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Underappreciated Artist Spotlight – Ross Andru

Here’s Scott’s next piece – BC.

I grew up with Ross Andru’s work, as he was the principal penciller on Amazing Spider-Man when I was just a young lad. Of course, Andru had worked for a long time before that and would work for a long time afterwards.

It seems that Ross Andru rarely gets mentioned when list of ‘great artists’ are compiled but I cannot think of many other artists who worked steadily for so many years and who felt comfortable in just about any genre. He could do war, super-hero, humor, western, dinosaurs – anything.

I occurred to me that Andru would be a good candidate when his name came up in recent interviews with Mike Esposito in Comic Book Marketplace and Howard Chaykin in Comic Book Artist. Both of them raved about his creative character designs and brilliant layouts. Obviously the bigwigs at DC liked him, g as his did about a gazillion covers for them in the late 70s and early 80s.

I honestly believe that Andru’s legacy in comic would be greater had he not had the misfortune of replacing many great artists on major title (think Romita and Kane on Spider-Man and Infantino on The Flash). I think being on the wrong end of those transitions likely led to some backlash.

It is tough to compete with Ditko and Romita, but I have always felt that Andru held his own on Spider-Man. I feel that he portrayed the architecture of New York City better than any other artist to take on the web-slinger.

He gave his buildings and skyscrapers a role in the panels – they angular prominence giving a level of depth to the action which that other artists had failed to achieve. Check out these pages where he gives the reader the sense of running along the walls of buildings, puts the Statue of Liberty in the middle of the action and changes the perspective to the back of Lady Liberty’s head.

It the little touches like this that made me fall in love with Mr. Andru’s work.

Probably the best examples of Andru’s character designs are the Metal Men, done with long time partner Mike Esposito. Here is one of my favorite covers to the first series.

The Metal Men series was about as quirky as it gets, but only provides a small hint of the kookiness that could flow from Andru’s pencils.

Many comic fans may not know it, but Ross Andru was also an excellent humor cartoonist.

In fact, in the early 50s he and Mike Esposito formed their very own company, the short-lived MikeRoss Publications. Get Lost turned out to be one of the better Mad clones to emerge from the 50s, and as an infinity cover collector, I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to track down all three issues.

Ross Andru was a Pro’s Pro, widely respected among his peer and deserve a little more recognition in the fanboy community.

36 Comments

WOW! That was GREAT.

Bravo.

Get Lost was recently anthologized, complete and remastered, by a small-press company (can’t remmeber the name). Cheap, too, all things considered. 25 bucks or so. Seek it out, it’s well well well worth it.

I always loved Ross Andru’s work. He did a fantastic Punisher and his run on Amazing during the original clone saga is just awesome. He drew the Jackel scarry.

Don’t forget, Andru also drew that first Spider-Man/Superman crossover.

I gotta say I disagree with this entry. Not because Rodd Andru isn’t great, but I guess I didn’t think he was underappreciated. I figured everyone knew how good he was. I

Ross Andru is pretty great, too. Especially when teamed up with his previously unheard of brother “Rodd.”

I also grew up with Ross Andru’s excellent Spider-Man artwork; it’s his meticulously researched vision of New York which still informs my imagination as to how the city looks. At the time I just accepted him as yet another Marvel artist, having no idea of his history at DC. He is one of the unsung greats.

It’s hard to think of Spider-Man and not think of Ross Andru. It may be true that during his run on the book he was just as talked about and appreicated as many of the other artists of the time, but nobody talks much about him today.

Great article.

To this day, when I think of peter parker, in my mind he looks like the Ross Andru version. maybe its because I was too young when Romita was the artist, but Andru’s parker will always be the version that will be in my head till i die.
Also, the War that Time Forgot by Andru and Robert Kanigher was freakin awesome!

My first (and to the day almost only) contact with Andru’s work is the Superman/Spider-Man crossover. I was a teenager back then and remember being absolutely wowed by his work (especially remarkable for a kid during the boom of the Image house-style) If anything, I felt that his work was diminished a bit by the inking. But he did drew the best NY vistas I’ve ever seen in a comic book, and to me, his Spidey/Pete and May Jane seemed as definitive as they get. He is definitely an unsung classic. Anyone knows of any trades (besides Essential volumes) where Andru’s Spidey work is featured?

