5 February 2009

Comics greats - Jim Steranko

Marvel Comics have started doing a poll on the best comics of all time. While recognising the many flaws in this concept, such as trying to identify a single issue in a major story such as the Kree Skrull War, it was a welcome prompt to revisit some of my favourite stories from the last forty years or so.

I have some more research and memory prodding to do to complete my list of all time greats but a few came to mind quickly.

So far all the stories that I have thought of are worthy of the highest praise mostly because of the art. That is not to dismiss the stories in any way but in each case the artist is somebody recognised as a true master of comic book art.

First up is Jim Steranko who had drew a relatively small number of comics back but had a dramatic impact on the media in the late 60s and early 70s.

Steranko's art was very striking and so a lot of his work was covers and when he did interiors there were often large dramatic images, one stretched over four pages!

But the main impact Steranko had was on page composition, eschewing the traditional square panels for a collage of pictures with unusual perspectives and eye-catching images.

The two page spread above is from an episode of Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD and is typical of his work.

I first discovered Steranko in British black-and-white reprint comics where the already heavy contrasts are even more pronounced and the pictures are made even more dramatic.

Sadly I only have one bettered second-hand copy of an original comic in my collection and I have to satisfy my love for his art in various collected volumes of his work. Luckily I have several of these.

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