Are There Any Superstar Comic Artists Left?

There’s Jim Lee. You put that guy’s name on a book, and it goes to the top of the charts. But imagine Lee wants to step down from the book; who would they replace him with? What other artists have that kind of star power that just brings in large numbers of readers sight unseen?

If this were ten years ago, the question would be easy. If it were twenty years ago, it would be even easier. But today? It’s tougher.

The first few names that come to mind are guys like Bryan Hitch or Steve McNiven. Those guys move units, but they’re not super huge in the marketplace anymore. John Cassaday has been away for too long, and sometimes I wonder if he’s devalued his work to a certain extent doing only covers for the last chunk of years. DC already tried to make a big deal of bringing David Finch over to do Batman, and that resulted in a Batman book that only David Finch fans buy. Anyone else even close is already working with Mark Millar.

Like everything in media today, everyone’s tastes are satisfied by the thing they like best; their niche. You hear a lot of talk about Mad Men and The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, but the numbers they do would have been laughed at a decade ago. ER averaged around 20 million viewers. Their highest watched episode had 48 million viewers. American Idol actually does those kinds of numbers, but I think the American Idol of comics might be Jim Lee. In comics, we all have our favorite artists, and as a result, we don’t all have one favorite artist, so everyone has their own little following, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone left who appeals to everyone. It’s getting to be the same with movies, where the stories and properties are driving tickets more than the names involved, which is a rapid shift. Men in Black III made a lot of money with Will Smith in the lead, but didn’t make Avengers money, which doesn’t really have a big star to speak of (Downey is debatable).

If you were to ask me who my favorite artists are, I could name many (Chris Samnee, Gabriel Hardman, Ramón Peréz, Jock, Sean Phillips, Skottie Young, Eric Canete, Jerome Opeña, and more), all of whom are fantastic comic book artists, but very few of whom are considered “superstars” in the sense of moving a lot of units as a matter of course. Even Darwyn Cooke, who is as good as anyone in comics, has a sort of niche style that doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone who buys comics.

What say you?

Bonus question: Who is the Nickelback of comics?

UPDATE! Again, the question is not “who is really good” or “who is your favorite artist” but who is popular enough to bring large numbers of readers to a top tier book on their name alone.

Comments

  1. Heroville Heroville says:

    Bonus question: Who is the Nickelback of comics?

    Liefeld, as much as I get tired of the joke, it’s Liefeld

    • Impossibilly Impossibilly says:

      I definitely agree that Liefeld is the Nickleback of comics. I can’t find anyone who will admit to liking his work, but he always seems to have a long line for signings whenever he’s at a con.

    • markavo markavo says:

      ^This

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I used to like his work. I remember his old Hawk & Dove series with Karl Kesel, I thought the art was great (though apparently a lot of that was Kessel cleaning it up). His New Mutants and X-Force had a lot of style and excitement to it, but when he went to Image he got lazy and it’s been pretty much downhill from there.

      I read the first issue of Deathstroke he did, and the art was lazy and the writing was trying so hard to be so cool, it was laughable.

      And I do like that Nickelback song Burn It to the Ground because it’s the WWE Raw theme song. I pretty much hate them otherwise, but my brother and nephew sadly like them (and a lot of other bad music).

    • 7thton says:

      John Romita, Jr

  2. Greg Horn is for sure the Nickelback of comics.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      Greg Horn or Greg Land? Both draw sexy ladies that seem to make a lot of people here very angry for some reason.

  3. Bonus question: Greg Land.

    At a glance it seems like it’s fine but then you realise it’s got no more substance than a page from a trashy magazine

    • I would have nominated Land as the “superstar” artist who “moves units”. He gets a lot of high profile work because he gets a lot of high profile work.

    • pyynk pyynk says:

      @stubbleupdate That’s why he’s the perfect choice to be the Nickleback artist of comics. Both are marginally talented at best and yet they both move product like crazy.

    • ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

      Agreed. Land is def the Nickleback of comic artists.

    • bobby2889 says:

      I really like both. Just saying. I don’t think they are innately bad. However you can’t disagree that they sell. Or did. These days? I don’t think either do as well as they did maybe a couple years back.

    • A page from a trashy magazine would have much more substance than Land.

  4. Jr. Wormwood Jr. Wormwood says:

    If more people had better taste, Mignola would be a superstar (i.e. more of a unit mover) than simply an artist’s artist and super highly acclaimed. While I recognize Jim Lee’s talent, he and his ilk bore me.

  5. Switch625 Switch625 says:

    My current # 1 artist is Ivan Reis. Nobody out there, not even the mighty Jim Lee, is producing the kind of work he is. If we’re talking about who will succeed Lee as artist of Justice League, I’d buy both the digital and print editions of those books if Reis were on them!

  6. For me its Francavilla. I’ll check out anything he does…although i gotta confess, my favorite stuff of his is the covers and one shot type pieces that he does moreso than his sequential.

    Fionna Staples is becoming another illustrator that i really want to follow all the projects she’s working on.

    BQ: Nickelback = Greg Land. He’s stays around, and he moves units, and know one understands why.

