30 March 2011

Comic Art Tuesday (Wednesday): Maguire, Perez, and Gene the Dean!

Kevin Maguire (TV Batman & Catwoman)
Ahh, it is spring and all thoughts turn to Flying Batmobiles!  In anticipation of some fun figure-making and Batmobile-tuning in the next month or so, I crack open the top shelf and dust off some fun art!  

Kevin Maguire can draw the phone book and I show up, checkbook in hand.  He was the reason I gave THE JUSTICE LEAGUE a try in the late Eighties, with the cover showing a team of heroes, standing there, looking up at you.  All of those unique, wonderful, diverse facial expressions looking back at you.  He is the master at communicating comic art through portraits.

When his art rep opened up a commission list, I jumped.  It took him a long time to get to it, but it was well worth it.  Kevin captured the essence of the 1966 TV show.  You probably can't tell from the image, but it's pencil.  Is that a #2?  I don't think so.

The work is crisp.  The detail is amazing.

I don't always get to meet the artist, but I make it a point to thank them when I do.  Needless to say, he remembered this one.

George Perez (Golden Age Batman)
Is there a comic fan alive who isn't familiar with George Perez?  George Perez, the Grandfather of the Rapidiograph, drew my adolescence in multi-panel brilliance.  His sense of arrangement and his commitment to detail and character is legend.

I grabbed a page of his JSA work, when the Golden Age Superman and Batman learn of the JSA's disbanding.  I so adore his Sprang-esque take on the Golden Age Batman that I had to ask him to do it again.

Batman, as barrel-chested guardian of Gotham.  This pen and ink included grey-tone washes for depth.

Gene Colan (BATMAN)
Finally, I include a true master: Gene "The Dean" Colan.  I certainly associate Gene with MARVEL comics, mostly through the DareDevil reprints of my youth or his Captain America work.  However, he was the Batman artist I loved the most in the monthly publications I read as a kid.

Of all American comic artists, I think Gene is singularly beyond us all with his abilities.  That is, I don't think we have the technology to fully appreciate his ability with the pencil.  Gene's pencil work has a depth and vibrancy that is removed when it's inked for publication.  Simply put, I don't think we "get" the art that Gene sees in his mind's eye.

Gene was very ill right after he took this commission.  I really thought he wasn't going to make it.

I rejoice that we still have The Dean in the world!



  1. Great to see that Maguire piece again. It really is a beautiful!

  2. I missed this post somehow? I am probably one of the only comic fans in the world that is so/so with Perez, I find he can over do the detail for my liking, but you own the BEST thing I have ever seen him do, that is perfect imo,wonderful piece.

    I also have a Gene Colan and it was probably done around the same time as he was quite ill if I remember correctly. His pencils seem so delicate but always so precise, I too rejoice that we still have him.

  3. I dig the guy's stuff. Layouts are a challenge, because he has such a cinematic scope in his world.

    Can you imagine him doing a Batman story- just a dirty street in Gotham?

    My brother and I go back and forth over my desire to have modern artists re-imagine old imagery, like Sprang. I guess some day I'll just have to have him draw a Batman from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS...

  4. Not thought about it like that before; but yes, I can see what you mean... WOW!

    That would be interesting as you are taking the artist out of their comfort zone. I like that!

  5. I think it's a hit and miss.

    Don Jose did the Batman and Robin THROUGH THE AGES prints for the WB Studio. He apes styles of various decades, including Sir Richard of Sprang.

    Do you pay big $$ for that, or do you want JGL on his own merits? It's a tough call.

    Joe Staton rocks the house and his take on Sprang-y stuff was the source of my childhood thrill with BRAVE & BOLD Batman/ Catwoman team-up. Joe's not mimicking Sprang, but it's clearly the influence.

  6. Oh it is! but that's fun of it...

    I have had artists use my cat Winsor as a template for Streaky, some of them hit the nail on the head perfectly, others just can't draw animals at all!!

    Kudos to Winslade on this, when I commissioned him for Doc Savage, Pat and black kittens he asked for photo refs of my kitties...

    I think it may be one of those things that would be better served if you already had a classic piece from said artist but wanted somthing else from them and maybe something a little different??

    Joe Staton is awesome, he is his own man when it comes to his style.

    Seeing influences in peoples work is by far not a bad thing surely?.

    If we didn't have influences then the drive to be creative may not be as strong?? whether these influences show within the work or not they are still there to inspire and to become better at something...:)