May 28, 2010

Top Ten Most Influential Comics Artists of All Time!

Starting Monday, May 31, 2010, The Comics Cube began a series on the top ten most influential comics artists of all time. Not the ten best, not my ten favorite, just the ten most influential.

The criteria is simple: What was the artist's overall impact on the look of comics? How much have people built off of the work of this artist, sometimes without even realizing it? And how much did they revolutionize?

Here's the list:

10. Bill Sienkewicz
  9. George Perez
  8. Jim Steranko
  7. Neal Adams
  6. Robert Crumb
  5. George Herriman
  4. Jack Kirby
  3. Winsor McCay
  2. Will Eisner
  1. Osamu Tezuka

And that's it! Check here for my afterthoughts! And if you agree or disagree, let me know by commenting, here, on any of the posts, or on the Comics Cube's Facebook and Twitter pages!


The Professor said...

I'm looking forward to the list. But just to make you nervous, I've written down my "Top Three Most Influential Artists He'll Most Likely Leave Off His List" list.

Duy Tano said...

The selection process was looooong and actually kind of painful, and I have to admit to falling into a bit of a trap when it came to say, picking a person who revolutionized something that someone else on the list already did, or perhaps a less popular person who revolutionized something that no one else did. Lots of judgment calls were made. But at the end of the day, I think I provide good reasons for picking who I picked. If I could only go up to 20!

Duy Tano said...

Oh, and like any list, I'm hoping it stirs up some debate!

The Professor said...

I was feeling pretty secure that you wouldn't get my "3 folks who should have been on your list" until Herriman showed up. Great choice, and so far, a great list. Of course who will be the last four is getting easier and easier: Kirby, Eisner, .... All of which should make me think that my "missing 3" are unlikely to show up.

PS Sunday Press Books (the publisher who made the great Little Nemo books and Gasoline Alley/Walt & Skeezix) is coming out with a Krazy Kat book

Duy Tano said...

So let me get this right - Herriman was one of the three on your list, or not?

There's still (I'm pretty sure) a surprise in what's left of the remaining four. In particular, there's one artist I don't particularly follow, but after reading everything about him, I couldn't justify not putting him on the list.

Krazy Kat books - is Sunday Press just coming out with the Sundays? I know Fantagraphics does collections of the dailies. (Of course, if we're just all in it for the art and want to save money, we can just get the Sundays.)

I'm feeling pretty certain that numbers 9 and 10 on my list wouldn't have shown up on this list ten years ago. These days, multimedia art (Sienkewicz's influence) is everywhere, and big events (Perez's influence) is pretty much what the Big Two keep falling back on. Can't go into a comic shop without seeing their influence hit you in the face (to be honest, mostly to a detriment). It might have made room for two more of your missing three.

The Professor said...

Nope, Herriman wasn't on my list, but since you did include folks from the comics (as opposed to comic books) that makes it more plausible you'd have picked a couple on my list. So I still have 3 names that aren't on your list.

The Sunday Press book is a collection of Sundays. In the same formatting as their other Sunday comics books, which is to say, nice and large. Horrible to try and put on a shelf, however. They have something like 23 sample pages up on their webpage.

I think Sienkewicz and Perez are both really good picks. They wouldn't have made my "top 10 favorites" list, but that's not what you are compiling.

Duy Tano said...

There will be one more guy from the comic pages (or two, depending on how you count Eisner [I like how Eisner is a given that I'm not even going to try hiding it]), but it probably is the very guy you're thinking of.

There are two guys I was considering for the list - one from the comic pages and another from the comic strips - who could have made the cut (and probably would have made a top 15 list)

The Professor said...

Very nice list, really well argued and presented. My "3 he'll miss" list ended up spot on, but I am sure I would have a hard time convincing you to move anyone off to make space for these folks. Anyway, my list was:

3. Gene Colan

If it was my list, he'd have bumped George Perez. I think he's an iconic artist of the 1970s (Dr Strange and Tomb of Dracula) and his work on Howard the Duck would clinch the case for me in terms of impact.

There's a slim chance I'm letting my youth influence this choice. "Make Mine Marvel!"

2. Milton Caniff/Alex Toth

I think there is a substantial amount of work out there that owes a great debt to Caniff, with Alex Toth being at the top of my list. In fact, I would be seriously tempted to argue for Toth over Caniff in terms of impact. Think "Super Friends".

1. Alex Raymond

This one I was thinking you might actually pick up once Herriman showed up on your list. The impact of Raymond on the Golden Age is clear. Lou Fine and Mac Raboy are both huge, and they were to some extent swiping Raymond. And that path leads directly to Frazetta ...

But like I've written a couple of times, this were just ideas that popped into my head, and what you've put together is a very interesting and compelling list. Lots of fun to read and think about.


Duy Tano said...

