc. Sometimes the 'natural realism' enhances the classic look of the hero, sometimes not so much. I find that the case with Ross. It's glorious work, but does it really present the character at his most memorable, or does that award go to the likes of John Buscema, Ditko, etc..

I'm in the group that praises his work, again setting new levels of realism. But if I had suddenly found myself in a position to magically choose commissioned art from any artist of my choosing (alive or dead), he may not make the cut.

Those mastheads are classic. The snowy Avengers one made me buy the Treasury book, just for that back cover, and the Peanuts one is my favorite for simplicity alone.

Rip Jagger said...

I pretty much love the work of Alex Ross. The only time he loses me is when his renderings of certain heroes gets too specific to his particular model and turns away from the idealism he does so extremely well.

I notice this mostly with the Justice League where you have a lot of unmasked faces. With the Avengers where fewer go without some face covering or other, it's less of a concern.

Whatever you think of Ross, he is to be commended on his dedication to projects he begins. I'm particularly struck by the way he has stayed with Astro City for so many years and through so many variations in publishing situations. Busiek and Anderson hold down the stories, but Ross sells a lot of the tickets with his outstanding covers.

Rip Off

Doug said...

If I have one complaint about Ross's work, it's his choice of monochromatic schemes for many of his pieces. Here he features a dominant yellow, as he also did on his Legion treasury cover recreation for Back Issue. I tend to favor his more traditional "four color" work.


Steve W. said...

I'm not a fan of Ross, I'm afraid. There's no denying he's good at what he does but every time I see one of his paintings, I feel like all his characters should be sporting swastikas. There really is an air of a Leni Riefenstahl Nazi propaganda movie about his depiction of heroic figures.

I'm sure that's not his intention. I'm sure he's a lovely bloke who spends all his time being kind to kittens and he's just trying to make his characters look inspiring but I do find the over-idealisation in his work just makes it seem uninvolving and off-putting.

Edo Bosnar said...

Steve W., interesting point on the similarities with propagandistic depictions of ideal heroes. Personally, I find his work often resembles socialist realism.
And yes, I'm also not the biggest fan of Ross, as I've mentioned on other threads. That said, I don't mind his covers or posters like the one Doug posted today. What I really dislike is when he does interior art.

As for the mastheads, the second one down, with the scowling Darkseid, is my favorite holiday one, and one of my favorites in general.
I also like the "Still Only 25¢" one - that really brings back memories. In fact, I think it would be cool do a series of mastheads over a few weeks that features all of the different "Still Only" price blurbs that tried to keep pace with inflation.

Anonymous said...

I like Alex Ross, and while I am not sure if the comparison Steve brought up is intentional, I also see it some of Ross's work and I think it works for the genre (not always)- seeing as superheroes frequently have a fascist undertone to them. So it works for something like Golden Age (crappy book) or Kingdom Come (has been too long since I've read it to have an opinion) or even the covers for Astro City since the juxtoposition of those "realistic" covers and the art style within resonates with the material, but wouldn't work for other things.

As for the headers:

I really loved the art on his JUSTICE series some years back, even if it showed the weakness of his writing/plotting.

Doug, two questions:

1) What fonts do you use for the main title "Bronze Age Babies" and the subtitle?

2) Have you ever considered doing a Bronze metallic tone for the lettering and forgoing the faux bronze background that you have so much trouble getting the color for?

I hope you'll forgive the audacity, but I am whipping something up just to give you an idea what I mean. I am by no means a photoshop expert, but have learned a few things over the years.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, my comment came out all F-ed up and out of order!

That's what I get for cutting and pasting and trying to fix it - I made it worse! :P

wish I could edit it.

MattComix said...

Man to anyone who tries to say that Captain America's classic costume wouldn't look good on film I kindly direct them to Alex Ross. (This is also why the Star-Spangled Man bit is my least favorite part of the movie. I usually skip over it on repeat viewings.)

