Underappreciated Artist Spotlight – Ross Andru
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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.