  7. keithgrauman keithgrauman says:

    For me, I don’t care what the book is, I’ll at least give it a try if it’s illustrated by Jock, Francisco Francavilla, Jamie McKelvie or Becky Cloonan. Each have their own distinctive style, which is something I look for in an artist.

  8. Oktober Oktober says:

    i’d say Frank Quitely has some pretty top-tier name recognition, and JH Williams is getting there, but the problem really is that there isn’t a “factory” book any more that shows off all of the up-and-coming talent the way that Uncanny X-men did in the late eighties and early nineties. I mean, I love olivier coipel, rafael albuquerque, and kenneth rocafort, but unless you were a Thor/American Vampire/Red Hood* fan, it’s unlikely you’ll recognize them.

    *Ok, I’ll admit, I love Rocafort so much I went back and bought his Cyberforce/Hunter Killer and Velocity series. Really that dude needs to get more work.

    • paolomaneli says:

      agreed with the names on your list. any idea why rocafort left marvel?i remember him making it onto their ‘top guns’ list a while back, and his style is a perfect fit for their books

    • Oktober Oktober says:

      Did he ever actually work for Marvel though? He did a bunch of work for Top Cow early in his career, and then got snapped up to work on Red Hood. The whole time I’m reading CF/HK I’m thinking how great he’d do on an X-Book or an Iron Man mini.

    • paolomaneli says:

      !! Astonishing Tales Vol2??? You should check that out you’ll probably really dig his interpretation of Iron Man. but I’m not sure it’s as good as his CF/HK stuff though. The man is a beast indeed.

    • Oktober Oktober says:

      I think I randomly have an issue of that, the one with Mojo on the cover! I don’t think it was ever collected though, but I’ll definitely try to track that down.

      If you haven’t read the Velocity mini it’s got some great work of his in it too.

    • J-Shap J-Shap says:

      Those artists are all great, but Quitely can never be that big just because he works too slowly, and thus people can’t really get hooked. Williams seems to keep up with schedules just fine, but he does so little work that he’s more like late 70′s Marlon Brando; pulls everyone in, but is barely there. Definitely agree on the factory theory, the only thing that comes that close is Batman, and even that’s a stretch.

  9. Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

    Again, the question is not “who is really good” or “who is your favorite artist” but who is popular enough to bring large numbers of readers to a top tier book on their name alone.

    • Jr. Wormwood Jr. Wormwood says:

      I honestly think Jim Lee is just about it. No one else is coming to mind. I think most of the legends are too old for newer readers to be drawn to, and most of the new talent doesn’t grab older readers. I dunno, just a guess. Seems crazy that that sort of artist isn’t really out there right now. Have to wonder why that is, since I think comic book art is at an all-time high.

    • Jr. Wormwood Jr. Wormwood says:

      Might have to look outside of comics to get the kinds of numbers you’re talking about. Can you imagine if Shepard Fairy did a Bat-book? Or Banksy did an X-book cover? That would be insane…

    • Knowing nothing about the source material, Darwyn was the only reason I bought the first Parker book.

    • ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

      I think you got it right in your article. It’s Jim Lee…that’s it

      …Maybe if McFarlane would do a Big 2 book. Does he really do any pencils these days?

    • ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

      Oh…Frank Miller!

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Not after Holy Terror.

    • pyynk pyynk says:

      @ClasikRok 10 or 15 years ago, I’d have been right there with you. The 3 Miller prints I have on my wall testify to that fact. But nowadays, post Dark Knight Strikes Again! and Holy Terror, I just don’t think so.

      McFarlane is a stronger possibility, just because he hasn’t penciled anything in years and that’s what puts the money in the hands of the cashiers. I’d have said “asses in seats”, but that doesn’t really work for comics. :)

    • ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

      @Josh/pyynk Maybe if it was a different property. Ok, DKSA didn’t do so well, and Holy Terror was prob a bad idea (didn’t read it). But what if he did some new Sin City stories. Or made a return to Daredevil? Or maybe a character he’s never done before.

    • bilko1024 says:

      I think that Frank Miller did Marvel/DC superhero comic, it would do good numbers based on his name recognition. But with him theres always a chance of a crippling delay.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      It would never happen.

    • bilko1024 says:

      I completely agree. But it is interesting to think about.

    • space oddity says:

      The Kubert brothers.

    • markavo markavo says:

      If you can count Jim Lee than my vote is for Mark Bagley.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      @markavo Mark Bagley? I thought his DC work was awful. I know he was rushed and had a bad inker, but still. It was dreadful.

    • markavo markavo says:

      @BCDX97 If he started up with Bendis again wouldn’t everyone buy that book? I guess it doesn’t count if it’s a writer/artist combination that’s the draw. I bet if frank quitely joined Morrison on Action Comics next month most people would buy that book in an instant. Doesn’t that make Frank in the same category as Jim Lee under those circumstances?

  10. paolomaneli says:

    Is it just me or does Olivier Coipel always get overlooked? For me, his style is the epitome of cool.

  11. I think it might be Darwyn Cooke, it’s a different style, but he seems pretty universally respected.
    Nickelback has to be Liefeld, who else can be so harshly and openly mocked, but can get work whenever he wants it.

