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50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators: Artists #10-7

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 #10-7…

Enjoy!

10. John Byrne

To get an idea of just how great an artist John Byrne is, just think about him in terms of what characters you most associate with him. There is a decent chance that Spider-Man would not even be in the top FIVE (okay, maybe #5) and yet his work on the character is so awesome that he still makes the top ten!

Byrne began working on Spider-Man in the pages of Marvel Team-Up, paired with Chris Claremont. He penciled Marvel Team-Up #53-55, 59-70, 75 and 79, delivering a number of legendary stories. Seeing John Byrne essentially draw the Marvel Universe was a treat for any Marvel fan.

Byrne is a masterful storyteller and his bold, curvy lines demonstrate a style that appears naturalistic without collapsing into the stiffness of photo realism. From his final (and perhaps most memorable) issue of Marvel Team-Up, here’s Spidey teamed up with Red Sonja…

Byrne did a few fill-in issues of Amazing Spider-Man in the late 1970s/early 1980s, but it was not until the end of the 1990s that Byrne truly devoted himself to Spider-Man. First, Byrne revamped Spider-Man’s origin in the twelve issue maxi-series, Spider-Man: Chapter One. Next, Byrne was the artist on a relaunched Amazing Spider-Man title, drawing issues #1-18 (with two fill-in issues mixed in towards the end). His art was as good as ever. Hopefully some day we will see a return of Byrne to Spider-Man.

9. Sal Buscema

Sal Buscema’s first Spider-Man work was as an inker in the early 70s on a couple of issues of Amazing Spider-Man over John Romita’s pencils. His first regular work came in 1974 when he drew Marvel Team-Up #20-22 and then settled in for a longer run from #33-52 (with a few fill-in issues along the way).

Much is said of Buscema’s dedication and his ability to be the guy you could always turn to if you needed an issue done quickly, but I don’t think enough has been said about the dynamism of Buscema’s artwork, especially during the 1970s. Sal Buscema might be one of the five or so most dynamic artists Marvel HAD in the 1970s.

Also, clearly Buscema was one of the clearest storytellers around. There was definitely a contigent of fans who wanted it to be Sal Buscema who took over Amazing Spider-Man in the mid-1970s. The gig went to Ross Andru instead. Buscema, though, was given the consolation prize of launching a brand-new Spider-Man ongoing series, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man! Buscema drew the first 20 issues (with Mike Esposito either finishing his breakdowns or inking his pencils).

He returned to the title in the late 1980s for an extended run from #135-238, with Buscema inking himself until #218 (Bill Sienkiewicz came in to ink him for #220-229 and John John Stanisci finished Buscema’s breakdowns on the last six issues or so).

Buscema was willing to change with the times, and his art got “grittier” as the stories he was drawing got darker. Most notably the saga of Harry Osborn as Green Goblin…

Buscema returned to inking and inked many issues of Spider-Girl.

8. Marcos Martin

People who had seen his work already knew that Marcos Martin was awesome before he drew any Spider-Man stories, but it was his work on Amazing Spider-Man that truly put him over the top as one of the top artists working in comic books today.

He has drawn Amazing Spider-Man #659-661 (the first appearance of Mary Jane Watson since One More Day), 578-579 (Unscheduled Stop), a 12-page back-up in #600, 618-620, two-page back-ups from #634-645, 655-656 (The classic No One Dies) and the framing sequence in 657 (Spidey deals with the death of the Human Torch).

Martin’s art style defies a simplistic take, but suffice it to say that he has a Ditko-like quality to his work while also seeming exceptionally modern. The fluidity of his figures combines with the power of his minimal lines to result in absolutely striking panels. And his page layouts are remarkable. Take this page from Unscheduled Stop Part 2. The idea behind the page would have stood out no matter what artist drew it (as it is a perfectly twisted image from the mind of Mark Waid) but Martin makes it all the more powerful (to set the scene, Spidey is lifting a group of subway car passengers from the tunnels. He insists that no one look at him while he is doing it)…

Yikes.

And that is just a drop in the bucket of the amazing pages Martin delivers time in and time out. Go pick up his comics!

7. Gil Kane

Gil Kane was the first regular penciler on Amazing Spider-Man after John Romita left the title. Of course, Romita never really left for good, as he inked pretty much all of Kane’s issues and even came back to draw a few issues himself.

