Bit of an artist(s) spotlight today, specifically looking at the current wave of extremely talented artists coming out of Italy. See, comics are a visual medium and the art has always been the most important aspect for me. It’s a debate/conversation that has been going around for a while and since taste is an entirely subjective beast it varies from person to person. I can make my way a comic with a story that doesn’t grab me, hell even a comic with a flat out garbage story, if the art grabs me. I frequently follow artists from book to book whereas there are very few writers I do this with, even a character isn’t necessarily enough to pull me in. In the complete opposite direction, I can’t finish a book, even one that is of literary greatness, if I find the art to be poor. Whether it’s lacklustre art or maybe art that just doesn’t fit a particular story, it’s the make or break point of a book for me. Now I’m not putting writers down here, really I’m not. There are a huge number of writers I can name that I’ve loved the work of, but I can give you a much greater list of artists I love more.
But I’m not here to sing the praises of comic artists in general. No. I had a realisation recently, one I discussed with a friend of mine not too long ago, that not only are there a fair wedge of books I’ve been reading lately with an Italian artist but near enough half of the original art in my collection is from an Italian artist. What makes them so special? Well, for one thing every single one of them I’ve met has been genuinely lovely, they’re so incredibly gracious and warm. But the biggest and most important thing is they’re damn fucking talented. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The first I met, and probably the first one I started seeing in comics is Emanuela Lupacchino. She did some work in Supergirl during the Red Daughter of Krypton story arc, a time in Supergirl where I hated what they were doing to the character, but loved Ema’s work on it so much I ended up buying an original page from it. Later, Ema joined the team full time during the Crucible arc, in my opinion the best arc in New 52 Supergirl. Her clean line work and wonderful facial expression work pulled me in. I’m looking into picking up a few Valiant trades simply because her name is on the cover, not through any particular interest in either the publisher or any of their characters. Have a look through some examples of her work here and please go check out her DeviantArt page.
Next up is an artist I only came across this year on DC Comics Bombshells (look out for the pattern here too). Mirka Andolfo hasn’t been on the American Comics circuit that long and, relatively speaking, she’s still quite young too but her artwork is something quite special. As soon as I’d finished reading issue #7 I went straight online, ignoring the rest of the pull list I had sitting there to go find out more about this amazing artist. Quickly finding her on Twitter I had a look through bits and pieces she’d posted on there and popped over to her DeviantArt page and, well, I think the art speaks for itself. Originally starting out primarily as a colourist, Mirka not only has an incredible amount of talent at bringing the drawings of others to life, she also pencils and inks her own work where she can too. Honestly, it’s phenomenal. I’ll leave you my favourite piece I’ve seen on her Twitter and this link to her DeviantArt page. This is a name you’ll want to remember and watch for in the future.
Another artist that’s been getting a bit of work over at DC recently, Paolo Pantalena has a very healthy body of work behind him already but is well worth noting in this post anyway. A good way for me to judge how much I like and artists work is by seeing how they handle one of my favourite characters and, in the lead up to the Rebirth event, Paolo has taken over the art duties of the final three issues of Deathstroke. The last issue, and Paolo’s first, was simply sublime. Now being a huge fan of comic art, I fully understand that there is more to it than the pencils, and right off the bat I could see that the colour work was absolutely on point too but the pencils lay the groundwork and boy, Paolo killed it. His attention to detail is stunning. Take a look at a couple of pages from the issue below and then, as above, please go have a look at Paolo’s DeviantArt page.
Onwards we go, to another artist I had admittedly not heard of until very recently, funnily enough brought to my attention thanks to the fantastic DC Comics Bombshells (Marguerite Bennett, you get some of the best artists!). Maria Laura Sanapo had mostly worked on Zenescope comics, usually on covers, before landing some Bombshells issues and I sincerely hope she gets more. I had exactly the same reaction to Maria’s work as I said above with Mirka Andolfo, my immediate reaction was frantically searching online for more examples of her work. Then I saw some of her pre-show commissions for London Super Comic Con and absolutely had to have one. The best part was, I sat next to her in a cafe watching the image go from rough pencils to inks, a truly fascinating process to witness. To top it off, Maria was incredibly cool, I will absolutely be commissioning her again in the future and sincerely hope DC give her more work. Now as far as I can see Maria doesn’t have a DeviantArt page but she has set up a Comic Art Fans page you should check out.
Next up is Marco Santucci, another who was at London Super Comic Con this year but I unfortunately just didn’t have the money to commission him. Brought fully to my attention through the best Superman comic in the last four years, Superman Lois & Clark, Marco continues the theme of clean, personal and emotional art that makes a comic so special. I much prefer it when an artist puts their own stamp on a book rather than conforming to any of this house style bullshit, and Marco just has this beautiful, flowing style that makes me take freaking ages to read a book because it all looks so good! I’d highly recommend you go check out Marco’s website, especially the original art page just so you can see his work without all the colour on it.
Lastly, and right now one of my absolute favourites in comics, is Laura Braga. I first found out about Laura when I saw the previews for her first issue of Witchblade, back when it was announced that Ron Marz would be coming back on board to write. It’s amusing that two of my favourite comics artists have not only come from that book, but have also come from a Ron Marz run! Anyway, Laura is another example of someone you really want to meet at a convention. Even when she’s incredibly busy, she’s always smiling and genuinely loves what she’s doing and it shows in her work. I very proudly own a commission from Laura, which I will end the post on below, and will 100% be seeking another from her. Funnily enough, Laura has been featured in a few issues of DC Comics Bombshells recently, with more upcoming which is just great, I really hope DC continue to give her work since I think her style is absolutely perfect for many characters at the publisher. Have a look at the commission below and the go straight over to Laura’s website, you won’t regret it.
So there we have it, there is stunning talent all over the world as far as comics go, and with internet access being so much better on average now than it was all people need is a scanner and they’re off, but I feel the already established brilliance and upcoming talent from Italy warranted spotlighting. Seriously, these guys and girls are some of the best in the industry right now and can only reach greater heights going forward. It’s going to be very exciting indeed to watch the progress of these careers.