  12. keithgrauman keithgrauman says:

    No mention of Alex Ross? I know it’s been a while since he’s done 100% of the interior art for a book, but I know if another “Justice”-type mini was announced he would move units.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      He would, but he’d never do an ongoing. Never has. He’d sell the bejeezus out of a mini though. But he’d have to do the art full on by himself.

      Also, Kingdom Come was 16 years ago.

    • powerdad powerdad says:

      Yes, I was going to suggest Ross too chiefly for his fan following, but completely acknowledge he cannot do a month book.

      I certainly fall into this camp of buying anything he is the artist on, even if I don’t care for the story. (Justice looked so nice, but where was the story?)

    • markavo markavo says:

      I think you can count Ross because Jim hasn’t done a ton of “ongoing”. The mini’s he did moved units so Ross is in that SuperStar category too… if he wanted to be.

      As you said Josh: “Again, the question is not “who is really good” or “who is your favorite artist” but who is popular enough to bring large numbers of readers to a top tier book on their name alone.”

      Ross COULD if he wanted to, be a Superstar.

  13. I think Josh is getting at what makes someone a “Celebrity Artist” and there are so many external factors in play beyond the work itself. I think part of the mystique is the time and context. I dunno if its possible for a Jim Lee Rockstar type to emerge in this day and age. To much access, every creator is on twitter and at every convention. There is no mystery. Frank Quietly is kinda there…its an event when he does a book, and he’s a bit more reclusive than your typical artist.

    I think those big 90s sales made the name for him. I think you need to reproduce that in order to make the star.

    • Jr. Wormwood Jr. Wormwood says:

      Well played, Wally. That makes a lot of sense. I would have loved to have seen Travis Charest rise to Jim Lee status. He was in a similar enough vein to work, yet I thought his sense of design was very forward thinking, clean and easy to read.

    • also part of the issue is that comic book artists tend to stay within the comics community with their work. Sure they do storyboards and character design for movies and games, but those aren’t publicly viewable things. If you had an artist who draws a big 2 book, but also get regular gigs illustrating New Yorker covers and getting regular assignments in TIME, Wired and other big editorial publications like that, they would gain a lot of public awareness that might translate into their comics work.

      Kinda like Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware. They have a lot more pop culture awareness than anyone working at the big 2.

    • Jr. Wormwood Jr. Wormwood says:

      I think you’re right. I mentioned OBEY and Banksy above, although those aren’t very realistic choices. There are other artists who have had work in comics that have more of a pop culture appeal, such as James Jean and Tara McPherson, but I don’t think they’d make much of a significant increase in sales if any at all. Mark Ryden would be something to see in a comic book.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Not really what I meant, but it’s certainly a way of thinking, one that’s easier for writers than artists.

    • ah i see. Yeah i dunno. just having fun with it

      @jr–thats the double edged sword of it all….comics doesn’t pay very well compared to high end editorial and advertising or the fine art gallery world, where all those artists play. Giant paycuts with lots of time investment isn’t that appealing to that level of talent/business people y’know?

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Comics *can* pay very well at a certain point, and it also affords a certain kind of lifestyle that’s appealing to some. Some guys can get away with just doing covers, or even just commissions, and make a heck of a lot of cash, if that’s what they want. Some guys get a surprisingly impressive page rate. However, the thing about comics is, if you’re going to do it and be successful at it, chances are, you’ve got to love it. And some do.

  14. Any time Frank Quitely gets around to drawing something, it’s a very big deal. And the rarity of his efforts makes it, like…a bigger deal? Well put.

  15. pyynk pyynk says:

    I think Greg Land as the Nickleback of comics is pretty much spot on. I want to say that Ron had mentioned that any book he’s on sees a big increase in numbers.

    As far as a superstar artist, like someone from the days of Image’s founding, I can’t really think of one. The closest I can come up with is *maybe* Darwyn or Amanda Conner.

  16. DaveCarr DaveCarr says:

    Rob Leifeld seems capable of creating Lee-level buzz on a book at least initially. But he doesn’t translate that into units.

  17. KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

    John Romita Jr and the Kubert brothers can still get eyeballs on pages. Not like they used to perhaps, but I think they come pretty close to Jim Lee in terms of stature among fans.

    • I’m with you on JRJr, despite his (apparently) declining abilities.

    • ed209AF ed209AF says:

      See i used to HATE JRJ but i think he AVX stuff is some of the best work he’s done.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I feel like Marvel acts like JRjr is a bigger deal than he is. He’s a very good storyteller, but his style is both loved and hated.

    • tripleneck tripleneck (@tripleneck) says:

      I was gonna say Romita Jr as well. He’s the only other artist that came to mind that has something like Lee’s high profile (whether it be hyped or not). Is he a draw for buyers all by himself? Dunno.

  18. bansidhewail bansidhewail says:

    What makes this a hard question is that we know writers and artists the way big sports fans know pitchers and quarterbacks…I think the angle that’s harder to see is the “Who’s the comic book artist equivalent of Brett Favre?” as in, someone the average person might actually have heard of, the kind of person who wasn’t tearing their hair out over how hard it was to get tickets for San Diego this year.

