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50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators: Artists #15-11

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man, we’re doing four straight months of polls having to do with Spider-Man, culminating with the release of the Amazing Spider-Man film in July. The last installment will deal with Spider-Man stories, but this month will be about Spider-Man’s writers and artists.

You all voted, now here are the results! Here is a master list of all the creators listed so far. We continue with Spider-Man artists #15-11…


15. Humberto Ramos

Humberto Ramos first worked on Spider-Man in a very well-received four-part story in Paul Jenkins’ Peter Parker: Spider-Man series (#44-47). The issues were SO well received that Jenkins and Ramos then launched their own Spider-Man title, Spectacular Spider-Man, which Ramos drew from #1-10, 12, 17-18.

More recently, Ramos has become the main artist on Amazing Spider-Man, alternating with Stefano Caselli and Giuseppe Camuncoli (Camuncoli took over from Marcos Martin, who was originally one third of the rotating art team). Ramos has drawn #648-651, 654.1, 667-671, 676, 678-679, 684-685.

Ramos is noted by his dynamic artwork where characters appear almost as if they are in a cartoon. It is a bold departure from the realism many other comic book artists go for in their work, but the power of Ramos’ art makes his style very compelling.

Here is a bit from the beginning of Big Time in Amazing Spider-Man #648…

14. Mike Wieringo

Mike Wieringo had two distinct runs on Spider-Man. First, Sensational Spider-Man #8-11, 13-17, 21-23, 27-28 and 31 and then Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1-5, 8-10.

The late, great Wieringo’s cartoon-esque drawings belied a greater understanding of how to depict actual human emotions than most of the best photo-realistic artists out there.

Wieringo also had an excellent sense of design. Check out this two-page spread from Sensational Spider-Man #13…

Awesome stuff.

It is a real shame that on his two stints on Spider-Man, he opened up with Ben Reilly and then finished with The Other and the Armored Spider-Man. That gave him only twelve stories featuring the plain ol’ Peter Parker Spider-Man.

13. Mike Zeck

Mike Zeck had drawn a handful of Spider-Man comics here and there over the years (a Web of Spider-Man here a Spectacular Spider-Man there) but he really cemented his place in Spider-Man comic history when he drew the six-part Kraven’s Last Hunt (with writer J.M. DeMatteis and inker Bob McLeod) that crossed over into all three of the Spider-Man titles for two months in 1987.

Zeck’s powerful imagery was a major part of the appeal of the famed storyline…

Zeck later did a graphic novel sequel to the story. The Kraven’s Last Hunt creative team re-united one more time in 1996 for the story they were born to tell – a mini-series about Ben Reilly and Kaine. Okay, maybe “born to tell” was a stretch.

12. Ron Frenz

Something people tend to forget is that Ron Frenz was the artist on “The Boy Who Collected Spider-Man.” It was before he took over as the regular artist on Amazing. Frenz drew Amazing Spider-Man with writer Tom DeFalco from #251-284 (here are the specific issues, as he missed a couple here and there – #251-252, 255-261, 263, 268-271, 273-277, 280-281, 283-284). He also did two issues of Untold Tales of Spider-Man and two Webspinners issues. And, of course, what, a hundred issues of Spider-Girl?

In any event, Frenz’s Amazing Spider-Man run was a brilliant combination between the styles of the two (then) most famous Spider-Man artists, Steve Ditko and John Romita. Frenz had the action of Romita but he also had a more Ditko-esque approach to the characters in the book. Frenz’s Peter Parker, for instance, was much closer to Ditko than it was Romita. Frenz was (and is) a masterful storyteller, which helped combine with Tom DeFalco’s writing to form a highly acclaimed run on Amazing.

Here is a page from the debut of the Black costume (which would play a major part in Frenz’s run) (Amazing #252)…

11. Erik Larsen

When Erik Larsen took over Amazing Spider-Man after Todd McFarlane left the title, McFarlane’s re-design on Spider-Man clearly influenced Larsen, but I think that that influence is overblown a bit. What amazes me about Larsen’s run is that he was able to maintain the power of McFarlane’s pencils while (in my opinion, at least) actually improving a bit on the storytelling in the book. Larsen has a keen eye for page design and that really helped him in his storytelling. Check out this page from his final issue on Amazing, #350…

See? It’s a powerful image but it is very well told. Larsen lays the page out in a creative fashion that gets the story across while still maintaining the dynamic shots of Spidey in action. Larsen actually did a fill-in issue on Amazing before McFarlane took over (and then did three fill-ins during McFarlane’s run), but his main run went from #330-350 (with only one missed issue, #345) and then Larsen wrote and drew Spider-Man in #15, 18-23. Larsen also wrote and drew a Spider-Man/Wolverine story in Marvel Comics Presents #48-50. Larsen then also did a three-issue arc as an artist during Howard Mackie’s Spider-Man reboot run (Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 #18-20).


no Sal Buscema yet…part of me is worried he won’t make the list, part of me is excited to see where he ends up in the top 10…the older I’ve gotten the more I absolutely love his Spectacular Spider-man work…

I’ll second that, tim. Sal Buscema is one of the all time greats in my book.

