Good evening and welcome back to my (hopefully) more regular blog! In the spirit of how Sunday’s used to run, we’ll be kicking things back off with a good old Top 5 list. I’ve recently placed “Superman” on my pull list, thanks in part to the huge buzz around John Romita Jr pencilling the series, and also in part to Geoff Johns writing it. I’d already read Johns’ take on the Man of Steel during his run on Action Comics before the New 52 reboot and thought he captured the voice of Kal perfectly. So anyway, in that light, today I’m going to be look at my top 5 Superman artists. Let’s get started.
5. John Romita Jr
Yup, right off the bat, even a mere three issues into the Johns/JRJR run Romita has managed to completely sell my on his take on Superman. His line work is good, I was already a fan of his artwork thanks to reading his run (or part of it anyway) on the Amazing Spider-Man, but his style really suits Supes. I think that he would have been better doing this before the New 52 reboot, I would much rather have seen his take on the unarmoured Superman we had what seems like many years ago, rather than the Superman we have now, who’s covered in a huge amount of unnecessary lines. But still, with what we have right now I’m very happy with what I’m seeing on the page every month, he captures Superman’s grandiose, particularly while in the air while at the same time keeping Clark grounded and reserved, almost quietly confident. I know that Romita Jr is very divisive in the comic community, I happen to fall on the side of the fence that is unashamedly a big fan of his work and I think he is a great choice for what I’m considering a return to the Superman I knew and loved under Geoff Johns.
4. Jim Lee
From here on out, this list is going to be looking at stuff from before the New 52, so even though number 4 on my list is the source of almost all the redesigns of DC’s superheroes, for this entry I’ll be specifically looking at the pencilling on Superman for Tomorrow originally published in Superman issues #204-215. The story itself, from a writer I’m usually a huge fan of in Brian Azzarello, is actually not all that great. I mean, it’s not terrible mind you but there are so many other Superman stories out there that are both stronger in terms of plot and character. The art, however, is some of the greatest Superman art I’ve seen. The interpretation we see here has a striking, very bulky appearance, just pulsing with raw power. Granted, this is a look I could see being stupidly hard to disguise within the Clark Kent reporter life but boy does he look freaking awesome. Easily one of my all time looks for the Man of Steel.
3. Frank Quitely
It’s funny how many of my favourite artists for Superman pop up working alongside some of my favourite writers and Frank Quitely is now exception, working with the great Grant Morrison on All-Star Superman. Quitely’s take on Superman takes things back to a more Silver Age look with his pencils, not going over the top on a tonne of detail while keeping Superman looking powerful. The great thing with the art in this book is that while Quitely’s pencils are beautifully tight and simple, giving Superman a very classic look, Jamie Grant’s digital inks and colours bring it right into the modern day, allowing the shading to be completed without cross hatching or other similar techniques which gives it all a very smooth look, reducing the amount of line detail required without making Superman look cartoonish. Some top work and actually, if you haven’t read it an all round wonderful Superman book.
3. Gary Frank
Another Geoff Johns collaboration which has resulted in one of the greatest story lines in a Superman comic, Gary Frank’s take on Superman is easily my favourite. So, if my favourite Superman artist is number 2, then who managed to take number 1 and why? Well, we’ll get to that shortly, for now let’s take a look at why Frank is my favourite. My first introduction to Superman, before I had the chance to read any of the comics and before I had the chance to watch the Superman Animated Series I sat through Superman I & II, two of my all time favourite movies. It meant that, from my perspective, Christopher Reeve was Superman, that was my definitive portrayal of what would become my all time favourite superhero. So along comes Action Comics #858, the beginning of Gary Frank’s run on Action. Frank’s Superman is Christopher Reeve in a comic, and it’s truly stunning. The thing is, Geoff Johns (as I’ve already covered) has a knack for writing Superman how I think he should be written, powerful but understanding, striking and sometimes intimidating but caring and sensitive and drawing Superman to look like Christopher Reeve helps pull you into this Superman, it makes it all so believable.
1. Joe Shuster
While he may not be my all time favourite artist, or my favourite artist on Superman, Joe Shuster takes the number 1 spot since were it not for him and Jerry Siegel, we might not be here discussing our favourite Superman artist, hell we probably wouldn’t have most of the superheroes we have right now. These guys kicked it all off, created a phenomenon that may have gone through peaks and troughs in terms of money and popularity but has survived for 76 years and spawned so many incredible artists, writers, stories and characters. And you know what, the man could draw. It might be a far cry from the Superman we get on a monthly basis from DC currently, but he is still quite obviously Superman and I still like the art style. This is where it all began, Superman, superheroes in fact just comics in general.
Thank you for stopping by and checking out the top 5 artists associated with my all time favourite superhero, this list has honestly taken me about three hours to put together and write up, just from all the time I’ve spent going through books, looking through art online and desperately trying to make a decision one way or the other. Number one was pretty easy, that was about it though. Ok guys, I’m pretty much done for the night now but I will be back later in the week with something else, just assessing what I can realistically achieve with the amount of time I have available. Hope you enjoyed the read and return for more!