Keri and I read a lot of comics. Like, a stupid amount. We’re really part of the problem and why we can’t have nice things because we occasionally continue to support the $#@%ery of DC and Marvel. But that’s neither here, nor there. Mostly we read comics because while we love the story, we really, really love the art. In fact, I have quit series because they’ve changed artists, or I just find the art to be cringe-worthy. To start this week off right, we decided to compile our favorite artists because there is no amount of praise that can be too much for these magnificent seven.
Jen’s favorite artists
My favorite artists are a weird jumble of styles, most of them discovered by way of favorite series. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet two of these folks, too, at Denver Comic Con. I’ve actually sought out additional series because one of them was attached to it; I adore them that much.
This year, at Denver Comic Con, I had the chance to briefly speak with Yanick Paquette, and he affirmed all of my long-held beliefs about one of my favorite DC super heroes, Swamp Thing. Mainly, that the main story of Swamp Thing has always been a love story between the title character and Abby Arcane. Also known as the Best Damn Love Story, but I digress, completely. His work on Swamp Thing cemented him as one of my favorite “traditional” comic artists. His panels are incredibly detailed, especially through the Rot World arc. This detail carries over into all of his DC work, but Swamp Thing is where he shines, with little leaves and petals and occasionally a rotting corpse. I would beg, borrow and steal (which might result in needing lawyers, guns and money) to have a signed copy of his panel in which the Avatar of the Green and the Avatar of Rot share a final farewell kiss.
I love everything about Albuquerque’s work, though I came to him via my favorite series, American Vampire. I love his character design and his sense of movement and motion. His combat panels are some of my favorites, and he does horror so very well. The fact that he can transform the stylish, beautiful Pearl into something nightmarish in the course of two panels never ceases to amaze. Even in non-horror series, like Ei8ht, his style suggests a sense of foreboding which I just adore.
Fiona Staples is, without question, one of my favorite artists for her style and expression. Her characters are always stylish, with awesome hair and clothes, but her faces are so expressive. Saga, of course, demonstrates this the best, currently. There is so much emotion in the story of Saga, Staples bolsters the dialog with her facial expressions, and she carries her own in the absence of dialog, with a single look. Her characters explain, with a glance, more than some characters explain with several bubbles of internal dialog. It is impossible to overstate how much I love her style.
Keri’s Favorite Artists
The first comics I ever collected were X-Men comics from the 90s. Andy Kubert was that artist. Thanks to him, I purchased extra copies of two comics, just so I could frame them separate from the rest of my collection. One such comic is above, featuring my absolute favorite comic book couple, Rogue and Gambit. He’s also responsible for the beautiful wedding between Scott Summers and Jean Grey (for as long as that lasted), and he’s the artist for Flashpoint. He quite possibly drew the most beautiful, as well as emotional, Bruce Wayne I have ever seen in a comic. Almost every time I pick up a comic and I unabashedly love the art, Kubert is the artist behind it.
I first discovered Kenneth Rocafort with The New 52 Teen Titans, and it was the above image that took my breath away. He has a very distinct art style, one that’s noticeable at a first glance. When I was a moron and read The New 52 Red Hood and the Outlaws (I do have a reason for that, albeit a dumb one), Rocafort’s art made most of the comic much better. If only he contributed a bit more to it. I wish he was steady with The New 52 Teen Titans as well. I’ve thought about picking up Marvel’s Civil War II, just because he’s part of it. If I ever meet him, I will beg him for the image above of Wonder Girl, or something very similar. I will never ever sell it.
When it was announced that DC was killing off Nightwing and sending Dick Grayson into the world of superspydom, I, like many others, was skeptical. How dumb of an idea could this get? Grayson ended up being one of my favorite comics in The New 52, and I’m not sure they could have found a better artist for him than Mikel Janin. This cover is my phone’s wallpaper so I can look at him daily. In addition to drawing the sexiest butt of all time, Janin’s art brought me to tears with his realistic drawings of a newborn baby trying to survive a desert with Grayson. Thank God Grayson saved the baby or I would have been an emotional wreck.
I know, I know; it’s another DC comics artist, but hear me out. Or rather, just look at his artistic rendering of The Flash from The New 52. His emphasis on pencils and grays makes each panel look as if the colors were an afterthought on top of his pencil art, and yet, the colors are matted to finish it out flawlessly. At the same time, the lightning from The Flash’s speed force is so vibrant, it’s a brilliant contrast to the pencil-work. Every panel of Manapul’s leaves me absolutely amazed, and I look forward to finding more of his stunning work.