2014 Top 50 Comic Book Artists #40-31

37. Jim Aparo - 330 points (3 first place votes)

While perhaps not to the level of Curt Swan, Jim Aparo was still one of the most amazingly consistent artists you'll ever see. His inks started to lose a little focus towards the end of his career and DC stopped letting him ink himself, so a little bit of the magic was lost, but he was still producing top notch work well into the 1990s.

To show off how consistent he was, check out his very first Batman work, from 1971's Brave and the Bold #98 (co-starring The Phantom Stranger, whose ongoing series was Aparo's second assignment at DC Comics - the concept of the issue is that strange things are happening at the home of the widow and son of a friend of Batman's who just died - this being a Bob Haney story, we just meet this longtime friend of Batman's out of nowhere this issue right before he dies - and Batman is investigating)...

That bit was from 1971 and yet it just as well could have come from 1981. Or 1991. Or 2001. That story had all of the hallmarks of a Jim Aparo story - great storytelling, the patented Jim Aparo facial expressions, the fluidity of the character action - just great work. Aparo took over Brave and the Bold a couple of issues later and then drew it for the next TEN years until it ended. Brave and the Bold led into Batman and the Outsiders. After he drew that for roughly three years, he had a bit of a break. Soon, though, he was right back to work drawing Batman for Jim Starlin (including the death of Jason Todd) and Marv Wolfman (including the introduction of Tim Drake) and then to Detective Comics for Peter Milligan and then back to Batman for Doug Moench (where Aparo was the artist who drew Bane breaking Batman's back). After his regular work on Batman finished, he still did occasional fill-in work. He was still doing occasional artwork (like a cover for a collection of Batman stories) almost right up until his death in 2005.

36. Todd McFarlane - 339 points (8 first place votes)

One of the more surprising things to me about 2010's list is that Todd McFarlane really did not do well in the voting. That corrected itself this year.

If you had to pick the three artists who most defined the look of Spider-Man, obviously Steve Ditko is one of them (since he, you know, created the look of Spider-Man) and then John Romita, for the changes he made to the book after he took over from Ditko that defined the look of Spider-Man for years, but Todd McFarlane is clearly the third. From the moment he took over Amazing Spider-Man with issue #298, the dynamic designs of McFarlane wowed comic book fans and literally changed how Spider-Man would be drawn from that point on.

From the little things (like drawing Spider-Man's web line thicker) to the larger things (drawing Spider-Man as almost a contortionist in the air), McFarlane's designs defined an entire generation of Spider-Man comic books.

Not just his character design work (which led to Venom becoming the breakout character that he was - without McFarlane's design of Venom, with the spooky teeth, it is doubtful that Venom ever would have been so famous) but the way he laid out pages. He broke free of the traditional panel arrangement that most Spider-Man artists were using at the time and made the stories seem to fill to the edge of the page.

What people now forget is just how TIMELY McFarlane was on Amazing Spider-Man. There is a good chance that the momentum of his artwork would not have had as much of an impact if he wasn't consistently delivering it on time. He penciled Amazing Spider-Man #298-323 without missing a single issue. Most remarkably about that run is that #300 was 40 pages and that #304-309 were BI-WEEKLY! In fact, it was only a second bi-weekly event that saw him miss his first issue of Amazing, as Erik Larsen stepped in to alternate issues with him for a few issues.

McFarlane then launched Spider-Man, which he wrote and drew, making it the highest-selling single comic book issue in the history of comics. He wrote and drew the book from #1-14 and then a finale in #16 when he left Marvel to launch Spawn for Image Comics.

35. Gene Colan - 346 points (2 first place votes)

Gene Colan became famous at Marvel for his energetic work coupled with his unique panel arrangements on the Iron Man feature. However, I think perhaps his strongest work is the slightly less frenetic Tomb of Dracula with writer Marv Wolfman and inker Tom Palmer.

Here is Colan from the classic twenty-fifth issue where a woman hires a stereotypical private investigator (straight out of a Raymond Chandler story) to find out who murdered her husband (hint - it's Dracula). But is the P.I. who he seems?

What a great reveal and what excellent storytelling by Colan!

Colan continued to be a top notch artist right up until his death a few years ago.

34. Greg Capullo - 358 points (4 first place votes)

Perhaps even more surprising than McFarlane's poor showing was the poor showing of the man who succeeded McFarlane on Spawn, Greg Capullo, who did not even PLACE in 2010, and I went all the way back to #125 that time! 2010, of course, was a year before Greg Capullo returned to mainstream comics in a big way as the regular artist on DC's best-selling comic book, Batman, so it makes sense that fans were reminded how much they liked Capullo, who was a top artist for years on X-Force for Marvel and then Spawn for Image.

The trademark of Greg Capullo is DYNAMISM. His work is some of the most kinetic out there. Check out this sequence where he just KILLS it with the action...

Capullo's art style is incredibly dynamic and stylized. Here is an action sequence from early in his Batman run....

What's amazing about Capullo is that he is one of the few modern artists who can keep up with this level of energy on a monthly basis. He is killing it monthly on Batman. It'll be fascinating to see what he does when his run on Batman comes to an end.

Go to the next page for #33-31...

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