Thursday, September 20, 2007

TOP TEN :: Best Comics Artists Ever :: #3 :: John Romita, Sr.

While Jack Kirby set the style for all modern comics, it was John Romita who established the look. He also had the unenviable position of following the greats of the comics industry: Kirby on Captain America and Fantastic Four, Steve Ditko on Spider-Man, and Wally Wood on Daredevil. I’ve heard many an old school fan decry Romita’s arrival on Amazing Spider-Man, with the seminal issue 39, as the end of the character. How could a romance artist, with the glossy and clean linework, replace a master of oddity and mood! This was quickly replaced with astonishment.

John Romita’s work, influenced by the great Milton Caniff, quickly won over legions of fans, making Spidey the preeminent Marvel superhero. He followed his run as penciler for Spider-Man as the embellisher on Gil Kane’s pencils, perhaps the greatest mesh of graphite and India ink ever produced. He established the popular look of Marvel’s characters in Spider-Man’s daily newspaper strip, and in almost all of their licensed material. Later, as Marvel’s art director, he guided the next generation of artists and continued Marvel’s incomparable “house style”. His hand is seen everywhere on covers from the ‘60’s to the ‘80’s, often offering the subtle changes that move a cover from good to great. John Romita is one of the most influential pencilers, and arguably the greatest inker, that comics has ever seen.


Shawn Reynolds said...

That is a really sweet cover.

Andy Mansell said...

Okay--lets forget for a moment the stream line drawing technique (ala Dan Barry) and let's forget the gorgeous wimmen, (ala Matt Baker) what we have left is clear concise passionate storytelling-- dynamic page layout (ala Caniff's Sunday pages)at it's best. You could always feel the weight of the world on Peter's head. You could FEEL the Spider sense tingling. Lastly, but to me most imortantly, at the tender age of 9(?) with the Black and white and shaded grey of Sensational Spider-man 1 and 2, I learned just how great non-colored art can be. Romita's artwork set the tone--for me--for the rest of my fanboy life.

The creation of the Kingpin-- truly the greatest--or at least the most influential-- villains, secures Romita's standing as one of the all-time greats. DC even made Lex Luthor more like Kingpin in the Superman rebirth.

This is a great choice and I am sorry I did not add him to my list....

PS-- Phil--as usual-- is dead on, The Kane/Romita is one of the great teamings. (My other faves are Kirby/Sinnott, Adams/Giordano and Swan/Anderson)

Rusty Baily said...

Phil is ALWAYS dead-on! I'm just honored to bask in the glow of his intelligence. Way to blog, yo!

Tony Gray said...

Everything you say about John Romita is right on! Let me just add as someone who has had the good fortune of interviewing Mr. Romita a few times, he's a great penciller, he's an amazing inker, he's a dynamite storyteller, he's also a great guy!
You couldn't ask for a nicer, more accommodating guy. I asked him for fifteen minutes of time to do a phone interview. We ended up on the phone for 45 minutes. At the 2007 Toronto Comicon I had an 11am-11:15am time slot booked with Mr. Romita. At 10:30am I saw him walking towards me. He explained that he wasn't familiar with the convention center so he arrived early to make sure he didn't keep me waiting! To top it off he sat with me talking about classic comic history tales until 1:00pm!! It's great when meeting your childhood hero turns out to be even better you expected. It doesn't happen often enough.