Cliff Chiang is one of the most interesting artists working in comics these days! Don’t believe me? Check out his convention sketches on his blog for proof! His sleek clean lines are gorgeous and there does not seem to be a character that the man cannot draw! Above, a head shot of mohawk Storm begins our appreciation of Chiang. But there’s Storm as Janet Jackson, a fastball special, Marvel Girl and more after the jump!
Happy Sunday, dear reader! Today we take a look at the artistry of John Romita, Jr.! Above we see the original artwork for the cover of Uncanny X-Men #185 in which former bad girl Rogue absorbs Storm’s powers. This cover is misleading as the Storm actually allows Rogue to borrow her powers with her permission. This issue was quite the shocker as Rogue’s criminal past catches up to her. Storm saves Rogue from being shot by Henry Peter Gyrich who is armed with a power-nullifying gun (created by Forge). Storm’s powers are stripped from her and she falls into the Mississippi River and is saved, interestingly enough, by Forge. This begins one of the most unhealthy and codependent relationships in comics. Romita has a great handle on fashion and his depiction of Storm’s punk look is on target. Romita’s take on 1980’s fashion is evocative of the trends of those times, so one has to take that into consideration when judging Rogue’s costume. However, one of the best looks Romita gave Storm predates this comic by 5 issues…
“That’s the spirit.”
Once upon a time, Marvel and DC Comics used to play well together (or at least well enough to produce some amazing comics). One of the comics they made together showcased the X-Men and the Teen Titans in a crossover that made history! The Uncanny X-Men and the New Teen Titans was written by X-scribe Chris Claremont, drawn by Walt Simonson (a page of his excellent linework is above) and inked by Terry Austin. Both titles were in their prime, being very popular at the time due to their excellent scripting and artwork. The parallels between the two teams was amazing! Both teams had cool level-headed leaders (Cyclops and Robin), larger than life women with big hair (Storm and Starfire) and young naive members (Kitty Pryde and Changeling). The story combined the best that both comic companies had to offer and the stakes were high for both teams.
The plot consisted of Darkseid resurrecting Dark Phoenix for his own nefarioys power-hungry purposes and the team-up between comicdom’s most popular heroes (well, at least at the time) is a milestone for the ages. I love the panel between Storm and Cyclops in which Scott asks about Ororo’s claustrophobia. I loved it so much I made it today’s subject heading. The line speaks to me because I am seeing many people around me right now looking truly terrified (myself included) and yet, I see them working with their challenges as best as they can. This is a time to anticipate challenge rather than avoid it. It is a time for heroes and the universe is asking for nothing less than our best. This page celebrates the nature of Storm being able to move ahead in a strenuous time and rise above her fears. We can do no less.
Today we look at the original artwork of many artists, including Rick Leonardi, Leinil Francis Yu, Chris Bachalo, Salvador Larroca, Phil Jimenez, Sal Buscema and more!
Paul Smith was the artist on Uncanny X-Men from 1982-1983 and his clean lines and sharp design sense have endeared him to many comic fans. Today we celebrate his rendition of many amazing characters from Marvel and DC Comics!
Above, we have a scan of an original Wolverine drawing from the ol’ Canucklehead’s entry in The Official Handbook of the Marve Universe!
Here’s a lovely Doctor Strange image, also from TOHOTMU. I know I cannot be the only person who loves seeing art on the original drawing pages. There’s something authentic and beautiful about art before the days of Photoshop. Smith’s Doctor Strange is a lesson on how to depict such a visually complex character with ingenuous economy.
Shape-shifitng bad girl Mystique is up next, reminding us what a simple yet elegant costume she used to have. I prefer this version of Raven Darkholme to her running around naked.
This action packed commission features Spider-Man fending off Wolverine, Kitty Pryde and Lockheed the dragon! Good luck with that, Spidey!
The Holy Trinity of DC Comics gets the Paul Smith treatment! I love his versions of Wonder Woman (nice costume!), Batman (really looks like a detective) and Superman (who is a bit older looking than I normally think of him, but it works). I can totally see this moment being taken from an awesome Elseworlds tale.
Batman discovers Catwoman in the middle of a heist! Selina is certainly holding that drill with an air of authority (You gotta love a woman with power tools)! Who knew that she brought kitties with her on her escapades! I certainly admire Smith’s take on this classic era, but my eyes keep going back to the safe door and how wonderfully designed it is. So awesome!
