A Picture's Worth LogoPop culture and other perspectives with an artistic P.O.V. By Mike Pascale.
All contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2012 their respective owner(s).

 

You know the drill by now—you can’t believe another year’s gone by, you wonder where the time went, you didn’t do everything you’d planned to do when it began but you dealt with things you had no idea you’d have to, you surprised yourself a few times with a few achievements, disappointed yourself with a few others, and now you’re vowing next year will be different, better, stronger, faster, and so on.

I’m with ya.

Meanwhile, everyone’s making lists right about now. Everyone loves the lists!

So I’ll do a few here, but hopefully nothing like those you’ve already seen or will see elsewhere. Items on the lists are only in the order in which they pop into my noggin, nothing more.

 

UNDERRATED AND/OR UNDER-APPRECIATED ARTISTS/STORYTELLERS

Colan_VampiColan-BatmanIllo

1. Gene Colan – (in his later years…like when his eyesight was failing and he was drawing some of his most detailed and intricate work).

2. Marie Severin – (humor or superhero, equally adept and wonderful. Her superhero parodies are second only to Wally Wood. No one alive is her equal).

3. The artists of Jademan Comics  – titles like BLOOD SWORD DYNASTY, DRUNKEN FIST, THE BLOOD SWORD, and others (I dropped my jaw in awe after pouring over some of the most dynamic and detailed art I’ve seen in comic form. I believe they’re done assembly line but no idea who or how. The inking and action are just superb. But no one’s heard of them).

4. Evan Dorkin (two words: MILK and CHEESE! Most consistently funny comics since Kurtzman & Co.’s MAD comics of the 50s. Bar none).

Gaetano (Tanino) Liberatoré
Gaetano (Tanino) Liberatoré

5. Gaetano (Tanino) Liberatoré (co-creator of Ranxerox as seen in HEAVY METAL magazine, and other amazing things. The guy did things with markers and his fingers that most could only do with brushes and paint! And because he studied Michelangelo, he did almost all of it out of his head…where most would need photo-reference. Sure, much of the subject matter is twisted and taboo, like H.R. Giger, but that doesn’t change the fact the art is amazing and uncanny.) For more: http://blogvecindad.com/el-arte-de-gaetano-liberatore/

6. Two different but equally wonderful penciller/inkers: Gray Morrow (lovely art style, full of beautiful women and men, delicate and graceful inking) and Rudy Nebrés (striking dynamism and exaggeration in poses, very Mannerist but aesthetically beautiful figures. And a unique, dominating, lush inking style unsurpassed by most peers. (See my JOHN CARTER review for more!)

Nick Cardy
Nick Cardy

7. Nick Cardy (Silver Age great behind TEEN TITANS, countless DC covers/tales and commercial illustration. Sure there’s been a couple books written on him, but his table at the conventions where I’ve seen him weren’t mobbed like they were for guys with half his talent and chops. Aesthetically-tops and perfectly proportioned figures with unique and interesting storytelling. Wide versatility. And a helluva nice, humble guy!)

8. Angelo Torrés (everyone knows his brilliant film/TV parodies for MAD magazine, but he did some amazing art for EC and other companies long before that. Also a helluva nice guy!)

9. N.C. Wyeth (much more interesting/exciting subject matter and compositions than either Andrew or James. And he’s a better artist—the painting looks like art, not copied photos or models. Yet he’s never considered an “artist” in the same hoity-toity circles).

Dean Armstrong
Dean Armstrong

10. Dean Armstrong (cover painter of Schism Comics, Arrow Comics and Kitchen Sink. First with airbrush and later digitally. The FIRST artist in American comics, if not worldwide, to digitally paint a comic-book cover—and NOT with Photoshop! Won a Spectrum Award back in the mid 1990s and still no recognition for his milestone).

 

CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED, CHERISHED AND/OR POPULAR CREATORS/CREATIONS I NEVER GOT AND STILL DON’T

Alan Moore - overrated?
Alan Moore – overrated?

1. Alan Moore/Watchmen/Swamp Thing (not even close to the Wein-Wrightson version)

Krazy Kat
Krazy Kat

2. Krazy Kat
3. Doonsbury
4. Steve Canyon
5. art spiegelman
6. Gary Panter’s comics (love his PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE designs, tho)
7. Frank Robbins’ Marvel art

Was the last "great" thing Frank Miller produced Ronin?
Was the last “great” thing Frank Miller produced Ronin?

