2018 Top 50 Comic Book Artists #45-41

The countdown continues!

Here are the next five artists that you voted as your favorites of all-time (out of roughly 1,008 ballots cast, with 10 points for first place votes, 9 points for second place votes, etc.).

45. Jim Aparo – 239 points (5 first place votes)

While perhaps not to the level of some of the comic book artists of the 1950s, who just drew forever (like 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 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 for DC almost right up until his death in 2005.

44. Alex Toth – 239 points (1 first place vote)

If there was a fault of Alex Toth's amazing comic book career, it was that he was sort of born at the wrong time. He was born in 1928. Had he been born seven years earlier, he likely would have been one of the greats of the Golden Age superhero boom, but instead he broke in after superheroes were falling out of favor. He still quickly became the top artist at DC Comics, drawing comic books in all sorts of genres. However, after a dispute with his editor at DC Comics (a dispute that soon grew into a legend that he hung his editor out of a window), Toth ended up having to work for a variety of lesser-known comic book publishers during his prime years. Eventually, his stunning skills as a kinetic storyteller and designer were given new form when he went to work as a storyboard artist and designer for Hanna Barbara. Throughout the 1960s he created dynamic action characters, like probably his most famous creation, Space Ghost. His skills were put to use once again in the early 1970s when he designed the Super Friends. All throughout this time, he couldn't stay away from comics - all sorts of kinds. He made his way back to DC Comics and worked on a bunch of different comics in the 1970s for them. One of the other issues with Toth is that he preferred to concentrate on shorter stories, which also took him out of the realm of the longer superhero narratives that were becoming popular at the time.

I always like to use as an example of Toth's ability to turn any comic book into a masterpiece his work on the Hot Wheels comic book series for DC in the early 1970s...

Yes, that was a Hot Wheels comic book and it was somehow still super intense!

42 (tie). Ivan Reis – 242 points (2 first place votes)

After spending the 1990s working on a variety of titles, the issue that likely took Ivan Reis to the next level was quite possibly a fill-in issue of Avengers. The issue, spotlighting the Falcon, came out during Geoff Johns' run on the book. Reis soon joined Johns on Green Lantern at DC Comics, where the two helped re-define Green Lantern's origin and that eventually led into the two men working on the blockbuster crossover event, Blackest Night, where Reis' dynamic artwork was on full display...

Working in the Neal Adams tradition, Reis manages to convey a great deal of character while also specializing in over-the-top action sequences. This has served Reis well on a bunch of other major projects for DC Comics since then, like relaunching Aquaman in the New 52 with Johns and then doing another crossover, Forever Evil, also with Johns and currently launching the latest Superman ongoing series with star writer, Brian Michael Bendis.

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