Saturday, October 10, 2015

#Inktober -- Jazzy Johnny Romita

Doug: Welcome back to another weekend -- and who doesn't like that? This time around we're featuring the art of John Romita, Sr. as part of the Twitterverse's month-long celebration called #Inktober. Last weekend we presented some pencil and ink sketches by Big John Buscema, and if he's the Michelangelo of comics, then Romita is certainly some other Renaissance luminary. I am using John Romita's The Amazing Spider-Man Artist's Edition, Volume 2 from IDW for the pretty pictures. In all cases, the Jazzy one inked himself (albeit with Tony Mortellaro credited for an assist here and there). In some cases you'll note that these books are so big that I could not fit my entire selection on the scanner bed. Sit back and enjoy.


Humanbelly said...

And I never, ever understood why his brief stint on FF was so universally frowned-upon. A number of years back, when doing a read-through of the entire series, the transition from a less-than-inspired Kirby to a truly solid Romita (with both being aided by Sinnott's clean, distinctive inks, IIRC) hardly seemed like an artistic bump at all. What does come to mind is that Stan REALLY seemed to lose track of actually writing good stories for the book, making it a tougher read.

Gosh, though, these pages you've provided, Doug-- they're almost like a really good movie trailer. They totally make me want to find these books and plunk down with them for several days-!

Romita's background in Romance-type comics was just a perfect fit here, as his visuals always make me think more of television than of film, and that fits the personal, close, intimate tone of the book to a T. He creates that sense of immediacy that you get with TV (think- soap operas, cop shows, doctor shows, detective shows, etc). And whereas with Buscema (and film) you get a feeling of Life-plus or Bigger Than Life, with Romita the compelling draw is that you're getting, well, Life. Ditko was able to set the ball in motion, but Romita was the artist that fully made Spidey into the book that the reader could fully and personally agonize over-- a very unusual level of investment for comic readers, I think. And that quality clearly carried over, IMO, into both Kane's and Andru's stints on the book. (Personally, I loved both of them as well-- thought they carried Romita's torch ably and proudly-)


Redartz said...

When Spider-man is the subject, John Romita comes first to my mind. He was the artist on the book when I first started reading comics, and drew the first issue I read upon returning to comics. Spidey has had some great illustrators: Ditko, Kane, Frenz among my favorites. Ditko made him great, Romita made him iconic.

Speaking of iconic, John Romita Sr. is a master of cover art. Not even taking into account his countless classic covers on Amazing Spider-Man, his gallery of work on Marvel's titles is vast. Gil Kane perhaps did more in terms of quantity, and did them well. But the Jazzy One gave his covers a striking sense of dramatic design, a dignity; everything and everyone just looked RIGHT.

Martinex1 said...

I totally agree with what has been said, particularly about Romita on FF. Likewise though, I liked Buscema's work on Spider-Man; the issue with the Prowler introduction is one I like in particular.

In the art Doug supplied, that Doc Oc knockdown is great. You just don't see that type of complexity yet clarity any more.

ColinBray said...

When I think of JR I think of Marvel's in-house ads and merchandise. All those things that gave Marvel consistency of style and character, especially during the Bronze Age. All those lunch boxes and pencil cases, mostly the work of one man.

Add his covers and Art Director role and we have a towering presence in our childhood and youth - very often without us being aware of it until after the fact.

Also, I'm struck by the newspaper strip feel in the examples Doug posted, the clean lines and storytelling ability. So while I was struck by John Buscema the artist last week I'm struck by the John Romita the comic artist today.

And a lovely man, too, by all accounts.

Anonymous said...

If Big John was the Michelangelo of comics then John Romita Sr. was definitely the Raphael of comicbooks! Two great masters of the industry.

- Mike 'thought Donatello was only a Ninja Turtle' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Rip Jagger said...

Someone's already said that John Romita was the guy who designed the look of Marvel merchandise. Not unlike Jose Garcia-Lopez at DC, Romita was the guy who was responsible for the house look (after Kirby's departure) and he gave the house a sleek modern and totally accessible gloss which served very well. John Romita has designed some of the best of Marvel's costumes and looks, though other artists were first to draw a character in a story and often get credited with the "creation".

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

As far as the Renaissance comparisons go, the first name that popped into my head was Boticelli, just because like JR, he was known for his renderings of lovely women. However, giving it some more thought, it seems like Colin nailed it from the start: Titian, definitely.

JJ said...

By the Seven Rings of Raggadorr! (I just love Doctor Strange wacky exclamations) John Romita still blows me away. It's nearly 2016 and this man is STILL the gold standard for superhero illustration. His Spider-Man is unequaled. I was looking at these excerpts and I wanted to read the stories immediately. Romita's work is magnetic that way.

Also, poor Peter. Look how Jameson abuses him. Screaming at him, poking his chest not once, but three times, making him work unpaid. What a horrible bastard. Makes it all the more delightful when Spidey torments him. -JJ

Edo Bosnar said...

Hmm, JJ taking delight in the torment of JJJ. Interesting - perhaps due to envy over being slightly J-deficient? :P

R. Lloyd said...

Romita was my favorite Spider-Man artist and I wish he could have stayed on longer. I also liked his son's art and to me it was nice to see the continuity of the father leaving the son to take over the comic strip. John Jr. also had the chops his father did only his style was a bit different. I still miss the brush feathering and the rendering style of the Romita Sr. To me he was the quintessential Spider-Man artist. Ditko was still an influence, however it was Romita's more realistic style that sold me.

I remember reading in an interview it was a matter of a promise residuals from the Spidey character that drove Ditko away to Charlton Comics. Lee apparently made promises he couldn't or wouldn't keep. Stan always claimed that Ditko left because he wanted the Green Goblin to be an anonymous person with no connection to cast of characters. This, Ditko claims isn't the truth.

Garett said...

Many nice samples here, Doug! I like that scene with Doctor Strange and Spidey.

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