    I mean, I know that to me, Francis Manapul is a god, and I know that I’ve never had a conversation with a comic book fan who didn’t at least know who I was talking about, if not agree. But I am pretty sure that doesn’t make him a fair answer to this question. I know that within comic book fan circles, I’ve noticed people going crazy with anticipation over a new title by Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner…does that make them the right answer? Or is that still just inside our world?

  19. bansidhewail bansidhewail says:

    Oh and, hell yes to Greg Land as Nickelback. Spot on.

  20. JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

    Scarlette Johanson and Sam Jackson are not debatable, they are both huge stars.

    Artists who can move books besides Jim Lee? How about good ol’ Frank Quitely or Tim Sale?

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      Yeah? Scarlet really pushed the people through the doors on We Bought a Zoo. And Sam Jackson’s leading man days are gone. They never actually came. He’s always been a supporting actor. Neither are Will Smith.

    • ClasikRok ClasikRok says:

      Avengers is not about the actors…I’s about the spectacle.

      Seeing all those characters in one movie at once, for the first time ever.

      I could be wrong, we’ll see how the numbers go for Dark Knight Rises, which may be the most anticipated of the year.

  21. mikeljanin says:

    Greg Capullo is the man. Also, he looks like a star.
    Also, Liefeld, Pacheco, the Kuberts, Alex Ross, Adam Hughes, Joe Madureira, have the Star status, IMO.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I think that if anyone was going to take over Justice League, for example, Greg Capullo is the best choice for that right now, in terms of sales and marketing.

      If Adam Hughes came back and did interior work, he might have a shot, if he kept it up.

    • JRock JRock says:

      I agree Greg Capullo is the closest artist to Jim Lee in terms of stardom. I know Batman is selling like hotcakes, and his run on Spawn sold really well too.

      The only other artist i could even think of in the same category as Jim and Greg is Joe Madureira, but even he is a bit of a stretch in star power.

  22. Jacen Chris JCB (@jcbhatestweeter) says:

    Greg Land is the Nickelback of comics. Easy.

    I imagine a lot of the Image guys from the 90′s could move books on their name alone, i.e. McFarlane, Silvestri, Lee, etc. It has to do with the era I think. I feel the hardcore comic readers have moved beyond the “artist selling a book” bit, and more in the frame of the writers selling the book. I feel a Geoff Johns book would sell easier than a “superstar artist” book.

    • itsbecca itsbecca says:

      Ah, you said basically what I did below. I think we’re in writer’s mode right now. Shame I didn’t see this before I posted. In fact Geoff Johns was exactly my first thought too.

    • Jr. Wormwood Jr. Wormwood says:

      Exactly. I think comics learned a valuable lesson from the 90s Image… thing.

  23. darkstar darkstar says:

    As much as I’d like to see Doug Mahnke in the spotlight, he’s not quite broad enough appeal to make the superstar status. Seems like Ed Benes has done a lot of high profile work in Batman and Justice League the last decade. I think he would an improvement over Jim Lee when it comes to drawing the flagship DC title.

  24. bub64882 bub64882 says:

    Yeah, I agree with others; Quietly may be a superstar, and Land is the Nickelback.

  25. johnomcg johnomcg says:

    Joe Mad every time he comes out of retirement?

    How did Avenging Spider-Man do?

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      11/11 #1 – 112,153
      12/11 #2 – 60,682 (-45.9%)
      01/12 #3 – 52,371 (-13.7%)

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I don’t get the love Joe Mad has. I guess I didn’t really like that he was Manga-izing the X-Men. We suffered through the aftereffects of that for a long time. Only thing I really liked by him was the Deadpool mini he did.

  26. itsbecca itsbecca says:

    Is it because we’re in a writer focused swing of the pendulum in comics right now? Because if you asked about celebrity level writers we could all list bundles. There seems to be small and large cyclical trends of what sells, both with character vs creator and art vs writing.

    I think we’re in a writer dominant market right now and artists are a bit to the sideline. I’m proof, albeit anecdotal, as someone who only came into comics recently (6 or 7 years ago). I can only think of three artists who would make me buy something on their merits alone: Tony Moore, Frank Quietly and Ben Templesmith. And even then, it’s actually just because I trust their tastes to be similar to mine, not just because of the art. (Someone above mentioned Cooke, but while I like his art style, his art alone wouldn’t draw me to something unequivocally. Only if he wrote as well.)

    • bub64882 bub64882 says:

      This is a really good point. Writers market, ATM.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      Are there bundles of writers who can sell a book on name alone? I dunno, I think there are less than 5.

      We might be in a post-superstar era in comics.

    • koryrosh koryrosh says:

      Interesting question, Conor. I like to think of it as who would have to be writing for me to pick up Deadpool? (i.e. writer good enough to get me to pick up a book I would normally never touch).

    • itsbecca itsbecca says:

      Perhaps bundles is an overstatement, but I think 5 is too low.