The Watchmen! I think Dave Gibbons would be honored to see this version of the iconic characters of his and Alan Moore’s seminal work!
I’ve always loved it when the Justice League of America is presented as a gathering of friends as well as a team of crime-fighters. This image nails both aspects of the JLA perfectly!
Cyclops is seriously smashing stuff so hard that it doesn’t even exist anymore! Smith’s illustration of Scott Summer’s Jim Lee designed costume is aces!
Gambit,as featured on the cover of X-Men Universe #6, looks rough, tough and ready to tumble! One of my favorite aspects of Smith’s art is his presentation of hair. Gambit looks like he’s been running some product through those locks to get that bad boy look.
The Vision has the abilities to be solid as diamond or as intangible as a ghost. Both powers are inherent in this amazing character study. Spooky closeup of the android as the shadows play across his face.
Savage Land jungle lord Ka-Zar and his loyal sabretooth tiger Zabu pose for a peaceful moment while on patrol.
Great character studies of Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and (my personal favorite) Alan Scott.
I hope you have enjoyed these beautiful pieces of artwork by Paul Smith! For more by this legendary artist, check out Leave it to Chance and Kitty Pride: Shadow and Flame. Cliff Chiang has an amazing homage to Paul Smith’s era of the X-Men on his blog (definitely peruse it for some jaw-dropping art).
Craig Hamilton knows characters. His portraits of superheroes pare down each character to their most classic elements. Take Dark Phoenix for instance. The dramatic arrangement of her arms is perfect for a character of her tumultuous history. The weight of her power bears down heavily on her as her fiery aureole majestically engulfs her. This is a woman consumed by her own intensity.
Click on any of the images to view them larger! Then you can better enjoy Hamilton’s amazing linework!
Nightcrawler is a charming man despite his unusual appearance. He channels his hero Errol Flynn in this image with a swashbuckler bent to his body language (The hoop earring is also a nice touch). I love the added detail of the fading smoke from his recent teleportation.
The Scarlet Witch and the Vision used to be quite the power couple before a few dismantlements (him) and mental breakdowns (her) left their relationship in shambles. I prefer to think of these characters in their classic forms from this time. Wanda is looking confident but contemplative (a far cry from her recent depictions) and the Vision stares with glowing eyes that reveal his android nature. I love that Hamilton chose to emphasize the etherealness of both characters by having Wanda floating and the Vision phasing.
Hamilton’s version of Cloak and Dagger is stunning, truly representing the core essences of Tandy and Tyrone’s struggle with their respective super-powered polarities.
Lockheed hovers above the intangible Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat). Kitty has always struggled with a costume that works for her and most people do not refer to her by her Shadowcat codename since she has gone through so many, so it seems appropriate to have her depicted in regular clothes for her portrait.
Colossus shows off his organic steel muscle definition in a rare display of exhibitionism. Usually, Piotr is quiet and reserved, slow to anger but a powerhouse when tested. Colossus (alongside Nightcrawler and Storm) are among the most unique and iconic of the All-New, All-Different character designs.
Ka-Zar, Shanna the She-Devil and Zabu relax in their Savage Land home. There’s a little something for everyone in this amazing illustration. Ka-Zar isn’t usually depicted so beefy, but I have no complaints. Everything about this piece from character to composition works for me.
I saved my favorite for last because it showcases everything I love about Craig Hamilton’s work. Not only is he true to the characters’ designs and histories, he creates the most beautiful arrangements in which to place them. The multiple layers of setting (rain on the window, the windowpanes, the figures,the fabric & the smoke from the incense burner) give the artwork depth and density which an esoteric character like Doctor Strange really needs. Also, Hamilton excels at presenting the natures of the relationships of characters to one another. Clea is Doctor Strange’s disciple, but she is also his lover. Even if this is your first time viewing these characters you can tell that they have something very special together.
The spotlight shines on another amazing artist on next week’s Marvel Fanfare Monday!
This is a lovely piece of 80s magick by penciller/inker extraordinaire Terry Austin! I have a warm spot in my heart for punk rock Storm and especially love the more unrefined Rogue fresh from her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants days. However, Rogue looks very glamorous here, probably the most I’ve seen her. She’s so calm she’s almost melting. Kitty looks spectacular and the humor of the dragon biscuit really brings some dimension to her character. There’s a beautiful sense of the time this was drawn. Those random planets and sharp lines, along with the type combined as setpiece really capture 80s design. This is a strong portrait as well as delightful time capsule!