8. Sin City/300/Dark Knight Returns
9. Johnny Craig’s EC stuff
10. Roy Lichtenstein, Picasso, Pollack, Rothko, Kandinsky, Van Gogh, Gaugin, and pretty much anything called “Modern Art.” (Ugh. The power of marketing, money and influence.)

 

CREATORS/CREATIONS I LOVE AND/OR ADMIRE BUT NO ONE ELSE SEEMS TO GET , KNOW, AND/OR RESPECT MUCH

1. Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman (mostly hilarious and brilliant, plus clearly told and beautifully rendered).

Sad Sack
Sad Sack

2. Fred Rhoads’ Sad Sack Comics (he did a ton of them and they’ve been my guilty pleasure—just awful puns and obvious sight gags, but always good for a smile).

Angelo Bronzino
Angelo Bronzino

3. Bronzino, Pontormo and The Mannerists (the forerunners of comic-book artists and their exaggerated dynamism with bold, bright colors, cheated perspectives and compositions—just gorgeous aesthetics and emotion above all else).

4. Jack Kamen’s EC work (beautiful women, handsome men, clear-cut storytelling, emotional expressions, effective lighting and skillful inking. What’s not to like?)

Alex Ross
Alex Ross

5. Alex Ross (not the current painter but the amazing cover illustrator of the WW II era—found his covers on some old SATURDAY EVENING POST magazines and fell in love. But can’t find any books or articles on him).

6. DC’s PLOP comics of the 1970s (everyone knows and loves Marvel’s NOT BRAND ECHH–including me–but no one mentions PLOP! Knock-out Wolverton covers plus Sergio Aragonés in every issue. They’re funny! At least they were when I was 12).

7. Speaking of funny, I also loved DC’S INFERIOR FIVE from the Silver Age. I bought the back issues as a pre-teen and giggled like a baby on nitrous.

Fatman
Fatman

8. FATMAN THE HUMAN FLYING SAUCER by Otto Binder and C.C. Beck (a scarce Silver Age superhero drawn with charm and innocence by the co-creator of the original Captain Marvel). More.

Kurtzman - Hey Look!
Kurtzman – Hey Look!

9. Harvey Kurtzman’s HEY LOOK! strips of the Golden Age (everyone lauds his MAD, HELP! and HUMBUG satire, and rightfully so…but HEY LOOK! is every bit as funny as anything in any of those mags; and the ratio of gags that make me laugh out loud is higher!)

10. Frank Cammuso’s MAX HAMM series (delightful, animated style-noir strips chock-full of cleverness, pleasing visuals and enjoyable gags. Yes, it was nominated for an Eisner, but why didn’t it win, and more important, why is this not a TV show?)
 
THINGS I DIDN’T DO THIS YEAR, HAVE NEVER DONE AND PLAN TO NEVER DO
1. Buy a suit.
2. Smoke dope/try illegal drugs.

Never been drunk, never plan to.
Never been drunk, never plan to.

3. Get drunk.

You're on your own kid.
You’re on your own kid.

4. Change a diaper.
5. Smoke a cigarette.

So now that I’ve offered mine, what about yours? Any contributions to the above? Differences? Opinions? Let it fly and let me know below.

And have a very happy New Year!

See you in lucky ’13,

Mike

Bru-Hed CloseupP.S.: LAST CHANCE to order a commission before the new year! Super-quick sale of 20 percent off just till end of day January 1st!

 

Published by Mike Pascale

Mike is a freelance storyboardist, artist, writer, comic book/web comic creator, graphic designer, award-winning senior art director/copywriter, Kubert School alumnus, Spectrum Fantasy Art award-winner, guitarist/songwriter, future novelist and full-time, life-long comics fan, pop culture collector, and book hoarder. His creations include Bru-Hed™ (America’s favorite Blockhead™), The Game Buzz!™ weekly webcomic, Nasti: Monster Hunter™, Mikey Moo-Moo™ and more “™s” waiting to be unleashed from his crazy cranium.

