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CSBG Archive

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.

3/10/07

69. Mike Norton

Norton 1.jpg

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:

Norton 6.JPG

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:

Norton 3.JPG

Norton 5.JPG

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:

Norton 2.jpg

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.

Norton 4.jpg

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.

15 Comments

Apparently, these days, if you don’t cross-hatch or make your superheroes look like famous movie stars, your work is automatically “cartoony.” WTF-ever.

Mike Norton is a pretty good artist, and I’m glad he’ll be doing more Atom, since I read that book.

I have no problem whatsoever with cartoonists drawing cartoons.

To my shame, I got a sketch from Norton two weeks ago without remembering who he was. I look in the DC booth, and I was going, “Mike Norton from The All-New Atom? Hey, I read! I gotta get a sketch!” And I got Ryan from him. If I see him again, I don’t know if I’d ask for Panda, the half-man, the Head (“Sketches or submission!!!!”) or Gravity, a hero so doomed, his death was deemed too depressing to be slipped into Civil War.

Damn…wish I could edit that post. I forgot to close off italics. My bad.

And yeah, Gravity is a must-read. Pick up the collection, or get the issues cheap at a show.

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 5:27 pm

I have nothing against Mr. Norton and am certainly glad you didn’t include Mike Turner in this week’s theme. But you missed some important Mikes:
Mike Zeck!
Mike Kaluta!
Mike Grell!
Mike Ploog!

I seriously hope DC lets Norton streamline that Atom suit. Scott Hanna’s additions–the pointless forehead symbol that doesn’t read well at all, the clunky wrestling belt–really junk up an otherwise classic design.

Better yet, give Ryan his own costume! Once Ray returns, Choi’ll need a new look anyway, so why not introduce a new suit now?

I wouldn’t mind seein’ that fella on a mainstream Spider-Title, to be honest with ya…

-M

And hey, nothin’ wrong at all with “cartoony” art.

Hell, I’d imagine if Romita Sr. were drawing today he’d instantly be labeled “cartoony.”

Whaaatever.

-M

Mike Norton’s work looks an awful lot like Mike Weiringo’s.

“Mike Zeck!
Mike Kaluta!
Mike Grell!
Mike Ploog!”

Isn’t it strange that all thier surnames sound like swearwords from a sci-fi tv show.

Oh, Zeck off, you Plooger.

Oh, bloody Grell, will you stop that Kaluta right now!

“Mike Norton’s work looks an awful lot like Mike Weiringo’s.”

Not really. His stuff’s not as rounded as Wieringo’s, and the characters don’t all have the same shape of face. Not to mention the lack of big manga eyes.

Other than GRAVITY — which I loved — I think the only thing I’ve seen from Norton is CLOSER, the GN he drew for Antony Johnston. I thought the story was pretty awful, but the art was great. It was B&W, with a much rougher line than most of his work, and a good deal of zip-a-tone. Reminded me a lot of mid-90s Bachalo (after the naturalistic Vertigo stuff, but before the bizarre incoherence stage), now that I think about it.

I like Norton’s work, but he only rarely seems to work on books that interest me. And that’s a real shame.

Funny enough, my real name is Michael Norton. I met Mike at Wizard World Dallas the first year it was there and he was with Devil’s Due. I have a sketch he did of both of us together that I need to scan and upload somewhere.

Again, super nice guy and a heck of an artist. I hope he goes big so I can ride his coattailes :)

Michael

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