Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Artist Spotlight - John Byrne

Today, I want to shine a spotlight on one of my favorite comic book artists, John Byrne.

When I first started reading comic books in the 1970s I quickly discovered that there were some I enjoyed much better than others. Two reasons drove this. The first was that some were much better written than others. While I didn't really start to pay much attention to who was writing them until later in my collecting, better writing was highly correlated with enjoyability. The second reason should be pretty obvious, even to the non comic-lovers who may read this. It was the ART!

And nobody embodies the art that I liked best better than John Byrne. I've never met the man in person, but I'm sure he is a whole lot more of a geek than I envision. From what I've read over the years, he sported an attitude during the time when he was extremely popular (those formative 1980's) but nonetheless seems worthy of the luminary status earned over his many years in the business.

He did his first professional work for Charleton comics and quickly moved on the the big show at DC. But he really hit the limelight at Marvel and did long runs on books that I loved at that time: Captain America, The Avengers, Uncanny X-Men and the Fantastic Four. The X-Men work with Chris Claremont garnished him a huge following and many awards. But he started doing double-duty as both writer and artist on the Fantastic Four and hasn't looked back since. After a short stint at DC doing Superman, he returned to Marvel to handle some lesser known titles, including his seminal work on She-Hulk. He again returned to DC and handled the big guns like Batman and Wonder Woman.

By the time I stopped collecting in the mid-eighties he was getting ready to jump to the smaller, independent shops where he would have total control of his work. I lost track of him until the late 90's when I saw his work on Next-Men.

I really like Byrne's clean, classic approach to drawing comics. Over the years, his art has become "looser", especially when he is inking his own line art. This look reflects more emotion, action, natural proportion and his amazing drawing speed, but it also harkens back to the really distinctive work of Jack Kirby and his contemporary Steve Ditko. Both are true icons in the industry, and I'm sure I'll cover them each in their own Artist Spotlight.

I'm sure there are many, detailed biographies on Mr. Byrne, but you can find a simple one at

And now, the good stuff.

A small GALLERY of John Byrne art pulled from the Internet
All art and copyrights are the property of their respective owners

Next up: Neal Adams

Cheers! - Jason

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