My only quibble with this piece is that it's ODing on yellows and greens.

Anonymous said...

I found the font, Doug.

If you shoot me an email addy, Ican send you what I came up with.

Doug said...

Steve, I've met Alex Ross several times, and have a friend who knows Alex fairly well. I can pretty safely assure you that Alex has no malicious intent with his depictions of super-heroes.

That being said, and if you think back to the original intent of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the manner in which Ross chooses to portray his heroes/heroines does harken to the days of the classic heroes of the ancient world -- ideals of physical strength, confidence, etc. If we as viewers ascribe other meaning to this, then that's on us. And that's art/literature's aim, I suppose. My opinion.

Osvaldo -- I sent you a direct message on Twitter.


Doug said...

Big shout-out to Osvaldo for the masthead currently on display! Taking criticisms on the black to the right side, though -- tell me if you like that, or if not what color might look better.

Thanks, Osvaldo!!


MattComix said...

Love the new masthead. ..and still only 25 cents! But is it code approved?

Only suggestion I could make would be maybe see if some kind of bronze like texture could be boot on the title background to make it look more like a plaque.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you like it!

I get so much out of all the content on this site, I just wanted to do a small thing to contribute.

This was just a quickie job - when I have more time to play around I'll see what I can do about texture while keeping the text legible.

I am looking into a solution on the black square. . .

Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, man, that new masthead is all kinds of awesome! And the "Still only 25¢" is the cherry on top - although MattComix has a point: maybe the Code seal needs to be on there somewhere. Regardless, bang-up job, Osvaldo!
And I am by no means wise in the ways of Photoshop, but if that black square really bugs you, can't you just make it the same color as the background on the other side?

Anonymous said...

Yes. I think that is what Doug has been trying to do in the past.

Doug, I used cd7f32 as the hexcode for the background color - if that helps.

Greg said...

I like Ross' stuff for the most part, and this piece is nice. Great to see the Avengers get the commemorative treatment. Lots of history there...

As for the mastheads, I'm also partial to the snowy one with the Avengers and Surfer. I'm not actually familiar with where it comes from, but I like it!

Garett said...

I like the new masthead! I also like Ross, although I think his work can have a distant tone to it. I enjoyed his Shazam the best, and also Justice.

Interesting speculation about getting commissioned art from any artist, living or dead, David! Have to ponder that one...who would be my top 3?

Doug said...

If you've not heard, Nick Cardy passed away about an hour ago. What a great cover artist for DC, as well as a super draftsman in the Teen Titans interiors. He'll be missed.


Doug said...

I think we have a winner on the masthead now. I've matched the color that runs behind the crafted image, so we should be consistent all the way across your screen. I have to say "I love this!"

Thanks again, Osvaldo!


Teresa said...

RIP Nick Cardy. The first cover artists to galvanized my love for comics.
I stared at this cover so long, it is still etched in my brain.

Edo Bosnar said...

Yeah, RIP Nick Cardy - one of the greatest cover artists ever.

And Doug, the masthead looks even better now. Again, great job - I mean both you and Osvaldo.

david_b said...

A HUGE LOSS.. He made some of my all-time favorite covers. Long before Perez, he was THE Teen Titans artist.

I have his Aquaman ish 55 up in my cube above my PC here at work...

Pausing in silence.

david_b said...

Teresa, FUNNY you should pick that Supes comic.. I just bought a VF copy of that, since that cover was so iconic and I happen to enjoy Bronze and Silver Batgirl stories.

The interior team-up story was dull as all heck, but loved the cover. I'm just glad Mr. Cardy was able to revisit the original Titans with a few covers here and there.., decades after his tenure was over.

Doc Savage said...

I find Ross drawings unbearably stiff and static; everyone looks like a posed mannequin to me. He's very good at capturing a likeness but I find his work lacking in the dynamism essential to super hero art. I saw a few issues of Astro City--much preferred the interior artist's work.

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