The nice part about a break is a chance to do a few new blog posts. Once the Batman Annual comes out I'm sure there will be quite a few new readers and followers to my blog and I thought it would be a cool little post to talk about some of the most influencial artists on my style and career. They are in no particular order and mostly just a chance for me to sing some praises to my favorite creators and give some insight as to who I look to for inspiration. So let's begin!
There is so much I can say about Dave but I'll try to keep it short. This is the guy who gave me my start and helped me reach my goal. He's had a huge impact on my life, even before I met him.
When I was in college, Dave came and spoke to my class about his job. At that time I had given up on my comic book dreams because I didn't think I had what it took to make it in the industry. Dave inspired me to try again and shoot for something bigger. His artwork has always been big with me as well. His Ultimatum run was a hugely influencial work that helped to solidify the style I wanted to chase.
As I've posted before, David has been my mentor and teacher for the past few years. I had emailed him 2 and half years ago to see if he would give me a few pointers and that turned into a 6 month hardcore comic training bootcamp. I learned all I know from this guy and his huge heart is one of the reasons I have a job today. He didn't have to submit my work to DC, or bring me to comicon to show my work to some of the DC editors, but he did! When I was struggling to reach deadline on my first work (Superman/Batman #70) he sat down with me and helped me race to the finish. He gave me my biggest break when he asked me to do the final 2 issues of his Batman: The Dark Knight run which helped me earn a DC exclusive contract.
Without him helping to get me a job, I wouldn't have even had the money to buy my wife an engagement ring. I owe a ton to this guy and he has never asked anything in return. The man is pure class. David will always be my fav artist and the biggest influence on my art and one of the biggest on my life.
Years later, in my teens when I started to read comic books, the first DC/Batman comic I picked up was Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb's BATMAN: HUSH. I remember reading that book and thinking to myself. "This is the ultimate version of Batman" and I believe even to this day it hasn't been outdone. I know that people who like classic comics will argue with that and maybe say Neal Adams Batman was the best, but for me, Jim Lee captured the ultimate look for Batman.
Jim quickly became the artist I wanted to emulate and even to this day I find his influence come seeping out into my artwork. I began to collect much of his work and tried to copy his style. His shapes and body anatomy are great and his characters sillouette is so heroic and perfect. I got the chance to meet Jim at a DC diner in New York last year and I felt like a little kid meeting their sports hero. After David Finch, I think Jim Lee would be my number 2 influence style wise and I consider his work on HUSH to be the defining book that I read that gave me the goal to persue a career in comics.
I found out about Travis Charest after Dave handed me a copy of Charest's Spacegirl collection and a copy of Wildcats/X-Men Golden Age issue. At first I didn't really know what to think about all of it, but after a few days of looking through it, my mind was blown as to the detail of Charest's work. If there is one artist in the world that I wish I could emulate 100% it would be Travis Charest. Sadly, the guy is way to good to even rip off! I love everything in his work from his cartoony realism, to his amazing line work (both smooth and rough) and his beautifully shaded and painted covers. His faces have so much personality to them and his style screams his mastery over the medium. I've begun my quest to collect all of his work and I have a copy of his Wildcats: Street Smarts TPB next to my workspace for constant study and reference. In my mind, he is in the top 5 greatest comic artist of all time. Yes, he's that good. Check out his blog below and you'll be astonished!
I discovered Ivan Reis when I picked up the first issue of Blackest Night a few years ago. I was immediatly blown away by his work, his energy, his texturing, facial expressions and his amazing shadows. The detail that he pumps into his pages is unbelievable. I love his line work as well and all of the tiny renders that he puts into his work. His layouts have been a huge influence on my work as well. I love his use of the widescreen panel. Ivan will put 6 or 7 widescreen panels on a page and fill them with all sorts of awesome details. I've naturally gravitated to this style of storytelling and I love it. Check out Blackest Night and the new Aquaman series for an amazing look at his work and talent! Also a shout out to his partner in crime Joe Prado who's inks make Ivan's work sing.
While working for Aspen, the company would graciously bring me out to some of the cons they went too. My favorite part of the cons was sitting down next to Joe an learning from such an amazing artist. Joe, being a buddy of Dave Finch, has also been a huge influence in my career, helping to guide me in the right direction and giving me pointers on how to become a better artist and find "my style". The guy may look gruff, but he's got a heart of gold and has been a great mentor in my career. Not only that, but his art is amazing!!! Joe's Lady Mechanika is one of the best indy titles around and is some of the most gorgeous art you can find on the stands. Can't wait for the next con I go to to hang with Joe!
Last, but not least on my more detailed list, is Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy. He is another artist I've come to love recently. I believe his covers are some of the best in the industry. His mastery of simplicity and shadow is what makes him so special!
Some more of my fav's
I've been hooked on Lee as of late. How can anyone not love this guys work. His art on the Before Watchmen book is going to be legendary.
Tim Sale's Batman books are my favorite Batman stories of all time. I got to meet Tim a few years back and he is a great guy. Awesome artwork, beautiful inkwashes and great depictions of classic characters.
Another artist with amazing details. I want to render like him one day!
There are so many other artists that I love but I could go way to long on this post. Guys like Darwyn Cooke, Frank Frazetta, Olivier Coipel, Esad Ribic, Bryan Hitch, Ethan Van Sciver, Bernie Wrightson, J. Scott Campbell, Frank Miller, Lienil Yu, and Yannick Paquette to name a few. I'm also sure I'm missing a bunch of guys but I'm hoping this maybe opens up some doors to some other artists out there for you to check out and study!