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Month of Art Stars: Artist’s Choice – José Luis García-López

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 Dave Gibbons, who you all know from his decades of striking artwork, including a little project he did with Alan Moore called Watchmen.

Dave’s pick is José Luis García-López.

José Luis García-López got his start in comics working for Charlton Comics in the 1960s.

In 1974, he moved from Argentina (he was born in Spain in 1948) to New York City, and soon, he did his first work for a company that he would be associated with for, well, the next 35 years (and counting!).

García-López’s first DC work was inking the late, great Dick Dillin on an Atom back-up in Action Comics #448.

His first penciling work was a Hawkman back-up in Detective Comics #452.

García-López’s work is marked by a classical style with extremely clear, fluid and detailed storytelling, plus figure work that is the envy of many artists out there.

In fact, it is that figure work that has kept García-López a bit of a mystery to many fans over the years, as DC liked his figure work SO much that he is basically the official artist for DC’s “Style Guide,” the guide DC gives to companies who want to license their comics.

Because of this, and all the licensed work DC has him do, he has not had much regular comic book work over the years, besides some notable stints on Atari Force and New Teen Titans.

DC took good use of his brilliant figure work (and his amazing storytelling style) when they did a crossover with Marvel Comics. García-López drew the tale, and wow, I haven’t looked at these pages in awhile – I remember them being good, but I didn’t even remember just HOW good he was. You have got to read this comic for yourself, people! Practically every page is just brilliant!

Again, García-López doesn’t draw regular comics that often, but he tries to do some short story arcs here and there.

Here are some pages from a JLA: Classified storyline he did with writer Gail Simone a few years back and pages from a Batman Confidential storyline he did with writer Tony Bedard just earlier this year…

and

He’s a true modern master.

Thanks to Dave for the pick!!

42 Comments

I totally agree with Dave’s pick!!

I began to notice artists and writers in the late 70’s early 80’s and Jose’s work was defintely work that I followed. Although he never drew Superman with any regularity (that I can remember) I consider him an definitive Superman artist. I loved the DC Comics presents with Superman and Deadman. His characters always seemed so fluid and expressive and graceful. Even in Atari Force! LOL!

I always liked how he’d isolate a character or characters out of panel for emphasis. You can see that with Kennie up above. And his Joker was second only to Neal Adams.

I have that Batman/Hulk teamup. Utterly gorgeous and well worth the search. Also, see if you can pick up his Superman/Wonder Woman team up/battle in the tabloid format. Also well worth the search!

The only comic I wasnt sold on him doing was the New Teen Titans in the Baxter format in the 80’s and that JLA arc pictured above wasn’t inked to display his strengths.

This man needs more work!

Lopez could teach today’s artists a thing or two about how to draw sexy women.

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is an absolute MASTER of the comic form and my number one artistic inspiration! Fantastic choice, Mr. Gibbons.

If DC Comics really wanted to make some coin, they would publish a Showcase edition dedicated solely to Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez’s work and reprint Garcia-Lopez’s style guide for mass distribution.

The only thing missing from this entry is a couple pages from Twilight, Garcia-Lopez’ collaboration with Howard Chaykin, or Cinder & Ashe, which I think is his best work ever.

Thanks for the great entry.

I have to say this is cheating a bit: Garcia-Lopez is one of the great utlity men of all time. It’s like if someone said Alan Davis, or Mike Mignola. he’s not brought up as often as a Ditko or a Buscema, but still: wow.

Beautiful, beautiful work. I’m learning a lot about artists I should know better.

Yeah, it’s kind of too bad that DC doesn’t have something akin to Marvel’s “Visionaries” line, because somebody like Garcia-Lopez would be PERFECT for that.

Jeff, a lot of newer readers might not have heard of him. I personally hadn’t until he did the great Batman Confidential issues (the first time I’ve picked up single issues in probably a year). Great artists deserve recognition, especially ones that have been doing quality work for so long.

I had unfortunately never heard of Garcia-Lopez until this entry. I can now see I have really been missing out. Excellent work all around. Thanks, Brian (and Dave Gibbons) for focusing on this.

Yeah, it’s amazing to me… not so much that people haven’t seen his work (as it’s not often reprinted, or is scattered in terms of issues) but that DC hasn’t done their best to try and get people to know his work! The Hulk/Batman issue, the aforementioned “Twilight” series, “Atari Force”, he’s also done some Elseworlds stories and if you liked his collaboration with Nowlan on Batman, check out their first work together the Amalgam book “Strangefate”.

