Welcome back faithful readers. This week, I’d like to make a return to my topic of choice: Comic Books. I’m actually writing this on the Monday of one of the rarest of treats, a long weekend. Not just any long weekend, though. It is the day after the birth of my home country – Canada. In honour of Canada day I will be presenting to you a list of 4 of my favorite Canadian comic book artists. The Great White North is the home to quite a few of the greatest mainstream artists in the comic book field.
1.) Chris Bachalo
To start with, I’m going to go with Mr. Chris Bachalo. I’m not sure if he counts, since according to his Wikipedia page he was raised in the U.S. But, he was born here, so he counts in my book. Also, he’s one of the most interesting artists to work consistently in the Marvel and DC universes. It’s sort of a graffiti style mixed with a Bruce Timm animation style. It’s very unique and is instantly recognizable. He made his name on a mini-series featuring the character of Death from the Sandman series. His profile was further raised when he co-created the X-Men spinoff Generation X. Recently he’s done some great work on Spider-Man and New Avengers. He’s actually one of the few artists that I would consider reading regardless of the writer.
2.) Kaare Andrews
I just realized that the rest of the list features artists who are also known for their writing. I don’t know if that means anything, but it probably does. All Canadians are multi-talented geniuses or something. Anyhoo, Kaare Andrews is unique in a lot of ways mostly in that his style is constantly changing. And all of his styles are cool. This is best exemplified by his series of Hulk covers. The one above is obviously inspired by Norman Rockwell, but he did others that look like cereal boxes and Where The Wild Things Are. I first noticed him on Ultimate X-Men, and he did a cool arc on Astonishing X-Men with Warren Ellis. His signature series, though, is Spider-Man Reign. He wrote and drew it, and it’s like a Marvel response to The Dark Knight Returns. Admittedly, it’s not my favorite thing in the world. But, the art is interesting and it’s a unique take on Spidey.
3.) Darwyn Cooke
The next gentleman on this list is Mr. Darwyn Cooke. Not only is he from my home country, he’s also from my home town – Toronto. He still lives here, and he’s one of the most sought after writers/artists in comics. When DC was looking for the best people in the business to work on Before Watchmen, he was asked to write and draw one series and write another. His style is very much an animated style. In fact, he was a storyboard artist on the Batman Animated Series. He’s best known for his mini-series, DC: New Frontier, which was turned into a direct to DVD animated movie. It’s very cool, and puts the changes of the DC universe into a real world perspective. For example, it explains why Batman went from a gun-toting, fear the night, badass into a kid-friendly, sidekick toting, hero. He’s also done extensive runs on Will Eisner’s The Spirit, and he has adapted some of Richard Stark’s Parker novels.
4.) John Byrne
Finally, we come to the only true legend on this list. He hasn’t had a great run of it lately, especially since his online persona is not the friendliest. He has had feuds with some of the greats in the business, but he is also one half of one of the greatest creative teams in mainstream comic book history. He and Chris Claremont redefined the X-Men, and Byrne was at the very least one half of that equation. Probably more since he is credited as a co-plotter on most of the storylines that they are best known for. His clean, crisp style is iconic and very influential. He also wrote and drew some of the most important issues of Fantastic Four and rebooted Superman after Crisis on Infinite Earths. His impact in comics is undeniable, and it’s too bad that he hasn’t had much work at Marvel or DC in recent years. I hope he gets another chance to work on the characters he helped define before he has to retire.
Graham Becksted is Canadian. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 67th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.