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This paragraph is not nearly long enough to explain the allure of Reed Crandall. A multi talented draftsman, Reed could do everything: staging, layout, drawing, rendering, inking, and designing, all with consummate dash. His subject matter ran the gamut; science fiction, horror, crime, suspense, historical drama; each done with an assuredness borne out of total professionalism and class. The discovery of a Crandall story in an issue of Classics Illustrated or Treasure Chest was a gem that could brighten any fan's face.

SEE: "Sea Food", Piracy #2; "From Here to Insanity", Crime SuspenStories #18; "Swamped", Haunt of Fear #27

Jack Cole's inventive, exuberant style was of its time. Take the wry, tough, cockiness of a Warner Brothers gangster picture, then sidle across the lot to Termite Terrace and mix in the anarchic chaos of a Bob Clampett or Tex Avery and you might have something near the career of Jack Cole. He was one of the few men equally comfortable with serious and humorous drawing, and among the only to successfully combine the two. The result was a wild ride with Plastic Man, a series patently deserving of a high quality reprint library. Alas, something went terribly wrong, as Cole committed suicide at his apogee of achievement, the sale of a daily syndicated comic strip. To this day the reasons remain a mystery.

SEE: Silver Streak #6 (cover); Police Comics #11

John Buscema has been unfairly labeled over the years as nothing more than a Kirby clone. This, of course, ignores his fine career before becoming a member of the Marvel staff, and his outstanding stint on Conan, a job even King Kirby could not have excelled at. Buscema is a special artist in his own right, at once naturalistic yet superheroic; capable of broad action and subtle drama. Many people fail to realize that he simply learned a little more power and impact at the behest of Lee and Kirby. Like most of the men this high on the list, John could (and did) do everything: superheroes, westerns, romance, sword and sorcery. There are very few like him left.

SEE: Savage Sword of Conan #5; Avengers #78-81; Silver Surfer #4; Life Stories of the American Presidents (Dell Giant, 1957)

Like Neal Adams, Jim Steranko influenced a generation of comic artists with his bravura layouts and sleek, stylized drawing. Jim exploded onto the scene in the later sixties, rounding up influences as diverse as Bernard Krigstein, Peter Max, and Salvador Dali. His layouts, while wild, always enhanced the story, a fact sorely missed by many of his more recent devotees. Among those who fell under his sway (and understood the reasons behind it) are Paul Gulacy and Jim Starlin. While Steranko hasn't worked regularly in comics for over 25 years, his name, rightfully so, is still mentioned as a modernist who was far ahead of his time.

SEE: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #5; Chandler (Byron Priess Graphic Novel)

A great penciller, inker, designer, and art director, John Romita has done it all. While swimming in the middle of one of the great talent pools of all time, Romita did work that was at once the lushest and classiest of the lot. Had he limited himself simply to inking, he would have pushed Joe Sinnott for honors as the best embellisher of the Marvel era. He designed characters such as the Kingpin, Punisher and Wolverine, and he held sway as art director when Marvel welcomed the likes of Frank Miller, Bill Sienkiewicz, Jim Starlin, George Perez and others. He is, simply put, among the most important talents Marvel has ever had.

SEE: Amazing Spider-Man #109; Captain America #114, 138

No detail is too small to escape the notice of Barry Smith. A gesture, the subtlety of a shadow, the curl of a lip; any of these may be used to enhance a story, create a mood or enrich a moment. His fine artist's eye for observation and application creates a a verisimilitude rarely matched by even the best of the men on this list. On the flip side, Smith never skimped on drama or theatricality. His vision of Conan, while not the broad shouldered brute of Howard's stories, was snarlingly tough. The pleasure in looking at Barry's work is appreciating the surface, then peeling away the layers to find deeper and deeper nuance in every viewing.

SEE: "Red Nails", Savage Tales #1 (reprinted numerous times); Storyteller #1-9; Conan #24; Avengers #100

Has there ever been a more surehanded and confident stylist in comics than Joe Kubert? An utterly unique talent, Joe's bread and butter over the years has been his breathtaking command of inking and finishes. His technique is so instinctive, so organic that it's almost impossible to break down and study in any meaningful way. When you look at a Kubert drawing you simply throw your hands up and admire an absolute master who has been at the top of his game for over 50 years.

SEE: Fax From Sarajevo; "Enemy Ace" stories in Star Spangled War Stories; hundreds of covers for various DC titles

Gil Kane is a master of structures. Drawing, design, layout, anatomy; whatever Gil applies himself to is built on a solid foundation of thought and study. Where artists such as Neal Adams and Reed Crandall lavish attention on surfaces, Gil is obsessed by what's underneath. His drawing of the figure in action takes a back seat to none, including master anatomist Burne Hogarth. His combination of art and storytelling worked in a wide variety of genres and styles, including: westerns, sword and sorcery, suspense and of course superheroes. After sixty years in the business, Gil's work is still as vibrant and valid as it was when he began.

SEE: His Name is Savage; Tales of Suspense #88 - 91; Superman Special #1 (1983)

It's hard to believe Al Williamson, the "young turk" of EC Comics has been in the business for over 45 years. Now among the longest serving comics veterans, Al has retained the highest level of quality in his work whether pencilling or inking. His lush, expressive style compares favorably to his hero Alex Raymond, and is near the pinnacle of realism practiced in the 50's by Frazetta, Angelo Torres, and Roy Krenkel.

SEE: "Relic:", Epic Illustrated #27; "Cliff Hanger", Somerset Holmes 1-6; "Space Borne", Weird Science #16; "I, Rocket", Weird Fantasy #20; "Food for Thought", Incredible Science-Fiction #32

Alex Toth is a thinker. His intelligence as well as his drawing elevate him above a host of other artists more technically accomplished. Traced in a direct line from Noel Sickels through Roy Crane and Milton Caniff, Toth was never satisfied just to copy. He added to this school of design by subtracting more unnecessary detail than even they thought possible. As a result he created essential, elemental, perfectly balanced stories which remain some of the finest designed of all time.

SEE: "Thunderjet", Frontline Combat #8; "F-86 Sabre Jet", Frontline Combat #12; "The Crushed Gardinia", Who is Next #5 (#1)

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