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CSBG Archive

Top Five Daredevil Artists

Top Five Month (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far) continues with a look at a counterpart to the top Daredevil writers by looking at the top Daredevil ARTISTS over the years!

Enjoy!

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Tim Sale

Only the one Daredevil work, but boy, Daredevil: Yellow sure wuz purty.

Joe Quesada

Quesada certainly has a dynamic style and his issues were very memorable from a visual perspective.

Dave Mack

Mack is a wonderful artist and he did strong work on his Daredevil issues.

Bill Everett

Bill Everett did not draw the book long, but he did co-create the guy. I figure that deserves an honorable mention.

Bill Sienkiewicz

Similar to Sale, Sienkiewicz has only really done one Daredevil work, but boy, what a work!!!

John Romita

Romita had a nice little run. It was good enough that he got put on Amazing Spider-Man, then Marvel’s first or second-highest selling title!

Michael Lark

Isn’t it weird that such a great artist as Michael Lark only had ONE cover during his stint on the book? Werid. Combined with the great Stefano Gaudiano, Lark was excellent on Daredevil.

Lee Weeks

Was this the only extended run of Lee Week’s career? It was sure great looking comics.

Klaus Janson

Perhaps the most underrated Daredevil artist of all time, many people forget that he was doing finishes for much of the classic Miller run, including this legendary issue. Janson was brilliant on Daredevil.

John Romita Jr.

The absolute toughest omission, but this is an extremely difficult list to crack.

5. Alex Maleev

Maleev and Romita Jr. are the toughest calls. I can see a case being made for either one. If I weren’t so adamantly opposed to ties on the Top Fives, I’d have them tied.

4. Wally Wood

Look, they even mention him by name on the cover of his first issue (interestingly enough, he only inked the above cover)!!! Wood is a true comic book Hall of Famer, and he did Hall of Fame-level work on his short run on Daredevil.

3. David Mazzucchelli

The funny thing about Mazzucchelli was that he was a star on the book BEFORE Born Again. He was already the star of the Denny O’Neil run (not that O’Neil was bad or anything, but the star of that collaboration was Mazzucchelli) but then Born Again just made him practically a shining sun of awesomeness. It is stunning that he had only gotten BETTER over the years!

2. Gene Colan

The grand dean of Daredevil. If not for #1 on the list, he would be by far THE definitive Daredevil artist.

1. Frank Miller

But Frank Miller is just the definitive Daredevil creator period, writer AND artist.

That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

42 Comments

Pretty extensive and fair. Can’t disagree a bit. I think Mack’s writing was better than his Daredevil art, but that might be because he only did the art for Bendis’ worst Daredevil arc (that preceded Bob Gale’s underrated stories, which were in turn followed by Bendis’ famous run) which was, in my opinion, really awful. Quesada’s art also seemed to improve with Mack’s issues, as opposed to Smith’s.

5-1 are spot-on. I’d say Maleev was the star of his collaboration even more than Mazzucchelli was.

Wally Wood did few issues, but he designed the red costume, so I guess he deserves to be in the Top Five. I would put Romita Jr. instead of Maleev, though, but in the end they are real close

I’d definitely put Miller, Mazzucchelli, and Maleev in the top 5, but add Romita Jr. instead of (I guess) Wood. I didn’t even read much of Romita Jr’s run with Ann Nocenti (at least not yet), but his renditions of Daredevil, Typhoid Mart, Blackheart, and others stand out in my mind as some of the definitive Daredevil work.

Wally Wood is obviously a more important figure in history, but I don’t think his Daredevil work was that memorable, new costume or not.

I’d put JR Jr. and Everett over Maleev, I think. But, man, what a list. Romita Sr. should probably get a mention, even though he didn’t do too many issues.
Does any other long-running Marvel series even approach Daredevil for the volume of quality writers and artists?

Thou dost smoketh the crack! JR Jr.’s run with Ann Nocenti warrants a place in the Top 5. Word.