The Spider-Man / Superman Treasury Edition was one of the highlights of the ’70′s and had a great Andru cover, but for me his attention to the details of New York was what made the comic. I have read stories of him taking hours of photos and sketches of any landmark he had to draw – bridges, buildings – like the water treatment works in one issue. He was a true professional.

I really like Andru’s page layouts, backgrounds, and action, but I’ve always thought he was terrible at drawing facial expressions. Reading through the Essential Spider-Man collection recently, I noticed, over and over again, how a page with two characters talking will look like ten different characters. The only thing that looks the same from panel to panel is the clothes.

To this day, when I think of peter parker, in my mind he looks like the Ross Andru version.

I read this and thought, “Which one?”

I haven’t read any of the other books Andru worked on, and I think that he would probably be great on a comic with less soap opera than Spider-Man, because he is so very good at all the other elements. But Spidey is all about the character interactions, and I just think the book suffered under his pencils.

jazzbo’s typo of Rodd Andru instead of Ross Andru reminded me of the time I saw a review where a Flash villain was typo-ed as Gorilla Gross.

I appreciate Andru, but his name came up this week at the LCS and one person was critical of his work. I don’t see how anybody could hate his work, although I do understand why some wouldn’t care for it. Some people just don’t like some styles of artwork.

He’s the artist I associate with my formative Spider-Man years, reading Marvel Tales reprints of his work. I agree that his Jackal was very scary and impressive. I liked his work a lot.

I also agree with his inclusion in this series as I never see any mention of him in blogs like this. Glad that this entry has changed that.

Love Ross Andru; he was the artist on the first issue of Spider-Man I ever bought and throughout most of my personal golden age. In recent years, as I discovered online comics fandom I was stunned to find people who disliked his work. People who suck.

I loved the Ross Andru Spider-Man as well. Even though it was before my time, I have more recently come to appreciate his work on Flash and Superman and especially his long run on Wonder Woman.

The first comic I ever bought was a Ross Andru Spider-Man. The second comic I bought was shown above, with the Hitman, Punisher, and Spidey atop the Statue of Liberty. I am very heartened to see so many people giving it up for this man’s work. He IS under-appreciated!

My first comics were by Ross Andru. When I was very young my Dad was at a book sale of some sort and found the first two issues of the 1979 World of Krypton mini made to cash in on the Superman movie. The mini still stands up well today, especially the art. This made me a life-long Jor-El fan.

"O" the Humanatee!

September 1, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Ross Andru’s does have all the virtues Scott describes – but it always seemed bizarre to me that a professional comics artist never learned the correct proportions of limbs: forearms (as measured from elbows to wrists) are a little shorter than upper arms, and calves are a little shorter than thighs. The strange spindly look Andru’s proportions lent to bodies (coupled with his penchant for showing limbs strongly bent) may have worked for Spidey; too bad he used it on everyone else too!

For me, and I know this is saying a lot, Ross Andru’s Spiderman IS Spiderman. I had a subscription during most of his run on Spidey during the 70′s and I have no stronger memories or impressions of comics in general and Spidey specifically than those years. Also, as someone who works at drawing and art myself I have to say his line work was just amazing. He is one of my top three favorite artists.

Andru hooked me. My first comic was ASM 133 followed by ASM 136. Andru became and still is my definitive Spider-Man. When he left the series in issue 185 I was truly distraught. Over time Romita Sr has emerged as my favorite Spider-Man artist, but Andru is right up there.

I grew up in the 70′s collecting The Amazing Spiderman issues. Ross Andru was a very deversified artist who could draw in any comic book genere. By far, Ross Andru showed the most impressive depiction of Spiderman. He is truly one of the greatest comic book artist of all time. His drawing style of Spiderman really gave the reader a good sense of action in each one of the panels. Everytime I read a Spiderman story that he drew I felt as if I was watching a movie with lots of action. Ross Andru had a unique style that really made those Spiderman issue very interesting to read. The Spiderman issues in the 70′s showed some of Ross Andru’s greatest work. He is the
Best!!!!!!!!!!

