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Top 125 Comic Book Artists: #55-51

Here are the final five artists on the countdown, based on your votes for your favorite comic book artists of all-time! Here is the list of all the artists listed!

I’ll give you a sample page for each artist.

55 Marc Silvestri – 208 points (2 first place votes)

54 Amanda Conner – 209 points (10 first place votes)

53 Phil Jimenez – 210 points (1 first place vote)

52 Curt Swan – 211 points (4 first place votes)

51 Gabriel Bà – 212 points (2 first place votes)


No Totleben at all on the list. That’s very disappointing.

Totleben ended up at #138.

Jeez how things have changed! who would have thought we’d have seen Amanda Conner ahead of Silvestri?
Nice to see that Curt Swan made the list though, it’s good to see that the oldies have’nt been forgotten.

big fan of all these

Artists from my Top Ten that are STILL nowhere to be found: Jack Cole, Bob Oskner, C.C. Beck. How soon we forget.

Curmudgeonly grousing aside, this is a great batch. LOVE Swan and Conner, and quite enjoy Jimenez too.

Phil (I wish I was George Perez) Jimenez and Marc Silvestri make the list and John Totleben – one of the finest artists to grace the medium – doesn’t?

I’m finding it hard not to swear.

just out of interest, Brian – did Rob Liefeld get a single vote?

Silvestri is a terrible artist.

The Crazed Spruce

April 30, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I haven’t seen much of Silvestri’s work since he left X-Men. I see his style has improved. Good to know.

Sadly, I haven’t seen enough of Amanda Connor’s and Phil Jimenez’ work to judge them. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen, though.

Curt Swan was #2 on my list. Easily the definitive Superman artist. (I was hoping for a page from “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow”, though. George Perez’ inks really meshed with him.)

Gabriel Ba is a bit below my radar. Sorry.

All in all, great list. (Still say that Steve Lightle should’ve shown up somewhere, but ah well….)

Curt Swan is nice…
Though, Wayne Boring is the definite Superman artist.

Dang – No CC Beck, no Rags Morales, no Peter Snejbjerg (sp?). Those I can understand, I guess.

My number 2 – Joe Staton. MIA. My iconic JSA artist.

But my number 1 – Dick Dillin. Really? Couln’t break the Top 125? There oughta be a law…….

Amanda Conner draws animals so well. I would pay double for her to tackle an ongoing or mini of the Pet Avengers or the Super Pets. Please make it happen.

Seriously I could go panel by panel and tell you what the animal is thinking. Just from the art. She does that effortlessly.

I’m happy Silvestri made it on here, though I do think he’s a bit high. I wish his sample page would have been from his original outback X-Men run or his Wolverine stint with Larry Hama, as I feel the majority of his votes were people that fondly remember those two runs more so than his Michael Turner clone stuff of the last 10-15 years. Ironic that Turner started as a Silvestri clone, but then became so popular that Silvestri began aping his former protege… has that phenomenon ever happened elsewhere? It would be like Neal Adams starting to draw like Sienkiewicz.

Interesting that we only saw three of the seven Image founders on the artists list (Lee, McFarlane, and Silvestri), but then one of the Image founders made the writers list and NOT the artists list (Erik Larson)! A bit ironic considering none of the Image guys could write to save their lives when they founded the company.

My top dozen artists that I wish had shown up somewhere…

1. John Totleben
2. Joe Quesada
3. Dale Keown
4. Whilce Portacio
5. Kevin O’Neil
6. Phil Hester
7. Scott McLoud
8. Charles Burns
9. Howard Porter
10. Paul Smith
11. Kelly Jones
12. Frank Brunner

Of those, I’m really only surprised about a few.

All of the Howard the Duck fanatics voted for Gerber but not Brunner?

Doesn’t everyone pretty unanimously agree that the David/Keown stretch of Hulk was perfect? I agree that Keown has done nothing since, but those thirty issues… man they were great.