Meaningless Albert

May 27, 2012 at 8:03 am

Larsen and Frenz were on my list. Zeck is great too, but I had to left some great ones off my list. Sadly. And I don’t care for Ramos’ art. At All.

Meaningless Albert

May 27, 2012 at 8:06 am

And Sal Buscema was on my top 5. I’m sure he will be in the top 10.

I loved Larson on that “Teen Titans Spotlight on Aqua lad” issue, as well as his run on pre-Morrison Doom Patrol. His quirky dynamic style was exciting; but, the roll he was placed in, as the McFarlane replacement (Hulk 345, Amazing Spider-Man, & Adjective-less Spider-Man), made the 18 year old me disregard him. I’m happy that Savage Dragon has had such a long run.

Brian. You show a page from Frenz’s first issue on his Amazing run, Issue 252, but list 251 as another issue he drew. While 252 is the first Black Costume SPM, wouldn’t 251 be considered the beginning of his drawing run? (248 was a back-up story, so I can understand neglecting that).

I forget If I included Mike Zeak on my list. Shoud’ve.

It is odd how few of these artists are primarily Spider-Man artists. They are wonderful artists who draw a fine Spidey. However, I always think of that title as having a strong visual style that often defines careers. Other than Ron Frenz, none of these guys were really defined by their time on the web-slinger.

A great selection of artists!!

Man, Zeck is so awesome.

Frenz and Larsen were guys that I never really appreciated while they were drawing Spidey- Frenz for not being flashy enough and Larsen for not being McFarlane, but I like their work quite a bit now. Really great storytelling from both of them.

The thought that Todd McFarlane will probably be ranked higher than these three artists depresses me. McFarlane is wildly overrated.

I’m expecting both Todd McFarlane and Sal Buscema to show up in the top 10, but I don’t like either. As a kid, I remember reading the issues where Buscema filled in for Andru, and the Buscema issues were just a large step down in quality, with his badly simplified anatomy and constantly trapezoid mouths. Some of his Hulk work was pretty good, though.

McFarlane should be in the top 3 with Steve Ditko and John Romita SR. Those are the 3 most distinct spider-artists.

McFarlane is not completely devoid of qualities, but the lumpiness, clutter and bad anatomy work against him, so on balance, I’d say he’s clearly below average.

Shaping up to be an excellent list, in that the top ten will closely match my top ten.
I did have Ringo on my list, but the other 9 I expect to be shoe-ins, along with my #11 pick.

Wow, can’t believe Larsen made it! There’s just something about his art I’ve never like and I dropped Spidey when he took over and never went back to buying Spidey on a regular based with the exception of the .99 book. I’d the rest of the artists except for Ramos in a heartbeat.

McFarlane should be in the top 3 with Steve Ditko and John Romita SR. Those are the 3 most distinct spider-artists.

Rob Liefeld is also distinct. Distinct doesn’t always mean good. Sometimes it can mean the polar opposite of good.

Not sure how to respond to the above. I meant distinct as a positive. I didn’t mean it as “the polar opposite of good.”

I was sort of contemplating feeling bad that I left Larsen off my list. I do dislike the McFarlanesque influences in his work, but I appreciate what I think of as the Ditko influences. And Ron Frenz is probably underranked because not enough people read ‘Spider-Girl.’ Or because I didn’t think Spider-Girl was supposed to be a factor in the voting, or perhaps he is just underrated.

Mike Zeck I just forgot about. Oops. And I am also holding out hope for Sal Buscema.

You show a page from Frenz’s first issue on his Amazing run, Issue 252, but list 251 as another issue he drew. While 252 is the first Black Costume SPM, wouldn’t 251 be considered the beginning of his drawing run? (248 was a back-up story, so I can understand neglecting that).

Yeah, I just confused. I meant to write the first black costume issue, which I’ve now corrected it to. Thanks for the head’s up!

Too soon! I was hoping Ron Frenz would crack the top ten at least. He’s one of my favourites.

I also put down Mike Zeck based on the Kraven story. Seemed like a bit of a cheat since I hadn’t read anything else by him to do with Spidey (besides Secret Wars) but I guess I wasn’t alone.

Wow, I can’t believe Larson didn’t crack the top 10. I had him in my top 3. I wish Marvel would give him a Visionaries line of Trades, at least collecting his Spiderman solo title run (the Sinister six arc plus the Beast issue with nice, glossy paper would make a great trade) I do think he suffered a lot from ‘not being McFarlane’ and his art grew a TON from the time he gook over to the end of the book. I’m a little surprised to see Wieringo as one spot above Ramos, because Ringo always seemed like a poor man’s Ramos to me.

Ramos, Zeck and Larson all got votes from me.

And Ugh @ Sal Buscema. I guess he’ll make it, but I’m not excited for it.

There are 7 obvious artists still coming up (Ditko, Romita, Romita Jr, Bagley, McFarlane, Buscema, and Kane), but I really have no idea who the other 3 will be. Byrne? Milgrom? Buckler? I’m loving this list.