Mazzucchelli is really underrated. I went through a couple of decades hearing Miller’s name everywhere and almost never hearing his. Then I read their Daredevil stuff and I was amazed at how good his art is. I think his stuff is better than Miller’s to be honest, and I feel like Miller gets the top spot more because of his writing.

Michael Lark was robbed. Admittedly his stuff is stylisticly following on from what Alex Maleev did, but I think he surpassed Maleeve (though I think both deserve places in the top 5).

I think I’d put Mazzucchelli slightly ahead of Miller too.

Maleev is too low and Miller is too high.

Miller is the definitive DD writer, but as an artist… well, I think his run with Mazzuchelli was a lot better than the stuff he drew.

Great list! Even some of the “lesser” DD artists (Cary Nord, Phil Winslade, Scott McDaniel, Rick Leonardi) did good work, which would merit an honorable mention against a less accomplished roster.

I’ll give a vote of support to Alex Maleev. I think critics have gotten so used to his art (and sniping at his excesses) that they forget how refreshingly different it was at the time it came out. I just loved the moody, realistic look it brought to Daredevil’s world.

It’s a good list. I’m glad you added Wally Wood to the list– the thing about his Daredevil is how different it looked, with Wood’s meticulous fine line, to the Marvel house style at the time. (You can see it even in the cover above which Wood only inked– it took a bog-standard Marvel cover and made it look remarkable). While I love Kirby, Ditko and Heck, the house style they created really could be described as “quick and dirty”. It was a welcome bit of artistic diversity at the time. (Everett even more so– Daredevil 1 looks as though it’s a 1950s DC comic!)

It’s funny to think that when I started buying/reading Daredevil (around issue #109 in the early 1970′s) the book was bimonthly and on the brink of cancellation.

Man… I know Frank is THE MAN, but Colan did something crazy like over 100 issues! Plus he contributed to later DD issues like the #500 and I think a few others.

ALSO – I just wanted to mention this somewhere, that the DD V.2 #’s: 20-24, “Playing to the Camera” by Bob Gale and Phil Winslade has NEVER BEEN REPRINTED. Shame…

I’da put JrJr over Maleev, but just by a skosh. (A tie would have been better.) He did draw Man Without Fear which is one of the definitive Daredevil stories.

And I’d have put Colan at number one – All the stuff that he was doing with shadow and movement effects were probably (slightly) more influential and important than Miller’s Eisner-pulp, AND he was on the book for far longer – His last issue was, what? 1997 or something.

I would put Colan at #1. His longevity on the title, his cinematic perspectives and angles, really made DD fun to look at. And although I love Wally Wood’s work, Romita Sr. had a longer run on the title, setting the stage for Colan, so I would probably swap out Wood and swap in Romita Sr.

I support Miller as #1 DD writer, but definitely not as #1 DD artist. I think people rate his DD artwork higher than they should because of the corresponding stories that went along with the issues he drew. It was good art, but definitely not as stellar as his later stuff, and definitely not better than many of the artists you ranked lower. It definitely had a lot of flaws, like stiffness of motion and really, really bad fight choreography (most of the martial arts looks like people clumsily falling down while doing a drunk ballet). He did have other strengths like his (not fighting) storyboarding.

I’d also have to put Mr. Colan at #1.

Also like to add that Colan should be #1 as artist. His cinematic style was well suited to this, especially when he showed Daredevil’s movements in a sort of frame by frame breakdown..

Gene Colan will always be THE Daredevil artist. And I may be branded a heretic but I actually prefer David Mazzucchelli’s run to Frank Millers.

I agree with #s 1, 2, 3, and 5, but I really would have swapped Romita Jr. and Wood. I still think old/first does not equal best. For example, if this were a list of top five X-Men artists, Kirby wouldn’t make it, would he? Yes, Wood created the red costume, but Romita Jr. was a far more definitive artist on the title (hence why he was chosen as the penciller for The Man Without Fear.

