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Not far-fetched at all.

So it’s settled then, right? Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is the best artists in comics, right? I know, I know… “best” is a highly subjective term, so let’s get it clear: Garcia-Lopez can draw just about anything with masterful elegance and natural subtlety. He can make the mundane seem compelling and the ridiculous seem plausible, his eye for detail and design is underrated and his sheer cartooning skills are as sharp now as they were in the past 3 decades. Hailing from the Hal Foster/Alex Raymond school of realism, Garcia-Lopez is one of the rare few modern artists who make that style seem full of life and enthusiasm as opposed to the stiff, dull and practically traced hack work that it has devolved into. Is it too far fetched to say that everything Garcia Lopez draws is perfect?

1 COMMENT

  1. Garcia-Lopez is my favorite. And he is not only a superb draughtsman, he is an elegant gentleman. I have a huge double page spread from his work on The Teen Titans. It is my precious.

  2. “Twilight” has to be on my list of all-time favorites.

    Great writing by Chaykin, and Garcia-Lopez hitting all the marks.

    I am not exaggerating to say I keep a copy of one of the volumes by my desk and look at it every day.

  3. @ Peter

    That’s funny. As a teenager, I remember HATING “Twilight” for what felt to me like just another attempt to “grim n gritty” characters (the DC Silver Age space hero) that really didn’t need to be done.

    I don’t think I’ve read it since, so I wonder how my perspective would change.

  4. In my opinion, Steve Rude is the best, among the artists who work in so-called American mainstream genres go, were I to cast a ballot… and (excluding various Kirby projects from 1950s-70s), NEXUS is arguably the best superhero comic book, ever. Garcia-Lopez, Travis Charet, Michael Golden, and John Romita-JR all rank among the top of the top.

    Does anyone remember Jose’s work on Atari Force? I pulled it out and looked at it recently– it’s exceptional work, by today’s and the 1980s standards. Clear, crisp visual storytelling with unique page compositions and individuated characters. It’s my favorite of Jose’s work. He also did some fantastic covers for some DC series in the ’90s (was it Blackhawk?) which were his tributes to Rockwell Kent– in a Deco’ed heroic-realistic style. Stellar.

  5. Mark,

    I respect that opinion, as others I knew shared it.

    But the Chaykin writing is so good, and it’s my favorite Garcia-Lopez work. JLGL looks like he was channeling some of the best of the European artists, with layouts that may have been influenced by Chaykin as well.

    And Paul? I love me some Rude, as well. It would be hard to choose between the two–thankfully we can enjoy them both.

  6. I love him. He’s certainly one of the best draughtsman to ever grace a funnybook page. He’s one of the artists I point aspiring cartoonists to for help with making page layouts dynamic. Idly perusing that Batman vs Hulk comic is worth a semester of intense study at the Kubert school.

    He’s so good there’s no weakness for him to work around. Sometimes the most exciting thing about an artist is his or her wonkiness and how it’s dealt with. Idiosyncrasies are underrated. That’s why Kirby and Ditko trump Raymond and Foster in my universe. Of course, that’s like saying I prefer peanut M&M’s to plain. I’ll get fat off of both and love it.

  7. Jose is a tremendous artist, one of the best storytellers in comics, and he can just draw the Hell out of anything. He’s also right up there for the title of “Nicest Guy in Comics,” tied with Walter Simonson.

    Love the selection of art pictured, but add some Jonah Hex!

  8. I LOVED Atari Force as a then-pamphlet reader. Not only was the art stellar, but writer Andy Helfer made the story far more entertaining than it had to be.

  9. Wow — here I thought I’d be the only one who mentioned an obscure title like ‘Twilight’ being amongst my favorite Garcia-Lopez works.

    Silly me.

    An absolutely beautiful book that deserves the Absolute treatment.

  10. I met him once, eager to show him my storyboard illustrations. He was kind and gracious. I admire how his figures are all so well constructed and rendered. He is truly talented.

