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Six Classic Comics Artists I Heart

& Bookclub.

Last week I covered modern comic artists that I’m digging and who will (one day) inevitably effect my own comic styling. This week I’m reaching into my image research archives and dragging up some of my all time favourites. These are artists who influenced the look of Moth City, which I wanted to have a retro edge.

Some of them started at the dawn of the art form, others in the mid century, some even kept working till more recent times, but what they all have in common is a respect for ink and brush, form and line, and tone and composition that is unmistakably ‘Classic.’ Ladies and Gentlemen Six Classic Comic Artists whose drawing hands I would gladly hack off and graft onto my own arm. If only one of them was left handed so that I could swap out both appendages.

(Remember if you’re into seeing more influences and inspiration, I maintain active Moth City pinterest boards here.)

Alex Toth
Starting his professional career at age 15, Toth worked in comics for decades on characters like The Flash and Green Lantern and war, crime and romance comics.  His strong silhouettes and sparse character design also had a profound influence on the animation industry in the 60s and 70s for Hanna-Barbera. But lordy, look at that sharp design. I’m not sure if it’s been said, but Mike Mignolla must have poured over Toth’s work. You can read an interesting handwritten manifesto/rant from Toth about the comics industry here.

 

Jack Kirby
Also sited as an influence on Mignola is the uber-career and art of Kirby. Dude was a workhorse and a dynamo, an entrepreneur and an artist. He gets a lot of credit for his dynamic poses, a lot of stick for his reliance on cheekbones and not enough respect for his character design. I would love to see Kirby in a modern design room for feature films. Guys a boss. Learn more at the frickin Kirby Museum.

 

Nevill Colvin
I only found Colvin’s work recently when I picked up a collection of Modesty Blaise at my local comic book store. I only discovered that he is a Kiwi (like me) today. Heck this guy is good. His brush and pen work is loose, but it’s all hung on this amazingly tight understanding of anatomy and tonal composition so that even when it threatens to overwhelms, you can relax in the hands of a master. I want to take a single panel from this guy’s stuff and blow it up to billboard size and use it as a wall in my home. An informative site here.

 

Milton Caniff
Speaking of loose brush work, look at this. It’s enough to make 90′s inkers heads explode. I imagine him getting all the forms down before standing back and slopping in all those blacks with a 3 foot brush. Love it. And his characters have such a sense of time about them, not just their cloths – even their faces seem dated. You can see a video of him working here.

 

Hugo Pratt
Sometimes it seems Pratt only has two inking options, super thin and super fat. I don’t know that I could ever cook a meal with only two ingredients, or write a symponthy with two chords, but when you see Pratt’s minimalist style you believe it’s possible. Here’s a nice little history on the man, discussing career in Italian comics and his respect of Milton Caniff (above).

 

Will Eisner
Last but not least, the guy who literally wrote the book on  Comics and Sequential Art, Eisner is a deft hand at story telling, emotion, drama and lighting. Actually his design sense is amazing, and his bravery with covers and page layout puts modern artists to shame. Oh, and did I mention he has a sense of humour?

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