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?