Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Take a Stand - THE Artist of the 1980s


david_b said...

Seeing I didn't like MOST of the '80s art, talking strictly now of big name artists who are most associated with the '80s (McFarlane, Miller, Byrne, Quesada, early Jim Lee, etc..), any of the listed artists I mention will only stand out in terms of personal unfavorability.

I'm going to probably be a lone minority here but for my personal favorite, I'd go with George Perez. I didn't have interest in his WW as much as I perhaps should (just not into WW..), but his Teen Titans made me excited to collect DC comics.

If the artist can create enthusiasm in me to not only buy the current issues, but go back and collect all his back issues, he's my guy. Marv Wolfman's scripting had a huge play in that as well, obviously, but as folks here have agreed comics are primarily a visual medium, my pick would be Perez.

Anonymous said...

John Byrne.

J.A. Morris said...

Am I the only one who can't see the 2 middle images? I see the hand, then I see 2 "blank" images, then Galactus.

I'll go with Byrne. There's the Byrne. He went from being part of the Bronze Age Holy Trinity with Claremont & Austin on X-men to a 60 issue run on Fantastic Four. Alpha Flight wasn't great, but the art was always nice to look at.

And he was the one artist during that time I would follow from title to title. Before he worked on Superman, I would have never bought DC comics on a regular basis.

Doug said...

Sorry, J.A. (and everyone else)!

I cobbled this post together in about five minutes after I got to school (great use of taxpayer funds, I might add). For the sake of speed I used web links rather than locally saved images. Lesson learned.

Thanks for the head's up -- and my apologies!


Abe Lucas said...

Byrne's best work was with the X-Men ('70s) and when he had Terry Austin inking his work, George Perez never enjoyed the widespread popularity he should have gotten and I don't think history remembers The Teen Titans as well as it should.

I'll go with Frank Miller. He reinvented Daredevil, reinvented the Kingpin, and further explored the limits of comics with Ronin and of course the Dark Knight Returns, which is among the most influential comic stories ever told (though I abhor the art).

So, yeah...Frank Miller.

Edo Bosnar said...

My subjective choice, since he's basically my favorite comic book artist, is Byrne.
But I think even an objective case can be made for Byrne as well. My impression is that he was wildly popular with fans, and pretty much any project he worked on, until the late '80s, was assured of being a top-seller. And older books with his art in it seemed to appreciate in value - I remember when looking through back-issue catalogs that this was the case not only for earlier issues of his fabled run on X-men, but also in any series where his art appeared, like Iron Fist, Marvel Team-up or even the Champions.
In that sense, I think Perez comes in a close second.

Miller, though, probably had more influence. For better or for worse, over the long run he was much more of a trend-setter than either Byrne or Perez.

William said...

I've got to with John Byrne as well, for the exact same reasons that J.A. Morris listed.

I followed Byrne to any book he worked on. Including Superman, Hulk, West Coast Avengers, and even Namor.

It's a real shame that J.B. is not currently working on a mainstream comic title. Of course I don't think he much cares for the current style of todays comics any more than most of us around here do.

Unknown said...


Perez gets an honorable mention. Whenever I saw his stuff in the 80s (or from the 80s) I really like it, but he wasn't drawing anything I was following in those years.

So yeah, Byrne.

But a special shout out to the ever-underrated: Our Pal Sal.

Garett said...

PEREZ, for his long run on Teen Titans. If you can see it in large size like in the omnibus, it gets even better.

For fine art ability, I'll go with Bill Sienkiewicz. Great draftsman in the Neal Adams style on Moon Knight, and great painter as seen in Daredevil: Love and War graphic novel and Elektra Assassin. He's more daring and expressive than Alex Ross, and I'm a fan of Ross's work.

Best creator of the decade could go to Miller or Byrne, when you include their writing and art. Dave Stevens was probably the best pinup artist of the decade. Some others: John Romita Jr., Michael Golden, Garcia Lopez, Jaime Hernandez, Kerry Gammill.

I think the '80s were the best time in comics for the Artist/Writer. Chaykin, Starlin, Grell, Byrne, Miller, Simonson, Stevens, Layton, etc--all could draw and write well. The '90s emphasized art over writing, and the '00s flipped that over so the writers ruled. There's great pleasure in reading a work created by one guy, when he knows what he's doing.

I recently read The Dreamer by Will Eisner from '86-- great one! Tells the story of Eisner just breaking into comics in the late '30s, and features many artists and publishers you'd recognize, although Eisner barely fictionalizes them with different names. Jack Kirby becomes "Jack King", Batman becomes "Rodent Man". Recommended!

Abe Lucas said...

Everyone has made excellent arguments for John Byrne and believe me, I worshiped the man's work during the first half of the '80s but I soured on his FF run for giving Ben Grimm the boot, giving Sue a hideous trailer Mullet hairdo, and killing off Terrax, the Skrull home world, and driving the promising Alpha Flight into the ground. His art suffered without Terry Austin--a point I can't stress enough.

I also think it was a travesty that he was taken off(?) the Incredible Hulk because as someone who was drifting out of comics circa '85, his brief run on that book was superb. He made Doc Samson cool and his renderings of the New Mexico desert lingered in my mind for years. Plus there was that epic battle between ol' greenskin and the most powerful Avengers. Byrne extended my childhood another six months with his Incredible Hulk effort.

But I'm still going with Frank Miller. :D

Dr. Oyola said...

Oh yeah, Sienkiewicz!

Elektra: Assassin was fantastic, as was his work on New Mutants.

