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World’s Finest Comic Book Artists: Liam Sharp

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With less than a month until our favourite warrior princess makes her highly anticipated solo appearance on the silver screen, all eyes are currently on Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins, but lest we forget the revolution that has taken place in DC’s recent Rebirth shake up of the Themysciran Titan.

Rebirth has been a massive success story for DC, the 2016 relaunch heralded the end of the The New 52 run, returning the DCU to a time prior to the Flashpoint Paradox, whilst still incorporating elements from New 52, mostly its continuity. The principal architect of Rebirth, superstar scribe Geoff Johns described the relaunch as – “Re-laying the groundwork for DC’s future , Whilst also celebrating its past and present. It’s not about throwing anything away, in fact it’s quite the opposite”

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A selection Of Liam Sharp’s Incredible Cover Art For WW Rebirth

Rebirth Wonder Woman finds Diana caught in a dilemma, in that she is no longer able to distinguish between reality and falsehood when it comes to pertaining her past. Is she really the daughter of Zeus or was she formed from clay by her Mother Hippolyta and given life by a pantheon of Greek Gods. These questions and more have been supplicated over the course of the Rebirth issues entitled “The Lies” as Diana searches for the truth behind her existence.

The WW Rebirth series has alternated each issue between her present and past, with a retelling of her canonical origin story in the “Year One” chapters by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott, and the contemporary tale of Diana’s trials to discover the truth behind “The Lies” by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp.

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But, my amazing Amazonian associates, this post isn’t primarily about our illustriously immortal idol, this post is dedicated to the talented artist who has brought Rebirth Diana to glorious life right before our very eyes, for me, Diana’s world has never been more vivid and evocative before Liam Sharp’s awe-inspiring visuals. There have been many astoundingly talented artists who have enamoured me with their take on the Amazon Ambassador over the years – Nicola Scott, Phil Jimenez, Amanda Conner, Brian Bolland, and of course the great George Perez, but Liam’s astonishing eye for detail and composition has catapulted him to the fore for this particular WW fanatic.

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British artist Liam Sharp made his debut in another of the Precinct’s very favourite things – science fiction anthology comic – 2000 AD in the 1980’s, his work included Judge Dredd, Finn and the A.B.C Warriors. He has also worked for Marvel on titles such as Death’s Head II, X-Men and DC Comics on issues of Batman and Superman, and the stunning Testament series for Vertigo. 

Liam’s current run on Wonder Woman will come to an end, alongside Greg Rucka in issue #25 when writer Shea Fontana and artist Mirka Andolfo take over duties, who recently brought us DC Super Hero Girls. Though we are always happy and willing to give any new team a chance to wow us with their take on the Themysciran Titan, the loss of Liam’s wondrous visuals on the title is a sad thing nonetheless.

With that in mind, just yesterday Liam posted on his Facebook page an exclusive look at his upcoming pencils for issue #23 of WW, and with his kind permission we have brought these astounding masterpieces to you, fellow agents of Precinct1313. Liam, we salute your artistic genius good Sir, and very much look forward to your future endeavours.

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Astonishing detail really makes us hope for a black and white variant of the WW Rebirth trade collections.

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Visuals courtesy of Liam Sharp and DC Comics. Wonder Woman is copyright DC Comics.

World’s Finest Comic Book Artists: Alex Ross

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(Copyright-DC Comics)

World’s Finest this week brings you one of the most accomplished artists to have ever graced the comic book medium – Alex Ross. Alex’s style is unique amongst his peers, with a painterly,realistic form that manages to bring these fantastic other worldly characters to life like never before. 

Nelson Alexander Ross, was born in Portland, Oregon in January 1970, though he was raised from a very young age in Texas by his minister father and his mother who was a commercial artist, from whom he received his initial inspiration and love of the arts. Alex started drawing from the age of 3, the artists he cited as having the biggest impact for his unique style were John Romita, Neal Adams and especially George Perez, whose technique he attempted to imitate when he started to draw on a more serious level when he hit his teen years.

