This article is about Alex Ross the comic book painter. For other people with that name, see Alexander Ross.
Birth name Nelson Alexander Ross
Born January 22, 1970 (age 37)
Area(s) Painter, Illustrator
Awards Will Eisner Award (1997)
National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Award (1998)
Nelson Alexander "Alex" Ross (born January 22, 1970) is an American comic book painter, acclaimed for the photorealism of his work. Ross is known for his love of the vintage looks of classic characters and the more mythic elements of the superheroes.
In the past ten years, Ross has done much work for the industry's two largest and most historically important publishing houses, Marvel and DC Comics, but Ross is also the co-creator of Astro City, an original series that explores superhero mythology.
Although he is a prominent figure for both DC and Marvel, he is better known as a DC artist, as much of his best work (such as Kingdom Come) was created for DC. Due to the time and effort required to render his complex paintings, he is often hired to draw covers rather than interiors. Almost all of his Marvel work since 1994 has been as a plotter or cover artist.
Ross was born in Portland, Oregon, but grew up in Lubbock, Texas. His mother, Lynette C. Ross, was a commercial artist best known for her paper doll books. His father is a minister. From childhood, he wanted to work in comics. He was particularly influenced by George Perez, Bernie Wrightson and Neal Adams. The telling facial expressions and realism of Adams' work can be seen in much of Ross'. He was also interested in mainstream American painters such as Andrew Loomis, J. C. Leyendecker and especially Norman Rockwell. He was even influenced by his favorite band, Queen, specifically the cover to their second album, Queen II, the composition of which, (black background, grouped figures with faces partially shadowed,) would go on to be used many times in Ross' work.
In 1987, Ross moved to Chicago to attend the American Academy of Art, where his mother had studied. After graduating, he pencilled various comic books including a series based on The Terminator films for the now defunct Now Comics. In 1993, he completed his first painted superhero assignment, the cover of a Superman novel.
During this time, Ross met writer Kurt Busiek and the two began submitting proposals for series that would feature paintings as their internal art, an unexplored idea at the time. Marvel agreed to a project that would tell much of the history of the Marvel%20UNIVERSE%20'>Marvel UNIVERSE from the perspective of an ordinary person. That limited series, Marvels, was released in 1994, and chronicled the life of a photojournalist, as he reacted to living in a world of superheroes and villains. Many fans were astonished by Ross' uncannily realistic portrayals of Spider-Man, Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Silver Surfer, The Human Torch and others.
Busiek, Ross, and penciller Brent Anderson went on to create Astro City, first published by Image Comics in 1995 and later by Homage Comics. The series features an original superhero world and continues the theme of Marvels, exploring how ordinary people, and superheroes and villains too, react to a world where the fantastic is commonplace. Ross paints the covers and helps set the costumes and the general look and feel for the series, which has been published sporadically in recent years due to Busiek's health problems.
In 1996, Ross teamed up with writer Mark Waid for the DC Comics limited series Kingdom Come, which unveils a possible future for the DC Universe, in which Superman and several other classic superheroes return from retirement to tame a generation of brutal anti-heroes. Ross redesigned several important superheroes, such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkman and Captain Marvel for the series. He also hid numerous visual references in his Images, such as recognizable graffiti, objects and posters, and modeled Rev. Norman McCay, a minister who The Spectre appoints with judging who is responsible for a prophesized tragedy, on his own father, Clark Ross.
Kingdom Come helped cement Ross' place as a comic book industry superstar. He followed it with the risky Uncle Sam, a non-superhero work. A project of DC's Vertigo line, it was an experimental work that examined the dark side of American history. While not a sales success, the mini-series garnered favorable reviews from comic fans.
In the early 2000s, with writer Jim Krueger, Ross plotted and designed characters for a trilogy of Marvel limited series, Earth X, Universe X, and Paradise X, which combined dozens of Marvel characters from various time periods in one galaxy-spanning epic. While moderately successful, the trilogy was plagued by problems including a convoluted story structure that put more attention of retconning aspects of the Marvel Universe, leaving the series unaccessible to those unfamiliar with the history of the Marvel Universe. Alex Ross's decision to not paint the internal art also hurt the series and the series (originally designed to run as a single mini-series) quickly gained a negative reaction as being nothing more than a vanity project for Ross and Krueger.
