Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blogathon 47: The Artists of Hellblazer

I had never thought about how many talented artists have worked on Hellblazer, either for extensive runs or just short appearances. I've always thought of the title as a writer's book, but that's clearly not the case when you look at who's been drawing it since... well, damn near the beginning of the book. And even the artists that aren't great are workmanlike and skilled, bringing a base level of skill to the gig.

One of the issues, though, that I have with the art, especially with more recent runs, is how John and Chas are depicted. Both would be in their 50s by now, approaching their 60s and neither are drawn that way most of the time. John has an excuse somewhat because of the demon blood in his veins. You could argue that it makes him age more slowly (though that isn't official), but Chas? What's his excuse? Being a cabbie and having a nag of a wife keeps him young and fit? I made the comment in jest, but I do wonder: is drawing middleaged people one of the hardest things to do? Drawing people in their 40s and 50s... huh.

Like the writers, I'll rank the artists, but I'll just give you my top five from all of them...

1. Marcelo Frusin -- He breaks the rules about John's age all of the time, but with his work on Ellis, Azzarello, and Carey's runs, he's done a really strong body of work on the title. He does mood amazingly and draws striking pictures with characters that pop off the page. He's one of my favourite artists now more than ever thanks to this blogathon.

2. Steve Dillon -- No one does character storytelling as well. He handles the humanity of the characters. A lot of what makes John so great is his ability to talk and Dillon gets that across, making it visually interesting. He can draw just about anything and any time he returns to the title, it's an event.

3. John Higgins -- His art isn't pretty, but it's got a real quality to it. His John Constantine looks like he's lived the life he's lived. He's worn down a little and showing his age.

4. Sean Phillips -- This is the book where you can see Phillips growing and developing as an artist, becoming the strong, confident storytelling he is now, refining his line work. He's one of my favourite artists now and his early work is strong enough for him to rank then, too.

5. Richard Corben/David Lloyd -- I'm cheating to get them both in. Somewhat similar styles with shading, both didn't do tons of works on the title, but made their visual marks. Corben helped set the tone for Azzarello's run, while Lloyd did issues with Morrison, Ennis, Delano...

Who would be your top five artists?

In 30 minutes, I'll return with some words on John Constantine the character...

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