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Top 10 Hottest Artists in Comics

Top 10 Hottest Artists in Comics

Picking ten artists out of the vast array of talent working in comics today is an impossible task. These artists were chosen based on the uniqueness of their style compared to the “house” style of Marvel and DC, their ability to create character, setting, and plot through their art, and also on the quality of the covers that they’ve done. All of the artists on this list have regular interior work so artists like J.H. Williams, Bryan Lee O’Malley, and Alex Ross can’t be found here (even though Alex Ross’ Justice League is the cover image). Without further ado (and in honor of the late Wizard magazine), here are the top ten hottest current artists in comics in no particular order.

Jamie McKelvie Interiors/Covers: Young Avengers (Marvel)

Jamie McKelvie is closely involved in the storytelling process with Kieron Gillen for Young Avengers often bouncing ideas off him at the pub. Young Avengers is a team book with characters of different genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and senses of style. This book appeals to teenagers, but doesn’t talk down to them. McKelvie experiments in the books, such as a two page spread fight scene in Young Avengers #4 that looks like a technical diagram with numbers corresponding to details on side panels. He utilizes quick, fast panels giving the book a sense of lyricism and the atmosphere of a music video. McKelvie’s covers for Young Avengers have a pop art feel, but still convey the character’s motions and foreshadow the action found in the book.

Sophie Campbell Interiors/Covers: Glory (Image), Colors: Pathfinder (Dynamite), Savage Skullkickers, Uncanny Skullkickers (Image)

Along with writer Joe Keatinge, Sophie Campbell relaunched Rob Liefeld creation Glory giving her a new costume and appearance while retooling her origin. She eschewed the anatomically incorrect style for female superheroes and made her more muscular while showing her inner pain through visible and emotional scars. Campbell’s wide screen visuals chronicle Glory’s exploits, and she fights bigger heroes. She always keeps a sense of size proportion between Glory and her supporting characters, like between Glory and her diminutive reporter friend Riley Barnes in Glory #31. As well as penciler and cover artist, Campbell did colors for the fantasy comic Pathfinder and the superhero parody Skullkickers, both written by Jim Zub. She is able to fill out the over-the-top characters of Skullkickers (as well as doing a perfect parody of Savage Wolverine #1) and the diverse cast of Pathfinder from wizards to Elven rogues and even a pregnant woman.

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Chris Samnee Interiors/Covers: Daredevil (Marvel), Interiors: Adventures of Superman (DC), Covers: Shadow Year One (Dynamite)

Chris Samnee is nominated for a 2013 Eisner for his work on Daredevil and Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom. He excels at drawing both current superheroes and old pulp heroes. Working with Mark Waid on Daredevil, Samnee brings great energy to every panel with Daredevil and his growing supporting cast. He uses unorthodox panel structures to show the blind hero’s fight scenes with his heightened super senses. Enamored with the character’s history, Samnee co-created a new enemy in Daredevil 25 named Ikari, who wears a combination of Daredevil’s old yellow and current red and black costumes. He also brings his sense of fun to the new DC digital comic Adventures of Superman where Superman still wears red briefs and is invincible. Samnee revels in the big action scenes, but also shows Superman’s costume when he decides to talk to a criminal instead of fighting him. Samnee’s love for all things retro can be found in his Shadow covers which hide the main character in the letters of his own book.

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Mike Allred Interiors/Covers: FF (Marvel), Covers: It Girl! and the Atomics (Image)

Mike Allred’s twisted take on pop art can be found on comics as diverse as X-Force, Sandman, and Allred’s creator owned superhero book Madman Comics. He has brought his unique stylings to FF in a “weird” revamping of Marvel’s original superhero team with Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Medusa, Miss Thing, and She-Hulk. His art in FF is heavily influenced by Jack Kirby’s original run on Fantastic Four, but he threw in Katy Perry look-alike Miss Thing to modernize the book. His sense of humor meshes with writer Matt Fraction’s and creates a book that is consistently entertaining while being driven by the “family element” of the core team and the Future Foundation. Allred’s art completely contrasts the Marvel “house” superhero style and is occasionally inconsistent, but engaging even in the background elements, like robots and inventions made by the Foundation and their enemies. While working for Marvel, Allred also does the covers for It Girl! and the Atomics, a spinoff of Madman which place It Girl in a variety of wacky situations from posing as a mermaid or being handcuffed by a Plastic Man stand-in.

