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