Still, Kane was the penciler on Amazing Spider-Man #89-92 (the death of Captain Stacy!), 96-105 (the famous drug issues plus the debut of Morbius and Spidey’s six arms), 120-124 (the death of Gwen Stacy and Green Goblin) and 150 (the epilogue to the original Clone Saga).

Kane was his typical action-packed self on Amazing Spider-Man, as he was a great pair with John Romita, as Romita could help with the character bits while Kane spotlighted the action sequences that made Kane such a legendary artist.

Here is one of Kane’s most famous pages as a Spidey artist…

NOTE: Kane edged out Martin by a single point! Which is funny is that the writers list also had a result where one writer beat another by a single point (#6-7 instead of #7-8 like here). Cuh-ray-zee.

40 Comments

Glad to see Sal and Gil since they were in my top 5. I know we’ll see Bagley, Romita SR/JR and Ditko. Hopefully we’ll see Alex Ross since his work on Marvels was wonderful.

Franck Martini

May 29, 2012 at 5:39 am

I fully agree on Byrne… Too bad his run on ASM Chp 1 was so poor storywise. I remember an issue inked by John Romita Sr (ish 16 or 17 maybe) that was absolutely stunning.
Regarding Byrne’s MTU, Red Sonja is fine but the issues with Arcade and Iron Fist are even better for me…

I forgot Marcos Martin in my list but he truly is a fantastic artist… Kane and Sal Buscema are classic and classy stuff.

I can guess easily 5 of the 6 ramaining (Ross Andru?) – the order will be interesting.

Pete Woodhouse

May 29, 2012 at 5:45 am

Somewhere I’ve got a link from Bob McLeod’s website I recently read which shows Kane’s original page from the end of ASM 122 where Norman Osborn dies.
I ummed and ahhed about voting for Byrne for reasons others have mentioned (is so-and-so a proper Spidey artist/writer?) but plumped for him anyway because the few MTU issues I’ve read I enjoyed.

I’ve never warmed to Sal Buscema so he didn’t make the cut but don’t deny his excellent storytelling skills.
Always thought Sal’s style was a 2nd choice version of his brother and Kirby. His tics like the elongated exaggerated character mouths just irritated me. I do prefer his Defenders & Hulk work

Byrne’s work on Marvel Team-Up is fantastic.

After #11-15 were announced, I expected the top ten to be John Romita, Steve Ditko, John Romita Jr, Todd McFarlane, Mark Bagley, Ross Andru, John Byrne, Gil Kane, Marcos Martin and Sal Buscema, and so far it looks like I was right. Although I’ll never understand what people see in Bagley’s work; it looks wonky, rushed, and unattractive to me.

On a more positive note, the Gil Kane page up there is gorgeous.

Great to see Sal make the list, and in the top 10 no less.

As a reader of Spidey, Cap, Avengers and other books, I figured Sal WAS Marvel in the 70′s, along with the other stories he drew and inked.

Interesting choices.Some comments:

1.Kane:Glad to see him making the list;he probably has my vote for drawing the most athletic, physically dynamic Spider-Man of all.

2.Sal Buscema: Bit surprised to see him ranking so high, as he always seemed to be somewhat undervalued during his career.Still, a very solid artist who always delivered the goods.

3.Byrne: Really surprised to see him ranking so high, seeing as how he is not really associated with the character.Still, his work with Spidey on MTU was fantastic (I didn’t really care for his CHAPTER ONE revamp).

I would totally shell out for a Claremont/Byrne Marvel TeampUp omnibus.

“Next, Byrne was the artist on a relaunched Amazing Spider-Man title, drawing issues #1-18 (with two fill-in issues mixed in towards the end). His art was as good as ever.”

His writing, on the other hand…

(PS: They put it all out in trade a few months ago, Dan. I’ve got it, and it’s ginchy.)

Thanks, Michael. I’ve got to pick that up.

I’m guessing
6. Todd McFarlene
5. Alex Ross
4. Mark Bagley
3. John Romita Jr
2. John Romita Sr
1. Steve Ditko

Looks like my votes are getting represented nicely (I had Sal, Byrne and Kane on my list).

Zombie X’s comment on Sal being Marvel in the 70′s is dead-on, and also quite true of Byrne. When I look at all the 70′s books I loved as a kid, before I paid attention to writers’ and artists’ names, I’m amazed looking back to see 99% of them were drawn by Sal or John Byrne.

Not hard to guess the final 6 but as ever, the order is the tricky bit.