  11. >> I LOVED Atari Force as a then-pamphlet reader. Not only was the art stellar, but writer Andy Helfer made the story far more entertaining than it had to be.>>

    Editor Andy Helfer. Writer Gerry Conway.

    Andy wrote some backups and a Special, after Garcia-Lopez was gone, and dialogued two of the JLGL issues, but the bulk of the writer while JLGL was drawing was by Conway.

    kdb

  12. Atari Force was one of those comics that really had no right to be good, but was pretty terrific anyway. Agreed on the JLGL love, and I believe he was followed by some fine Marshall Rogers work.

  13. BTW, he is currently drawing the “King Tut” story that’s in the new Batman Confidential, written by Christina Weir and Nunzio Defilippis.

    Yes, they have finally introducted an “in-continuity” version of King Tut.

    No, he does not look like Victor Buono. >:

  14. I’ve always thought of Garcia-Lopez as the industry’s best-kept secret or the artist’s artist or something along those lines. Truly a master.

  15. That King Tut story is really a fun, fun story. I recommend it to everyone. And Garcia-Lopez’s art is a big reason for it, with all due respect to Weir and Defilippis.

  16. The Atari Force in-pack comics, that shipped with the games, are fun, too. They’re written by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas and all drawn by either Gil Kane or Ross Andru. They’re set a generation earlier than the regular comics series, with Chris Champion’s father as the lead.

    There’s about 200 pages of those; it’d make a nice digest-sized TPB.

    But then, to do that, someone would have to sort out the rights…

  17. Just yesterday I spotted a hipster mobile in Hollywood with a Joker bumper sticker. JLGL’s artwork was unmistakable even at 30 mph. It’s amazing how many people think of his work as the “iconic” versions of those characters, even without seeing a comic book he drew.

  18. He doesn’t, Michael, but I don’t think he wants one.

    I think the only times he’s been the “regular artist” on anything ongoing have been ATARI FORCE and a short run on JONAH HEX. He’s great, but he’s slow, and he’s often made the bulk of his money doing covers and/or licensing art.

    I’ve told several editors at DC that I’d write anything, any DC property at all, if the project was at least 160 pages long all-told and Garcia-Lopez penciled it.

    Weird War Tales, Angel Love, the adventures of Jimmy Olsen’s missing dad, Mod Gorilla Gang War, you name it.

    kdb

  19. Wait- 160 pages of Jimmy Olsen, Kurt Busiek, and JLGL?

    Here’s my wallet. Just take whatever you want. Go ahead, the credit cards, too. My shipping address is on my business card in there.

  20. If I ever find ’em in the mess that is my old comics collections — two states, three storage bins — My old Atari Force comics are NOT getting the boot, as the likelihood of a reprint is…well, MIRACLEMAN is just as likely.

  21. twilight is one of my favorite comics of all time. my comic shop only ordered one issue of the 3rd issue, for me knowing it was not selling. how could that even be possible???

    so far in my life i have only met 3 people who have even read it, 2 who liked it. *holds head and cries*

    how can garcia-lopez be so great, yet pretty much unknown among the comic public at large? and how can DC not highlight him more?

  22. Kurt: A “special project” seems ideal for a slow artists (who isn’t slow these days, really?). A story featuring as many characters as possible would be fun, but I have a feeling that JLGL’s dream job is a Hawkman yarn/regular series. Either way, I’ll gladly give my wallet up to see anything of that scope happen!

    Also, I don’t know if it’s a contractual or personal thing, but how about that 160 page project over at Marvel?

  23. Who wouldn’t want to see Kurt writing and JLGL drawing, let’s say, a Silver Age Green Lantern story set in the 1960s, with Soviet soldiers wearing jet packs?

    (no slight intended to whomever is actually drawing the strip)

  24. “Garcia-Lopez is one of the rare few modern artists who make that style seem full of life and enthusiasm as opposed to the stiff, dull and practically traced hack work that it has devolved into.”

