Unless observation has changed the particle’s trajectory. Jeet Heer:

What all these lists demonstrate, I think, is the narrow artistic range of the mainstream. The gene-pool here is shallow and hasn’t been replenished by outside influences for a long time. To find a more inbred group, you’d have to go back to ancient Egypt when Pharaohs often married their own sisters.


  1. That’s the truest thing ever written in regards to superhero comics. Lists like those don’t just show the narrow range of the current material, they also show the narrow range of what people go back and look at. I’m all for giving Kirby due as a genius and maybe the best ever, but I’m always puzzled no one talks about the influence of people like Tezuka, Herge, or Barks. Thank God Barks was on that list, but how often do you read anyone making any mention of Barks influence on modern superhero comics?

    I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with superhero comics or enjoying superhero comics, but they are a very inbred world full of the same things being said ad infinitum. The sad thing is whenever a name is thrown out to show the author (or speaker) has depth, it usually stands out like a fart in church. Chris Ware hasn’t influenced modern superhero comics, but there are plenty of people who have.

  2. This only proves two things to me. A) People pay to much attention to other peoples lists, and not enough attention to what’s really out there, and B) When it comes to any art, the majority of viewers have a somewhat limited understanding of that their looking at. Calling modern comics inbred is like calling rock and roll redundant, because most of the songs start with a four count. I mean, really? Alex Ross? Mike Mignola? Bill Sienkiewicz? These artists are from a shallow gene-pool? What outside influences does he want. All I saw (on his list of artists he felt were left out) were a lot of other old standards that others always seem to drag out. Don’t get me wrong. Their great, and I totally respect Dirk’s knowledge of these artists, but if you really want to get down to some new greats that have been left off the list, let’s talk about J.H. Williams III who has put a whole new spin on art nouveau, or Nevin O’Neill who’s taken political satire cartoons to a whole new level of story telling. What about Jae Lee and Richard Isanove who have combined their efforts to produce some of the most mind blowingly rich art to ever grace the pages of Marvel comics, or David Mack, Howard Chaykin, Dave Gibbons, John Higgins, Eddie Campbell, Rick Veitch, Ashly Wood, Dave McKean, Michael Gaydos, and on and on, and on. The list that’s as long as it is diverse can never be summed up in a top ten, or whatever. Each name on it (and these are just the one’s off the top of my head at 7am) is an entire universe of originality and new ideas, if one only takes the time to see. I spend days with a single comic where others spend about 15 minutes, so I think I know. Trust me when I say that modern comics are quite the opposite of “shallow” or “inbred.” Modern comics have never been more diverse or exciting, and I make it a point to tell everyone I know. Dirk, I love you man, but I just couldn’t see things more differently.

  3. Nope:

    “We do not negotiate with terrorists. We just accede to their anticipated demands.”
    – American Association of University Professors,
    criticizing Yale Press over the Danish cartoons
    (link via Alan Gardner)

  4. The Onion list was pretty silly. They should have gone out on a limb and asked some artists. But let’s be honest for a second: Anyone here look at a mainstream super hero comic and see much Kirby?

    Then again, influences aren’t always evident. I’ve boiled down my biggest influences to Kirby, Wrightson, Toth, Miller, Krigstein, Munoz, Shirow, and Joe Staton (among about 20 other irreconcilable styles). Not sure if anyone could tell that from looking at my funnybooks, my ineptitude aside.

  5. Christopher, the huge problem with your defense is that Dirk never said any of it. Jeet Heer did. The quibble I would find with your defense is that you can find examples of guys like Toth working for the Big 2 but they tend to be drowned out by the dozens, now more like hundreds, of artists working in a generic house style who mostly seem to be 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation clones of George Perez or Jim Lee.

    Also, just because the word art was used I’m not sure you can ignore how repetitive the stories and themes are. I pick up a lot more mainstream comics now because the art is much more interesting and varied and yet I usually put it back down once I see it’s just Marvel/DC’s version of fast food. Barks was “the good duck artist” not just because of his line and composition but because of quality of the stories were much more than the usual funny animal comics. Too many of the artists you list doing great art in mainstream comics do it on pretty mediocre stories or aren’t even working for the Big 2 and thus are pretty much not even in the “mainstream” as it’s usually defined.

  6. Phil, I can relate (I’m sure every artist probably can) since I go from wanting to be Toth with his large simple shapes and fat marker lines to being Moebius with his amazing organic and detailed pen work to Paul Pope all expressive brush work to every other artist I like working in a completely different style and yet it ends up looking more like a collection of my mistakes and shortcomings than anything. Not to mention that the most influential stuff is probably what I saw most of from reading comics as a kid- John Byrne, Ernie Chan (I read way too much Conan) and John Buscema.

  7. Oops. Sorry Dirk. My blunder. My daughter has had me up since 4 this morning and I thought that was your blog. Now I love you even more.

    Joe, I here ya, but we are talking about the artists not the writers. Although there are a lot of great writers for the big two that I feel are also taken for granted. Of course there are a thousand carbon copy artists out there, just like there are a thousand rock bands that sound like U2, but that’s why it makes it all the more important to take a closer look at the really good ones.

    Phil, I see Kirby in almost every artists that makes comics today. Together, he and Stan Lee redefined the modern superhero, and how we tell their stories.

  8. I wonder whether some artists on the list (Greg Land and Rob Liefeld, for example), can actually be described as influencing other artists. Someone can be noteworthy in a purely historical sense without being an influence.

    BTW, it’s possible to do rough proximity searches on Google, using asterisks to specify the number of intervening words. Some details from Wikipedia:

    Google Asterisk: Using Google’s asterisk-in-quotations approach to emulate a NEAR operator is a little cumbersome but does work (as of October 2006). For example, to specify a close (at most 2 words’ distance) co-occurrence of “house” and “dog”, the following search-expression could be specified:

    “house * dog” OR “dog * house”

    Here’s a Web search on “influence” within eight words of “George Perez.”

    BTW, if the list of artists looks familiar, that’s because The Beat did a short note on it on July 21.