365 Reasons to Love Comics #69
This installment marks the end of Mike Week. It’s been fun. The comics medium is filled with talented artists and a couple cool writers with the forename of Michael. I know there’s a lot of Mikes who haven’t shown up that you probably want to see. If reader demand is great enough, I’ll gladly do a sequel to Mike Week at some point in the future. And I’m thinking about doing a Bob Week, too. Feel free to make suggestions for that one here or on the forum.
Our final Mike for the week is totally going to be the next big thing. He follows similar stylistic themes of most of the Mikes we’ve looked at so far. And there’s absolutely nothing naughty in this column, despite the number. Stop snickering. I can hear you.
69. Mike Norton
Researching this column, I found a lot of difficulty with hunting down a list of Mike’s work. I knew quite a bit that existed beyond what the Grand Comics Database was telling me! That rarely happens. Clearly, Mike is not as popular as he should be. Give him time, though, and I think he’ll become a superstar. He just signed an exclusive with DC Comics, and he’ll be the regular artist on All-New Atom soon. Thank God. The title needed some artistic stability, and Mike’s the best artist to appear on the title since it’s debuted.
So, yeah, he’s “cartoony.” A lot of the Mikes we’ve discussed could be called cartoony: Allred and Parobeck and ‘Ringo, of course, but also Golden and Sekowsky and even Mignola. And that’s all of them. What’s the deal with the cartoon Mikes? Ha. But can you really call it “cartoony”? They’ve got clean styles that may lend themselves to light-hearted fare, but what appears to be simple draftsmanship at first reveals a lot of complexities underneath. A few lines can say even more than a bunch of lines, and these Mikes have proven that to us.
Mike Norton’s art has gotten smoother over time, but it easily packs a punch and delivers plenty of emotion. Check out these panels from Atom #8:
For those of you who have read the story, you’d know how much emotion these panels convey. For those of you who haven’t, I’ll tell you without getting spoilery: you’ve got hesitation, sadness, contemplation, resolve, kindness, amusement, and more. If this is cartoony, I want to read more cartoony comics.
Of course, Mike can bring the kick/’splode, too:
Click those to turn the pint-sized hero into a full-sized one.
He first came onto the scene in a character drama, though– the Sean McKeever-written Waiting Place:
Here, Mike’s figurework and emotive skills are fantastic. He lettered it, too. I dig the lettering.
He’s teamed with McKeever a few other times, like on fan-favorite Gravity, seen above, and Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, where his open, reader-friendly “cartoon” style captured the imagination of kids from the ages of 4 and 44.
I can’t wait to see what other cool stuff he comes up with in the future, and how his style will continue to evolve. It should be wonderful to see.
You may also remember Mike from the guest column he wrote for this very site, or the studio tour found on CBR. And visit Mike’s blog/site while you’re at it, too. It’s all good stuff to check out if you haven’t.
What’s on the schedule for tomorrow? I haven’t quite figured that out yet. But be guaranteed… it’ll definitely be a good reason to love comics.