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Comic Book Alphabet of Cool – R

It is too bad today is R, because I have a really good S for my pal, Grant, whose birthday is today. Oh well!

Instead, today we feature an artist I enjoy.

John Romita Jr.

The son of legendary Marvel artist, John Romita, John Romita Jr. first broke in at Marvel during the late 70s.

He then proceeded to go on what I can only call one of the wildest three decade long ride through a single company that you could imagine….

After some back-up works, Romita made his big splash working on an acclaimed Iron Man run with writers David Michelinie and Bob Layton (Layton also inked Romita at the time), although Romita actually made his debut one issue before them, working with the steady inking hand of Dan Green.

During the run, while Romita did solid work, issues inked by Layton looked like, well, Layton, so Romita’s own style did not shine as much.

Soon, Romita was popular enough that Marvel had him do TWO books, Iron Man and one of their bigger books, Amazing Spider-Man, where Romita teamed with writer Roger Stern. Here, Romita’s art had difficulty taking shape, because he was given SO many different inkers to work with. He drew most of the issues from Amazing Spider-Man #223 to Amazing Spider-Man #250, and in that span, he had TWELVE different inkers!!! Including legendary pencilers Jim Mooney and Romita’s own father!! Not the best recipe for development.

Still, Romita was popular enough that he was moved again to Marvel’s biggest-selling title, Uncanny X-Men, where he teamed with Dan Green as his consistent inker.

It was here that Romita really began to grow as an artist, and develop his particular style.

By the time he left the book, he had a distinct look to him. Romita moved to the New Universe, as Jim Shooter had enough money in his budget for one “star” artist, and he chose Romita, and Romita drew the main book in the line, Star Brand.

Ultimately, New Universe did not work out, and after mixing here and there for awhile, Romita began an acclaimed run on Daredevil with writer Ann Nocenti.

When this run finished, he returned to Iron Man, this time with writer John Byrne (who actually credited Romita first in the credits).

During this run, he managed to draw a big one-shot for Marvel starring Wolverine, Ghost Rider and the Punisher. With the time period and the characters involved, this was quite an honor for Romita, as it was basically Marvel saying “Here, we want you to make a LOT of money.”

After Iron Man was done, Romita helped launch a new Punisher ongoing series, Punisher War Zone.

1993 was a busy year for Romita, as he returned to TWO former titles.

First, he became the regular Uncanny X-Men artist again.

Next, he drew Frank Miller’s re-imagining of Daredevil’s origins, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear.

After these projects, Romita laid fairly low for his standards, with the only standout being his Marvel/DC crossover starring Batman and the Punisher.

Soon, though, Romita would be back in the monthly grind, taking over a run on Spider-Man that saw him draw the webslinger in one book or another for the next NINE years!!!

During this time, Romita found the time to work in the relaunch of Thor with Dan Jurgens.

And later, an extended run on Hulk with writers Paul Jenkins and then Bruce Jones.

More recently, after finishing his Spider-Man work for the time being, Romita launched a book of his own for Image, and then drew Mark Millar’s Wolverine run

AND launched Black Panther with writer Reggie Hudlin.

Once those runs ended, Romita was the handpicked artist to draw Neil Gaiman’s Eternals.

Romita followed this with another return to a character he had formerly drawn, by drawing the art for the World War Hulk mini-series.

Currently, Romita has reunited with Mark Millar to draw Millar’s Kick Ass series.

It was recently announced that Romita WILL be returning to Spider-Man at some point in the near future.

Talk about a wild ride through one company, eh?

And through it all, he handled himself not only like a star artist, but like a classy star artist.

He’s one of the industry’s best, and Marvel is lucky that he is so loyal to them.

28 Comments

John Romita Jr.: A wonderful artist who should not draw the Joker UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EVER AGAIN.

Hmmm……

I loved his art on Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, everything since then seems not as good as the things before. Everyone’s chins are disappearing. It makes them look like caricatures of Michael Douglas.

One of my all-time favorite artists. I’m sad to see too many people diss Romita for his style, though I do agree that some of his works in the recent year or two seemed rushed. Still, he’s one of the best artists out there.

Brian, the entry for his Incredible Hulk run says it’s Thor.

I love his work, and I hope to see him back on Spidey soon! Did anyone else pick up on his influence in the Animated Spider-Man series, the MTV that bridged the movies? There is a character towards the end with a Romita nose, I laughed my ass off when I saw it…..

Thanks, Tomer! I fixed it!

I used to dislike his style. I didn’t understand why everyone had to have a wide, flat nose and a perfectly square jaw. But when he worked on Amazing Spidey with Straczynski, I realised he’s an excellent graphic storyteller. I think his style continues to evolve (which is impressive from someone who’s been in the game as long as he has), and it occurred to me on his X-Men: Legacy issue that his stuff actually looks quite European.
Over the past few years he’s gone from being one of my least favourite artists to being one of my favourites.