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Ramon Perez Interiors/Covers: Wolverine and the X-Men (Marvel)

The Marvel NOW initiative has attracted many critically acclaimed artists including Ramon Perez, who won two Eisners for Jim Henson’s A Tale of Sand. He brings his golden touch to Wolverine and the X-Men choosing to focus on the students at the school (Quentin Quire, Eye-Boy, Shark Girl et al) as well the past, present, and future of their headmaster Wolverine. Perez’s mastery of different genres and styles works well in his Savage Land field trip arc with writer Jason Aaron. He can show the Jean Grey students fighting dinosaurs, cowboys, futuristic robots, and Neanderthals with aplomb in Wolverine and the X-Men #27 while also being able to cut back to Wolverine giving his students a heart to heart after the failed field trip. Perez also utilizes a different style for flashbacks of Wolverine’s past with Dog Logan (the antagonist of this arc) and their father by using water colors instead of straight pencils. Perez has a nostalgia for past X-Men stories as shown by the Easter Eggs in issue 29, but also makes the Jean Grey students more compelling characters by exploring their powers, motivations, and emotions through his art.

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Marcos Martin Interiors/Covers: The Private Eye (Panel Syndicate) Covers:Black Bat (Dynamite), Fearless Defenders, Guardians of the Galaxy, Morbius: The Living Vampire, Nova, Superior Spider-Man (Marvel)

Coming off an Eisner for Daredevil, Marcos Martin has decided to focus on creator-owned work while doing special variants and general covers for Marvel. In The Private Eye (written by Brian K. Vaughan), Martin proves he is up to the task of building a world without the Internet by creating hundreds of masks for the main and background characters to wear. He shapes the world in perfect tandem with Vaughan’s writing and innovates by using a camera lens’ POV as an establishing shot in the first issue. The story is noir-esque crime thriller, but Martin ironically draws a vibrant, futuristic world aided by Munsta Vicente’s colors. While telling his own stories with Vaughan, Martin draws some interesting covers for Marvel. The best of the bunch is the cover of Superior Spider-Man that encapsulates the book perfectly with a little Doc Ock jumping around in Spider-Man’s brain. The grooves of the brain spell the book’s title. While excelling at sequential storytelling, Martin is also able to encapsulate a book’s essence in a variant cover.

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Fiona Staples Interiors/Covers: Saga (Image) Interiors: Batman Beyond Unlimited (DC) Covers: New Crusaders (Red Circle)

Along with writer Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples manages to balance the epic space opera and personal romance in the Eisner nominated Saga with her art and colors. In their conversations and (sex) scenes together, Staples fleshes out Alana and Marko as real characters with real emotions against a background of their people’s civil war. She also uses a varied color palette to bring these character’s world and their dreams to life. There was particularly trippy dream sequence in Saga #9. Staples also has designed many unique characters to populate the futuristic world of Saga, like Prince Robot IV, a villain with a television for a head and blue blood. Her ability to depict characters in the future is on full display when she drew the origin story of Micron, a future Justice League member in Batman Beyond Unlimited #12

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David Aja Interiors/Covers: Hawkeye (Marvel)

One of three artists on this list up for an Eisner, David Aja’s pencils and covers on Hawkeye with writer Matt Fraction really stands out at Marvel. His panel structure is inventive, like J.H. Williams’ work on Batwoman, but his characters are grounded by Fraction’s dialogue and focus on Hawkeye as a street level hero. He imbues his characters with great humanity and can draw both genders equally well as exhibited by his work with Kate Bishop and Jessica Drew in Hawkeye #9. Aja stays away from the flashy costumes found in many superhero comics and draws these characters in their street clothes. His covers are “put up this poster in your dorm room” worthy and are little character studies complete with purple and arrows. His cover on issue 9 stands out as a salute to the growing “Hawkguy” fandom growing around with Fraction and Aja’s work.

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Sean Phillips  Interiors/Covers: Fatale (Image) Interiors: Dark Horse Presents (Dark Horse)

The final Eisner nominee on this list, Sean Phillips melds horror, Lovecraftian weird fiction, and noir in Fatale, a creator owned collaboration with Ed Brubaker. Phillips uses his characters’ facial expression to create a truly horrific atmosphere. Fatale is an art-driven book with Phillips’ pencils showing the action, and Brubaker’s textbox captions added color depth to the characters and setting. He likes to work with shadows and contrast so a noir comic plays to his strengths. Phillips’ covers are both sexy and scary displaying a beautiful woman juxtaposed with some kind of imminent doom.

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Greg Capullo Interiors/Covers: Batman (DC)

I know Batman is mainstream, and it’s uncool to like mainstream things, but Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder’s Batman has been the most consistently good book of the DC New 52. Part of it is Snyder’s twisting plots and writing of Batman, but part of it is Capullo’s take on Batman, Bruce Wayne, Gotham, and his rogues gallery and supporting cast. New mysteries are lurking in every corner in Capullo’s Gotham. There are details everywhere that Batman uses to solve his cases. And when the villains appear, Capullo makes them truly horrifying from bandage faced Joker to the Talons and even more recently, Clayface. However, they have the slightest layer of humanity and emotion under their sinister visages. Capullo also has designed all kinds of gadgets for Batman, including the Bat-mecha in Batman #9 and the robots in issue 20. And his covers are inventive and pulsing with action. He drew all the “Death of the Family” die-cut covers and payed tribute to Damian’s death with an actual robin on Batman #18.

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