Cool, I voted for both Martin and Kane but ranked Kane higher…

Kane came back a few times to draw the occasional issue. With Mantlo, he co-created a minor villain, the Fly, in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #10, and he later drew most of the “Totally Tiny Adventure” Annuals from the early 1990s. He also worked on a few issues of Marvel Team-Up, most notably #4, featuring Spidey, Morbius, and the original X-Men. I think his last major Spidey work was, of all things, a fill-in issue during the Clone Saga.

Of course, Kane was also Marvel’s go-to cover artist in the 1970s, so there’re plenty of Spider-Man related covers by Kane on comics where he didn’t provide any interior art.

Love all of these, with the possible exception of Gil Kane, who I appreciate as an artist, but not so much as a Spider-Man artist. I really liked how he drew everything and everyone except for Spider-Man himself. If you look over his stuff you’ll notice he often gave Spider-Man an odd-shaped head, like a pimple. And he made him move a little clumsy.

Ed (A Different One)

May 29, 2012 at 11:06 am

Now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty.

Martin and Kane were the only two vote getters from me, but everyone from here on out is a heavy hitter and worthy of much respect.

I’m surprised that Martin ranked so high given how recent he is and how relatively few issue of ASM he has handled. However, he sure has left his mark with the few issues he’s handled. He escaped to work with Waid on Daredevil for a while and now I understand he’s doing some creator-owned stuff. Will miss him on both DD and AMS but I wish him the best with his current endeavours.

Gil Kane numbers among the true giants of ASM artists for me. He penciled some truly landmark issues and did so with a truly dynamic flair. However, there were a few glitches with his style that kept me from ranking him higher. The biggest was his tendency to pack a panel with tons of detail but very little in the way of depth. There would be a picture of Spider-Man in profile and then about a dozen things in the background which, based on the way he drew them, looked like they were right there in the foreground with Spidey. Maybe that is an unfair criticism and had more to do with the way he was inked, but it always bugged me. I always remember those panels where he had Peter fitting the Spider-Man mask on in profile, one palm on his forehead and another palm on the nape of his neck, as if he was fitting it on “just so”. There seemed to be at least one of those panels in every issue. Just a distinctive Gil Kane feature that I’ll always remember.

Byrne I both love and hate with aplomb – just never think much of his Spider-Man work. And Sal, while I didn’t vote for him, I’m thrilled to see him break the top 10. I didn’t care for his later 90′s style so much, but loved his earlier work and his work on other titles as well. A steady and hard working craftsman.

I started reading comics with the reprints of Kane’s version of Spider-Man in the old Marvel Tales reprint book. He was the first artist whose style I learned to recognize on sight and was the definitive Spidey artist for me for a long time.

Six slots to go and most of the names on my list have already been placed. We can pretty easily guess who the top 6 will be (I’m assuming there’s a tie somewhere in the next set, which is why this list only has 4 names not 5), so the real suspense going forward is the order.

Ed (A Different One)

May 29, 2012 at 11:23 am

Ditko, Romita Sr, Romita jr, Andru, McFarlane and . . . who else? There’s someone noteworthy I’m missing? Bagley?

Love Buscema’s art. He is right there with Romita JR. as one of the greatest storytellers to ever be in a Spider-Man title.

Sadly the Byrne/Claremont MTU trade is missing the Red Sonja issue (rights?) as well as the stories Byrne drew with (I think) Mantlo scripting.

Meaningless Albert

May 29, 2012 at 11:27 am

Glad to see Buscema in the top 10! He tends to be grossly overlooked. I also voted for Kane. Martin was n my list, but I decided to change him for Saviuk at the last minute.

At no point did Byrne even occur to me while making my lists. Maybe it’s because the awful “Chapter One” is my only exposure to his Spidey.

Six slots to go and most of the names on my list have already been placed. We can pretty easily guess who the top 6 will be (I’m assuming there’s a tie somewhere in the next set, which is why this list only has 4 names not 5), so the real suspense going forward is the order.

I decided to do it 10-7 Writers today, then 6-4 Writers and 6-4 Artists tomorrow followed by 3-1 Writers and 3-1 Artists on Thursday. It just seemed like a shame to mix the top three with #4-5. The #4 and 5 people won’t get the same attention if they’re mixed with the top three.

