Atlas Comics presents


A charter member of the 50's "Fleagle Gang", along with pals Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, and Roy Krenkel (Yow! There' a group of guys to hang out with!), Angelo Torres may have taken a bit longer to develop, but his work compares favorably to those three giants'. First a minor player at EC, then a genuine star with Warren, Angelo created fantastic jobs that pulled out all the stops: drybrush, chiaroscuro lighting, zip-a-tone, craftint duo-shade, and an unmistakable inking style that powered his stories to the top of the heap. He was able to successfully warp his lush, realistic style as one of Mad magazine's mainstays, creating dead-bang caricatures and movie parodies for almost 25 years. The company he kept in the early years may have snowed him under, but no one can deny he belongs in their class.

SEE: "Monster Rally", Creepy #4; "Prehistoric World", Classics Illustrated; "Night Drop", Blazing Combat #4; countless Mad movie parodies

From his early days on the Micronauts, Jackson (then known as Butch) Guice has continued to develop and improve as an artist. Using a well-wrought photorealistic style that borrows from Neal Adams, Jim Steranko and Michael Golden, his work is highly detailed but not cluttered; naturalistic without losing essential elements of cartooning. A quiet talent, his career may still be waiting for a defining moment.

SEE: Dr. Strange (3rd series) #5; Resurrection Man #1-5; Swords of the Swashbucklers #1-3

Comics has a small core of "essential" heroes. Bernard Baily co-created (with Jerry Siegel) one of them: The Spectre. Turning the "hero" genre on its ear, Baily crafted a mood of menace and suspense, using bravura layouts featuring The Spectre's otherworldly powers and size. He was also a fabulous cover artist who contributed reams of great images to titles like More Fun, Adventure Comics, and Weird Mystery. A true golden age superstar.

SEE: More Fun #54, 65 (covers); Weird Mystery #5 (cover)

A sleek, polished artist in the mold of Mac Raboy, Al McWilliams has been in the business on and off since before the advent of the superhero. Although no one comic book feature stands out (newspaper work on "Twin Earths" and "Rip Kirby" are perhaps his apogee), his impeccable drawing and gleaming, burnished inks stand him in good stead when compared to the other illustrative stars on this list.

SEE: Justice, Inc. #1

The most obvious stylistic descendent of Jim Steranko, Gulacy has done justice to the elder man's style, without simply aping it. His wiry, angular figures have been as much a hallmark as his defined, complex lighting effects, and his cinematic staging. He has followed Krigstein, Steranko, and others in his use of unusual, multi-tiered panel arrangements which enhance the timing and spatial relationships of the story. He continues to do fine work after almost 25 years in the business.

SEE: Master of Kung Fu #40; Batman vs. Predator II #1-4

Another Golden Age "ghost" who never quite got his due under his own name, Burnley is best remembered as the co-creator of Starman. For 7 or 8 years, Jack was one of DC's top pinch-hitters for their big name stars. Superman and Batman both came under his hand to equal effect. Sleek, simple and sharp, Burnley drawings always packed a punch.

SEE: Adventure Comics#61

Form and texture take center stage in the work of Mike Ploog, comics' modern maestro of the macabre along with Berni Wrightson. His horror stylings, sort of a bizarre conglomeration of Jack Davis and Walt Kelly, lent a wonderful ambiance to Werewolf by Night, Frankenstein and countless covers during the 70's. Ploog also has a light, nostalgic touch when called for, as seen in his fabulous graphic novel The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Mike has lately directed his energies as a designer and storyboard artist in Hollywood, and Tinseltown's gain has been our loss.

SEE: Werewolf by Night #1; Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

Why is Jerry Robinson higher on this list than Bob Kane? Firstly, he is simply flat-out a better artist. Secondly, his career was more diverse, featuring fine work on a variety of strips such as "Johnny Quick", and "Vigilante". And finally, Kane is another superstar golden age artist who, because of his extensive use of assistants makes it difficult to pinpoint and rank his exact canon. For Robinson, though, his early work on Batman (including the disputed creation of the Joker) and his later collaboration with Mort Meskin easily rank him as one of the true greats.

SEE: Many "ghosted" stories in Batman and Detective Comics from 1941-46; Various "Johnny Quick" and "Vigilante" stories (with Mort Meskin)

The "second" half of this list's only father/son team, Junior has developed into a fine talent in his own right. Crafting figures that bear unmistakable weight and authority, JR is taking a page from Jack Kirby's book of over-the-top explosiveness while not skimping on the subtleties. His layout is among the best in the business: clear, concise, and well thought out. John is now so well-known that many younger fans are heard to exclaim: "Your dad worked in comics too?!" For them J.R. Jr. is "The Man".

SEE: Batman/Punisher; Daredevil #250-252

Along with Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee is the most influential stylist in comics over the last 10 years. After toiling on titles such as Alpha Flight and The Punisher, Jim made his impact felt on Uncanny X-Men and then on the mega-selling adjectiveless X-Men series before breaking away to form Image Comics. With a superslick, highly rendered style, Lee (ably abetted by embellisher Scott Williams) combined elements of Brian Bolland, George Perez and Alan Davis to define a look for the fickle fans of the 90's. His drawing is accomplished in all areas, far beyond most of his contemporaries: form, texture, lighting, and staging each evidence superior technique and command. Unfortunately, business interests have taken Jim away from the drawing board for lengthy periods, and his output has dropped dramatically in recent years. A modern problem of the artist as franchise, we can only hope that this trend abates and allows us the opportunity to see them more often as what they are: creators, not businessmen.

SEE: Uncanny X-Men #268; WildCATs #1-4; X-Men #1-4

Atlas Home | 100 Best Home
Artist Name Index
Numbers 100-91 | Numbers 90-81 | Numbers 80-71 | Numbers 70-61 | Numbers 60-51
Numbers 50-41 | Numbers 40-31 | Numbers 30-21 | Numbers 20-11 | Numbers 10-1