Robot 6

Tom Brevoort asks: Where’s the next superstar artist?

Où sont les superstars d'antan?

Où sont les superstars d'antan?

“My not-terribly insightful comic book epiphany of the day: right now, we’ve got a bunch of top-flight writers in the field, and the next generation on the horizon. But what we could really use is a new, young generation of break-out artists. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got a lot of excellent artists. But who was the last hot young guy who just exploded into the field? I feel like the pump is primed for one or more fresh young artists to just explode in a major, commercial way. When was the last time that happened? We could use an infusion of visual excitement in the books–across all companies.”

Thus spoke Tom Brevoort, Marvel Senior VP – Executive Editor, on Twitter last night. Personally, I think he’s probably right to wonder about this. Like he says, the point isn’t that there are no good or even great relatively young/relatively new artists right now — there are plenty. Personally I’ve been knocked out by Gabriel Hardman‘s work on Atlas and Hulk over the past year or so, just for example. But what Brevoort is looking for is an artist who just skyrockets to superstardom more or less out of the blue. That requires quite a delicate alchemy. The artist in question must be young enough or new enough or have been working far way enough from the Big Two’s audiences for their work to have “the shock of the new” when fans first see it. They must bring something different to the table than what established artists are doing, so that their work stands out, but they must also be working in a style that’s recognizable and acceptable to large numbers of superhero fans. Their work doesn’t necessarily have to be to your taste, but you should at least be able to understand what others see in it, even if you don’t see it yourself.

With those standards in mind, do you sense a potential breakout star in the making anyplace in the industry? I’ve got a few candidates. Frazer Irving‘s work on Grant Morrison’s Batman and Robin was luminous and stunning, handling one of comics’ most demanding scripters with style and skill and looking like pretty much nothing else on the stands. On the other hand, while that book sells very well and Irving got a lot of attention, I’m not sure there’s a groundswell of appreciation for what he’s doing among the “mainstream”-comics masses; it’s not as, I dunno, muscular as most superhero fans like. James Stokoe of Orc Stain fame seems to floor people anytime he turns his maniacally detailed and wild art to anything superhero-ish, like that Galactus poster that burned up the internet a while back or his Strange Tales contribution; but even though I think superhero fans could grow to really appreciate the energy what he’s doing, he doesn’t strike me as someone who’s dying to spend a couple years drawing the Avengers or the Justice League. Ditto his equally impressive, though less prolific, fellow Strange Tales contributor Rafael Grampa. I’ve been saying Cafu is something special ever since seeing his diamond-edged art in the Captain Atom back-ups that ran in Action Comics during the New Krypton storyline, and he’s currently teamed up with new-hotness writer Nick Spencer on THUNDER Agents, but I haven’t seen enough people react to his work to gauge his commercial potential.

For a while, starting in the mid-2000s, it seemed like Marvel and DC could catapult anyone they chose to the top tier of artists with a well-chosen event title. One by one, I heard fans talk excitedly about artists as varied as Rags Morales, David Finch, Phil Jimenez, Jim Cheung, Ethan Van Sciver, Steve McNiven, J.G. Jones, John Romita Jr., Ivan Reis, Leinil Yu, Doug Mahnke, and Olivier Coipel, and more besides. But with line-wide events taking a back seat, and stars like Bryan Hitch, John Cassaday, Frank Quitely, Jim Lee, and the Kuberts working at a remove from the month-in-month-out conversation, there does seem to be an open slot. Who do you think will step in?



What Marvel needs, imo, is really good inkers and colorists. How many times have I seen an artist’s pencils change over the course of a couple issues? Usually for the worse. Heck, even the artists, themselves, complain about it.

Marco Rudy. He apes JH Williams III a little too much, but when he finally comes into his own he’s gonna be stellar. He’s not afraid to try innovative panel layouts and his characters are larger than life. Really dig what he’s doing so far and he’s only going to get better.

There’s a bunch of great artists poised to break out these days:

Jerome Opena
Sean Murphy
Rafael Grampa
Fiona Staples
James Stokoe
Chris Burnham
Chris Samnee
James Callahan

All of these folks have the chops and fresh, contemporary styles.

Jamal igle
Chris Samnee
Tom Raney
Rafael Albuquerque

Tom Fowler. Chris Samnee. Scottie Young. Marco Rudy. I think there’s a ton of great talent out there right now and each one of those guys I just mentioned is poised to have an outstanding year next year, if they haven’t already proven themselves this year.

People just don’t skyrocket. Those Image guys pictured were all around years before they caught fire.

Maybe the closest is Damien Scott with BATGIRL, and that was years ago.

Oh, and that Sara Pichelli on Ultimate Comics Spider Man is sick. The design work she puts into her characters is outstanding. Along with Amy Reeder on Batwoman, we’re seeing some amazing female artists on mainstream superheroes.

Immediately comes to mind are Chris Samnee and Gabriel Hardman, and that’s funny because Marvel has canceled books by both this year. Also, you can’t leave out Matt Wilson, colorist on Thor: The Mighty Avenger. His colors make Samnee’s art look even better. I’d also throw out there Frazier Irving who has turned out the defining art on Batman & Robin.

Marvel used to lead the charge on exciting new artists, but DC has really led the way this year with work by Marco Rudy, Irving, Cameron Stewart (though not exactly new, he’s not the superstar he deserves to be) and Chris Burnham.

If the world were a fair and just place, Chris Samnee and Francisco Francavilla would both be superstars.

I’m betting if you threw the money and opportunity to Brandon Graham, he’d be HUGE.

