I have loved comic books as long as I can remember. One of my oldest memories is of me reading comic books off the rack at my aunt's small bodega store in Puerto Rico. As a visual-minded person, the artwork on comics always drew me in. Some comic book artists are so awesome that I would purchase a comic solely because a certain artist had drawn it, or even just drawn the cover!
While it has been some years since I have kept up with what happens in the comic book world, I still love to revisit my old favorites. Every once in a while I receive a good recommendation and I will check out a newer comic book series or graphic novel. I am glad that so many are being made and respected as a form of literature in their own right. I will be writing about my favorite comic book artists. Let us begin with the man who first blew my mind and showed me that comic book art was truly ART.
The comic book world is populated with many artists whose drawings fit the predetermined mold utilized at the various comic book companies. There is, after all, a Marvel "bible" titled "How to Draw Comics The Marvel Way." While this creates a great sense of continuity within the various publisher's imprints, it can be a bit uniform for certain artists whose skills are unique. Bill Sienkiewicz is one of those unique artists. His work is instantly recognizable as his own. No one else compares. He is the master of creating a fantastic cover. Check out the two pieces of art below. The first one is for a Batman Annual issue, and was my favorite Batman cover image for the longest. (click images to enlarge)
To a young man's eyes, this was a demented image of the Batman, my favorite costumed hero. Everything is exaggerated. The color scheme is pure blue, contrasted by very blue-toned yellows. Tortured faces appear. The Batman looks like an enraged force of nature, besieged at all sides by his demons/enemies.
This second cover art image is from a short-lived series which resurrected the classic pulp hero The Shadow. I am the only person I know that loved this damn series, and I have collected all of the issues.
I always thought that the deranged art of Bill Sienkiewicz perfectly suited the character of the Shadow. The Shadow was one of the first vigilante heroes, a definite literary precursor to the Batman and the Punisher. His world was a violent and bleak one, where criminals forfeited their lives due to the crimes they committed. The Shadow knew what evil lurked in the hearts of men, and I was so happy to see that a comic book version set in the modern day existed! To this day it is one of the most hallucinogenic freak-out comic books I have ever had the pleasure to read. It truly brought the old pulp/noir feel back and Sienkiewicz's artwork set the stage. It is a shame that he only drew the first 6 issues.
At a time when much of comic book art was still using the old stock 4 color Ben-Day Dot technique, Sienkiewicz's artwork was wildly different. It is hard to describe just how different it was to see one of Mr. Sienkiewicz's covers at the comic book stores. They leapt off the page with vibrant color, bizarre lines, and painterly shading. It was very rare back then to see painted art in a comic book.
One of the cool things about Bill Sienkiewicz is that he appears to be drawn to the dark and disturbing comic book characters. He is rightfully famous for his work on Daredevil, Elektra, Moon Knight, and the awesome run he had on the New Mutants. He continues to create amazing artwork of every type. He is an amazing draftsman, and colorist, and stylist, and I am deeply jealous every time I see his work!.