Monday, September 27, 2010

20 Comic Artists (if you're serious about comics) pt. 1

There are, for me, three worlds of comics. The first is the newspaper comic. The second, the comic book. Third, the graphic novel.

I'm not, here, going to delve into the latter. Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller and the rest will have to wait. As for comic books, they were not a part of my childhood. Nor adolescence. I still don't read them now. The world of Marvel and DC are very far from my mind.

But I read newspaper comics a-plenty. There were whole bookcases full of newspaper comic anthologies. The following list, with one exception, consists of newspaper comics, and their digital equivalent, webcomics.

20. Bill Amend

Foxtrot was a big part of my growing up. Objectively I can't argue for it too much. I could try and defend it's simplicity, it's characters, it's design. Really, the best thing it has going for it is writing. My family still quotes it often. I stopped reading it years ago, when it began a serious decline. But its golden years, in the mid-1990s, proved to be consistently humerous and well done.

19. Vaughn Bode

The lecherous lizards of Bode's world are odd, to say the least. In pigin English they ruminate on all levels, from deep to dumb. Stylistically Bode has many imitators. As an underground artist he was able to blend in healthy amounts of erotica and other taboo elements into his work.

18. Jack Kent

Jack Kent's King Aroo was syndicated only briefly. It was gentle, humerous, and well done. Kent knew the tricks of comic design, and showed them off without being showy.

17. Kazu Kibushi

When I first discovered Kazu's Copper it was updating pretty regularly. The site how now gone dormant, leaving a small portfolio of brilliant little comics. Copper took advantage of the webcomic format, but without gimmicks. It couldn't be squeezed onto a newspaper, and uses this space for time: creating long pauses and reflective moments that punchline comics rarely allow.

16. Gary Trudeau

Doonesbury brought politics of the editorial page and into the funny pages. Now millions of readers are greeted by liberal Doonesbury and conservative counters like Mallard Fillmore. C'est la vie. Yet Doonesbury is stylistically better than average, and makes its points sharp and focused.

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