Brandon Graham
Francis Manapul


No one is going to take us by surprise anymore. Samnee’s been doing great work for nearly a decade. Hardman’s been through the system once already and folks are just now noticing him. Most all of the great artists listed above have been working professionally since their youth. We watched them grow up.

Too many artists, and too many art styles for one guy too breakout.

1) Needs the right writer/project
2) Fans are much too fickle and varied, lets say there a great new artist, great style, but half the fandom will not be gaga over him. So many examples right now.

JH Williams 3 is the closest top dog right now. With Jim Lee if he ever decides to work monthly again.

I’ve literally been saying that Marco Rudy is going to be a star since he started drawing “Escape” for DC, and he’s only gotten better as the years have gotten on. He’s the single most exciting ‘new’ artist working in mainstream comics, by none. Is he going to super popular, commercially? I question that a little bit — his actual rendering style is a little rough around the edges, great IMHO but not as aesthetically pleasing as a Hitch or a Cassady or a Reis. And @ whoever said hew as aping JH Williams — no. I understand why its easy to think that, but his work is very obviously MUCH more influenced by Steranko than it is by Williams.

Meanwhile, CAFU’s artwork is basically what Cassady used to do, subtle with facial expressions and totally slick and gorgeous and smooth. I think he’s primed to be huge with THUNDER Agents — I think that book is going to end up being an Authority type book for them, the type of thing that leads to an “Ultimates”.

People seem to have already forgotten about him, but I think Andy Clarke’s style is [i]very[/i] palatable to a wide audience. Hyper detailed, excellent faces, a strange combination of Kevin Macguire and Travis Charest.

Fraser Irving ‘s work is gorgeous, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to see it on every book either, and I don’t know how interested in super stardom he is anyway. His next project – a resurrection of an old Milestone series called Xombi – is about as out of the spotlight as one could possibly get. What people don’t seem to be taking into account is that before Macfarlene was on Hulk or Spiderman, he was on Hawk and Dove. Before Charest made a name for himself he was on “Darkstars”. Great artist languish in small books with small writers. Their art alone almost NEVER ‘does it all’ and gets them noticed by the public at large. If Irving stays with Morrison for a while he’ll be fine, but if not…

The guy who filled in on Batman and Robin 16 and is doing the second arc of Batman Inc (Chris Burnham? Something like that?) does good work. I think he’ll be popular in time, especially with the Bat editors having taken a shine to him.

Albequrque is, to me, already a star, and not really a ‘new’ artist either. He did a solid 2 years on Blue Beetle, maybe more (?), and his creator owned book is getting huge acclaim. He’s been around for a while doing regular work. But if one DOES count him, then he absolutely, positively deserves to be mentioned here. He’s not just good, he’s versatile.

I love the work of Samnee and Francavilla, but I don’t see either of them ever gaining super stardom, in the same way I love the work of Michael Lark but don’t see him as a superstar. Their work is too stripped down, too simplified, to ‘wow’ people.

Actually, does the industry even have the support to have a next “superstar” artist? Who was the last one? Everyone always seems to think back to Lee and anyone else that gained any sort of decent following during that time. When the top selling book is seen by less than 100k, I can’t imagine any new superstars popping up anytime soon.


December 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm

There’s plenty of contenders, but I don’t think the big two are giving them the chances they need, with a bit of ‘artists aren’t hitting the monthly deadlines’ thrown in.

I seem to find artists start to get hot, and then get moved off the book their on, and then shuffled around a lot until no one cares – because they didn’t really get the chance to do a long run and thus make us rather dense fans realize they are worth following.

Also, a lot of artists aren’t doing more than 3-4 books in a row without a break – nothing bothers me more than a great story with a fill in artist on two issue of it.
I agree with the idea of shipping a book on time, so get the need for fill-ins, but the companies seem to either have too many fill-ins for the artist, or a book takes way too long for it to hold my excitement.

Another factor could well be that writers seem to do a lot more ‘full script’ these days, to the point of describing exact angles and positioning a single panel should have – kind of hard for the artist to cut loose and experiment if that’s happening.
And we can’t discount that the big two are obsessed with their crossovers and tie-ins and such – they are telling the audience which books to read, so artists may be getting overlooked by not being on the right book at the right time – or swapping books a the wrong time.
The audience is being told to follow the story, so if they swap books to something ‘less important’ a lot of the audience aren’t going to follow them.
Heck, when there was one Wolverine title, it’s easy to know who the artist is on it, and for them to shine.
When there’s three or four… it all starts to blend into one.

On the other hand, I think there’s plenty of newish top artists who should be superstars: Francis Manapul, Stuart Immomen, Ian Churchill (his new style on Marineman is awesome), Nicola Scott, Renato Guedes, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, Fernando Pesarin, and several others whose names aren’t coming to mind right now.
They’ve got the chops, and more skills than superstars of the past.

Dash Shaw. He’s the next Gary Panter.

Seems like no one mentioned Jamie McKelvie and Jason Latour, guys.

(Good selection, by the way)

My main thought was Francis Manapul, who was mentioned. Is working with Geoff Johns, who is huge, on Flash, which is relatively big. It’s early days, but he could break huge (and I hope he does).

Stuart Immonen is pretty sucessful/established, but I supposed he could blow up? Gabriel Ba/Fabio Moon and Scottie Young, but they all seem content to do their own thing. And I agree Cameron Stewart could be a superstar, though if we look at in a petty, oscar race way, dropping out of the Return of Bruce Wayne hurts.

But Manapul. He is the one to watch.

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