      So do you think we’re back to buying for characters then? You think most people are picking something up for the title rather than the creators? (And for that I think I’d mean in terms of getting someone to buy a new book, or numbers staying the same even when a creative team changes. Obviously, Batman is always going to sell.)

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      @itsbecca: I think that most people are picking up books now for characters or premise.

      Why comics sell is always some sort of unholy and often unpredictable mix of premise/character/writer/artist, but I think that these days the number of comic book creators who can move units on name recognition alone, regardless of character and premise, is extremely low.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      @conor

      1. Alan Moore
      2. Neil Gaiman
      3. Brian K. Vaughn
      4. Johns/Bendis (tie)
      5. ….. Uh…..? Dunno. Cooke/Snyder/Hickman/?

      Is this what you’re thinking, Conor?

    • b_RAD b_RAD says:

      @Conor:”…the number of comic book creators who can move units on name recognition alone… is extremely low.”

      That’s probably because of lower sales in general compared to the 90′s. With the rise of the web, comics buyers can track their favorite creators a lot easier. Their seems to be a lot more buyers following individual writers & artists, just not enought to move massive amounts.

    • bub64882 bub64882 says:

      Don’t forget Morrison. And I’m buying Venom monthly, and I NEVER thought I would do that, thanks to Remender. I don’t know what his numbers are, but using the “Deadpool” litmus test, I would buy Deadpool monthly if Remender wrote it.

      Mark Wade? I will definately buy whatever he does next based on Daredevil. Not that he wasn’t a monumental talent before, but I think I took him for granted.

    • itsbecca itsbecca says:

      @Conor I take it back… sort of. I think you’re right that around 5 or so might be the number of writers who fit full on celebrity status (within our world.)

      I think the reason that didn’t feel right to me is that doesn’t actually mean there’s only 5 or so writers who will make people buy their books on name alone, and I’m confusing the two issues in my head. There’s a lot of writers that different people exclusively follow, but they may not be banking huge numbers, because they aren’t necessarily pulling *everyone* in a huge way. I still feel like the average person is paying a lot of attention to creators, but ones who appeal to them specifically, like @b_RAD alluded to. But all that’s ultimately irrelevant to the original question posed.

      So 5, give or take, is probably accurate, but I’d argue that that *is* a significant number given the size of the industry. And think how we also have sort of the B-List of writer celebrities, or rising stars might be a better description, that have their own devout following: Remender, Fraction, Aaron, Lemire… that group. All of this contributing to a writer leaning culture at the moment.

      I may just be projecting my own interests, but it seems that way to me. Especially because authors are more likely to get recognition from outsiders. The average person might know Alan Moore from Watchmen’s time running around on novel lists, but they might not even recognize the name Dave Gibbons.

    • ed209AF ed209AF says:

      I think we have to take note that the number of comics shipping on an average week has grown exponentially as well as the number of publishers. I think with more variety comes more niche readers and more “cult” writers. Some examples are the CHEW team and Stokoe over on Orc Stain. Not everyone is reading these titles, but they are new creators who are gathering a unique and loyal following. I agree the day of the superstar writer is gone (there will always be a few), but the day of the cult creator(s) is just beginning.

    • g0ofgnewt g0ofgnewt says:

      To me templesmith is not an artist that puts butts in seats due to the instability of his work. Work says its coming out but then gets delayed- it can’t always be the writers fault if the writer changes and the same problem happens.

      Kind of like the “Chinese Democracy” (guns and roses album) of comics

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I think you are very right. A lot of us felt burned by the Image years, when the books had all style no substance, and we realized just how important a good writer is to a book.

      I still love George Perez and Kevin Maguire, though. Luckily I can find both of them in the same book these days! They are my are superstars.

    • Ainslo Ainslo says:

      @Conor I think that is the point, we are in post-superstar era. I think people used to draw to an ideal, an ultimate way of drawing superhero books. I think Lee was the natural progression of Byrne, the there were all the guys in the 90s but it was all Super books, you also had the people who at the time may have been considered alternative, doing the non cape titles or those mixing it up those titles. Now, what i love about the current era is that the superhero books are being done by the guys who would have done the slice of life titles and other none cape stories. So there are superstars but i think the change has been in the definition of superstar.

  27. icn1983 icn1983 says:

    Once he finishes his Batman run, Greg Capullo will sell any book that bears his name.

    • koryrosh koryrosh says:

      I think Snyder is the one walking away from Batman with a legion of followers.

    • boosebaster boosebaster says:

      Most of whom already knew Snyder was amazing. Capullo has been the revelation.

    • ed209AF ed209AF says:

      I love Capullo, but i’m not going to follow him to a title unless theres a top notch writer working with him.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I think the whole is more important than the sum of it’s parts. I liked Capullo before this, but I won’t follow him anywhere. I love Snyder on Batman, but dislike Swamp Thing and don’t care about American Vampire. But Snyder and Capullo together – they work well. Just like Wolfman and Pererz or Lee and Kirby or Claremont and Byrne.

  28. koryrosh koryrosh says:

    How about Mazzuchelli? In that, if his name *were* to appear on a book (on-going or not), I think that would seriously push units.

    • mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

      God, I’d kill to get his follow up to Asterios Polyp!

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      No way. His art is in no way pretty or fan friendly enough to be a superstar. I remember hating it back when I was a kid.

      Sure, I’m older and wiser now, but there is still no way he’s a superstar.

  29. ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

    Amanda Conner can always make me pick up an issue. Hell, she only has to do the cover, and I will strongly consider it.

    Francis Manupal is a force of nature. He might not be there now, but I could see following him from book to book just to look at what he is drawing (and now writing).

  30. MaxPower MaxPower says:

    Walt Simonson or Neal Adams maybe? Moebius is no longer with us, but he was certainly a mega-star, but not in the sense that Josh is describing. Ross and Quitely are as close as it gets, but they don’t put up Lee numbers.

    • koryrosh koryrosh says:

      Good call on Simonson. His name definitely made me pick up an issue of Legion of Superheroes and Avengers (titles I would otherwise not read).

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      Man I thought his art on the Avengers was awful (and I’m not the only one). His name actually makes me not want to buy a book now.

      Quitely I love, though. WE3, so good.

  31. mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

    I read a piece on the Newsarama blog that points out that the recent issues of JLA that don’t have Jim Lee on art sold just as well as those with him on it. The author posited that Geoff Johns may in fact be the draw of the book, meaning that I guess not even the great Jim Lee is a superstar artist that can sell as book. So in response to the question as to whether there are any artists that will bring a large number of readers on to book, I guess the answer may be no. Kinda sad really….
    Here’s the link for those interested: http://blog.newsarama.com/2012/06/07/is-geoff-johns-the-selling-point-for-justice-league/

    • ed209AF ed209AF says:

      Hopefully people are in it for the story and not bailing because of a fill in.

    • The draw is that DC tells everyone it’s their No 1 cornerstone book. So it becomes that. If you put those characters together it usually works. It’s when they start adding Maxima and Bloodwynd and stuff that sales tank.

  32. haha owl says:

    Sean Gordon Murphy? but that’s probably taste

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      Some people here really really love him. And I don’t get it, because it just looks ugly to me. I love pretty clean comic art. But not boring ass house style.

  33. Metamorphic Metamorphic says:

    In some respects, I guess it’s true that “superstar” artists are a bit short in supply. Not because they aren’t out there, mind you. There are so many fantastic artists working today who, IMO, deserve that acclaim. Siaz, Chiang, Forman, Reeder…. the list really can go on a long way. But in terms of name = sales… it doesn’t seem to translate.

    That said, however, I think you might be able to count Amanda Conner, Frank Quitely and Tim Sale among the superstar list… though I think with Sale and Quitely it’s partly a matter of the writer they team up with (Sale and Loeb, Quitely and Morrison). But Conner has some fiercely loyal fans so I think it would be fair to say her name moves books.

    BQ: Nickelback of comics? Yeah, I guess Liefeld is the answer. Everyone claims to hate him yet the man still sells comics.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I think Reeder has dropped down after the Batwoman issues. There were so less good than I thought they’d be. It could have been the inking, but the art also seemed sparse and rushed, which made no sense, because she had plenty of time to draw it.

  34. TurdSandwich TurdSandwich says:

    Yeah, I think the only real answer is nope. We all have our own tastes, and with the plethora of choices out there no one artist can be singled out. Maybe if Mazzucchelli did another book, but that might be more because of it’s rarity.

  35. woodyguthrie woodyguthrie says:

    Nobody named Lee Bermejo? Look at Batman: Noel

    • woodyguthrie woodyguthrie says:

      J.G. Jones, maybe. JH Williams III is definitely getting there

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      Lee Bermejo is awesome, but I thought his writing was pedestrian.

      JG Jones is wonderful, he needs to get off his ass and stop drawing covers.

      I would say JH Williams III is probably my top pick for this. His stuff is inventive and fun and pretty and sweet.

    • woodyguthrie woodyguthrie says:

      yeah, as a writer he’s pretty medicore, but we’re talking about ‘artists that can sell books on their names alone’. and judging from his previous work and his solo work on Batman: Noel (especially on it, there was only his name on the cover), which sold really crazy, as I recall, Bermejo is that kind of guy

  36. finbarbat finbarbat says:

    Art Adams.

  37. Mooz Mooz says:

    Really fascinating article! I was trying to think of an artist, but I couldn’t think of any. However, I could think of a bunch of writers that could move units. In this age of so many new and amazing comic artists, it is unfortunate that there are few superstars.

  38. Jr. Wormwood Jr. Wormwood says:

    Neil Gaiman. Team him up with any artist, and he’s gonna sell heaps.

  39. CaseyJustice CaseyJustice says:

    Ed McGuiness is the first name that springs to mind, but then, I don’t know what the numbers on X-Sanction were. Still, he’s one of the few artists that gets touted just as much as the writer on projects.

    Besides that… Quietly and Cooke are the only ones who seem to release new books to any legitimate fanfare.

  40. Gary4362 Gary4362 says:

    A) What is a Nickleback?