The absence of Joe Q bothers me just to the extent that I feel like he certainly lost votes because of the way people feel about his EIC stint, which isn’t exactly fair. Looking back on his Valiant stuff (check out X-O #0), his X-Factor run (#87 in particular), Sword of Azrael, Daredevil… I mean, there’s some great stuff on that resume.

I’m a bit surprised that people tend to not like Howard Porter. His work on JLA really pioneered the “wide-screen action” style that Bryan Hitch later perfected, and he was the perfect match for Grant Morrison’s epic JLA stories. He never gets his due for how well that book worked.

And John Totleben… sigh. The perfect artist for one of comics’ all-time most perfect and important runs. I suppose it’s weirdly appropriate that he and Zeck finished back to back at 138 and 139, considering they’re probably the two most notable absentees out of the post-Silver Age artists. People rarely mention how lucky Moore was to have an artist of Totleben’s caliber already working on Swamp Thing when he was assigned to the title. I think the only instance of a writer joining an artist already on a title that proved to be even more unexpectedly fortuitous is when Miller came back to Daredevil and teamed up with Mazzuchelli. Would Mazzuchelli and/or Totleben have had the same career if not for those one-in-a-million collaborations? Would Moore’s Swamp Thing or Daredevil: Born Again have been as good if those titles had a different artist working on them? Every once in a while, the most perfect of team-ups happen completely by accident.

Oh well. Thanks again Brian, these lists are always a blast, and your hard work on them is much appreciated. As they seem to be happening once per year around the Holiday Season, can I cast my vote for the next one to be greatest single issues?

As they seem to be happening once per year around the Holiday Season, can I cast my vote for the next one to be greatest single issues?

I already have this year’s poll picked out. Single issues is one of those things where the results would definitely be interesting, but I just don’t think we’d get the votes to support it.

"O" the Humanatee!

April 30, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I have the possibly incorrect impression that the Totleben advocates have forgotten that he was only the inker (and cover artist) on the majority of the Swamp Thing issues he worked on. While I agree that Totleben’s finishes were enormously important to the look of the book, the penciller was Steve Bissette. Totleben did full art on a relatively few comics, most notably a short stretch on Miracleman – which is not easy to obtain.

While we’re griping, I also feel the absence of Paul Smith in the top 125 is an embarrassment.

Smith was #126.

Bissette was #156.

“Ironic that Turner started as a Silvestri clone, but then became so popular that Silvestri began aping his former protege… has that phenomenon ever happened elsewhere?”

Jim Lee went through a period where he started aping his former clone J Scott Campbell.


Yes, it’s true that Bissette was technically the penciller and Totleben was technically the inker… but really, the art is all Totleben. If you happen to have the Swamp Thing issues/trades handy, check out issues 30 & 41, which were both pencilled by Bissette and inked by Alfredo Alcala- the art looks radically different than it does on the Bissette/Totleben issues, like it bears virtually no resemblance. Granted Alcala is also a heavy-handed inker, but the difference shouldn’t be THAT profound. Then check out these issues: 20 (Dan Day inked by Totleben), 31 & 37 (Rick Veitch inked by Totleben), and 38 (Stan Woch inked by Totleben- despite the fact that those four issues are by three different pencilers, they basically all look alike; they all clearly have the Totleben magic, and they don’t really look noticeably different than the issues Bissette penciled which were inked by Totleben.

Now look at the interiors of Swamp Thing 48 & 53, which Totleben did totally solo, and then the cover to Swamp Thing 61, which Bissette did solo… which looks better? The Bissette cover looks sort of scratchy and incomplete, while the Totleben solo work is gorgeous. It’s extremely similar to the work he just inks, but has a greater degree of thickness and dimension to the linework, and is slightly darker. I also have the six Miracleman issues Totleben did, and the art is so memorably fantastic on them that i shudder to imagine the series done by anyone else.

Bissette is a good storyteller, but linework is truly not his strong suit. It’s probably more apt to think of him as the breakdowns artist. Totleben is really the whole package. When people talk about how amazing the art was on Moore’s Swamp Thing, they are almost definitely thinking of the Totleben qualities.