I can’t believe you didn’t mention his former “Hunk of the Month” status. Then again, since he was the only one would that make him the defacto hunk at Marvel?

I first discovered JRjr’s stuff with the early 80s Spidey stuff, then watched him evolve through X-Men & Daredevil. When I got back into comics a decade ago, it was JRjr’s work that did it.

Plus he’s one of the nicest guys in the whole biz.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 11, 2008 at 3:30 am

Romita, Jr., is the stuff of which Legends are made up of.

You go, man!

Is there a Marvel character Romita *hasn’t* drawn?

I loved JRjr’s work probably from the first time I was exposed to it reading back issues of Iron Man and Uncanny X-Men as a kid. I’d say it was his run on Peter Parker: Spider-Man that made me a big fan . He’s the quintessential Marvel artist of the modern age, in my opinion, and he’s always dependable.

I wonder if he’s ever been approached to do the FF or the Avengers. He’s done pretty much everything else.

I’ve never really cared for his art as a whole. He has times where he’s outstanding and times when he’s pretty sloppy. His anatomy never really did it for me. What he DOES have consistently is a great sense of design and layout.

I’ll say this, too – he gets his stuff out on time. Right now, that’s a pretty big accomplishment.

I remain convinced, regardless of some opinions of his work, JR Jr. is the closest thing we have to a Kirby style (by which I do not mean an outright aping of the King). His figures are SOLID (not just well-done, but you get a sense of real weight and majesty to them) in a way only Kirby could do, and at times almost outlandish, but very stylized. He was without a doubt the perfect choice for Gaiman’s Eternals series.

In a perfect, perfect world, I’d be picking up the latest issue of Grant Morrison and JR Jr.’s New Gods every month. Won’t someone PLEASE make that come true?

Michael asked; “Is there a Marvel character Romita *hasn’t* drawn?”

To keep a trend of name-dropping him, i don’t think he ever drew Quasar.

I’d say more, but my head is still reeling from the pwnage of the other day.

Actually, superactiongo, in a perfect, perfect world there would be no need for a Grant Morrison and JR Jr. New Gods, because Jack Kirby would’ve been able to finish his story the way he wanted to back in the 70s.

Kudos to JR Jr. Consistently solid & entertaining work for 30 years. Can’t ask for better than that.

Okay, John Trumbull, I’ll give that option THREE “perfect’s” :) Good point.

I’d completely agree withthe point about his characters having a presence on the page. You definately know they’re there and they’re powerful. Somehow, even the slender, wiry Spider-Man has a powerful presence. I think this goes back to my points about design & layout. While his anatomy may not always be there, the heroe’s figure design always has a commanding presence.

superactiongo, you’re not the first to make that comparison, and I completely agree. I think the last time I’ve seen it was with his recent (not yet published) cover to Incredible Hercules, drawing Marvel’s Earth deities and their Kirby-eaque helmets. I think it was a recent Judging Marvel Books By Their Cover, but not sure.

JRJR is pretty fantastic, this was a great overview of his career thus far, thanks! I always enjoy his stuff.

I was never a fan of his first X-Men run, but I really enjoyed his work on Eternals and WWH.

Andrew Collins

April 11, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Just wondering- whatever happened to his character, Shotgun? I remember their being some hype over JRJR’s character getting his own series after an appearance in (I think) Daredevil, but I never heard anymore about that.

JRJr is one of my favorite comics artists, but I remember just absolutely hating his stuff about ten or twelve years ago. I really like being able to see, from the pictures above, how Romita’s style has changed. It was his bulgy character period in the mid-to-late nineties that really turned me off. I took notice, and fell in love with, his art on the Bruce Jones Hulk run. And his work on the JMS Amazing Spider-man stuff is, well, amazing. His art appeals to me more and more all the time now. I really like where it’s going.

formerlly known

April 11, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Romita is one of the best. He is the man.
What “R” really stands for however is retarded.
because censorship is retarded, and these blogs are
just as censored as the Comics Code Authority.

To keep a trend of name-dropping him, i don’t think he ever drew Quasar.

I’d say more, but my head is still reeling from the pwnage of the other day.

Aww…now you’re making me feel bad! :)

I’ll whip up a little something on this point!!!

Although my favorite artists of all time are George Perez and Alan Davis, JRJR comes very close. He has a very unique style, and I can see why some may not like it…when I was younger, I didn’t like his style, but as i got older, I started to like it more and more (I also felt the same way about Perez and Davis…eh, what did I know?), and ended up loving his older X-men and Spider-man stuff that used to turn me off. His work is dynamic and full of energy.

Brian, I did notice you left out that Amalgam issue he did…what was it called? The amalgam of Thor and Orion? Thorion, or something like that? I’d love to see him do more work for DC…

this fucking comics a liked so much because is a nother universe

I lova John Romita Jr, he’s the best one !!

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