Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
If you’ve been a comic fan for any length of time, you’ve come to appreciate the talent and skills of certain creators. Whether they be mainstream heavyweights to cult-favorite indie cartoonists, they’re a big draw for you as a reader — and someone whose work you’d buy, sight unseen, based on their previous work you’ve loved. But just like childhood friends and lovers, sometimes they disappear, and a small piece of you longs to see them again.
Without getting too sentimental, here’s a list of some comic creators I’ve grown to love over the years that have (unfortunately) dropped off the American comics scene by-and-large. If you know them, tell them I’d raid my bank account for new work by them!
Brian K. Vaughan: Arguably one of the 21st century’s most successful creator-owned comic creators outside of Robert Kirkman, Brian K. Vaughan worked through the ranks at Marvel and DC to do both great company-owned superheroes like Runaways and The Hood, and his own inventions. After signing on to the TV series Lost, Vaughan has slowly drifted away from comics with his last series Ex Machina ending last year. DC just put out a collection of his Batman work, but no new work has been formally announced. In Vaughan’s last major recent interview, the writer states that while he’s become embroiled in movies and television, he “craves comics.” Among several television and movie projects in the works, Vaughan says that he has new comics stuff “percolating in the background.”
Darko Macan: I came to know this Croatian writer’s work through Marvel’s under-rated Cable revamp series Soldier X with Igor Kordey. Macan did a handful of other work for Dark Horse’s Star Wars titles and DC’s Hellblazer, but largely dropped off the American scene in favor of European comics work. He’s become a big pillar of comics in his native Croatia with a slew of comics, books about comics, and acting as editor-in-chief of of the Q-Strip comics magazine. I wish someone would import and translate some of his books back to the States.
John Cassaday: John Cassaday was part of an informal trio of superstar artists that sprang out of Wildstorm in the late 90s and early 2000s to big success at Marvel. With Bryan Hitch and Frank Quitely, he became a go-to guy and someone closely associated with the Captain America character for years. But after the long-overdue conclusion of the Planetary series in 2010, Cassaday’s only work in comics has been covers on titles like Superman and Shadowland. Last spring I interviewed Cassaday about the end of Planetary over at Newsarama.com, where he said in addition to the cover work he’s doing he’s also writing a project of his own that has yet to be announced. He also directed one of the final episodes of the Dollhouse TV series and was attached as a director of his European series I am Legion at one point, so who knows where John will pop up next.
R. Kikuo Johnson: Cartoonist R. Kikuo Johnson burst onto the scene in 2006 with the Fantagraphics graphic novel Night Fisher. The East Coast-based artist followed that up with some smaller work in anthologies such as Marvel’s Strange Tales, but has yet to really hit the industry with a big project like his debut. The most recent place I saw his work as doing an illustration for The New Yorker on the TV series Boardwalk Empire.
Mike Zeck: In the 1980s, Mike Zeck became a go-to guy for Marvel with the artist drawing Secret Wars, Punisher and the epic “Kraven’s Last Hunt” storyline in the Spider-Man titles. Lately, Zeck has been the defacto comics ambassador in the world of licensing for both DC and Marvel, including style guides for the animated series Batman: The Brave & The Bold, licensing work for the upcoming Green Lantern movie and a Nick Fury illustration for the UK fashion mag Arena. A recent post on Zeck’s website gives this fan a racing heart at the idea of the artist returning to do a comic book focused on Captain America. Details are next to nil, but I’m reading between the lines the best I can.
Barry Windsor-Smith: BWS is many things to many people — the Conan artist, the guy who made Wolverine cool with the Weapon X storyline, or one of the top artist of Valiant Comics in the 90s. With the recent Wolverine movie owing much to his work, the comic industry seems primed for BWS to return on the scene in some capacity — but unfortunately, he hasn’t popped up. He has scores of announced but unreleased projects floating around, from a Thing graphic novel at Marvel to a 300-page tome called Monsters for Vertigo. DC reportedly even has a fully penciled BWS Superman story that’s been sitting on the shelve for 12 years.
Damion Scott: Damion Scott made a big impact in comics with his work on the DC series Batgirl in the early 2000s. He was one of the artists chosen to get an issue of the prestigious Solo series, becoming the youngest and newest of the pack and did a series based on the Teen Titans character Raven a few years back… but after that, he vanished. He popped his head up for a small 8 page story in Marvel’s 2009 Deadpool Team-Up #900 but nothing else has been seen. He’s reportedly moved to Japan and set-up an art studio. He’s one of those guys that if they came back to comics full-time would be a major force in the industry.
I could go on for hours and drop named like Khari Evans, Andrew Robinson and even Bill Watterson but instead I’ll stop here and ask you — who do you miss doing comics?