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5 Comments

  1. As with any list, lots of things I agree with and and lots I disagree with.
    I’ll just comment on a couple.
    I don’t know that Gene Colan is under rated. He rates very high with me and with many other people I know.
    And yes ,the art in Jademan comics was amazing. I have seen references that these were translations/reprints of Chinese Comics.
    There is a Wikipedia entry on one of the artists Ma Wing-shing. Apparently his ‘Chinese Hero’ was reprinted as ‘Bloodsword’ by Jademan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ma_Wing-shing

  2. Mike, On a serious note, I couyld not agree more about Frank Miller. I liked (not loved) his DD work, enjoyed Ronin, tolerated DK and just shake my head at everything since. He’s HIGHLY overrated as a creator and he’s an ATROCIOUS writer. He wants so badly to be Mickey Spillane, or just a tough guy in general, that his writing just comes across as juvenile rants. His Batman All-Stars was a crime against writing. Absolutely NO understanding of the characters, no discernible plot or reason to the story and worst of all, it was just one long display of Batman being a foul-mouthed, sadistic, perverted horse’s ass. Miller himself is completely oversold on his own talent and significance. Grade AAA putz.

  3. Frank Robbins rarely had a decent inker at Marvel. Frank Springer was the only one who was suitable. It’s also possible that he had gotten to the point his pencils weren’t that detailed — by the ’70s he was mostly just doing rough layouts for Johnny Hazard and then just drawing in pen and brush — or that easy to interpret.

    I think the best thing Miller wrote was Daredevil: Born Again so after TDKR and Batman: Year One he totally loses it. Perhaps it happens when you become a ‘star’ — no one is willing to tell you ‘this’ is lame.

    No time to convince you’re ‘wrong’ about Moore though. I think the original Swamp Thing is notable for the art; the stories, while perhaps Wein’s best, are really just ‘monster of the month.’ Moore showed that you could do any kind of story with the character, or any character. I don’t love everything he’s done as some does seem indulgent but the best is ahead of what was being done at the time.

  4. Thanks for the great comments, guys. Really appreciate it; and I’m always interested to see what others I respect, like you, think! And it’s interesting to see what others enjoy in things I don’t.

    Miki, I appreciate your diplomacy, lol! Understand completely. As for Gene Colan, I qualified that it was his *later* work that I felt was underrated–mainly those gorgeous commissions from the last decade of his life. (Not to mention his DC work which has been largely glossed over.) Plus it gave me a chance to show more of his stuff. 🙂

    THANK YOU for the Wikipedia link, and for being only the SECOND person I’ve met who likes (let alone remembers) Jademan comics!

    Thanks for the (rare) serious note, Scott! It’s weird how his output has changed over the years. I will say that when I met him at a Chicago con in the late 80s, he was cool to me. Separating the work from the person.
    (Greg’s reasoning makes sense regarding “stars”–sure would explain a *lot* of other things from others!)

    Thanks for the reasoned and cogent arguments about Robbins and Moore, Greg!

    The inking on Robbins could have helped; but the poses, anatomy and proportions were more my issues at the time. I thought his Johnny Hazard stuff was fine. He’s one of those “love or hate/acquired taste” guys.

    Regarding Swamp Thing, I’ve heard the knock on Len’s “monster of the month” theme several times, but my reply is always, “So what?” When you’re 13, “monster of the month” is cool! 😉

    Moore’s reworking of the origin made less sense to me, and I hated the drug references (esp. considering Moore’s admitted drug use). I still prefer Len’s 1st-person monster POV storytelling technique. And yes, I know I’m in the minority!

    Thanks again! I love the fact that most of my readers are smarter than I am.

  5. Hi there 🙂

    Just checked it out and noticed the Jademan comics! Still have a lot of them (Blood Sword, Blood Sword Dynasty etc. ) and also collected all of the Comic One stuff like Storm Riders (by Ma Wing Ching), Heaven Sword & Dragon Sabre, Black Panther, Story of the Tao, Saint Legend etc. It’s sad, that they didn’t make it. Really loved the books 🙁

    As for Gene …. he was a true master. I wished I would have had the money to commission him. He was able to create an intense, dynamic and cinematic flow in his pictures most artists struggle to archive.

    Liberatore is a genius and pretty well known here in Europe, so I will not bore you with praise etc. 😉

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