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Alongside these masters of comic art, Alex also had a love of more realistic artists such as Norman Rockwell, his work has often been cited as being very much a cross between both Perez and Rockwell, giving us an almost unmatched hyper-realistic form of extraordinary comic art. His first comic book work after graduating from the American Academy of Art in Chicago was for Now Comic’s  ‘Terminator: Burning Earth’, a five issue mini-series released in 1990. Alex created the entirety of the artwork for the series from the initial pencils, through the inking and colouring. He met comic writer Kurt Busiek in this early period of his career, who, impressed with his visual style brought him on board as lead artist for Marvels and later for Image Comics’ Astro City.

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In 1996, Alex teamed with Mark Waid on the DC Comics’ mini series Kingdom Come, an alternate version of DC’s universe, Alex’s work featured his own redesigns of the popular heroes and villains, and was a massive hit with the fans, propelling Alex into an almost overnight sensation of the comics world. Alex continued to work on some of DC’s biggest names including, Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, and also did some work for their Vertigo line of comics.

Alex continues to work in the comic book industry today, with his adroit style in huge demand amongst various publishers such as, DC Comics, Image, Dynamite and Marvel.

World’s Finest Comic Book Artists: Norm Breyfogle

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I am writing this after hearing the sad news recently that Norm Breyfogle suffered a stroke last month which affected the left side of his body, including his drawing arm. Unfortunately, and contrary to popular belief, comic book artists are not as highly paid as you might think and Norm has no health insurance and so is struggling to pay his medical bills, an online fundraising campaign was started by his brother Kevin and has so far raised approximately $85,000 of its $200,000 goal.

Also to help with the funding, comic-book writer and Batman Beyond collaborator, Adam Beechen is auctioning an original piece of cover art for the Batman Beyond series signed by Mr Breyfogle. I will provide links to these at the bottom of this post, but would just like to wish Mr Breyfogle the best of luck in his hopefully full recovery and the raising of the funds to cover his necessary medical bills.

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I have been a fan of Batman since I was six years of age, and though my favourite period of his adventures was the mid seventies, drawn by the amazing Neal Adams and written by the inimitable Denny O’Neil, I was too young to read them at the time. The Batman I actually grew up with was the eighties version, this is post Frank Miller’s ground-breaking and character changing: Dark Knight Returns, and of all the fantastic artists that drew the continuing adventures of everyone’s favourite nocturnal, pointy eared vigilante, without a doubt my favourite was Norm Breyfogle. Teamed up with British comic writer Alan Grant they created some of the greatest Batman tales ever put to paper throughout their extremely long run (1987-1993) on Batman’s premium title Detective Comics. Norm’s style suited the character beautifully, angular, gothic and almost Germanic in its form, he would go on to set a precedent for how we view the look of the Batman today.

Norm was born in Iowa City in February 1960, and began taking art lessons at the age of twelve, he won his first award for his work the same year at a local country art show. When he was sixteen a Michigan newspaper profiled him as a  ‘Master Cartoonist at age 16′. After graduating from High School, Norm attended Michigan University where he studied painting and illustration, during his time here he illustrated a book titled Bunyan Lore’s Loggin’ Hero.

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In 1982 after leaving college he worked as a technical illustrator for United Space Boosters, where he designed and drew a training manual for the space shuttle program. After being discovered at a San Diego comic convention, Norm drew a six page story for DC’s New Talent Showcase, from here he would continue on to be a very successful and popular artist for such titles as Tales of Terror, American Flagg and eventually teaming up with the aforementioned Alan Grant on Detective Comics in 1987.