Also, I think it’s a crime that McDaniel wasn’t listed as an honorable mention. People seem to forget what a huge deal Fall From Grace was at the time. I’d pick him well over people Like Weeks, Sale, Mack, or Sienkeiwicz. That doesn’t mean I think McDaniel is a better artist than any of those four (in fact, I would say McDaniel is only fourth best out of those five), but his work on Daredevil is undeniably stronger and more significant than those four.

Gene Colan is one of my 2 favorite comic book artists, but I still give the #1 spot to Miller. His fight scenes and minimalism were enormously influential. Miller style had grit, and possessed a realism (when compared to Byrne, Perez, and other hot ’80s artists) that fit DD perfectly. I like Colan better overall, but almost no Daredevil artist has escaped Miller’s influence. JR Jr., Weeks, McDaniel, & Maleev especially.

I cannot believe that there is any debate over #1. Frank Miller defines DAREDEVIL more than any creator defines any character that they did not create. His work was initially as a Artist-Writer. The sensibility was a visual one first and the scripts evolved from that.

Second and third places are also pretty well a lock. Colan drew DD forever. He did consistent, amazing work. David Mazzucelli is brilliant. BORN AGAIN is one of my favorite comic stories ever.

Wally Wood is tougher. He is another genius of the medium, obviously. He drew the classic Namor vs. DD confrontation. He re-designed the costume in a pretty major way. He is pretty clearly in the Top 5, but I could see knocking him down a spot.

JR jr is the definitive Marvel artist of the last 20 years. He has done classic runs on everything. However, the one character with which I most closely associate him is Daredevil. I would rate him #4.

Maleev is wonderful and has a great style, but his work with Bendis is just a bit worse than the high points of Romita, Jr. and Wood. It was just a bit too cold for my taste. That is not to say that it was bad in any way, but I never loved Maleev’s work the way I have loved the others.

I’m a bit late to the party, but I’d knock Maleev down for JRJR . I also might switch Wood and Mazzuchelli. That’s a tougher call. Wood is one of my all time favorites.

“I cannot believe that there is any debate over #1. Frank Miller defines DAREDEVIL more than any creator defines any character that they did not create.”

Even if that’s true – Which I disagree with – he’s still THE movement and shadow artist from the last 30 years, and he’s still THE movement and shadow artist ’cause of his run on Daredevil. . This is not “solid, consistent work” this is groundbreaking stuff that was never done before that people still reference today.

Miller’s Daredevil work was much, much less influential, especially figuring in that Mazzucchelli drew his most remembered story-arc.

MarkAndrew – I assume you’re talking about Gene Colan, right? Yeah, “solid” & “consistent” doesn’t describe his work. Colan’s body of work is just amazing. His Daredevil art was great, even if he didn’t always get the right inkers.

To say that Miller’s work is much less influential… I disagree, for the simple fact that his “grim & gritty” style (especially w/ Janson inking and sometimes penciling) came to prominence in the ’80s. Colan did shadows, movement, atmosphere, and character work in a much different way. It had beauty and texture not found in Miller’s art. In fight scenes, Miller went for the throat with jarring physicality and more realistic staging (compared to his contemporaries). Colan’s art didn’t go in that direction. More ’80s & ’90s artists came away with Miller’s idea of storytelling, Miller’s characters’ angularity, Miller’s figure work, and Miller’s tendencies to wallow in “street” settings. Colan’s muuuuch harder to imitate.

Good points all.

*Sigh*

That’s gonna be tough to argue with.

Lemme try this:

*Game Face*

Colan was pretty much the first artist to work in a “modern” style that was specifically cinematic (Or cinematically influenced.) Eisner (again) did it, but that was decades before but cinema had changed a lot in the ensuing time…..

Even if not ALL that many people copied his…

Shit, how do I explain this…

Holistic sense of movement across the page which was way different than the traditional Kirby mode …

He still made people say “HEY! MOVIES!” And now movies are probably the biggest “outside” influence on (mainstream) comics as a whole right now. Influence.

