It is the curse of an unrecognized genius not to be recognized
in his time as a genius.
To wit: Did you know that in its time, Moby Dick
was considered just a simple boy's adventure story? 'Tis true!
'Twasn't 'til many years after author Herman Melville's death
that people stopped and said, "Hey, there might be something
more than just chasing a whale going on here." In fact, at
the time of his death, Melville was probably better known
as the author of Typee, a much more obscure work today.
In double fact, at the time of his death, Melville had grossed
all of about $10,000 in his career as a novelist.
Give you pause,
now don't it?
While you're pausing,
consider comics. There are many unrecognized genius (Geniuii?)
working in the field today. Here are but a few. I urge you:
Check 'em out. You might find something you like. You
might purchase one of their works, and get them to a post-Melville
$10,001 earned in their career.
And you might
be able to say, "Hey, I knew David Mack before he was DAVID
No one knows what "history" is while it's
happening. You need time and perspective to look back and
say, "Hey, that made history." Believe me when I say this:
When the history books are written about this era of comics,
there will be pages and pages devoted to David Mack.
Mack is the master of a million techniques,
from pencils to paints, from nailing lace garters to blocks
of wood (really!) to freehand drawing with printer ink cartridges
(really!). He has NO FEAR when it comes to defying convention.and
coming up with something that, even though you thought it
would never work, works!
then puts these bold techniques into everything from super-spy
tales (see: Early issues of Kabuki) to fascinating
introspective tales (see: later issues of Kabuki) to
superheroes (see: Daredevil)
Some say comics are going
through a Renaissance now. Davis Mack is a Renaissance man.
even knew what "digital painting" was before Richard Isanove
unleashed it on an unsuspecting comic world in the pages of
Now, all coloring will fall into two time periods: B.I. (Before
Isanove) and A.I. (Artificial Intelligence-No, wait! Make
that "After Isanove").
me now, believe me later, and think about it in the meantime:
Color is where the bleeding edge of comic technology currently
is, and is what will determine its future. Ask yourself: What
do you really notice when you pick up a book? The coloring?
Or this thing called "inking"? At least 50% plus one of you
are saying, "Well, the coloring, duh." As more books move
direct from pencils to colors, the contributions of those
who really make it work such as Richard Isanove will be recognized.
Okay, one person
knew what "digital painting" was before Richard Isanove. A
big honkin', fun-lovin' Hawaiian named Peter Steigerwald.
Yes, color is all about technology these days. But it's
also about art, a sense of design, and the ability to just
"see" how things are in real life, and bring them to a printed
That is Steigerwald's
Peter's lush colors on Fathom
added incredible depth and reality to a book that always kept
one foot in the realm of hi-sci-fi, and the other foot firmly
rooted in the real world. Steigerwald's colors glow off a
page. And his use of effects is always well-tempered. There's
a temptation to overuse PhotoShop and make everything look
like a Cash Money Records "bling bling" hip-hop album cover.
Hey, just 'cause you can do something does not necessarily
mean that you should. Steigerwald understands this. His color
and effects open a door form a comic page into the real world
so well, that more often than not, you don't even realize
he's doing it.
And as East and West get closer and closer,
the one man who's always been Central is Adam Warren.
is one of the best-known, if not the best-known, of American
manga artists. With hits such as Dirty Pair and Gen13
under his belt that date back a decade or more, Warren saw
the manga wave coming to the U.S. years before it washed up
on these shores. And he even got a late start on it.
Warren grew up in New Hampshire, not exactly
the most Pacific Rim of cultures. But when he attended the
Kubert School, his eyes were opened. "I got exposed to anime,
and then manga," Warren says. "For some reason, I found that
the character design, the storytelling approach, and any of
a number of other things really clicked with me. I thought
it was just great. I decided I wanted to incorporate manga,
and to some degree, anime, into my work. It just proceeded
It's proceeded, and proceeded with a great
flair and sense of humor as well. Warren's hilarious, parody-filled
takes on both Japanese and American characters have been singing
for years. There will be even more to come.
Ya got comics over here, cartoons over there,
and smack-dab in the middle, ya got Darwyn Cooke.
Cooke brought his experience as an animator
and a keen sense of design to comics, and helped move comics
even more in an animated direction.
hyper-kinetic, action-packed layouts are reminiscent of a
Jack Kirby. His flair for design smacks of an Alex Toth. He
combined both into a redesign of DC's Catwoman that shook
the comic world and landed the feline femme fatale back on
the map, after the character had become an also-ran.
more than just art. Cooke has shown amazing storytelling chops
on projects diverse as the tense, noir graphic novel Catwoman:
Selina's Big Score and the lighthearted Christmas romps in
Spider-Man's Tangled Web.
he's done, Cooke has been fearless in bring animation to comics,
comics to animation, and helped lay a new groundwork that
future generations of both writers and artists can continue
to build on.