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Month of Art Stars: Artist’s Choice – Rick Leonardi

Every day this month I’m going to feature the work of a great artist, only instead of me picking the artist to feature, they will be picked by their peers, fellow professional comic book artists who are picking out artists (from the past and present) who they think deserve special attention. Do note that most artists I asked about this gave me multiple answers and I picked out one choice out of a number of suggestions, so these are not definitive answers, like “Artist X likes Artist Y and he thinks all other Artists are terrible!” Here is an archive of the artists featured so far!

Today, we have the pick of Casey Jones, a longtime freelancer who you probably know from an assortment of Marvel projects, most prominently work during Warren Ellis’ run on Excalibur, but more recently, he’s done an issue of Marvel Adventures: Avengers (and a couple of covers for the book) and an upcoming arc on Exiles. Here‘s his website.

Casey’s pick is Rick Leonardi!

Rick Leonardi is already in rarefied air in that he has worked pretty consistently as a comic book artist for the past twenty years or so. In addition, for a time there in the late 1980s, Leonardi was basically Penciler 1B to Marc Silvestri’s Penciler 1A as the art team on Uncanny X-Men, so that’s pretty impressive, stature-wise.

However, besides a good two years or so on Spider-Man 2099, it’s true that Leonardi has not exactly had any long, sustained runs on titles, being more of a fill-in guy or a short story arc guy, and he’s an excellent comic book artist, so it’s true that he likely deserves more attention, like maybe a shot at a major title (it’s good to see DC Comics at least using him – he’s the regular artist on Vigilante right now).

Leonardi is known mostly for his dynamic linework and his inventive “camera angles” in his panels.

I figured that a great way of taking a look at Leonardi’s work would just be to show you four pages from two comics by Leonardi.

First, Amazing Spider-Man #282…

Next, Uncanny X-Men #237…

Awhile back, I did a “Cool Comic Cover Gallery” feature on Leonardi, who does excellent covers (as his interesting angles make for extremely dynamic covers). Here are the ten covers I chose (making a point to not duplicate books here)…











Thanks for the suggestion, Casey!


That Daredevil cover is spectacular. I wish the rest of his work looked like that. Everything about that just screams “style,” while I find the rest of it to just be kinda there, though I do really like the fifth panel of the last Spider-Man page.

I’m ashamed to say I hated Leonardi the first time I saw his work, filling in for Angel Medina on “Warlock and the Infinity Watch”. I’ve since learned to look forward to his solid yet distinctive work. He’s not flashy, but he’s always recognizable.

I’m really enjoying these columns, Brian. What a great idea.

I was never a fan when he was filling in on UXM back in the 80s. But having recently reread the issues he drew in essentials his art comes over much better than Silvestri’s

I think the pages were not chosen that well, it seems less his own style than Marvel 90’s house style, perhaps some of his Nightwing work would have been better.
That said, I like his work even though the Vigilante issues seem a bit rushed and a little bit too edgy for my taste. Alas I’m still buying the book.
I’m of mixed opinion concerning the chosen Covers, some of them look great, there are interesting angles creating a unique impression but some Uncanny 201 and Daredevil 249 seem not refined enough for Cover art and too sketchy.

It’s interesting comparing the styles on the ASM & UXM pages – who were the respective inkers ?

Bob Layton on the former, Terry Austin on the latter.

I have to agree with Dieter. These pages hardly seem recognizable to me as Leonardi artwork. If I were unfamiliar with the guy, I would probably be wondering what’s so special about him.

Well ASM282 is late 86 and I think the uxm is late 87/early 88. It’s the UXM pages I more associate with Leonardi – you can see the style evolving through the Vision & Scarlet Witch, Cloak & Dagger and UXM 201 covers. The ASM pages look completely different – it’s as if Layton’s Inks have sucked the individuality out of the style.

You should show some pages from spiderman 17 with Thanos. It’s the best drawn Thanos I’ve ever seen, plus the panel work is very dynamic

@Adam K: That fifth panel caught my eye, too.

I always liked his work on Uncanny, it was a good fit with both Silvestri and the occasional Art Adams covers. The Cloak & Dagger mini is pretty great, too.

His work grew on me. I couldn’t stand him at first, but now I appreciate his work. As an aside: I love the original X-Factor costumes. I love the whole “team” costume concept.

Leonardi’s work was always hit or miss with me but through no fault of his own. I think his work really shined with Austin inking him, whereas his sharp yet choppy, frenetic style clashed with Green’s sketchiness. Dan Green works really well with Jr jr.

Ah, Brian…I wish we’d seen more of Spider-Man 2099 in this posting! That’s where I got to know and love Leonardi best. Also of note is that he parodied his own cover to Spider-Man #17 with this cover:


Which drove a number of us 2099 readers into years of speculation that Thanatos and Thanos were the same guy.

I also remember really disliking his art when I was younger, though that was probably because he was often used a fill-in artist and I was naturally inclined to hate fill-in artists on principal back then (before I realized it really isn’t the fill-in artists fault they were doing a book).

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate his art a lot more and these sample pages, as well as the covers, take me back to when I first read that stuff. Good times.

In the spider-man issue, the scenes that don’t look like Leonardi’s work are all the ones with the X-Factor members. I wonder if Layton redrew the figures a bit to make them look more visually similar to how they looked in their own book.

I have the entire “Rampaging Hulk” series just for his art. I love his rendition of Hulk. Keep these coming!

As a kid in the 1980s, I loved Leonardi’s work. I wanted him to be the regular penciler on Amazing Spider-Man after John Romita Jr. left. His style at the time — a more expressionistic mix of Art Adams and Michael Golden — suited Spidey’s new black costume the way JR Jr.’s suited the original red-and-blue outfit. I never understood why he didn’t get a regular series. At the time, the only series he was a regular artist on was Cloak & Dagger (which I also loved). But that was only for a short time.

Also, he drew a great Wolverine. I had this poster on my wall as a kid (and probably still have it rolled up in the basement).


Phillip Ayres:

“The ASM pages look completely different – it’s as if Layton’s Inks have sucked the individuality out of the style.”

“As if”? LOL

One thing I always loved about Leonardi was his panel-to-panel fight continuity. He was always a master at this. And all this work looks like his style to me, I don’t really see how people think the X-Factor pages look unrecognizable.

I loved him since I was a kid (X-Men 201 came out when I was 10 or so)… Another artist in his vein that I love is Bret Blevins, but he seems to have disappeared 15 years or so ago.

“You will believe a man can die!”


Also, the guy writing that Spider-Man comic certainly was a fan of stu-stu-stuttering.

Leonardi has long been at the top of my list of artists work doesn’t appear nearly often enough. I’ve always loved his style and storytelling approach and felt like he never got his due as one of the top talents in the game.

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