Or if that’s too far out – How many other Marvel artists of Colan’s generation WEREN’T trying (or instructed to) flat-out copy Kirby? Colan really demonstrated that the Marvel house style wasn’t the only way to go.

Also, he definitely brought a kind of upfront sexuality to the mainstream that hadn’t been there before – And, again, that’s turned into a growth industry in the ensuing years.

And I don’t have any PROOF of this, (or heard anyone else make this claim) but I’d be surprised if Colan’s stuff wasn’t at least a baby-step towards the Bill Sienkiewicz or Kyle Baker schools of outright abstraction.

And the people he DID influence tended to be some really damn big guns – I see a lotta Colan in Steve Bissette, Steve Rude’s cited him repeatedly – Heck, pretty much every subsequent Daredevil artist here falls into the “strongly Colan influenced” camp.

I agree that Miller has more outright imitators, but I’d still say that Colan’s stuff had a much broader impact on C-O-M-I-C-S as a whole, ESPECIALLY if we limit it just to Daredevil. (Which wasn’t Colan’s best work, but wasn’t Miller’s much moreso.)

Great list Brian. I can get behind it, whether or not Miller or Colan ought be at #1. Both in their own way redefined the character. Colan was the DD artist par excellence for so very long. His was the ink that DD moved through. Then Miller came and recreated the character in his own image. it was an extraordinary revelation pit upon a waning hero. The Miller stamp on Daredevil carries on to a large extent to this day.

The one artist I think should be on it is Michael Lark. He needs more than an honorable mention. I might move out Maleev, whom I raved about at the time he was penciling the book only to eventually rave even more about Lark when he took over. But it would be to tough to move Maleev. Wood is one of top 10 artists ever, but I don’t think DD was his finest hour. So if not Maleev out, maybe Woody for Lark.

Great list Brian. I can get behind it, whether or not Miller or Colan ought be at #1. Both in their own way redefined the character. Colan was the DD artist par excellence for so very long. His was the ink that DD moved through. Then Miller came and recreated the character in his own image. It was an extraordinary revelation put upon a waning hero. The Miller stamp on Daredevil carries on to a large extent to this day.

The one artist I think should be on it is Michael Lark. He needs more than an honorable mention. I might move out Maleev, whom I raved about at the time he was penciling the book only to eventually rave even more about Lark when he took over. But it would be to tough to move Maleev. Wood is one of top 10 artists ever, but I don’t think DD was his finest hour. So if not Maleev out, maybe Woody for Lark.

It had beauty and texture not found in Miller’s art. In fight scenes, Miller went for the throat with jarring physicality and more realistic staging (compared to his contemporaries).

I thought Miller’s fight choreography was the opposite of realistic. He drew martial arts horribly. I think Colan beat Miller in that area too.

@ Mark Andrew:

Look, I love Gene Colan. His art has an amazing sense of energy and sensuality. The guy is an absolute master. If the question was “who is the better artist?”, then I would concede the point happily. However, on the narrow question of “who is the greater Daredevil artist?”, I contend that it is rather clearly Frank Miller.

Miller’s run on that title as writer-artist changed both the character and comics. Whatever Colan’s virtues were, the same cannot be said for his time on DD. I think separating Miller the writer from Miller the artist is not a simple task.

JRJr. an honorable mention? Come on. He’s easily top five. It’s just a question of who gets bumped. Personally, when stacked against the ones who made the top five, I’d put him no lower than second, with Colan at 1. I’d move Miller lower or possibly even take him off. A great artist in his heyday, but (A) his biggest impact on DD was as writer and (B) as noted in the Janson write up, for most of Miller’s run he was only doing layouts with Janson doing the finished pencils and the inks.

And surely the great Gil Kane deserves at least an honorable mention.