Ok, the top 6 seems pretty set in stone then. Only the order to debate. My prediction:

6) Ross Andru
5) John Romita Jr
4) Todd McFarlane
3) Mark Bagley
2) Steve Ditko
1) John Romita Sr

Martin and Kane are two of my favorites, so it’s good (though not surprising) to see them ranked so high. I wasn’t crazy about Bynre’s post-reboot work, but he deserves inclusion based solely on his MTU work. I haven’t read a whole lot of Buscema’s issues, but he definitely had a long and enduring run on the character; I hadn’t realized he stuck around for so long!

Still a great list. 4 excellent artists all approximately where they belong on the list.

My only objection is Brian’s description of Byrne.

“His art was as good as ever. Hopefully some day we will see a return of Byrne to Spider-Man.”

His Marvel Team-Up work was excellent and head and shoulders above his lackluster late ’90s work, in my mind. And I would prefer to leave it at that and never have him draw Spider-Man again.

I hated Buscema as a kid, but now I love his work,his storytelling was great.

My guess the top 6 are (6 – 1) Ross Andru, Romita Jr, Bagley, McFarlane, Ditko, Romita Sr,

To me, Sal Buscema is the “Spectacular Spider-Man” artist. Whenever I think of Spectacular, it’s Buscema’s art that comes to mind. He was on there for such a long time, and he even altered his style to reflect the changing times. (Also, his rendition of the Hulk is my all-time favorite, but that’s neither here nor there). A great storyteller, too.

I really like the way Martin draws Spidey. Like the man said, very Ditko-like, but modern as well. I’m gonna have to check out some of his stuff. I may have to look into “Unscheduled Stop”. I’m a sucker for Spidey lifting heavy objects.

The Crazed Spruce

May 30, 2012 at 2:31 am

“My guess the top 6 are (6 – 1) Ross Andru, Romita Jr, Bagley, McFarlane, Ditko, Romita Sr,”

That would be my guess, too, though I’d shuffle ‘em around a bit. (I’d put Andru ahead of Bagley, McFarlane, and Romita Jr., f’r instance.)

I’m really glad to see Buscema here. I always had this feeling that Sal was kind of underapreciated – he wasn’t fashionable, not glam, at least by 90′s standards. But me, I always liked the guy.

Byrne’s art in the late 90s was NOT as good as ever. Gone was the polished precision we used to see on his old Marvel Team-Ups (and the one issue of Spectacular Spider-Man he drew as its “new regular artist”), instead we got a rougher, looser style, and my god it was hideous and loathed by the readership. Definitely not a good representative of what he’s capable of.

But all the same I included him in my top ten – in seventh place – because his Spider-Man work in the 1970s and 1980s really was that good and ahead of all his peers.

Oh yeah, also worth mentioning that in his single issue as the regular Spectacular Spider-Man artist, Byrne did a GREAT revamp of the Beetle’s design, making it sleek and practical where the old one had become dated and hokey – a design that was used for about 15 years or so until he became part of the Thunderbolts. http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/scans8/PPTSSM58_Beetle.jpg

Did Byrne’s style change? Of course. If you’re not changing your style as time goes by, you’re doing something wrong.

But I find no noticeable difference in quality from this random issue of Team-Up…

and this random issue of his Amazing Spider-Man run…

They’re both well drawn.

Heck, the more recent stuff even has MORE detailed backgrounds than the first!

That’s what happens when you judge artwork quality purely in terms of the level of detail. The MTU artwork is a lot smoother, better balanced, more straightforwardly set out – there’s nothing wrong with trying something different, but those ASM pages are ugly and all over the place (and the inking is particularly unappealing too).

It’s not about how many lines there are, it’s about where you choose to put them…

I only mention the detail in response to the notion that his work was “looser.” “Looser” and “more detailed” don’t go together.

I could care less about the detail myself. But the idea that the later pages are worse balanced or not as good storytelling? That is just not true. The storytelling was fine on the Amazing pages. Quite clear.

The anatomy is looser. Look at Spidey’s eyepiece in the last but one panel. There is none of the precision you see in those MTU pages. It distracts the eye, and the storytelling suffers for it.

Eh, I wasn’t crazy about Byrne’s art in the late ’90s Spidey books, but I didn’t think it weas necessarily bad… the altered style just didn’t appeal to me. (The stories, on the other hand… they were on the lousy side.)

Yeah, I can definitely see knocking the stories.

I think Byrne’s art is good in the late 90′s examples.

Personally, I prefer the softer, curvier lines of his older work, and the storytelling of the later work.

Here’s a link to the entry that has the Beetle image Tom Daylight tried to link to earlier in this thread.

http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/peter_parker_the_spectacular_s_12.shtml

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