It’s easy to forget how long some of the Big Two’s characters have been around for, those that don’t get such a huge following and maybe don’t get the love they deserve from their respective publisher. As far as Supergirl goes, it’s been a bit of a rocky road over the years, but things are looking up and, actually, they haven’t been too bad through the New 52 reboot. Yes, they turned her a little rage fueled for my tastes, especially during the “Red Daughter of Krypton” arc, but actually she has managed to pull in some really good artists. When volume 4 started back in the 90’s we had a series written by Peter David and drawn by Gary Frank, that’s one hell of a team up, so there is a history of quality creators outside of that example. While the story arc itself wasn’t to my taste, the quality of writing through “Red Daughter…” was actually really good, and now we’re out the other end of the tunnel hindsight allows me to see that it made sense for her to hit rock bottom so that from here on out, things can only get better. What we also got was jaw droppingly beautiful art through the arc, it really helped me swallow the bitter pill that was a Red Lantern Supergirl. But back on to my original point, last year there was a bit of a bustle over Superman turning 75, this year it’s been Batman, Batman, Batman for his 75th (slightly irritating how much more of a push that got than Superman, but that’s for another time) but this year Supergirl turned 55, which is still a really impressive milestone that, outside of her core group of fans, will get no fanfare or recognition at all. So, as part of my own little 55th birthday celebration for the year, and thanks in part to a rather Supergirl-centric convention weekend, here are my top 5 Supergirl artists. Once again, I would like to remind readers that this is my own personal opinion, yours may and probably will differ, and that’s totally ok!
5. Gary Frank
He may have only been on the title for a relatively short while, less than a year in fact, but I think Gary’s work is worth mentioning here. You don’t have to be on art duties on a title for years upon years to make an impression, and the reality is that Gary Frank has a really great style to his drawings. His line work is spot on, he has a good appreciation and understanding of anatomy and I think his facial expression work is very good too. I really enjoyed his short run at the start of Vol 4 of Supergirl from 1996, enough to use his work to kick this list off.
4. Mahmud Asrar
My first exposure of Mahmud Asrar came from New 52 Supergirl, and from the moment of opening the first page I was utterly blown away by this guys talent. He brings an incredible amount of energy to each panel, with far out shots sacrificing only a small amount of detail. He brought about a real sense of both youth and incredible power to Supergirl, but I think the biggest for me is even when there was a pause in the action, it never felt like Asrar was drawing a pose per se, he manages to capture the feeling of this being a snapshot of a fleeting moment, if that makes sense. What I’m trying to say is that his work doesn’t read like a 32 page book of pin ups with speech bubbles, it flows naturally and never feels forced. I’ve since moved on to other works of Asrar’s, most notably Dynamo 5 published through Image, which if you haven’t read, go get volume 1. It’s huge amounts of fun.
3. Al Plastino
What can I say? A legend in his own right, Plastino was the man working on Action Comics when #252 came out back in 1959 and so was also the man that gave Supergirl her look, he designed her. He was a top class artist for his time anyway, and I think there are very few artists that could truly hold themselves up to his standard now. But he makes this list not just as a great artist, but also for designing the last daughter of Krypton. It’s a legacy that has gone on for 55 years, with her appearance rarely shifting too far from his original designs, and as far as I’m concerned that’s a big enough achievement in it’s own right. I’m a huge lover of modern art, I really am but people through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were so damn lucky to be able to pick these up and read them in the prime of their life, hot off the press and fresh on the shelf. I’m incredibly envious.
2. Michael Turner
Yes, big shock I know, Turner on another one of my posts or top 5’s, but maybe a little bit of a shock that he isn’t positioned number one. Turner was on art duties for Superman Batman back in 2004 when it was decided Supergirl would be reintroduced into the DC Universe during “The Supergirl from Krypton”. It was a great way to bring her back, a really well written story with some great character moments for the Girl of Steel, but wow it had such a great cast of characters throughout. It proved to be such a big hit that the story line was adapted into the direct to DVD movie “Superman Batman: Apocalypse” which used an animation style almost spot on to Turner’s art. Turner also did a fair number of covers, both regular and variant, for the fifth volume of Supergirl so he had a pretty decent grasp on how to draw her. A truly fantastic artist, one I dearly wish we still had around to astound us with more beautiful art.
1. Emanuela Lupacchino
Bit out of the left field for some, I know, but seriously if you need convincing of this point then, for starters check out the cover I’m going to use as the example below, but also check out the new wave of Supergirl issues. So far Lupacchino has only done a few covers featuring Supergirl and a few interiors for the New 52 run, but oh my god I cannot overstate how perfectly suited she is to Kara. It is a match made in heaven. I had a terrible feeling when Asrar left the book that I’d not find an artist any where near as enjoyable as him on the book, then Yildray Cinar came aboard for a bit and things looked hopeful. Then there was a short period of time where DC couldn’t seem to hold one artist down to the series for any real length of time, but having chatted to Lupacchino it seems like she’ll be sticking around for a while, and boy I really hope so! It was her art that really got me through the “Red Daughter of Krypton” arc, which for the most part I couldn’t stand, but she captures everything about Supergirl I love even when she’s decked out as a Red Lantern. I can’t think of a better artist to have on the book as it goes through it’s new, uplifting and hopeful run. Exciting times are ahead for fans of Supergirl, and mark my words, Emanuela Lupacchino will go down as one of the best artists to grace this book. I state my entire, all be it relatively thin, reputation on that one statement.
And so that’s a wrap. I’m going to close out fairly quickly here since I said I’d jump in for some Battlefield with Matt tonight, so thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you for some new, fun stuff I’ll be doing later this week. As always, take care!