Comic books have been instrumental in shaping popular culture to a great extent. They’re no less than many other mediums of art that spread across the world, influencing the global audiences. Comic artists and illustrators found a new way of showcasing their talent with Superman and other comics. Soon, this medium became extremely popular worldwide.
It reached as far as Tokyo, where the Japanese businessmen would be found reading comics. During those days, the French artists were also creating comics with the right combinations of pictures and words. Often, comics are not given the importance they deserve in the world of arts.
Nevertheless, this art survives and thrives with the support of millions of comic book fans. Today, the influence and appeal of comics can be seen in the popular culture. It has inspired several movies and television shows over the years. Many novelists and artists have created some of their works based on the themes and characters of comic books.
Even with the overwhelming presence of the digital media, comic books have survived in some form or the other. Here we’ll take a look at some of the influential comic book artists:
1. Brian Bolland
Born in the mid-20th century, Brian Bolland was one of the first comic book artists to popularize British comics. He got his first job in the early 1970s after studying Art History and Graphic Design. His job involved working on a Nigerian comic called Powerman. In the year 1977, he got the opportunity to design 2000 AD and Judge Dredd. In the late 1980s, Bolland worked with Alan Moore, an iconic writer.
Their project was a book titled Batman: The Killing Joke. The narrative of this book explores the origin of Joker. It still remains a highly controversial Batman story. The graphic novel was one of the inspirations behind the famous portrayal of The Joker by Heath Ledger. It led to the massive success of The Dark Knight franchise.
2. Will Eisner
Born William Erwin Eisner in 1917 in Brooklyn, he is often considered as the father of graphic novels. Eisner was a writer, cartoonist, and entrepreneur. He had a great influence on the comic book industry and contributed immensely towards its growth. One of his most popular series was The Spirit. It went on to receive great praise for its innovative content and form.
Published in 1940, the comic book series was made into a live action movie in 2008. However, Eisner never got the chance to see his work coming alive on the screen. Will Eisner passed away in 2005. The Eisner Award was named after him. It is given as a recognition for achievements in the field of comics every year.
3. Osamu Tezuka
It would be a mistake to ignore the comic book scene of the Far East. Japan is the birthplace of ‘manga’, a popular form of comics. Osamu Tezuka is known in the world of comics as the father of manga. He was a Japanese cartoonist, animator, film producer, and activist. The comic series Astro Boy, Black Jack, and Kimba the White Lion are his most popular works. Many call him the ‘Walt Disney of Japan’.
Tezuka led the vast manga universe owing to his pioneering techniques, innovative skills, and redefinition of genres. By 1989, the year of his death, he had created more than 50,000 pages of manga. He had also created over 60 animations.
4. Steve Ditko
Ditko was born in the year 1927 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. A reclusive artist, he was the co-creator of the iconic superhero Spider-Man. He was also the creator of Doctor Strange, one of the popular supernatural heroes. He studied in New York City at the Cartoonist and Illustrators School. Batman artist Jerry Robinson regularly mentored Ditko.
Later on, he worked on the legendary superheroes such as Iron Man, Hulk, and The Amazing Spider-Man. Ditko being a very reclusive genius stopped working with Marvel when it was beginning to gain success worldwide. Since the 1960s, he declined to appear in most interviews.
He was of the opinion that his work and not his personality defined what he had to offer. In the years that followed, he worked with DC Comics and small independent publishers.
5. Frank Miller
Most of the prominent works of this American artist, film director, and writer have been subject to harsh criticism. Despite the official critics and peers criticizing most of his works, they were quite successful. Some of his best known works are Sin City, Ronin, 300, Daredevil: Born Again, and The Dark Knight Returns. He is typically famous for dark and film noir style.
Miller is the man behind the transformation of comics and making them suitable for the mainstream adult audiences. His gritty and grim style was a differentiating factor of his artwork. It set his works apart from the more popular colorful representation of superheroes in comics. He is the winner of three Harvey awards, four Kirby awards, and six Eisner awards.
6. Jean Giraud
Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, popularly known as Moebius, was a French writer, cartoonist, and artist. Growing up with comic books, he went on to create his own comics during the years of his adolescence. He went through a formal training at the Institute of Applied art. Despite this, the French comic medium was his real school. The Franco-Belgian bandes dessinees tradition was his predominant area of work.
This caused a language barrier, which didn’t give him much of the global fame that he deserved. Although language came in the way of his worldwide recognition, many creators still hold him in high regard. Giraud created a variety of fantasy and science fiction comics in a surreal and imaginative style.
Among his most popular works was the Blueberry series. It was notable for featuring an anti-hero, which was one of the first in Western comics. The French artist also contributed concept designs and storyboards to many successful films. Among these movies were Tron, The Fifth Element, Alien, and The Abyss.
7. Jack Kirby
Born in 1917, Jack Kirby is considered as one of the major innovators in the field of comics. This influential creator of comics began his career in the 1930s. During those times, he worked on drawing comic strips using various aliases. He finally chose to sign his works as Jack Kirby.
Along with writer and editor Joe Simon, he created one of the most popular comic book characters, Captain America. Kirby had also worked for several publishers, creating some iconic superheroes such as The Hulk, Thor, and The X-Men. He was sometimes referred to as the William Blake of comics.