The countdown begins now!!!
Here are the first four comic artists you’ve voted as your all-time favorites (out of approximately 1,008 ballots cast with 10 points for first place votes, 9 points for second place votes, etc.).
50. Marshall Rogers – 224 points (2 first place votes)
Marshall Rogers shot to stardom with his short and brilliant run on Detective comics with writer Steve Englehart and artist Terry Austin. The run was essentially a Batman’s Greatest Hits style story, with Englehart trying to make his mark quickly with shots of Batman’s biggest enemies like the Penguin and Joker, as well as telling a Robin story and introducing a love interest for Batman (Walter Simonson wanted to draw Silver St. Cloud first, but Rogers defined her). Rogers actually stuck with Detective even after Englehart left, creating the third Clayface with writer Len Wein before leaving the book.
Besides some brief Batman work here and there, Rogers didn’t return to the character until a rave Legends of the Dark Knightt story by legendary author Archie Goodwin. Rogers then teamed up with Steve Englehart for a sequel to their original entry Dark detective. Tragically, Rogers died before they could finish work on another sequel.
Rogers’ signature artwork on his detective run greatly influenced later artists’ depiction of the Joker (while Rogers, of course, also took from Neal Adams’ Joker). His art perfectly captured a film noir feel that many Batman artists have tried to evoke in the years since.
Check out this cool sequence from a fight between Batman and Deadshot with Bruce Wayne’s new love interest, Silver St. Cloud present…
The movement and dynamic nature of the fight is exceptional…
but how amazing is the moment when Silver St. Cloud realizes who Batman is behind the mask! See how his work is somehow so incredibly detailed, so strikingly moody and yet still dynamic and coherent in its storytelling…
Rogers’ Deadshot redesign also defined the character for decades to come.
49. Norm Breyfogle – 226 points (3 first place votes)
Norm Breyfogle’s career was an interesting mix of good timing and not so good timing. After working in independent comics for a few years, Breyfogle finally got a chance to do a regular book for DC Comics when he took over art duties on Detective comics in 1988, when that book was in a major sales slump. Alan Grant and John Warner joined the series when the writers and sales were so low that Warner jumped into their joint run early (but still let Grant use his name, as Grant was afraid they wouldn’t just have him, plus in their “split,” Wagner got Judge Dredd writing). Then a funny thing happened – the Batman the movie came out in 1989, and suddenly sales of Batman skyrocketed. However, Grant and Breyfogle were then taken off Detective Comics temporarily at #600 so the script writer for the Batman movie could write it instead. Later, Grant and Breyfogle were promoted to the lead role Batman series where they introduced the new Robin, Tim Drake, to the series (Neal Adams designed Robin’s costume, but Breyfogle was the first artist to draw it in the comics).
Here, from Tim’s first night on the job, we see many of Breyfogle’s greatest skills – his dynamic artwork and his strong character expression…
Man, Breyfogle never made you wonder what Batman was thinking at any point, did he?
Just watch that movement – you can FEEL the bo staff opening up!
Plus, of course, the bat grappling hook that Breyfogle first drew in the comics (although they appeared in the Batman movie first). Breyfogle and Grant then got their own Batman spin-off, which helped make up for the lost royalties from the disappearance Detective comics #600. But because of that they missed out on drawing Batman #493 (the breaking of Batman’s back) and Batman #500 (the introduction of the new Batman, Jean-Paul Valley). Then, in a stroke of good timing, the mainstream comics market was so small that Breyfogle was offered an insane amount of money to help launch Prime for the Ultraverse in Malibu. However, due to bad timing, the Ultraverse (and the comics market as a whole) collapsed somewhat shortly after launch.
Still, Breyfogle continued to draw comics for decades before unfortunately suffering a stroke in 2014. He had recovered greatly from the stroke but was no longer able to draw professionally and unfortunately the complications from the stroke were eventually too much and he died in 2018.
48. Carl Barks – 228 points (2 first place votes)
For decades, the creditless Donald Duck and later Uncle joakim comics written and drawn by Carl Barks would stand out so much compared to the other “Duck” comics that people began to identify his work despite the lack of credits. He became known throughout the world as “the good Duck Artist.” See his skills in action in this sequence from one of his earliest Donald Duck adventure stories…
Look how sweeping these stories were…
Barks could tell sweeping adventure stories with weird plot twists, but he never lost sight of the character work behind it all.
Famous, George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg’s iconic boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark was an homage to a Barks sequence.
47. Alex Toth – 231 points (4 first place votes)
If there was a flaw in Alex Toth’s stellar comic book career, it was that he was born at the wrong time. He was born in 1928. Had he been born seven years earlier, he probably would have been one of the greats of the Golden Age superhero boom, but instead he broke in after superheroes had fallen out of favor. He still quickly became the top artist at DC Comics, drawing comics in all sorts of genres. But after a dispute with his editor at DC Comics (a dispute there soon it grew into a legend that he hung his editor from a window), Toth ended up having to work for a number of lesser-known comic book publishers in his prime. Eventually, his amazing skills as a kinetic storyteller and designer took on new form when he went to work as a storyboard artist and designer for Hanna Barbara. Throughout the 1960s, he created dynamic action figures, such as probably his most famous creation, Space Ghost. His skills were put to use again in the early 1970s when he designed Great friends. All this time he couldn’t stay away from comics – all kinds. He came back to DC Comics and worked on a lot of different comics in the 1970s for them. One of the other problems with Toth is that he preferred to concentrate on shorter stories, which also took him out of the longer superhero narratives that were becoming popular at the time.
I always like to use as an example of Toth’s ability to turn any comic into a masterpiece his work with Hot Wheels comic book series for DC in the early 1970s…
He makes you feel the drama…
Yes, it is one Hot Wheels cartoon and it was somehow still super intense!
Toth was a brilliant storyteller.