Friday, November 7, 2008

Top Five Fantastic Four Artists

This is a feature that I did intermittedly in my last blog. Thought I'd make my first actual blog post about the same subject. The comic medium is talked about often, but the establishment of an actual canon for the art form is really young and underdeveloped. Here's my take on the top artists on a singular title, character or story (in this case the Fantastic Four). Funny how something that seems like a given as a choice now, a year and a half later, seems crazy. (All these photos come from the amazing Grand Comic Book Database)

Honorable Mention
Art Adams

What a short run, but what a beauitful run! Few artists would be able to make this where they did work on a book barely featuring the main team, but Adams 'gets' the FF in a way that few people do. Amazing monsters and detail work. Has also done sporadic covers and posters.

Steve McNiven

Coming from CrossGen in the early aughts, McNiven made his name at Marvel with his lush, Art Nouveau inspired approach to the Fantastic Four. Brought an illustrative softness to the book, which is not an easy feat.

John Buscema

In the 'wasteland' between the historic peaks of the Fantastic Four (more on that later) there was the swipe-tastic run of Rich Buckler and... not much else. Except of course for Jolly John Buscema, who had a good run on the book in the early seventies. This run is not one of John's absolute best, but this is John Buscema, meaning it's still better than most everything out there.

Top Five

5. Alan Davis

Alan had two great runs on Fantastic Four, the first coming in the latre nineties, revamping the book after Marvel got the books back from Jim Lee, and the second was a mini-series a few years back which took place in the hypothetical future of the FF. Both runs showed off Davis' lush figure work and dynamic storytelling.

4. Mike Wieringo

Mike Wieringo has a cartoony, loose style not at once evident as being compatible with a book like the Fantastic Four. But with writer John Byrne he helmed one of the more memorable runs on the book, including possibly one of the best Dr. Doom stories ever, "Unthinkable". Mike died a couple years ago and is sadly missed.

3. Walt Simonson

When fans and critics site artists capable of returning a book back to its 'glory days' one name pops up more than most, and that name is Walt Simonson. Simonson is an artist who understand how the Fantastic Four works, what makes them tick, and what stories work best with them. His run in the late eighties reignited a passion for the book unseen since, well... since our next guy!

2. John Byrne

I said before, and I'll say again: There are our next two guys, and then there is everyone else, at least when it comes in regards to the Fantastic Four. John Byrne took over the book (as writer, penciler and inker!) in the eighties, fresh off his star-making run on X-Men. He revitalized the book, told exciting imaginative stories, and also added now-classic elements of his own. Terrax, Nova, "The Trial of Galactus", Invisible Woman... all of this is Byrne's legacy.

1. Jack Kirby

Really, can there be any other choice? A run that helped jump-start the Silver Age and solidfy Marvel Comics at the forefront? A run that is in contention of the greatest comic run of all time? A run responsible for the existence of Galactus, the Silver Surfer, Annihilus, the Black Panther, the Inhumans...and oh, the Fantastic Four themselves and Dr. Doom. A special mention goes to Joe Sinnott, who's inks helped make this arguably the best work of Kirby's career.

That's my list. Thoughts? Comments?

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