I forgot about him. . . but. .. still. . for regular monthly work, I have to stick with Byrne

Edo Bosnar said...

Osvaldo, interesting that you bring up Sal B. It's no secret that he's one of my favorite artists, and I think a case can be made that he was THE Marvel artist at Marvel during the Bronze Age (if we use the 1970-1985 metric). He was a work horse whose art appeared all over Marvel's titles throughout that period (and beyond) and certainly deserves more credit than he gets.
In fact, since you brought up Sienkiewicz and the New Mutants, I'll say that I preferred it when Sal was the main artist on that title. He drew them so that they actually looked like teenagers, whereas Sienkiewicz made them all look like twenty-somethings.

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmmm, looking at that last comment, I see a mistake in the last part of that second sentence. It should read "THE Marvel artist at Marvel during Marvel's marvelous Bronze Age." :P

Anonymous said...

For who had the most impact/influence in the 80s...either Byrne or Miller; I actually like Perez's stuff better, but those two guys had quite an impact.

Mike W.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with the general consensus and say Byrne. He certainly made an impact at Marvel and DC during that time. And despite the work he did as writer/artist/inker on so many books, I think the hidden gem in his output was his run Captain America.

And since we're talking about hidden gems, or at least I was talking about hidden gems, I do have to give a shout out to John Romita Jr. Not only was he a solid artist in his own right, he created a character by the name of.....

The Prowler (once made IHOP's Most Wanted).

Anonymous said...

Sienkiewicz without a doubt.

He did the superhero funnybook thing early on - FF, Moon Knight - and did it unusually well, but clearly decided he wanted to go much further.

Elektra: Assassin, Brought to Light, those two issues of Big Numbers, his Moby Dick adaptation and my personal choice for best comic ever, the mighty Stray Toasters..... Astonishing work - how many artists even come close to that kind of ambition or range?


Russ said...

I may be breaking the rules on this, though technically this guy DID draw some comics. But to use the term "artist" more broadly, I think the most influential. brilliant and revolutionary creator in the 80s mainstream (lots of new visions in the alt and underground arenas as well) was Alan Moore. As others did with their favorites, I pretty much followed anything with his name on it. He may have been the only "writer" during the decade to generate that kind of enthusiasm.

Sean Budde said...

With few exceptions, i think the artists of the 70's, at DC in particular, did better looking art than the art during the 80's. I like the old-time art techniques that have since been lost completely. Today, we see nothing that can compare to that artistry. The 70's saw true diversity of art techniques by artists who truly knew their craft. The 80's had a few exceptions, but usually, it was the standard superhero type art that has become so tediously prevalent in the decades since the decline of other genres, in place of superhero overkill, beginning in the early 80's. The craft has been lost and replaced with the "hot" artists of the 90's. There will never be another comic book artist with art techniques like Luis Dominguez, and i think that's a shame. The diversity is gone.

pfgavigan said...

This is a difficult one for me as I began to get out of comics during this era. My departure had numerous reasons, but one of the primary had to do with the changing art styles.

One of the reasons I enjoyed Marvel was that I felt that the art, while less "realistic" than DC was far more dramatic. I really enjoyed the young (at the time) John Byrne and his somewhat cartoonish style. It was light. It was charming. It was a lot of fun. As time went by his pencils became more 'accomplished', but less 'spontaneous.' At least in my opinion.

It was at this time that I felt that a lot of artwork was being overdone and cumbersome. Popular with the extreme fans but deadly to the narrative. And God help the inker who dared deviate the slightest from the raw pencils.


Garett said...

Hey Sean, thanks for pointing out Luis Dominguez! I've been looking at his horror covers just now--very nice. Is his interior work also good?

Abe Lucas said...

I love when BAB becomes "Byrne Robotics" for a day! ;) ;)

Ewan said...

Funny, I was just thinking about this topic this morning. It was a super close toss-up between Byrne and Perez, but Perez takes it by just a hair for me at that point (late 70's I might have flipped the other way though). The progression of Perez into the gorgeous early Baxter era Teen Titans versus the aforementioned mullet Sue in Byrne's FF is influencing me on this one.

A name sometimes forgotten but whose star shined brightly early on was Keith Giffen, his early Legion run contemporary with Byrne's FF and Perez's TT at one point put him right up there (before the big "artistic change" debacle).

Lots of good names mentioned here like Sienkiewicz, his New Mutants run floored me back in the day. Although actually, it was Art Adams' work on New Mutants Special Edition that may be my absolute favorite 80's work of all time.

Moebius should be mentioned at this level too I think, and for an underdog, I've give a shout to Greg LaRocque, very underrated artist.

Anonymous said...

For me it has to be John Byrne, if only for his legendary work on the X-men. Perez comes next.

- Mike 'practicing drawing stick figures' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Murray said...

Over and over again, I see "Byrne during his X-Men run" or "Marshall Rogers in Batman" or...well, fill in the penciller of your choice and you'll find a common link to all their superstar moments: Mr. Terry Austin.

Terry Austin is the artist that welded the Bronze Age together.

(Inkers are artists. It's a real eye-opener to see the virtual stick men a penciller can sometimes supply and the inker is expected to make the page work)

Anonymous said...

George Perez. The man was an amazing artist, with dynamic action, fantastic storytelling, and a unique eye for detail. He always complements (and improves) the story he's working on, and he always drew in a style that was unmistakably his. Some complain about his insane detail (including John Byrne, who otherwise admits that Perez is the supirior draftsman between the two), but I always found it to make his art even better.

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