I mentioned the fact I would be talking about the artists I enjoy, so here is the first part of the preliminary rounds – the artists I dig but who are just outside the Top 5 list of my all-time favourite artists. In alphabetical order, here are the first six in the category of Cool Artists:
For his Planetary work alone, Cassaday has earned a place on my list of artists whose work I love. I even bought the X-MenAlpha Flight mini he did with Ben Raab, solely because of his eye-poppingly gorgeous art. An absolute joy to behold, he makes any work he touches even better, his sense of story is immaculate, his design is phenomenal and there is an innate coolness to everything he draws. A serious contender for a future Top 5 artist, once he has got more of a body of work under his belt.
The beautiful, slick, exquisite penmanship of Charest just sets of my visual pleasure sensors to overload. I even bought the pointless, Lobdell-written Wildcats, just to ogle the delightful art and swim in the sensuous beauty of it. I remember the story about Grant Morrison, sick to the point of hospitalisation, being given a batch of comics by Mark Millar, including the latest WildCATS when Moore was writing it. ‘Is it drawn by Charest?’ he was heard to ask, which goes to show the level of admiration his work can inspire.
One of the defining moments in my maturation in comic book taste beyond just superhero was the discovery of a British reprint of Howard Chaykin’s reimagining of The Shadow (‘Blood & Judgement’); it was just astounding, to me, with the mix of sex and violence and the unique and dazzling art style. Everything he drew just looked sexier, cooler and snazzier, and that hasn’t changed in all his work, from his signature piece, American Flagg!, through his porn masterpiece, Black Kiss, and his various superhero work, such as Midnight Men and Power & Glory. I’m very happy he’s coming back to the drawing board again.
I first saw Dillon’s expressive art and clean lines in the pages of 2000AD, and he was good then, and he’s only got better. He will always be linked with Garth Ennis, and Preacher and Hellblazer, and his Punisher was hilariously funny, and I was really tempted to get the superhero work he has been doing with Daniel Way, just because it is Dillon. He draws talking heads, action scenes, emotional scenes, funny scenes, everything; and he does it without drawing attention to his superlative work and tells the story perfectly. I hope his increased presence on the scene gets him more money, as he deserves it.
I don’t recall if I had seen Gary’s art prior to his run on the Incredible Hulk with Peter David, but it became an instant favourite, especially coming so soon after Dale Keown’s run, which I think of as the pinnacle of the David run on the character. His classic superhero physiques, solid storytelling, as well as his facial expressions, matched with a strong, slick line, mean his work will always be a draw for me. He has developed a great working relationship with JMS, with Midnight Nation perhaps being the strongest collaboration, and he had a fair crack at writing for himself too, in the rather good Kin.
Hitch started out as an Alan Davis clone, but most artists start somewhere and then progress. And, boy, has he progressed. He started well on the second season of Storwatch, then blew the comic book apart with his widescreen magic on The Authority. With The Ultimates, he is now one of the definitive superhero artists currently working in the field, each issue a visual delight. Strong vision matched to pitch-perfect penmanship and storytelling, with an eye for the stunning image, he has it all. Long may it last.