Since that time Norm has worked on The Spectre and DC Retroactive for DC Comics, The Wild Damned for Mazz Press and has had his work showcased in Archie comics. He also did advertisement illustrations for companies outside of the comic industry that included Nike, Time Out and album cover artwork for various bands. More recently Norm has been working on the Batman Beyond series with writer Adam Beechen, coming full circle back to the franchise that helped catapult him into comic artist superstardom. Get well soon Norm, you will always be the greatest Batman artist of all time to me and your innumerable fans.

http://normbreyfogle.com/

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/legendary-batman-artist-norm-breyfogle-stroke-fund/281723

http://www.ebay.com/itm/BREYFOGLE-BATMAN-BEYOND-COVER-PROCEEDS-BENEFIT-NORM-BREYFOGLE-STROKE-FUND-/291362607955?ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123

 

World’s Finest Comic Book Artists: JH Williams III

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Welcome back comic-fans to our second installment of World’s finest comic book artists, this time focusing on the incredible talent of artist and writer JH Williams III. JH grew up in California and fell in love with the comic book medium for the first time at the age of eight years old, it was from this early age that he decided he wanted to become a creator of these fascinating worlds that he read on a weekly basis. Working hard to enter the arena of a comic book professional, his work was noticed by comic artist/writer Howard Chaykin who helped usher JH into the limelight.

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JH started creating comics for the first time in 1991, the majority of his work has been for DC Comics, where he has worked on classic comics such as Batman, Superman, Starman and more. He had a critically acclaimed run as artist on Alan Moore’s Promethea for its 32 issue run, where he won a Harvey award for his art on the comic in 2006. More recently JH has been known for his re-introduction of DC’s classic Batwoman character, after the character was removed from DC lore in 1964. JH rebooted Batwoman back into DC mythos in 2006 and with the help of his sublime visuals and deep storytelling skills the character has gone from strength to strength ever since, becoming one of DC’s best selling and most well loved female Superheroes.

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This massive run on Batwoman whom he has been involved with since 2006 has rewarded JH with many awards including an Eisner for best comic cover artist, best penciller and inker also a GLAAD award for most outstanding comic in 2010, plus three Eagle awards from the UK for best artist and writer in the comic book medium.

JH continues to work for DC Comics, where he is currently involved as artist in  Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series with the new Sandman: Overture.

Required reading recommendations are: Batwoman- Elegy, Batwoman- Hydrology and Promethea.

World’s Finest Comic Book Artists: Darwyn Cooke

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Welcome friends to the first installment of  ‘World’s Finest comic book artists’, an occasional look at some of  the greatest talents in the comic medium, beginning with one of the most unique artists around currently, the fantastic Darwyn Cooke.

Darwyn Cooke is a Canadian artist and animator whose first contribution to the comic book scene was in 1985 as an artist on a short story for New Talent Showcase #19, financial pressures meant that he had to take a job elsewhere as his artwork wasn’t initially paying off, but he stayed close to the medium he loved by taking a job as an art director and product designer.

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The New Teen Titans ROCK!

In the early 90’s Darwyn applied for a job as an animator with Warner Bros, where he got his first big break into the industry with a dream job as the storyboard artist on both the Emmy award winning Batman: the animated series and Superman: the animated series where he worked alongside the shows’ original developer and similarly styled artist Bruce Timm. In 2000, DC Comics hired him to write and draw Batman: Ego, the graphic novel was a massive hit and his retro inspired art, a sort of modern interpretation of the golden age style of comics became instantly loved by the fans and he found himself inundated with offers for work.

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In 2004, Darwyn started work on the six issue mini-series  Justice League: New Frontier for DC, which was the ideal material for him because the subject matter matched his art style perfectly, the series is set in the 1950’s  and takes place in an alternate version of the cold war, taking inspiration from that era with novels like The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe and also the civil rights movement and atomic bomb testing. The series was again a huge success for Darwyn, winning an Eisner award and was later turned into a fantastic animated movie, which Darwyn co-wrote and provided art direction for.

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Darwyn recently drew the Minute-Men issues for the Before Watchmen saga, his work can also be seen in: All Star western starring Jonah Hex, plus he will be one of the guest artists on the Harley Quinn: Holiday Special releasing on December 10th.