Ross has also been the subject of a minor controversy over his refusal to draw certain characters (most notably Kyle Rayner, who at the time of Ross' refusal was the Green Lantern).
Between 1998 and 2003, writer Paul Dini and Ross produced annual tabloid-sized editions celebrating the 60th anniversaries of DC Comics' Superman ('Peace on Earth'), Batman ('War on Crime'), Captain Marvel ('Power of Hope'), and Wonder Woman ('Spirit of Truth'), as well as two specials featuring the Justice League, 'Secret Origins' and 'Liberty and Justice'.
In 2001, Ross won acclaim for his work on special comic books benefiting the families of those killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, including his portraits of paramedics, police and firefighters. He has also designed much DC merchandise, including posters, dinner plates, and statues.
In 2004, DC compiled the coffee table book Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, written and designed by Chip Kidd. In late 2005, a paperback version of the book was published to include new artwork by Ross, including sketches for his "Justice" mini-series.
Also in 2004, Ross designed paintings for the opening credits of the film Spider-Man 2. The paintings presented key elements from the first film, including a rendition of the classic upside-down kiss between Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.
In August 2005, Ross reunited with writer Jim Kreuger and penciller Doug Braithwaite to begin the epic 12-issue, bi-monthly limited series Justice for DC Comics. The series focuses on the enemies of the Justice League of America banding together to defeat the League in order to save the Earth from its pre-destined destruction.
His numerous awards include a 1997 Will Eisner Award for the limited series Kingdom Come (with Mark Waid) and a 1998 National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Award for Superman: Peace on Earth.
DC Direct (The exclusive collectibles division of DC Comics) has produced 3 wave of action figures from the comics book Kingdom Come based on Alex Ross' artwork. The first wave of figures included Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Hawkman. The second wave included Batman, Red Robin, Captain Marvel and Kid Flash. The last wave included Magog, Flash, Armored Wonder Woman and Deadman. An exclusive figure of Red Arrow was released through ToyFare magazine. DC Direct also released several other characters through their Elseworlds toylines. These figures included The Spectre, Norman McCay, Jade, Nightstar, Aquaman and Blue Beetle.
DC Direct has also released a line of action figures for the comic book Justice based again on Alex Ross' artwork.
During an interview with Wizard Magazine in its 167th issue, Ross states that his favorite Flash is Barry Allen, as he says that Barry was "screwed".
His Favorite Superhero is Superman.
Alex Ross drew the cover picture on 'We've Come For You All' by Anthrax
Had a notable feud going on with Kevin Smith because Smith's film Mallrats stated the Stan Lee was the sole creator of the Marvel Universe. Ross stated that he feels that Jack Kirby should have half the credit. This feud was refrenced in the DVD for Mallrats.
Not only was there controvsey for his alleged refusal to paint Kyle Rayner and Wally West, his vocal disapointment in Astro City's chronic lateness (the writer had mercury poison), in a Wizard Magazine interview he stirred outrage over his comments on Obsidian, a visible gay character: "Obsidian being put into the JSA is a lot like-and I'm speaking for Geoff here, which he may not agree with-but it's him grabbing a character that's just going to get molested further in other writer's hands. So he's grabbing him and putting him in the group so he at least can be shepherding this character that belongs in this association. Maybe he'll make sure that no other writers get any 'fun, creative' ideas with him."
In addition there was some outrage over his comments on Ang Lee's Hulk for Newsrama: "Like a lot of people I love X-Men and hated The Hulk. Actually I hate Ang Lee more than I hated The Hulk. ... You know what? You've tapped into the truth there - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was not that great of a film. There's a million more just like him out of China. Screw him and the horse he rode in on." http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=6501
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