And I voted for Larsen. Spider-Man 23 was one of the first comics I ever bought, and his Spider-Man poses are still what I always feel like the character should look like. I also loved how many guest-stars Larsen’s Spidey stories tended to have, as I think Spidey is at his best when bantering with others.

I liked Zeck’s work in general, but I was never a big fan of his Spider-Man stuff for some reason. It just never really clicked for me.

I’d agree with the guy who said McFarlane is “not completely devoid of merit” – he did draw a distinctive, interesting Spider-Man, but the rest of his character work sucked. He was more interesting than the rest of the Image crowd, but that’s not saying much.

I considered giving him a 10th place vote, but I decided the negative influence he had on Spider-Man, Marvel and comics in general was more than enough to rule him out.

Nice batch of artists. Zeck has gotta be my favorite of this bunch, but all have earhed their place, even though I don’t care for Ramos’s art much. Even so, I still think he is a great match for Spidey; his art is dynamic and absolutely bursting with energy, and that’s what a Spider-Man book needs.
I actually preferred Larsesn’s run to McFarlane’s back in the day, largely because Ijust enjoyed the oddball facial expressions he always gave the characters. The angular style reminded me of Ditko’s run, as well.

Mike Weiringo co-created the mighty Che-K’n Kau, and for that we shall be forever grateful.

I’m glad to see Mike Wieringo made the list…I voted for him and Ron Frenz. I Think Frenz shoud have made the top 10.

Ed (A Different One)

May 29, 2012 at 10:19 am

None of my votes showed up in this segment – I’m hoping that most of them are coming up in the Top 10. Really looking forward to some of those definitive artists in the Top 10 . . .

Of the five listed here, I generally only think of Frenz and Larsen as being definitively “Spider-Man” artists – that is, artists whose careers have been substantially defined by their work on the character (although Ramos probably fits with that definition as well).

My very non-artistic, non-technical and truly subjective impression of each as follows:

Ramos is interesting visually but I find the lack of fluidity in his action scenes to be too much of knock against him to merit my vote. In his action scenes, I don’t see Spidey flowing from move to move the way I can see it with the Romitas or like the Frenz example above. Since that was always one of my historic joys of reading Spidey, I just can’t get into Ramos as a Spider-Man artist.

Zeck I don’t have a strong opinion about either way. Technically solid but doesn’t stand out to me in any way. Probably hampered by the fact that he never historically drew a run of the character that I grew an emotional attachment to.

Wieringo I also don’t have too strong an opinion of either mostly because I missed his time with the character. I more readily think of him as an FF artist (and favorably so).

Frenz – Probably deserves more credit than I’ve historically been willing to give him. Of all the artists listed in this segment, Frenz is most likely to get a vote from me. He did bring that old Ditko-esque sentiment back to the title, all the while maintaining the fluidity of action that was a hallmark of both Romitas. He also did fabulous work mimicking Ditko on a “What if . . . ” where it was Aunt May who was shot by the burglar leaving Uncle Ben as Peter’s remaining family member. I can’t remember who wrote that issue, but it was a great read and it would have been a hard task convincing me it was anybody but Ditko doing the pencils if I had come across that issue, coverless, in some old back-issues bin somewhere. My biggest gripe against Frenz (and it is admittedly unfair) is that he came in after my single most favorite ASM run of all time, the Stern/JRjr run. I loved that run, and thus, in my mind, DeFalco/Frenz meant no more Stern/JRjr. If the DeFalco/Frenz run had not been adjacent to Stern/JRjr historically, I would have probably enjoyed it much, much more and held it in much higher esteem. As it is, I do hold it in much higher esteem than what immediately followed . . . (though, unfortunately, I think McFarlane is destined for a Top 5 finish, at minimum).

Larsen – I do harbor the unfortunate (and, again, admittedly unfair) McFarlane/Early Image bias against Larsen. But even that aside, I honestly don’t think I’d have been a big fan of his work. The influence McFarlane had on his pencils were over-exagerated in my opinion. He did have much greater proficiency with page layouts and basic storytelling than his predecessor on ASM. However, two things always come to my mind when I think of Larsen – excessive cross-hatching and hairy forearms. They’re everywhere in his work (or at least were back in the day). I haven’t checked out an issue of Savage Dragon in a long time, but if I did, I’m betting there’d be lots of cross-hatching and hairy forearms . . .

Timothy Markin

June 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I was a huge fan of the Defalco/Frenze run because, it appeared to me as a teenager, that Defalco was obviouslt trying to channel Stan Lee and Frenz was clearly aping Ditko. I think the inclusion of the Ditko drawn Spidey icon on the top of the splash pages were Marvel’s way of saying “yes, we notice it too.” And I remember the impact “The Kid who Collects Spider-Man” had on fandom at the time. Kids today may think the story is a bit quaint, but at the time that final panel just punched you in the chest!

I can’t get over Ramos’ take on Spidey’s eyes, they make Spidey look like a bad guy. I prefer small Spidey-eyes like JRsr or Ditko.
Ramos’ “bushy eyebrow” Spidey is a worst-of-both-worlds from Bags’ and McFarlane’s huge eyes and the classic small.
Big outer eyes and small inner eyes.

Romas, really!!!!…..he’s one of the worst artists ever.

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