Storm Arcana

Heroic Tarot & Arcana Academy

Storm Sunday: Paul Smith, Part II

Paul Smith xm100cvr
Paul Smith is a god. There, I said it.  Seriously, his lines are clean, his characters solid and his style has a fluidity perhaps only seen in Cliff Chiang today.  Smith’s Uncanny X-Men run illustrated some great Chris Claremont stories and is fondly remembered by fans and critics alike.  Today we take a look at some of his classic images of Marvel’s mutants.

Above, the whole gang is comin’ atcha with Wolverine (naturally) leading the charge.  Smith left his mark on some of these characters, especially the female X-Men.  Smith had the challenge of softening Rogue’s look while still maintaining her rough edges (she was in transition between bad girl to hero), while conversely he had to harden Storm while still retaining her feminine mystique (who was leaving some of her earth mother behind to become a better leader).  Also, Kitty was growing up a bit as an X-Man and Smith designed costumes for her that spoke to her spunky spitfire personality as well as her playful sensibility.  And Lockheed the dragon, well, no one draws him better than Paul Smith (although Art Adams comes close).

Paul Smith X-MenPinup
That’s not to say that Smith didn’t lend his amazing talents to the male characters of the team as well as well.  Smith’s Colossus was quite the gentle giant, Wolverine looked like a scrapper with the outfits to  match, and one could actually believe that Cyclops was once nicknamed “Slim” due to the narrow athletic build Smith gave him.  The above sketch to a lucky Leo conveys the individuality of each X-Men member to which I am referring.  Facial shapes and structures are unique to each character (not just hair and costumes).  No one even has the same eyebrows!  I love this image because it reminds me of the family dynamic the X-Men once had.  Paul Smith took the Cockrum and Byrne illustration styles and made them his own.
Paul Smith Colossus & Doc
I believe this above image was a commission for a fan and if so, what a great piece to have in one’s collection!  Just as Paul Smith made the X-Men his own, his work on Doctor Strange is classic!  In this image, Colossus asks Doctor Strange for assistance in finding his little sister, the New Mutant Magik!
Paul Smith Colossus Kitty

A sweet sketch of lovebirds Kitty and Piotr.  I love this costume for Kitty, probably because the V’s look nice with her curves and I have always loved billowy sleeves on her. I think they give her phasing abilities a pleasing visual.
XMenUnlimited38CoverOLay

This X-Men Unlimited cover told the story of Kitty coping with the death of Colossus (don’t worry, he got better).  Who better than Paul Smith to provide the cover?  His run on the X-Men depicted the struggles of their once new relationship and Kitty’s challenges at becoming an X-Man despite the naivete of her youth.

SmithStorm

Ah, the infamous mohawk!  This look still polarizes fans of Storm and although it too, passed into obscurity for quite some time.  Recent art from Kaare Andrews’ Astonishing X-Men has depicted Storm rockin’ the ‘hawk once again.  However, no where else in Storm’s appearances does she have the ‘hawk, so it remains to be seen if this is in continuity or whether Marvel simply is ignoring it altogether.

pmsxmen166pg11

I chose to include this image because I love how Smith drew Storm in reverse mode.  Storm is technically bodiless in this part of the story and is learning the story of the outer space dwelling Acanti, so drawing her in a more ethereal mode certainly works here.

Uncannyxmen167p19

Storm feels a bit shut out of Kitty’s life in this page from Uncanny X-Men #167. The Kitty/Ororo dynamic would eventually change even more as their daughter/mother relationship shifted as both women transformed into warrior versions of themselves.  Check out panel two with Sikorsky speaking like Yoda and Moira MacTaggert calmly informing the X-Men that they are going to transplant Xavier’s mind into a cloned body of himself.  Too bad they didn’t do the same for her when she contracted the Legacy Virus (a disease that was only supposed to plague mutants and Moria is a human). *shakes head*

Paul Smith UnXMen452Cover

Smith covers Uncanny X-Men years later, featuring Storm with Rachel Grey/Summers (Marvel Girl/Phoenix) and Tessa/Sage.

Paul Smith _RogueStorm

A sketch of Rogue and Storm (who appears to be wearing an amalgam of a few different versions of her costumes).

Next week, Storm Sunday will look at more Paul Smith X-Men goodness!

Previous

White Queen Wednesday: JJ Kirby

Next

White Queen Wednesday: English Accent

4 Comments

  1. Cat

    Paul Smith is hands down my favorite artist for Kitty Pryde. Thanks Storm for featuring him this week.

  2. Ingonyama

    Paul Smith at first seemed somewhat wooden by comparison to the X-Men artists I was used to, but his style really grew on me over time. It doesn’t hurt that the stories he illustrated…the Brood saga, the introduction of the Morlocks and Madelyne Pryor, Storm’s adrenaline-makeover, and Rogue’s joining the team…are some of the most amazing stories Claremont ever told.

    Like Cat said, he draws the best Kitty Pryde, hands-down. I love the design of her Ariel costume too (rock those sleeves, girl!), though I would have preferred the later “Shadowcat” colors to the ones that were used…pale green and yellow are a little too reminiscent of the walking fashion disasters Kitty wore when she tried to make her own costumes.

    I adore his Madelyne Pryor (her first appearance) as well…the panel where she hit Scott with a right cross near the end of Uncanny #174 is still one of the most dynamic action pieces I’ve ever seen. And the conversation Scott had at Jean’s grave is one of the most poignant moments in the X-Men’s history, IMHO…made worse because of what later writers did with it.

    His Wolverine is quite possibly the sexiest rendition of him. He had a kind of stoic humanity about him that fit Claremont’s storytelling perfectly. John Byrne and Dave Cockrum seemed to forever be finding excuses to draw Logan naked…I almost wish that trend had continued through Smith, but I’m glad it didn’t. I would have been far too distracted to follow the story! :p

    As for the title character..Smith’s rendition of Storm in her classic costume sent that outfit off with a bang. She was striking and elegant, and the cape and hair really swept around beautifully under his pencils. That said, his version of Mohawk Storm is the original, and he and Alan Davis are the only versions of her that blend Ororo’s natural beauty with the edginess of the look and get it right, IMHO. (Windsor-Smith is good at making her gritty and down-to-earth, but bad at making her beautiful. Of course this is subjective, I don’t expect everyone to agree.)

    All in all, Paul Smith is definitely an acquired taste, but he sticks with you.

  3. Yay! I found another X-Men blog! Haha. Paul Smith is amazing, one of my all-time favourites

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén