Wednesday, September 19, 2007

TOP TEN :: Best Comics Artists Ever :: #5 :: Bryan Hitch


In my book, Bryan Hitch is the "Ultimate" comic book artist and story teller (sorry, couldn’t resist). I first experienced Hitch’s work on The Authority with Warren Ellis. Seeing this book was one of those seminal moments where you have experienced something new and amazing. Comics, for me, would never be experienced the same. Hitch is the king of wide-screen comics, like a Michael Bay movie on the page: the detail on a Hitch page is easily comparable to a 1080i high definition TV. There is not an angle or point-of-view that is out of range for Hitch’s pencil; the POV he employs draws you directly into the page. You can feel the action on the page surround you as action movie would in an Omnimax theater. Hitch’s pin-up comic book covers feature characters looking you directly in the eye and inviting you to “join in on the fun."

Bryan Hitch became a super star with his recently completed work on Marvel’s The Ultimates with Mark Millar and is currently hard at work bringing the fantastic back to Marvel’s First Family, the Fantastic Four. You can also find Bryan Hitch at the video store with character designs being used for The Ultimates and The Ultimates 2 movies.

19 comments:

Robert Ullman said...

I'm sorry, but ranking Bryan Hitch ahead of Will Eisner is an entire sorority's worth of crazy. I can understand wanting to shake things up and produce a list that goes beyond the usual suspects, but you're gonna have to come up with a more convincing argument than this.

Robert Ullman said...

PS. A Michael Bay comparison should never be meant as a compliment.

Dustin Harbin said...

Before the fur starts flying: I asked each employee/blog member to give me a list of their top 10 best artists. Out of 14 people, I chose the top 10 scorers, settling ties with random decisions. So the fact that Eisner ranks so low (I know, it's crazy) is half chance and half this group choosing other people.

Eisner was tied with the following people, half of whom were cut randomly: Buscema, Cassaday, Darwyn Cooke, Mike Mignola, Moebius, Quitely, Tezuka, and Chris Ware.

Dan Morris said...

I'm going to agree with Mr. Ullman there and say that Bryan Hitch (while not a slouch in the art department) is a little high on this list especially to come before real innovators and master storytellers like Eisner and Tezuka. Hitch is good but better than Tezuka and Eisner? I'm having a hard time seeing it regardless of the point system used especially if they were all tied...

Dustin Harbin said...

Well...without just calling you an elitist outright, and without speaking ill of any artists, I'll just say that settling ties randomly produced different results than I'd personally hoped for. Moebius and Chris Ware both hurt to let go of, but fair's fair.

Phil Southern said...

FACE, Dan Morris, FACE!

Shawn Reynolds said...

I know for this list I picked my favorite artists and not necessarily the ones that I thought were the greatest.

Phil Southern said...

I have to echo Shawn's comments--You write up the greatest and most influential creators,it ends up being a pretty well-trod list, one which we can all rattle off by rote--Unfourtunately, I ended up submitting that list, instead of my personal greatest.

My list of personal greatest would have included Alan Davis, Mac Rayboy and, at number one, John Byrne. Ten years ago that list was quite different--20 years ago it would have been straight up awful! But it would have been interesting!

So who wants to guess the top three?

Jason Wheatley said...

Yeah, I think most of us probably just submitted our "favorite comic artists" list. I know I had trouble keeping it to just 10! Not to mention at least half of mine were nowhere to be seen on the final list, and I'll imagine that happened to several of us, which just goes to show how diverse our lists were.

Maybe it's little misleading for these to be labeled "Top Ten Best Comic Artists Ever," instead of of something like "Heroes Staff's Top Ten Artists." That would probably describe what we're doing here more accurately.

Douglas Merkle said...

I personally only chose people I'm familiar with. There are artists that i know are legendary, but if I have never experienced their work, how could i vote for them? Perhaps we should have had a pool of artists to choose from. There are a couple guys a flat out forgot about (ie everyone Phil mentioned).

Douglas Merkle said...

PS a Michael BAy comparision is appropriate in the context it was used. If i was talking about about Woody Allen rather than Bryan HItch, you would be correct.

Robert Ullman said...

Phil, I apologize if I came across as completely obnoxious...I really wanted to use that "sorority" line. Everybody has their faves, and you're right...you can't...hell, you shouldn't...vote for what you haven't read.

Maybe it's the "EVER" part of that headline that's problematic...

Phil Southern said...

Robert, your sweet dulcet tones are never obnoxious. Additionally, our regular pillow fights and endless hours of staring at pictures of Bobby Sherman certainly make us sorority-like.

Further, I agree with you about "the greatest" appellation.

It is hard tease out favorite vs. greatest vs. most influential---
Eisner is great, no debate!
Byrne is my favorite, undebatable, due to it focus of preference.
A case could be made that Rob Liefeld is amazingly influential, one of the most in the past 20 years.

There was an internal debate about how to construct this list. Sadly, only the contentious choices seem to have spurned any discourse. Where are the heaps of well-deserved praise for John Buscema? When will he get his parade?

Dustin Harbin said...

Well, not to call myself an elitist outright, but semantics makes every conversation boring. I listed the people I thought were the ten best EVER, without regard to influence or so forth. The fact that there's any democracy involved at all means that it won't REALLY be the Top Ten Best Ever after the votes are counted, but that's the society we live in.
For instance, Carl Barks? David Mazzucchelli? Herge? Chester Brown? CHRIS WARE?

Phil Southern said...

To be frank, my list was quite definitive.

Robert Ullman said...

After spending only three or four minutes pondering the enormity of trying to create my "Best Ever" list, I gave up, realizing there's just about no way to do it right without being completely by-the-numbers. Of course, Eisner is up there, along with Kirby, Tezuka...but we've all seen it before. So maybe putting forth your favorites while maintaining a critical eye is the way to go.

F'rinstance, Guy Delisle and Darwyn Cooke would probably be on my list...each of whom you could probably make a case for. But so would Jim Aparo and Dan Decarlo who you maybe couldn't.

How's that for well-rounded?

Andy Mansell said...

One thing to note-- this list made me go grab a few back issues of the Ultimates (I still say it is the most joyless, souless comic I've ever read)and I now see through the nasty trendiness of the story and really enjoyed the art. Something else--as much as I despised the story, I couldn't stop reading-- why, now I realize it was the art. Although I agree with the Team America creators regarding Michael Bay, I think the Merc's analogy to wide screen is dead on. this is page after page of eye candy that successfully tells a story. I would rathr see him drawing real-life war stories.. but I now look forward to the FF as long as Mr Millar checks his nihlism (sic) at the door.
(YIKES, i agreed with Merkel--someone alert the Vatican!)

Thanks for listening

Dustin Harbin said...

Wow! Vitriolic! I feel almost the opposite; I loved the story all the way up to the sort of lame endings (both of them), but the art at times seemed the weak link. Not that Hitch can't draw his pants off, but on some of those famously late issues, some of those much-vaunted widescreen spreads seemed a little rushed, and the photo-reference gremlins were more obvious. I've always been more of a story guy than an art guy in reading comics anyway, but I thought Millar's stories were what made Ultimates. I mean, great art with no story is just, well, great art. Good comics have to be both.

Phil Southern said...

I've never qualified how rushed something looked, cause I can't tease that out from some new technique, etc. With the increased time between issues, there was a (well deserved) increase in expectations. But I can't question Bryan Hitch's talent. His work caught my eye when his Alan Davis roots were more visible, and he has only gotten better.

However, I am sick of the wide-screen simile. Kirby's FF, Neal Adam's Avengers were doing this in the '60s, with tons to follow in the '70s and '80s

But I gotta side with Andy, The Ultimates just stuck me as shrill and cynical. The first Ultimates storyline was a skrull story with The Authority standing in for the Avengers--The second arc was the "ultimate" anticlimax. These just didn't comapre to when Millar's writing is on fire: His Authority, the year-long stint on Wolverine, his DC work form the '90s. This is when he is truly innovative and original, vs. the "Surly Avengers".