Top Comic Book Artists 42-39 – CBR – Comic Book Resources

We continue our countdown of your picks for the greatest comic book artists of all-time with 42-39!
The countdown continues! Here are the next four comic book artists that you voted as your favorites of all-time (out of roughly 1,023 ballots cast, with 10 points for first place votes, 9 points for second place votes, etc.).
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 on the series while getting the regular art gig on Green Arrow. He was still doing occasional artwork for DC almost right up until his death in 2005.
RELATED: Top Comic Book Writers 46-43
Wallace Wood was a bit of a comic book savant, in that there really wasn't a genre or art style that Wood could not excel at. He was a brilliant caricaturist, but at the same time could draw the most realistic looking characters that you could see. Wood came of age at a period where comic books were doing a number of different genres, so his skills were well served for that era. He helped to convince EC Comics to get into science fiction comics, and he drew some of the most brilliant science fiction covers of the era (later, Wood would then draw the Mars Attacks trading card set for Topps, which would become one of the most iconic trading card sets of all-time – think of how big Mars Attacks is as a concept and note that it all came just from a card set that Wood came up with).
As noted, Wood could excel in any number of genres, which includes superhero comics. He gave working for Marvel Comics a shot in the mid-1960s, but ultimately stopped working for the company as he did not like the fact that Marvel artists had to come up with the plot to their comics without getting paid extra as plotters. Still, during his short stint at Marvel (which Stan Lee hyped up like crazy, as Lee was a huge fan of Wood's work), Wood redesigned Daredevil (giving him his classic red costume) and wrote and drew (with dialogue by Lee) one of the all-time great superhero fight stories in Daredevil #7…
Wood is also famous for his "22 Panels That Always Work" piece, which is a guide to comic book artists on how to break up what would be an otherwise monotonous series of talking head panels. Wood's outsider status sadly never led him to the super stardom that his skills deserved and after suffering from some health issues (which included the loss of vision in one of his eyes), he died by suicide in 1981 when he was just 54 years old.
Mike Allred's artwork mixes two distinct visual cues – a sort of Silver Age throwback look mixed with realistic people stuck in over-the-top situations. The latter gives his work a great deal of pathos and the former makes his work really stand out visually from the typical sort of independent comic book that you'd expect.
Allred burst on to the scene with his independent creation, Madman, who was first introduced in a short story as just a teenager dealing with the fact that he had been brought back from the dead as basically like a Frankenstein monster (the character's name was Frank Einstein). Frank just wanted to be accepted, but everyone treated him like a freak. However, after that first appearance, Allred then gave Frank a costume and he became the superhero known as Madman. The concept worked beautifully, as Allred is a brilliant sequential artist, so the action sequences were excellent while still being, you know, decidedly offbeat (Madman's weapon of choice was a yo-yo)…
Allred's throwback style really makes the occasional darkness of his stories standout even more, which became quite notable in his next most-notable series after Madman, the revamp of X-Force with writer Peter Milligan. The issue opened up with a group of young adult superheroes sort of raging against the machine, as it were…
And then suddenly…everything changed in a flash of automatic gunfire…
This was very clearly not the comic book that anyone thought it was when they first started reading it, as this was a comic where the star of the book (and the narrator) graphically dies at the end of the first issue…
along with almost the entire rest of the team…
Allred has done a number of work over the years with both Madman and the X-Force characters (who were later re-named X-Statix). Currently, he's going all-in on his Silver Age sensibilities in an excellent Superman miniseries with writer Mark Russell.
RELATED: Top Comic Book Artists 46-43
Marc Silvestri first broke into comics working for First and DC Comics in the early 1980s. He moved over to Marvel Comics and worked on Web of Spider-Man for an acclaimed run with writer David Michelinie and inker Kyle Baker.
By the time Marc Silvestri graduated to becoming the regular artist on Uncanny X-Men, the X-Books were, well, "the X-Books," which was not the case for when either John Byrne or Paul Smith took over. This was not just a comic book, this was a FRANCHISE, and Silvestri was being given a chance to draw the main book of the franchise.
Silvestri used a different style back then than the one he would develop working for Image in the early 90s. On Uncanny (where he was mostly inked by Dan Green), his art was a great deal more experimental, it seemed almost reminiscent of the work David Mazzucchelli was doing on Daredevil around the same time.
This was the time when the Fall of Mutants occurred, and the world thought that the X-Men were dead, but instead, they went and lived in Australia for awhile. Then Inferno happened, and then the X-Men broke up and there was a long storyline where the group slowly got back together. By this time, Silvestri had left the book to begin a popular run on Wolverine with Larry Hama.
He then helped co-found Image Comics with his series, Cyberforce. Silvestri debuted a new art style around this time that he has mostly stuck with in the decades since. It's not dramatically different from his earlier work, of course, but he definitely went for a tighter feel with his art than his looser stuff from before.
While serving as the head of his studio at Image Comics, Top Cow Studios, Silvestri still also occasionally does major comic book projects, like the end of Grant Morrison's New X-Men run, some other X-Men one-shots and a brief run on Incredible Hulk with Jason Aaron. He has also returned to Cyberforce a number of times in recent years. He is writing and drawing a major Batman project for DC that will be debuting soon.
CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over fifteen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed). He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo. He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References. Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at brianc@cbr.com!

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