Sunday, April 14, 2019

Favorite Comic Artist Countdown #1 - John Buscema!

John Buscema has been my favorite comic book artist from the very beginning of my time reading comics. He was ascending in fame and responsibility at Marvel as Jack Kirby, the "King of Comics" withdrew to the warmer climes of a "Fourth World". Buscema would become Marvel's mainstay artist, the guy they tapped to draw all the first issues and major series. He was a supremely gifted illustrator of superheroes and yet by all accounts he hated them, found them foolish looking. He was a man who'd found his inspiration in Hal Foster's Prince Valiant and he thought that legendary comic strip was the peak of comics. He got his chance when he belatedly was given the reins of the Conan the Barbarian comic, at a time when it had proven itself sufficiently successful to warrant an artist of his caliber (and page rate). He stayed with Conan pretty from that day forth and later got a chance to draw Tarzan of the Apes. But he drew other things as well, such as legendary run on the Silver Surfer and had many stints in several different decades of The Avengers

He drew them all at one time or another and eventually became the guy who showed us all how to draw the Marvel way. The first thing I think of when I think of Buscema is gravity, no artist I've even seen had such a feel for the way the human form is rooted to the Earth and no artist ever drew that relationship with more force. His heroes lift themselves from the ground with effort and they punch with explosive power. His machines, different from Kirby's, are sinuous and serpentine in their essence. Like Kirby in earlier years, later work by Buscema seems to fade a bit as he's only supplying breakdowns. That's not going to get it for fans like me -- I want the hard stuff, the ass-kicking pure "Big" John Buscema, my absolute favorite comic book artist ever. 

Putting together this list has been enormous fun. It's been interesting to attempt to rank my favorite comic talents (not really all the much possible beyond a handful) because it's made me reflect on what I like in each artist. You might notice some significant names not on the list and that's because some talents are better known as inkers and their impact on me has been as inkers. That list is coming soon to a Dojo near you. Thanks for your attention and patience amigos.

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  1. Once Buscema mastered Kirby's approach to drawing comics, he actually did what Kirby was doing better than JK himself. His comics had the same 'punch' as a Kirby comic, but with more detail, better anatomy, and more fluidity than the 'King'. Kirby retained his crown of course, but it was more of an an honorary one, out of respect for past accomplishments when nobody could do it better. Buscema eventually learned how to do it better, even though it was JK who showed the way.

  2. Duh! Of course Big John, who could disagree certainly in my top 5 maybe number 2 (strangely difficult list to make lol). John and Akacalas Conan has to be one of comics highlights as was his run on the Avengers Great list was a lot of fun.

  3. Kirby's my favorite, but Buscema is right up there with the pack. His splash pages -- especially for Conan -- are beyond compare.

  4. It has been enormous fun reading through these posts of your favorite comic artists! I knew most of them, but not all, and I learned a bit about each of them. Thanks for sharing - and I certainly wouldn't mind if you did something similar again!

  5. I knew it had to be Big John at #1 when Kirby was I got 8 of your top 12 when I guessed :)...I am surprised Frank Miller was not on your list