    Nuff Said. It’s why I don’t read any new comics which come out anymore. Too much photo reference and tracing. We need more Kirby “POW” to my comic art…and guys who can really draw by truly understanding construction, shape variation and form.

  25. >> A story featuring as many characters as possible would be fun, but I have a feeling that JLGL’s dream job is a Hawkman yarn/regular series.>>

    I think he does a great Hawkman, but he’s reputed not to care for superheroes much; I think his dream jobs involve pirates or cowboy or other real-world adventure settings.

    >> Also, I don’t know if it’s a contractual or personal thing, but how about that 160 page project over at Marvel? >>

    I believe he’s exclusive to DC, has been for decades and has no real interest in changing that.

    kdb

  26. Yea I Love JLGL! I’d have to concur on the Cinder and Ashe TPB. It took me 20 years to find a #3. And even though it was a Joe Orlando color job, it still needs a updated coloring job. Tom Smith perhaps? Damn fine Gerry Conway story.
    More JLGL work period!

  27. “If I ever find ‘em in the mess that is my old comics collections — two states, three storage bins — My old Atari Force comics are NOT getting the boot.”

    I was just thinking the same thing. I remember loving those comics. Happily, while i don’t know which box they’re in, they’re not far — just up in my attic. (Those many boxes are begging to be culled, big-time, before my impending move.) I remember actually being moved to write a letter to the editor to Atari Force, and it was published, which was a thrill at the time. Fine, fun stories and even better art.

    I believe the first time I ever saw JLGL art was for DC Comics Presents. It blew me away. (It was also the first time I read one of the umpteen Flash vs. Superman race stories … ) Check it out for yourself:
    http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=32384&zoom=4

  28. I came in very late to Atari Force because . . . come on, Atari Force? It was my loss that I didn’t jump on sooner. And was The Beat writing about that in CBG, Amazing Heroes, Comics Journal (Probably not Comics Journal.) It may have been her praise that was my impetus to give it a shot.

  29. I received the DC Comings role playing game in the 1980s as a Christmas gift. Though I never actually played the game, it was interesting reading. I treasure it because of the beautiful spot illustrations by JLGL — I think I had seen his artwork before, but this was the first time I really took note of it. I’ve always admired his artwork, just assumed he was “too good” for comics. Who can make any sense of an audience that made Rob Liefeld a super-star?

    Most of JLGL’s work has been for DC, right? I’d really like to see his depiction of iconic Marvel characters like Captain America.

  30. I’ve got this super-cool DC Dollar Comic with a Batman Superman “werewolf” story drawn by JLGL wherein Batman turns into a bat-creature during a full moon. It also has a unicorn woman and I think the cover is by Neal Adams.
    A treasure from my youth I still have.

  31. I hope the guy reads this blog. That’s a lot of nice things being written by a pretty cool coterie of comickers! RIGHT ON!

  32. Wow, I had no idea Jose was so appreciated! Always great stuff and he has that facility in drawing that makes his art look like it’s “easy to do”. (Of course, this made me continually disappointed when his interior work never seemed to last for many issues. Hearing that he isn’t the fastest explains a lot!)

    I used to think of him as the more dynamic Curt Swan. Even though that sounds a little patronizing (not to mention incorrect!), I still feel comfortable with that connection between two of my all-time favorites.

  33. Kurt said:

    “I think he does a great Hawkman, but he’s reputed not to care for superheroes much; I think his dream jobs involve pirates or cowboy or other real-world adventure settings.”

    Not that I’m doubting the truth of this statement, but it amazes me because he’s so good with fantasy, where other “real-worlders” frequently aren’t.

    I recently reread ATARI FORCE and thought G-L’s depiction of alien creatures and cityscapes to be every bit as good as Mezeries’ VALERIAN.

    (Can’t quite rate Conway’s writing with Christin’s, though. Snark.)