The countdown continues with the next four 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.).
18. Todd McFarlane – 632 points (6 first place votes)
If you had to pick the three artists who most defined the look of Spider-Man, obviously Steve Ditko is one of them (since he, you know, created the look of Spider-Man) and then John Romita, for the changes he made to the book after he took over from Ditko that defined the look of Spider-Man for years, but Todd McFarlane is clearly the third. From the moment he took over Amazing Spider-Man with issue #298 (after a run on Ithe credible Hulkwhich, in turn, followed a stint at DC Comics on a few projects, like Infinity Inc.), the dynamic designs of McFarlane wowed comic book fans and literally changed how Spider-Man would be drawn from that point on.
From the little things (like drawing Spider-Man’s web line thicker) to the larger things (drawing Spider-Man as almost a contortionist in the air), McFarlane’s designs defined an entire generation of Spider-Man comic books.
Not just his character design work (which led to Venom becoming the breakout character that he was – without McFarlane’s design of Venom, with the spooky teeth, it is doubtful that Venom ever would have been so famous) but the way he laid out pages. He broke free of the traditional panel arrangement that most Spider-Man artists were using at the time and made the stories seem to fill to the edge of the page.
What people now forget is just how TIMELY McFarlane was on Amazing Spider-Man. There is a good chance that the momentum of his artwork would not have had as much of an impact if he was n’t consistently delivering it on time. he penciled Amazing Spider-Man #298-323 without missing a single issue. Most remarkably about that run is that #300 was 40 pages and that #304-309 were BI-WEEKLY! In fact, it was only a second bi-weekly event that saw him miss his first issue of amazingas Erik Larsen stepped in to alternate issues with him for a few issues.
McFarlane then launched Spider-Man, which he wrote and drew, making it the highest-selling single comic book issue in the history of comics at the time. He wrote and drew the book from #1-14 and then a finale in #16 when he left Marvel to launch spawn for Image Comics. he drew spawn for another year or so before essentially retiring from interior work. He still draws a lot of covers for spawn and other special projects, while being a major toy maker and a key part of Image Comics as a writer and a behind-the-scenes figure.
17. Moebius – 697 points (14 first place votes)
Few artists had quite the detailed control over their artwork as Jean Giraud, best known for his penname, Moebius.
Giraud, like many artists on this list, was greatly inspired by the works of the comic strip artist, Hal Foster. This is evident in his extremely popular blueberry series of Western comics. Check out the details! oh man!
So already, Giraud was a stunning example of the best of Hal Foster. Then, however, he took is a whole step FURTHER (and again, if ALL he ever did was blueberry comics in the Foster style, he’d be a deserving representative on this list) by combining abstract ideologies to his design work on his science fiction work in Metal Hurlante (Heavy metal in the States) like Airtight Garage…
His strikingly unique sense of design led to him being hired by a number of Hollywood directors to do design work for films.
And, of course, I can’t avoid mentioning his superhero comic work with Stan Lee on Silver Surfer: Parable…
He was one of the most influential comic book artists of the 20th century.
16. Darwyn Cooke – 729 points (8 first place votes)
Darwyn Cooke TRIED to break into comics during the 1980s but it did not go well. He went on to have an illustrious career in the world of animation. Once established as a star in the animation field, he made his way back to comics where he stunned the comics world with his Batman graphic novel, Egobut then doubly stunned everyone with his brilliant love letter to the DC Universe that is New Frontier (which told the story of the DC Universe in the time leading up to the formation of the Justice League of America – with the story told in the late 1950s/early 1960s). All of his genius as a storyteller from animation translated beautifully to comics.
In his later years, Cooke did an astonishingly brilliant job on a series of graphic novels adapting Parker novels by Richard Stark.
Here’s a particularly amazing sequence where he shows how various criminal enterprises were done…
Tragically, Cooke died far too young of cancer in 2016.
15. Alan Davis – 757 points (12 first place votes)
Alan Davis was already a superstar before he ever did a single American comic book, as he was famous for his amazing work in England on Captain Britain and Marvelman before he was recruited by both DC Comics and Marvel to work on American comic books.
Davis’ first American work was on Batman and the Outsiders before his great art got him bumped up to Detective Comics. After a dispute with DC editorial, Davis moved over to Marvel where he did a few memorable issues of Uncanny X-Men before launching Excalibur with Chris Claremont. After a short break on the book, Davis returned to the title to take over as the writer AND the artist for a couple of years. once feeling Excalibur stint finished, he did his creator-owned title, ClanDestinefor Marvel, a stint writing and drawing X-Men (while also writing Uncanny X-Men) and then a return engagement with Chris Claremont on Uncanny X-Men.
For the most part, though, Davis has spent the last fifteen years or so working on special assignments plus covers. He’s still a very much in-demand artist, as his classical superhero style artwork is as impressive and engaging today as it was over forty years ago. To show how excellent he still is, I figured I’d use for his sample some pages from a relatively recent Thanos graphic novel (Davis worked with Jim Starlin on a series of Warlock and Thanos projects a few years back, with Mark Farmer inking Davis ).
Amazing that he’s over forty years into his career, and he hasn’t lost a step. He’s a great storyteller, his facial work is top notch, and he maintains an impressive fluidity to his characters. Just top rate work.