I think Mack’s writing was better than his Daredevil art, but that might be because he only did the art for Bendis’ worst Daredevil arc

Whoa, gotta disagree with that last part. The worst arc, at least to me, was the Black Widow team-up, even if it did make her appearance in “The Murdock Papers” feel more natural. Loved the story Bendis did with Mack, even if it contradicted Leap Frog’s established history (think they later clarified it was a “different” Leap Frog at a convention or somewhere).

I do love this list, though. Very happy to see Gene Colan’s work rank so highly!

T.,

When I say more realistic, it’s meant as a comparative. Miller’s greater fight-scene realism came from the sense of impact, and the comparative brutality. Most artists who drew super-hero stories drew fight scenes in the ’70s & ’80s didn’t have the same sense of how a blow would land on a body. Of his contemporaries, maybe Paul Gulacy was better at scenes of stylized street fighting, but there was still a greater sense of fantasy. Miller’s characters engaged in fantasy violence, of course, but it was more grounded.

MarkAndrew,

Gene Colan definitely did “cinematic comics” before they became en vogue, no question. Miller’s art was cinematic as well. Shifting “camera,” close-ups for important dialogue beats, “widescreen” panels, brutal fight scenes that had more flow than your typical Marvel or DC artist at the time (with notable exceptions), and a better control of pacing (Shooter didn’t seem to make him conform to the ’80s Marvel standard storytelling nearly as hard as other artists) were some of Miller’s tools. His scratchy artwork came to prominence, looking especially unique at a time when people copied Kirby, Byrne, and Neal Adams to death.

I see more Miller than Colan in ’80s Mazzuchelli, JR Jr., Lee Weeks, Scott McDaniel, Alex Maleev, & Michael Lark. It may be the idea that “Miller = Daredevil” colors how I look at things. I’ll have to take a look at things with an eye towards Colan’s influence, and see how it goes.

I can’t agree with you more, re Colan’s influence on more experimental comic book artists. After Dark Knight, I think Miller’s influence outdid everyone’s, with the possible exceptions of Moore & Byrne. If there is an artistic descendant of both Colan & Miller, it’s Mike Mignola.

I only like Miller’s art, but love Colan’s. I feel odd arguing against Colan even to this mild degree. Still, I think Miller’s art had a greater influence on subsequent DD artists than even Colan’s. I’m enjoying the discussion, however.

Mike, I know what you mean. I just have to respectfully disagree. I think Miller’s fights may be more gruesome and may show more blood and permanent damage, but I don’t think they were more realistic. I always found the ways he had people throwing punches and kicks, usually off-balance and with no leverage, to be a very unrealistic depiction of martial arts or boxing. He didn’t convey power or grace very well to me. But that’s just my opinion, I’m obviously in the minority here.

Anyone ever see this Alan Moore parody of Frank Miller’s Daredevil from back in the day by the way? Hilarious stuff:

http://my.spill.com/profiles/blogs/alan-moore-makes-fun-of-frank

Romita Jr, Tim Sale, Bill S, and Joe Quesada should be in the five.

Travis Pelkie (My Beard Eats Monsters)

October 4, 2010 at 12:15 am

Whoa, that Moore DD parody is pretty cool. Where did that originally come from? (Did I miss a credit at the link?)

Did anyone ask or answer who Wood was inking on the cover above? I wanna say Dick Ayers, but I may be horribly wrong. Someone he’p me out!

JRjr and Al Wiliamson over Maleev.

I´d put Romita Jr. in the top 5, too.

Samnee, Martin and Rivera

Honorable mentions!!! Over Lark and Maleev all day every day

I just think that Wally Wood should rank higher on the list. To me, he’s one of the best and most important artists in the comic book industry. His work is just fantastic.

I would have put Lee Weeks or Romita Jr. ahead of Maleev.

I think Scott McDaniel should one of the greats on DD.

David Spofforth

August 10, 2014 at 6:26 am

Not arguing with the list at all, but I did have a great fondness for the Bob Brown/Klaus Jansen run in the mid 70s.

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