Saturday, April 6, 2013
Big John's Barbarian Cover Gallery!
When John Buscema was named to become the artist on Conan the Barbarian it was the perfect union of a talent and a property. (Buscema had been first choice of Roy Thomas, but he cost too much per page for the untested new title, so they opted for the fresh-faced Brit Barry "Not-Yet-Windsor" Smith.) Buscema's robust and powerful lines gave the world of Conan the grounded realism it required to be taken seriously by readers. While the events might be fantastic, there was no doubt the world felt real, making Conan's struggles all the more striking and impressive.
And despite fan appreciation for the brushwork of Alfredo Alcala, Ernie Chan, Tom Palmer, and others, Buscema made no secret of the fact he preferred to ink his own work, and that he thought that made the work appear to its best effect. The cover above is an example of raw Buscema, both pencils and inks showing what he can do. Below is the artwork for that cover, even more impressive to my eye.
Buscema's figures have heft and weight and the composition captures the eye and the moment perfectly. Below are some more covers by Buscema featuring his own inks. Big John's own brushwork has a softness other inkers often failed to bring. Are they superior? You be the judge.
Pretty damn impressive lot I say. Better than Alcala? Chan? The beautiful thing is we don't have to choose. We get to enjoy them all.