Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Heroes

Yes, heroes. Not the television debacle, but more on that lately. I would rather discuss my heroes. The men and women who influenced me and inspired me with their words and art to create worlds of my own for another generation of readers to play in. So without any further ado...

I'll start with artists. They are the first thing that you notice, and many times, leave the most lasting impression.

Alex Ross. These days, if you can catch one of his covers, you're not doing too poorly, but not too long ago, you could see entire books chock full of his gorgeously painted, realistically human art. It's well known that he uses human models, but... goddamn. Kingdom Come was one of the most important books that DC put out in twenty years. Everything he makes looks like it's about to jump off the page, and part of the tragedy is that it never will.

...or will it?

Darick Robertson is probably best known for his work on Transmetropolitan and the current Dynamite series The Boys, and in both cases, he brought his impressive style which added a sense of expressive realism to fantastic stories, making them all the more enjoyable and accessible. His facial expressions are so dead on, I would say that they rival the nuance of one Kevin Maguire's JLI art.

In the 1990's, everyone was cross-hatching for shading and depth, and though it may have seemed edgy, I have to give up serious props to John Cassaday and Frank Quitely for not being afraid to make superheroes ugly, dirty, or unshaven. I noticed after starting Cassaday's art all the way through the "Gifted" run on Astonishing X-Men, that I was irreparably spoiled. I needed everyone to look as if they belong on the page with actual physics.

I'm still spoiled.

Though I am not a huge fan of mainstream comics, how could I say no to Simone Bianchi's luscious, sumptuous, dare I say sexy, art? His pencils are so gorgeous, I can't help but re, and re-read every issue of his run with Warren Ellis on Astonishing X-Men. His interpretation of Storm made me feel like I was going through puberty all over again, and his Wolverine made me think that there still might be some milage yet left in the overexposed character.

Enough of the mad scribblers, the writers are the ones that really get me going.

Having Grant Morrison do a guest spot on your book is like inviting a prison inmate to take your wife out for dinner. They'll like it better his way, and you won't recognize anything ever again. No matter how much they tell you that they love you. Don't believe me? Read everything before and after New X-Men

Gail Simone has never put her pen to something that I didn't love wholeheartedly. She always offers a fresh eye to characters, and remains one of the few reasons that I would ever read a DC book. No one writes strong women like her. No one.

Have you seen Garth Ennis' Punisher? He's mean, gritty, and kills everything with a vengeful machine's precision. He's perfect. He does exactly as he promises; he punishes. Just like Preacher, just like the Boys, brutal, efficient, gory glory, and a steal at twice the cover price. Garth is exactly what mainstream comics needs: a dark look inward, a middle finger outstretched and metered restraint. You can tell that he pulls his punches, even when Frank Castle shoots, eviscerates and impales (that was just one guy) without a care in the world. Oh, and he offered the first real glimpse into the mind of someone who kills to make himself feel something.

Joss Whedon. Goddamn. If he never makes another show for Fox, I'll be forever impressed, but his work on Astonishing X-Men was one of the best and most defining runs on any X-book that I have ever had the pleasure and honor to read. Every page was a shocker, and every line was a zing of epic and superhuman proportions.

Saving the best for last-
Warren Ellis. I would turn this man's cerebral spinal fluid into taffy and munch for years. He is in all of my top ten lists, even top 10 porn stars. Seriously. I cannot think of anyone with a more thorough grasp of science and counter culture in comics. I can't think of anyone that forces me to at least open Wikipedia whenever I read their comics. He is the quintessential writer, in my opinion, and I study at the feet of the master. I mean, have you read Transmetropolitan? He managed to make journalists sexy without them having to wear blue pajamas. Even when it's obvious that he's practically phoning it in (RED, Mek), he positively crushes everything else in the mainstream. His first novel, Crooked Little Vein was such a trippy, creepy cross-country jaunt that I bought six more copies and gave them all to my friends in the hope to spread his particular strain of insanity.

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