    B) Josh, I agree with you about the marketability of Jim Lee. He is the one person who has a 1970′s John Byrne-type of buzz appeal. Lee’s a very good artist but he draws in a more traditional style that the majority of readers are familiar with. Also, he’s been doing it long enough that his fans reach over multiple generations. He was introduced to readers at a time when there were more of us and comics were much cheaper. Most of his contemporaries never got to the level of fan appeal that Lee did. Moreover, almost everyone else that could challenge him in sales came up during a more recent period and, therefore, haven’t had the time to be introduced to a large enough audience. I mean, Lee drew X-Men during one of it’s hottest periods!!! Outside of McFarlane’s Spider-Man run, no one was as visible as Jim Lee was during the 1990s. It was a combination of his talent and the broad appeal of the characters he drew. What is the hot book or character of 2012? I don’t think there is one. Today, we are far more balkanized as an audience.

    Maybe this issue is impacted by the age range of today’s readers. Much of our love of artists as kids wasn’t as particular or critical then as it is now. We wanted a story that looked good and presented heroes well. Also, a lot of art that passes for great comic art today is geared for an older, more sophisticated audience. I don’t think a 10-year old kid would be as enamored by the art style of Alex Ross or Jock as a 25+ year old reader is. Because comic art styles have become less generic and far more individualistic, artists have developed niche audiences.

    Finally, I think the price has an impact on artist hotness, too. You can convince yourself any decent artist is worth $1.50 to $1.99. You become a more discerning consumer when the price jumps to $3 or $4. It just isn’t the same cost/benefit analysis.

    Anyway, good topic for discussion. Could we look at discussing storytelling as part of the artist’s job sometime soon? I think that could be very enlightening.

  41. sitara119 sitara119 says:

    todd mcfarlane.
    if he were to pick up pencils for interiors, i think people would buy it. especially once he got his groove back.

    BQ: i don’t understand what “nickelback of comics” means.

    • sitara119 sitara119 says:

      alan moore is a great artist. if he were to do a monthly comic, i bet we all would buy it. especially if he wrote it, too.

  42. DukeHawk0409 says:

    I think Francavilla is magic, also J.H. Williams. I thought DC dropped the ball on Finch–not only is The Dark Knight (particularly the first iteration) the most painfully bad comic I have ever read, he ripped off Jim Lee’s woman-form AND everyone has a massive forehead and small features (like that Ghoulie coming out of the toilet in Ghoulies II). As to the Nickelback: Liefeld, aside from the obvious, I am actually kind of offended that he gets to do nearly every book in the New 52.

  43. MaxPower MaxPower says:

    How about Mike Allred? I know, I know, it’s not like iZombie was doing gangbusters, but it’s a tough comparison to make when we’re talking about Jim Lee. It’s not like Lee operates at all outside of the Big Two Superhero genre. It’ll be interesting to see what Allred’s effect on Daredevil will be though.

  44. I don’t know about now, but I think that if we bring up this question in a couple of years, Greg Capullo would definitely be one of comics superstars. He’s great, and Batman is selling huge right now. I think that when he eventually gets off of Batman (hope that doesn’t happen soon) and moves on to his next project, that will be a huge selling point for wherever he goes on to.

  45. ed209AF ed209AF says:

    If there are any new fans coming to comics as a result of the media franchises being played out, these new fans aren’t reading creative teams, they are reading characters they like, regardless of who’s writing or drawing.

  46. g0ofgnewt g0ofgnewt says:

    I’d like to say Tony Harris, based purely on the fact that I buy anything he’s drawn without question buuuuut I don’t think on a whole he puts butts in seats. This is not a popularity contest.

    Darwyn Cooke is a maybe. He puts butts in seats but I ink he’s very choosy about his projects. Anyone can hit a six when it’s a slow ball pitched just right and the field placing helps you (cricket reference there).

    • Rhymer Rhymer says:

      Yes, Tony Harris. One of the Great. I’m alway a little surprised he’s not more popular. But he’s seldom to be seen on big mainstream books.

  47. Buckaroo Buckaroo says:

    With reference to an earlier post… possibly the first… I don’t think Greg Land is neither the nickelback or superstar of comics because he’s in category of his own… this being the ‘marmite’ of comics. People seem to really hate him or really love him. I personally think he’s great and love his photo-esq imagery, and as such, is the only artist I collect, regardless of the writer of the book. The only other people in comics I collected religiously, and completely (almost) are all writers (Ellis, Ennis, Millar, Moore & Miller). But I do really like Juan Jose Ryp from Ellis’ No Hero, Black Summer, Crossed etc., although I don’t think he would fall into the superstar category because, like Land, he’s really quite individualistic, and individualism doesn’t seem to go down too well in a mass popularity kind of way.

  48. k5blazer k5blazer says:

    I’d say that Lee stands alone at the top….and who is Nickleback?