Thanks for this Brian. Great entry. (I knew he’d be popping up!)

I totally agree with the point that DC has not done more to show off his sequential work, but really, they’ve done a lot to promote his artwork, period (work he did in the 1980s is still being produced on licensed products today!).

In fact, I’d say that few comic book artists in the history of comics have been treated better by a comic company than José Luis García-López (as far as artists who have chosen not to do predominantly creator-owned work).

Maybe John Romita Sr.? John Romita Jr.? Mark Bagley?

Was struck by Garcia-Lopez, while still retaining his own dynamic style, channeled Kubert in his Hawkman figures (especially Carter and Shiera) and Adams in Batman and the Joker in the Hulk crossover. That, to my mind, speaks of a real professional, able to subjugate his own ego while retaining dynamism.

Put me on the list of people who would buy a book compiling Garcia-Lopez’s work. His stuff has always floored me. A friend of mine saw the Strangefate pages without Nowlan’s inks and said that they were even better than the inked version.

Excellent pick by Dave, Garcia-Lopez is truly an artist’s artist.

Brian,

Overall I agree that DC Comics has been very good to Mr. Garcia-Lopez. By his own admission, he never had a contract with DC until recent years, but he always seemed content with that status and the work he has been given. I think everyone at DC knows what a treasure they have in him. The foreword to TwoMorrows’ “Modern Masters” edition featuring Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez has a great anecdote about how his contact information was jealously guarded. Also, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez has always been professional enough to admit that he is a slow artist and has never overcommitted himself.

However, I will say that the licensing material does more to promote DC than Mr. Garcia-Lopez. I have a Garcia-Lopez convention sketch on my wall, and when visitors inquire about it, I always explain that they’ve already seen his work on everything from milk ads, to bed sheets and backpacks to stationery. It’s not reasonable to expect DC Comics to include his signature on the merchandise, however I would love to see a compilation/retrospective of his long career and trades of some of the miniseries he has done.

Didn’t he also do the Batman: Venom storyline for Legends of the Dark Knight? I would pick that the Batman/Hulk story as his most notable work in my collection.

Atari Force is such an under-rated sci-fi series. It will NEVER be reprinted because of all the issues with atari, but I would love to see a Showcase edition.

My favourite Garcia-Lopez work is his stint working on Deadman in Adventure Comics and then in a mini-series. Deadman was then a series that required a capacity for drawing both action and little human moments and he nailed both exquisitely.

Great choice by Mr. Gibbons. Quite literally the definitive DC artist.

(Anyone who hasn’t read the Batman Confidential storyline, DO SO IMMEDIATELY. It’s perfect.)

I always liked Garcia-Lopez’s art, especially his muscular heroes, thought not so much his backgrounds- with the right inker, his art was perfect, but other times it seemed kind of incomplete. He also seemed to have a thing for weird (as in Cthulhu-weird!) monster designs, or at least that’s the impression I got.

And there’s that (in) famous “Batman beats the Hulk” scene. I’m surprised that’s not posted more often.(For the record, no, I don’t think Bats can kick hard enough to get the Hulk to gasp.) I have that comic btw, and it was pretty good, in its own way. Lopez’s art helped, certainly.

Garcia-Lopez is great great GREAT! Love the choice. I heard he was the artist everyone expected to inherit the role of lead Superman artist whenever Curt Swan retired and was being groomed as such, but ended up being “shafted” when John Byrne was brought over from Marvel to spearhead the post-Crisis Man of Steel book. Real shame.

I think his work on Return of Donna Troy was a much better modern showcase of his skills than JLA story though because of more compatible inking, even though JLA story was much better story overall. Klaus Janson is great with gritty pencillers but I think for a smooth fluid style like Garcia-Lopez’s it clashes and detracts.

Great to see him picked!

Atari Force will always hold a special place in my heart, and I have the “Treasury” edition of Batman/Hulk.

A solid, brilliant artist who heartily deserves the recognition! Thank you, Brian!

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 10, 2009 at 10:19 am

I remember him doing a run on The New Teen Titans (prestige format – vol. 2) with Marv Wolfman after Perez left the title after # 5.

A terrific artist in his own rights.

Whenever people talk about “who’s the most underrated artist'”, it’s Garcia-Lopez in a landslide. His work has never been a big seller, so people often overlook him. But man, is he spectacular. I’ve always wanted to own a DC Style Guide, so add me to the list of people that would buy a compilation!

