Tag Archives: comic book art

Alex Ross Spotlight: Interpreting Superheroes in the “Real World”

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

It’s been written that seeing an Alex Ross take on a comic book character is like, “finally meeting someone you’d only ever heard about.”

As anyone familiar with his work knows, Ross is truly in a league of his own in terms of making these characters look real, yet keeping that awe-inspiring flamboyance that captured our hearts in the first place.

Ross has talked about at times using specific likenesses (actors, etc.) as the basis for certain characters. He famously used his father to portray Norman McCay in Kingdom Come. In the same book, Gregory Peck was apparently Ross’ inspiration in rendering an older Bruce Wayne. And as he discusses in the video below, his take on Mister Fantastic was at one time based on how Russell Johnson (the Professor) looked on Gilligan’s Island.

But even when drawing in such a realistic style, is that the way to go? As time went on, Ross would change his mind on the matter…

These days, with superhero movies more prevalent than ever, Ross finds himself in a unique position as filmmakers try to literally bring these stories to life on the big screen. While certain liberties are often taken to make them look more real, Ross remains as reverent as ever for the way these characters were originally designed…

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Alex Ross Spotlight: Why is the Joker So Skinny?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Quora, which is a fun little way to kill time.

I recently came across the simple question of, “Why is the Joker so skinny?” No doubt, it was inspired by how Joaquin Phoenix’s body looked in Joker.

But it certainly didn’t start there. More often than not, the Joker we see in the comics is drawn as a skinny dude. In that sense, if not many others, Joker followed its source material.

I’ve previously mentioned what I refer to as the Alex Ross Theory of the Joker. I base it on a quote I plucked from Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross. On the very same page as that quote comes this bit of insight into Ross’ take on the character, which he tries to keep somewhat consistent with the original Bob Kane/Jerry Robinson version (shown below).

“…he didn’t start off in the comics as this stick-thin anorexic guy – I wanted to give him the appearance of being long and lean, but also physically powerful, not underweight. He was originally based on Conrad Veidt in the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, and that’s what I’m seeing to capture – the true face of Joker.”

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Epic Covers: Superman as an Angel

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Superman as a God figure. Superman as a stand-in for Christ. Superman as a saintly presence. It’s hardly a new idea. But slapping red angel wings on Big Blue really drives the point home, wouldn’t you agree?

Superman #659 was, in execution, a fairly unremarkable issue. But to this day, I absolutely adore the premise. Written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, it sees an elderly woman become convinced that Superman is an angel sent from heaven. She then takes it upon herself to sic him on Metropolis’ criminal element. Superman, of course, is simply trying to save this woman who continues to put herself in harm’s way. There’s a lot of meat on that bone, which makes me wish they’d done more with this idea than simply use it for a filler issue.

While Peter Vale and the artists do a fine job with the interior, it’s  Alejandro Barrionuevo’s cover that has always stuck with me. The combined elements do a tremendous job creating that element of divine grandeur you’d want for a story like this.

Many would-be readers cry that Superman isn’t relatable enough. This premise doesn’t do him any favors in that regard. But I love that they played with the idea a little bit.

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Alex Ross on YouTube: Marvels 25th Anniversary

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I continue to be a frequent viewer of the Alex Ross YouTube channel. While many of the videos are only two or three minutes, I say the art by itself is worth the click.

Today however, they put out a longer one to note the 25th anniversary of Marvels. Ross dives into some of his inspirations while working on the book, and the emergence of painted comics in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Definitely a stand-out on the channel.

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Panels of Awesomeness: Obi-Wan Kenobi by Mike Mayhew

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Jason Aaron (Author), Mike Mayhew (Artist)

THE SCENES: Living as a hermit, Obi-Wan Kenobi watches over a young Luke Skywalker as he grows up on Tatooine.

WHY THEY’RE AWESOME: Lately I’ve been obsessed with the version of Obi-Wan Kenobi that Mike Mayhew drew for Marvel’s Star Wars title. Specifically, issues #15 and #20, which hit the stands in 2016.

Mayhew was by no means a stranger to the Star Wars universe at this point. Perhaps most notably, he was the artist for The Star Wars, which adapted an early draft of the original film. For Star Wars #15 and #20, however, he was tasked with depicting entries in what author Jason Aaron called “The Journals of Old Ben Kenobi.”

What I find so interesting about Mayhew’s version of Kenobi is that he didn’t take the obvious route, and draw him to look like Ewan McGregor. But he didn’t go the Alec Guiness route either. Mayhew opted for something more his own. A figure that captures the essence of the character, without being beholden to either one of the actors. That approach isn’t so far-fetched in the world of licensed comic books. Often it’s met with an eye-roll from yours truly.

This, on the other hand? This works. Something about it screams classic Star Wars. As if it’s transplanted from an era before the prequels, where we were still imagining what a young Obi-Wan Kenobi might look like. It achieves a warm and fuzzy nostalgic quality without feeling like it’s trying too hard for it.

Though Jason Aaron has been off Star Wars for awhile now, I’d love to see them revive this journal framework. If they can bring Mike Mayhew back for it, all the better!

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Epic Covers: “Vote For Me, Or I’ll Kill You!”

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This was a lot funnier when it was first published back in 2005. Nowadays, “Vote For Me or I’ll Kill You” sounds like an actual political slogan…

Batman: Dark Detective was a miniseries that reunited author Steve Englehart with artists Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin. They’re synonymous with some classic Batman stories from the ’70s, including “The Laughing Fish” and “Sign of the Joker.” They’re collected in a trade called Strange Apparitions, which has a special place on my bookshelf.

Though oddly enough, I can’t seem to locate Dark Detective among my back issues. Not that it was a landmark series, but it was definitely fun to see this team tell a Batman story in a modern context. If nothing else, I want to make sure this cover is in my collection. It’s a great addition to the legacy these men have.

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Astonishing Art: Pop Culture Evolutions by Jeff Victor

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As I’ve said before, I’m not normally into cutesy stuff. But Jeff Victor’s “Evolutions” series grabbed me.

Actually, cutesy is the wrong word. Cartoony would be a more accurate description. But the first work of Victor’s I saw was his “Pop Culture Evolutions” tribute to Leonardo of the TMNT. That one definitely has a cuteness to it, right?

It’s always fun to look back at the different variations of characters. Different looks, different incarnations over time, etc. Usually the longer they’ve been around, the more interesting it is. The Ninja Turtles are a great example, obviously. But you’ve also got characters like the Joker and Wonder Woman, movie monsters like the Xenomorphs, etc. Sometimes it’s even more fun with actors, and the wide array of personalities they’ve had to inhabit during their careers. Musicians have to evolve too. Few have evolved like Michael Jackson, of course…

Either way, Victor’s art is a lot of fun. He also does a lot beyond the Pop Culture Evolutions series. I’d definitely recommend checking out his official site, as well as his Instagram and Facebook pages.

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