Thursday, September 20, 2007

TOP TEN :: Best Comics Artists Ever :: #4 :: Paul Pope

Paul Pope could best be described as the “rock star” of comics, at least that’s how I describe him. He most well known for his indy titles THB, Heavy Liquid and 100% and recently for Batman: Year 100, which was a more mainstream endeavor.

He fuses Eastern and Western influences into a style that is distinctively his own. His work is gritty and surreal often depicting a futuristic dystopia. The worlds he creates are both scary and beautiful. I love to travel along with the characters to see where the ride will take me. Usually it is a bumpy ride fraught with danger and excitement. Merely describing his work as “action-packed” would be selling it short: it does have a highly intellectual side. A discussion about Paul Pope’s work quickly turns into a conversation about philosophy and politics.

I highly recommend his art book Pulphope. It’s chock full of Popey goodness--he shows a wide range of his works. It even includes a few childhood drawings. Also, it includes essays written by Pope which provide insight into his work. But it is a little on the adult side. Let’s just say he likes to draw the ladies.

12 comments:

Robert Ullman said...

I have never been able to finish a Paul Pope book. I've bought a ton of it, all the way back to 1995 when I excitedly ordered THB, Sin Titulo and Dr. Richardson from Horse Press in nearby Columbus, OH. I bought P City Parade, Giant THB, Heavy Liquid...it looks cool, but story-wise...nothing. I find his stuff absolutely impenetrable.

Dustin Harbin said...

Incredible! I've been a fan of his for years and years. THB is probably the most rich of his works, but get all the way through the first issue before you judge. If you don't like it by the end of the second, you probably won't ever, so you can snub it with impunity at that point.

For readability I suggest Escapo or 100%--both of which are pretty tight little stories. Especially Escapo, although 100% is much more satisfying. If you've got Giant THB (the one with HR's armpit on the front cover), that's got Escapo in it.

Shawn Reynolds said...

I thought "Batman: Year 100" was really accessible. Storywise it is coherent and pretty easy to follow. And his artwork goes really well with his re-imagining of Batman.

Casey Jones said...

WHA?! Paul Pope isn't #1?! Dusty, did you get fired or something?

Andy Mansell said...

Love Pope, but the one thing lacking in his art is any kind subtlety and dare I say it-- beauty. His females are pug-ugly and his world vision is dirty and cluttered. The world vision is certainly not criticism, but is he a one-note story teller. Time will tell......

Dustin Harbin said...

Craziness! This is the old-timer in you talking--just because all his women don't look like P'Gell and Gwen Stacy doesn't mean they're "pug-ugly". And as for the world vision isn't the world really that dirty and cluttered? While I don't always agree 100% with Pope's politics, the fact that he is commenting, over and over again, in nearly all of his works, on issues of liberty and control, is impressive to me.

Casey, my number 1 was Kirby--I know what side my bread is buttered on.

Andy Mansell said...

I agree about P'Gell and Gwen Stacy, but there is something downright unattractive to all of his work-- border-line repulsive. Not saying it is a bad thing nor does it quantify art, but I need some feeling of beauty in art that can repeatedly moves me (READ: the best of all time!). If I don't, then the absolutely spot-on terrific art by Paul Pope becomes (to me) the same old, same old. A thing of Beauty is a joy forever... a harsh look at a grim future- again and again and again is not. PS.. Show me an attractive female for Pope's work and I will be delighted to retract the statement.

Thanks for listening...

Rusty Baily said...

I really don't want to say anything negative, but I have to agree with Andy. Can art be good, but not pretty? I say yes, and this is a good example.

Doctor Fantastic said...

No one has even mentioned his mastery of the genre of science fiction! Batman: Year 100, 100% and Heavy Liquid are all sci-fi treasures. I see him being extremely influenced by Philip K. Dick-- his work has the same aura of believability-- because although technology has advanced in Pope's stories, the people still behave like people. Someone once said "Truth is beauty." I think this definition works. Pope's work IS beautiful-- if you want evidence then check out page 114 of 100% (it's in issue 3).

Dustin Harbin said...

Yeah, I'm with the good doctor. To say that Pope's art lacks subtlety is kooky--in fact, I'd say that one of the defining characteristics of his style is his subtle line. And hot girls--puh-leeze! I can't argue with you guys. I'm not saying you're a lost cause, but I'll be having one-on-one conversations with each of you in the store; like little Pope interventions.

Douglas Merkle said...

I have never disagreed with any one as much as i disagree with Rusty and Andy. I guess there is no accounting for taste. Just kiddin guys! I can see where Pope isn't for everyone, but I really am surprised by Andy's comments- ANdy are you not a scif-fi guy?

If you guys want to see beauty, thumb over to page 40 of Pulphope. Those lips! those ears! That facial hair!

Douglas Merkle said...
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