If anyone ever finds an issue or two of the Essential Vertigo: Swamp Thing reprints in 50 cent or dollar bins, I really recommend picking them up. Much as I love Tatjana Wood’s coloring on the original series, black & white is really the best way to see Totleben’s art. The quality of detail in Swamp Thing’s body puts other artists to shame.

Also, just the cover of Swamp Thing #34 should have been enough to get Totleben on the list:


And the cover of Swamp Thing #63 is another example of what Bissette looks like without Totleben… it’s not that it’s bad, but it definitely doesn’t have that special quality:


And lastly, another great Swamp Thing by Totleben solo:


I thought Silvestri’s stint on Wolverine was really good. Better than his initial X-Men stuff, but not the Michael Turner rip that his stuff currently is. I didn’t vote for him, but I am a pretty big fan of his Wolverine run.

Third Man I agree with everything you said.

I wouldn’t diminish Bissett’s contribution too much. The way he plays around with panel layouts to add to the unsettling feel of the comics without at any time making it hard to work out the order of the panels is second to none.

(though possibly equalled by Frank Quitely and J H Williams)

"O" the Humanatee!

May 1, 2011 at 9:48 am

Third Man:

Our differences are more matters of emphasis than stark disagreements. Like DanCJ, I feel Bissette’s contribution is more important than you do. Breakdowns are the sine qua non of comic book art – they’re the storytelling – so Bissette’s work matters here; it isn’t just a coat hanger for Totleben’s clothes. Your description of Totleben’s solo art – “a greater degree of thickness … and … slightly darker” – is apt (though I don’t know what you mean by greater “dimension”). But I also think Totleben’s layouts are a little less dynamic and don’t vary scale (size of figures on the page, etc.) as much as Bissette’s. Bissette’s drawing is a little more extreme and grotesque, and his characters are slightly more expressive. But it wouldn’t be hard to find individual counter-examples to these broad generalizations.

Bissette and Totleben themselves offer support for both our takes. In Rough Stuff no. 4, Totleben says, in reference to how they initially agreed on the breakdown of responsibilities on Swamp Thing, “We just assumed that it would probably work out better with him penciling and me inking, because Steve really has a good storytelling sense and an eye for layout, both of which I didn’t possess at the time, at least not matching his abilities.” Bissette says:

My pencils, however loose or tight they appear to you …, were never more than a jump-off point for John in their particulars, except in the page/panel design particulars (which John never, ever deviated from); it was all grist for the Totleben mill, which was fine by me. John would run with them in ways no other inker or artist on planet Earth [nearly typed “plant earth”] ever could or would. The result was a third artist [emphasis mine], if you will….

And both artists acknowledge the importance of Alan Moore’s very detailed descriptions.

So I wouldn’t quibble (which is all I was really doing) if people were complaining about the absence of the Bissette-Totleben team; teams were included in the writers list. To be fair, I don’t have Totleben’s Miracleman issues, though I have some of his other non-ST solo work. And I can’t really complain about basing one’s opinion on very little published work, since I voted for Alan Brennert as a writer based on fewer than ten stories.

(Incidentally, while pulling out that issue of Rough Stuff, I also grabbed Back Issue no. 6, which has long, interesting interviews about Swamp Thing with Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson and with Bissette and Rick Veitch. It also has a fascinating Swamp Thing drawing by Gene Colan, done as a tryout “directly after Steve Bissette/John Totleben had split the book.”)

@ Humanatee-

I completely agree that Bissette’s contributions to the overall story-telling of those Swamp Thing issues shouldn’t be diminished. However, here’s what it boils down to for me: I don’t find Bissette’s art pleasing at all when it’s unaccompanied by Totleben. Totleben, on the other hand, looks fantastic on his own. But, of course, what art people find pleasing is a purely subjective issue.

But it sounds like we both agree that the art on that Swamp Thing run should have been somehow represented on this countdown.

Was wondering when we’d see Phil Jimenez. I’ve Loved his work since the Robin/Huntress teamup! ;)

And Amanda Conner is Amazing! Has she done anything since Powergirl?

Question – Was Sadowski listed?, don’t remember seeing him. And he would of been in my top 10 for sure!

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