It’s funny that you posted this now, Brian, because I actually for some reason was just compelled to reread Atari Force the other day. That really is a lost classic. The art is amazing, of course, but Gerry Conway turns in some of the finest writing of his career. The plotting is methodical, and really builds upon itself well. And the characterization (particularly between Dart and Blackjack) is some of the best I’ve ever seen. Hard to believe that this is the same guy who was writing some absolute stinkers in JLA at the same time.

And speaking of lost classics, there’s Twilight, the Elseworlds reimagination of DC’s sci-fi characters that Garcia-Lopez did with Howard Chaykin. It’s among the best books that either did, and it’s a travesty that it’s never been collected.

Oh, and someone should mention that the Batman/Hulk story was reprinted in Crossover Classics V1.

My all time favourite from the cover of the first comic I ever bought (Flash 260) aged 6!

Man, good call. Garcia-Lopez’s stuff is so dynamic. I’ve had that giant-size Hulk/Batman comic since I was a kid, and it’s a stunner.

He just keeps getting better & better as time goes on.

For anyone who’s interested, there is a JLGL checklist here: http://sites.google.com/site/joseluisgarcialopezchecklist/

I’m not sure there’s anything left to add, except this is another great call in a month full of great calls.

I remember seeing some raw JLA: Classified pencils from García-López at Sean Phillips’ site a while back (Phillips was inking him at the time) and being blown away by the energy on display.

García-López definitely deserves wider recognition.

Probably a long forgotten issue today but he penciled and inked a great one issue story in Superman in the early 1980s (Superman #347 to be exact) that is one of my favorite pre-Crisis stories. Gerry Conway wrote it.

Cinder & Ashe is awesome!

Whenever I think of DC Comics, I think of José Luis García-López. Guys like Adams, Byrne, and Pérez have done lot of great work for the company, but García-López set the definite look for the DCU with his classic takes on the characters. His style guide designs are timeless.

I wouldn’t mind seeing a trade collection of those early Detective Comics back-ups. Looks like some nice vintage stuff there.

Sorry to be the nay-sayer here, but I don’t get the love. The guy’s work is fine and I’m sure his storytelling is top-notch, but all I see here is a standard competent artist with no distinctive style. I can completely see why his name doesn’t shift books. I suspect it doesn’t hurt them either.

And I actually got to work with Jose once when he illustrated an Elseworlds story I wrote (Superman: Kal).

Mr. Gibbons,

I thoroughly enjoyed that book. The scene involving Lois and Lex was brutal, terrifying, and tragic, made all the more so by the staging of the scene, the reactions from the guards, and by what was implied, not shown. I also loved the twist on Arthurian legend at the end.

Thanks for bringing that up. We should have pointed out your Elseworlds collaboration earlier.

Major props to the colorist in that last sequence. The first panel was repeated, line for line, with only the coloring to indicate passage of time, and it works fantastically.

Anyone else waiting to see Pat Broderick get singled out?

J.

The art in the Return of Donna Troy was brilliant because they paired Garcia-Lopez’s pencils with George Perez’s inks. That was stunning combination.

The story, however, was less impressive. As much as I love Perez’s pencils, I’d love to see another Garcia-Lopez & Perez doubleteam.

i really, really like Garcia-Lopez’s artwork, especially when inked with a very clean line. The Bats/Hulk work is some of the best art i have ever seen. Georgeous stuff! His stuff reminds me of a combo of Perez [who i love] mixed with Aparo [whose early stuff is good, later stuff i can’t stand], with some Alan Davis thrown in.
Of course, others might see it differently, but the point is that Garcia-Lopez puts out great art. He made Dick Dillin’s art look really nice & his own stuff is always superb.
DFTBA.

Hey Brian! What’s the next page of the Batman story? It looks like it would be a great page to have in this article.
DFTBA

Great choice, Mr. Gibbons. Like Graeme Burk, I loved his work on those Deadman stories from Adventure, and, especially, those first few issues of DC Comics Presents he worked on. It’s not just that he does great figural work – I also like the way he draws outstanding facial expressions, particularly for characters who are angry or feeling emotional anguish. This really came to the fore in those Deadman stories.

[…] times-but then I realized, “Hey, I’ve got my own blog, why don’t I link to the article?“  Then I thought, “Hey, why don’t I do my own entry on Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez on […]

JOSE LUIS GARCIA-LOPEZ is one of the greatest comic boook illustrators to have evr worked at DC Comics.

Mr. Gibbons choice is spot on.

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