Wanted to talk a little bit about my influences. When I got into comics, there was a certain style of artist that I gravitated to. I enjoyed the artists who were trying to capture the more realistic approach to rendering the human figure in their “cartooning” while still maintaining the exaggeration of action and camera angles that help make comic book art so dramatic and exciting. This was the kind of feeling that I wanted, and still want, my art to elicit. As I entered the industry, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting almost all of my artistic heroes. These are the roots of my kung-fu:
He is the “Old Man on the Mountain,” the wisest of my kung-fu masters. His artwork is probably the most seen in the mainstream of any comic book artist because of his extensive marketing and advertising illustration for DC Comics. I’ve been aware of his work since I was a little child in the 70s. He is probably one of the greatest draftsmen the industry has ever seen. When I met him at the New York City Comicon in 2009, it was a true “Master, please to show me a new style!” moment. He was an absolute gentleman, very kind, gracious and still very vital in the game, which is so rare. He was everything that I thought and hoped he would be and he showed me the power of grace when you concentrate on your craft.
Seriously, if you came of age reading and wanting to draw comic books in the 80s, then you were influenced by this man. He re-vitalized Superman and with Chris Claremont elevated the X-Men from B-list status to a household name. I owe a lot of my construction of the human figure to this artist. His visual storytelling, though seemingly conservative next to some artists today, is extremely effective with subtle hints of experimentation. Say what you want about the man’s personality (I never saw it when I met him in the 90s), but you have give respect when respect is due.
Perez is the epitome of the self-taught artist… That’s the first thing that I love about his art. The second thing that I love is that he never rested on any laurels. He’s always trying to improve, to progress, to blow us out of the water, and he always succeeds. His sense of composition is uncanny. His individualization of character is almost beyond compare. From The Teen Titans to Crisis on Infinite Earths to JLA/Avengers, this man is a beast. I’m still salty, and proud, that my good friend John J. Hill was the art director for the last title. Perez is also one of the sweetest people that I’ve ever met in comics and I’m still geeking out that I was a speaking character in his too-short lived Crimson Plague.
Ah, the British Invasion of the 1980s: Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Dave Gibbons… You would think that I would have Brian Bolland in my top 5. Don’t get me wrong, Bolland is amazing, an artistic deity… And I knew I would never get to that level of detail… But I could be Alan Davis. Please believe, it is not that Alan Davis is any less talented than Bolland. In fact, Davis combines the best of Neal Adams, Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema in my opinion. And, it is exactly because of those influences that Davis’ work speaks to me. Elegant and dynamic with fascinating page design, I’ll always buy a Davis-drawn book when it comes out.
For someone who is decidedly in the independent comic arena, you see that most of my influences come from the “Big Two.” This artist really made his bones by doing his own thing. I’ve always been enamored by the book Nexus. I thought that Mike Baron and Steve Rude created something truly unique. Rude’s work speaks to my collegiate experiences. He is an artist’s artist combining his love of Alex Toth and Jack Kirby with the structure of a fine arts education. There is an innocence in his work, which is uniquely Midwestern. I’m sure he doesn’t remember, but Steve Rude is the reason why Griot Enterprises exists. He gave me the biggest compliment and that was the kind of encouragement a young artist needs and desires to hear. So, I thank you for that, Mr. Rude.
These artists are the roots of my style. I’ve learned and continue to learn so much from them whenever I see their work. So, that’s it… For now. Cheers!