Well, that wasn't the list I was expecting you to give me at all, I have to say. I had defenses prepared for Frank King, Steve Ditko, Carl Barks, and Jack Cole. Let me try to address them one by one.

3. Gene Colan - If you're letting your youth influence you here, I'll admit that the inclusion of Perez most likely owes itself to my own - in fact, I was dead set on not including him because I didn't want the list plagued by favoritism. But when I go into a comics store today and I see posters for these big events and whatnot, I just found that I couldn't leave him off. Good call on Colan though (Sienkewicz would have stayed on the list no matter what) - I have to say that I completely overlooked him. Did you hear that he's suffered nerve damage in his right arm - his drawing arm - so since he didn't have contracts in the 60s, he and his wife are now, for lack of a better term, broke? It's a damn shame, which is why I will now plug the Hero Initiative, the link of which you can find on my sidebar.

2. Milton Caniff/Alex Toth - I swear, these guys almost made the list. In fact, if mixed media/digital art and big companywide crossovers didn't permeate the market today, they would have been 9 and 10. I actually strongly considered bumping Neal Adams for Milton Caniff, but at the end of the day, I think today's generation of artists are really looking towards Adams's work (and I felt bad putting Steranko on the list and leaving out Adams, I think it would have been a huge, gaping hole). As for Alex Toth, if he had done more comics work, he'd have been a definite shoo-in. When it comes to the influence of people who worked in other fields on comics though (a list for another time?), he'd be in the top 3, right there with Winsor McCay and Walt Disney.

Caniff would have outranked Toth, mainly because Toth lists Caniff as a major influence.

1. Alex Raymond - I think Alex Raymond is awesome, and I really have no defense for his exclusion on this list, other than there was no space left. Basically, when it came down to a judgment call between who was influential then and who is influential now, I deferred to the latter.

Duy Tano said...

Oh, I was also thinking - Alex Raymond or Hal Foster? Wouldn't Foster be just as big?

Thanks for the comments!

The Professor said...

Lots of things to follow up on here.

Raymond or Foster?

Actually, I think the hard question for me would be Raymond vs Burne Hogarth. (Tarzan is much cooler than Prince Valiant!) And given that Hogarth wrote some pivotal books like Dynamic Figure Drawing, I think that would be tricky. But I just see the influence of Raymond much more strongly in the Golden Age than either Foster or Hogarth. Might just be the style I'm drawn to, though.

Names missing from my list.

Frank King and Jack Cole are at the top of my personal favorites list. But I don't see a way to argue for King over Herriman or McKay, so I don't think he could get into the top 10 in terms of influence.

The fact that nobody has been able to do Plasticman besides Cole is a strong indicator that "influence" would be hard to argue.

I do love Ditko, but I'm less of an Atlas Horror fan than you, so aside from being absolutely perfect for Spiderman and Dr Strange, I can't see how to make the claim for impact here either.

As to Carl Barks ... If your list was something more along the lines of Top 10 Most Influential Comics, then I think Barks' Duckburg would have to be on there. But just in terms of art I think Walt Kelly would be my go to funny animal draftsman.

Sad News

I hadn't heard about Gene Colan. Sad is too weak of a word to describe that situation.

Duy Tano said...

Walt Kelly
If the only concrete example existing today (and in the last ten years) wasn't anything by Jeff Smith, Walt Kelly would have made this list, no question. I believe that funny animals were actually the biggest seller in the after-war period (which was also supposedly the biggest time ever in terms of overall sales). It's just too bad they've been essentially phased out in the last, oh, thirty years.

Burne Hogarth
Shame, shame, shame on me for not remembering Burne Hogarth, when I actually own a volume of Tarzan complete with excerpts from Dynamic Figure Drawing. That era of comics needs more attention from me.

But speaking of people who wrote books on drawing, I actually debated if I should include John Buscema, just for doing How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. At the end of it, I concluded that a bunch of those techniques came from (mostly) Kirby anyway.

Steve Ditko

I'm seeing a good number of Ditko-influenced works coming out today (Marcos Martin, who draws the random issue of Amazing these days, in particular), but the fact that it's taken this long is a testament to how influential his art's not. John Romita would have made this list over Ditko (which is a shame, since I think Ditko's Spider-Man far outweighs Romita. Stay tuned for a post on the best Spider-Man artists!).

Gene Colan

Once again, I plug the Hero Initiative.

Anonymous said...

How can there be no herge

Duy Tano said...

2010 Duy didn't consider him. 2016 Duy would have included him.

Unknown said...

There are a lot of artists that could be here but even given the people chosen I would say John Byrne should replace George Perez here.

Duy Tano said...

I wrestled back and forth with that one (one of them was going to make it). If it were just a stylistic thing, Byrne wins, but given the proliferation of event "EVERYONE'S HERE" comics, I stillhave to give it to Perez.

JohnnieFreeze said...

Nice but the list needs John Byrne

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