[...] and former Flash penciller Ross Andru handles cover duties, with Dick Giordano on [...]

Andru’s work on Spidey – awesome!

Interesting to see similar experiences with Andru. The first book I ever bought, Spider-Man # 134, immediately had me hooked. It was the early 70′s and I was enthralled with the Spider-Man character. And it was Ross Andru who did that for me. As others have said,…his attention to detail of the city really captured my imagination for the Big Apple and really brought it to life for me.

The way he drew hands for some reason caught me. I agree with others that his version of Peter Parker is the definitive for me. I disagree with those who think he couldn’t draw faces. I always though Peter Parker (his verson him particular) was the most fully realized comic book character every created.

His, as some described it, ‘Spidery’ way he drew figures, knocked me out.

His work on the Punisher character. His crazy, maniacal Jackal. The Tarantula. All too cool!

And his work on the DC/Marvel crossover was too great. (I know, I know….I’ve heard Neal Adams got hold of the pencils and corrected some anatomy and Romita Sr did some faces….but still,….tool cool)

Ross Andru deserves his due. A great in my mind.

Also meant to add this man was so cinematic. He was director, cinematographer, actor, stunt coordinator all in one. His books of Spider-Man were the Spider-Man movies I wanted to see.

Watching Spider-Man swing across the page had such weight to it, such motion, such excitement. And I believed in the Ross Andru laws of physics and gravity in his books.

Never a fan of Ross Andru’s.

Add me to the group of readers who started reading Spider-Man in the 70′s. When I tell friends that Andru’s version of Spider-Man is the definitive one for me, I’m glad I’m not alone. Thanks for giving him his due.

Hey, Bobby Bermea! A question: Do you think anyone here cares? Why would you post a negative with no basis? Seriously?

@Jack, Bobby is an idiot.
Andru was a great artist.

Interesting side note on Ross Andru here…. They had a clip of Avengers director Joss Whedon recently from comic con recently. He made a Ross Andru reference. He was talking about Spider-Man and the Tarantula to make a point about his writing process. His exact quote was ” it’s all about Ross Andru in my head”.

I thought, cool!

Ross Andru’s Superman,too,is awsome.

Ross Andru’s Superman and DC Universe characters is unforgettable.The Superman that sticks to my memory is that drawn by Wayne Boring,Al Plastino,Neal Adams,and of course, ROSS ANDRU. I agree that he is underestimated.May he rest in peace.Amen

I happened to get into The Amazing Spiderman as Ross Andru was doing the artwork.The looks on the characters faces and expressions still crack me up. i to always wondered why I didnt here more about him.Well, at least we still remember.

I love Ross Andru’s spider man. His era is my fave spider man era. Especially with the great Romita Sr covers that graced the outsides of the issues. One thing I am not sure about, people talking about his backgrounds. Even Esposito talked about the fine work Ross did with his backgrounds, but I don’t think Ross drew a lot of his backgrounds on Spider Man.
If you look closely, you usually see someone else has done the work. For example, find the opening splash page on Amazing Spider Man 156, the issue with the Mirage. It is a beautiful drawing of Spidey swinging through new york. But, in the upper right corner, see the building that has the words
“Back
Hunt”
this is artist Dave Hunt, I believe, showing that he did the backgrounds. You see this a lot in Ross Andru’s spider man tenure, if you look carefully, you find “Hunt” or “Mortello” signing their names on buildings in the background. Its a fun thing to do with many bronze age Marvel’s try to find the background artist signature

So glad to have found this blog as I have recently been re-reading his ASM issues. His books have a magical quality to me, along with the Kane/Romita covers, so much so that I’ve never really enjoyed any subsequent ASM artists. There was a simplicity to Spidey/Peter back then, and his art was both masterful yet straightforward. I suppose it was “cartoonish” at times, but this was the age of comic books, not graphic novels and movies. It fit the medium perfectly. No bug eyes, splayed limbs or crazy webbing, just a realistic approach and vibe that defined Spider-Man and the 70s to a tee, before the collector craze and all the other nonsense.

Thank you all for the insightful comments on Andru’s brilliant work.

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