Comics Salopia 2022: The Masters Of Comics

by Olly MacNamee

The Masters of Comics, featured David Roach, Jimmy Broxton, and surprise mystery guest Patrick Goddard discussing their favourite comic book artists. Host, Shane Chebsey, who kicked off the discussion with his three favourite artists, Barry Windsor-Smith, (Conan the Barbarian) David Mazzucchelli (Batman: Year One, Daredevil: Born Again) and Alex Toth, the artist’s artist.

Barry Windsor-Smith’s Conan The Barbarian

The while panel heartedly agreed with Broxton admitting he only discovered Toth as he was breaking into comics. Broxton also reveals that while he thought Mazzucchelli influence on Batman: Year One was Toth it was in fact Hergé (Tintin).

David Roach, who has recently published a book entitled Masters of British Comic Art, named Ron Embleton as one of many great British artist. A very versatile artist who “could draw anything.” As evidence he showed work from TV21 (a ‘60s comic adapting Thunderbirds and other TV shows into comic book strips) comic and Playboy. Two very different titles indeed.  

Playboy’s Oh, Wicked Wanda! by Ron Embleton

Jim Holdaway was Roach’s second choice. Another UK artist of yesteryear who worked on strips such as James Bond and an almost-forgotten strip in Woman’s Mirror Magazine,  Cliff Mayhew. But, many may know of the newspaper strip, Modesty Blaise.

Finally, Gary Leach, is Roach’s third choice. And, one of the inspirations behind the book because he was worried Garry Leach would be a contemporary artist who would be forgotten. With his recent death, this shout out is even more poignant. Leach “was never associated with any particular strip” which was one of the reasons Roach believe he was in danger of being forgotten. Even though he was the artist who relaunched Marvelman in Warrior magazine. A gig that took him a week to complete each page which is why he was eventually replaced by Alan Davis. After the late ‘80s, Leach moved away from comics and into commercial art. Although he often inked for DC Comics over John McCrea pencils.

Next up was Jimmy Broxton who cited the following artist through a video presentation that unfortunately didn’t work. Goddamn technology. Still, the panel ploughed ahead and eventually, after a very short hiatus, Broxton was put on pause while Goddard spoke about his three favourites: John Byrne, George Pérez and Alan Davis. Three titans of ‘80s comics. Goddard mentioning Byrne’s Superman run as the run he most connected with then, and now. And, of course, Pérez’s The New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths. And, because Pérez just looked different to all the other DC Comics artists of the time. Talent really does shine through as that was certainly a sentiment I can relate to being of a similar age to Goddard.

Jim Steranko’s Outland adaption

Broxton finally did get his say, and counted Jim Steranko, as his three favourites. Steranko was a “staggering innovator” of the art form in the late ‘60s. “Comics never looked like this before Steranko,” said Broxton. But, he left full time comics early because he got annoyed at his artwork constantly being edited. Although he did continue to produce the odd strip, or inclusion (e.g. Superman #400) and the odd special project like the adaption of the film Outland serialised in Metal Hurlant and using just double page spreads. Part self-promoter, part snake-oil salesman, and another part teller of tall tales. 

Secondly, Richard Corben. An underground artist who featured heavily in Metal Hurlant. A cartoon-like realism beautifully and meticulously rendered on the page. You may know his, without knowing him, as the artist for Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell LP. 

Finally, and with time running out for this panel Broxton made brief mention of Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes). A rather left-field choice, maybe, but one met with a lot of approval. 

With such a varied list, are there nay there you’d include, or any you’d argue should make this list? And, why no Jack Kirby, or Moebius? Or, was that just too obvious?

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