  49. Sevenzro1 Sevenzro1 says:

    Joe Madureira, Greg Capullo, Arthur Adams and J Scott Campbell….Nickelback Artist=Rob Liefeld

  50. Cerberus Cerberus says:

    No love for any of these…

    Tony Harris
    Sami Basri
    J. H. Williams
    Mikel Janin ( can be a little hit and miss at times )
    Nicola Scott
    Trevor Mccarthy
    Carlos Megila ( very stylised but that’s not a bad thing )
    Masamune Shirow ( yeah yeah yeah I know, the guys done little in yonks )

    • mutielover says:

      Shirow is on a whole other level. “Ghost In the Shell” alone proves he is more important than most mention on this page, and its influences can be seen in the work of the Wachowski Bros. and Spielberg.

  51. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    If Tom Cruise started drawing Catwoman, people would lose their minds.

  52. Cerberus Cerberus says:

    Adam Hughes… I’ll get my coat.

    Wish he did do comics though, god imagine him doing Birds of Prey for DC…….

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      I remember when he started on JLA. I thought he was pretty good, but no Kevin Maguire (who I still love). I never realized AH would get so damn good.

      And he is drawing Dr. Manhattan. Unless you are one of the righteous objectors of those books.

    • Cerberus Cerberus says:

      BCDX97

      I’ll have to give the Dr. Manhattan books a look. I spent years away from comics and have been pulled back by DC ( as a kid it was Marvel and then Manga ) so I have no objection to any books.

  53. KillTheG1mp KillTheG1mp says:

    Well… my favorite “superstar” artists of comics are: Francavilla, Paquette (hey, I like his style and he lives in my neighborhood), Capulo, March, Manapul.

    Those guys working on a title will always pique my interest.

  54. merlin3649 says:

    there really aren’t any iconic big name artists that work for DC or Marvel right now besides Jim Lee. That’s not to say there aren’t a million great ones, just no superstar who moves books based on name alone. Marvel has definitely marketed their writers differently than their artists — maybe because they’re more reliable? I don’t know.

    That said, if McFarlane or Frank Miller ever were announced to be doing a Big Two book’s art, it’d be huge news. But they’re the only ones in that Jim Lee atmosphere.

  55. Rattrap says:

    Has anyone said Brian Bolland? Or George Perez? I feel like, if they would and could keep on schedule, they would bring some eyeballs to a book.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      George Perez did no such thing with his relaunch of Superman. Those days are over. And he can’t keep up with a monthly book anymore.

      Brian Bolland hasn’t done interiors for… I don’t know how long.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      Perez didn’t even do the Superman interiors, he just did layouts. Combined with his superdense writing, it made for a huge bummer even though I love his art.

      It seems like a ton of the great artists only do covers now. Sad, really.

    • Rattrap says:

      Yeah you guys are right I completely forgot about the Perez Superman thing, because it was so bad. Oops

  56. mrmccoy81 mrmccoy81 says:

    I’d say the closest to to Superstar level is Jim Cheung or Greg Capullo. What’s going to help Capullo in the long run though is his work ethic. He’s shown that he can consistently produce a monthly comic and that goes a long way

  57. Someone mentioned Frank Quitely. I second that.

  58. Jesse1125 Jesse1125 says:

    Skottie Young? How many AVX #1 issues were sold , and he just did that kickass variant cover??
    JH Williams III gets my hard earned $$ every time. I think if you compare the first 5-6 issues of BW and Batman I think Williams moved more units(pure speculation)

  59. skrilla1212 skrilla1212 says:

    If only Wizard Magazine were still around, we’d have a definitve answer of who the Top Hottest Artist really was!

    Joe Quesada would sell a book, Todd McFarlane too. Both guys mostly b/c they don’t work much anymore.
    How did Madureira’s Avengin Spider Man books do? That’s probably the best test case.

    BQ: Nickelback 1) Openly allowed to disdain them without recourse 2) Huge mainstream popularity 3) Actual output is somewhere in between.
    I think the Greg Land’s have it.

    • That’s actually a pretty good point. There’s no single mass focus for comics media like their used to be. There’s not even any power rankings!!! As Wizard fell so too did the industry.

  60. xBigbyx xBigbyx says:

    I haven’t read all posts but my guess would be Mac Farlane. If he would return to a new series or do an arc at one of the big two it would boost the sales i think. but its debatable because he is’nt really active.

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      He returned to write Spawn 220, which I flipped through. It was so wordy and overdone, and I thought, a McFarlane story without McFarlane art is such a waste of his time.

      It would be great if he found a writer and got off his ass and drew, but I guess he’s too good of a “writer” for that now.

  61. supersnac90 says:

    I see Quietly’s art as a love it/hate it kind of style (I on the love) but…maybe? Any comic friends (the few ones I have offline) I have ever talked to about him has always been a fan of his. Lenil Yu, Darywn Cooke and Ed McGunniess I think work, and pretty sure have all been mentioned already. Also, Alex Ross? Though he has never been a monthly commodity besides covers.

    I can’t think of a Nickelback that hasn’t already been mentioned, I almost would say Greg Horn but he has always just been pin-ups and the like from what I know.

  62. Steve Ditko on 1 contemporary issue of Spiderman would sell like hotcakes. (cause they would market the crap out of it)

  63. bub64882 bub64882 says:

    It may have been mentioned, but how many people bought Wonder Woman purely for Chiang?

    • BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

      His covers are great, but his interiors are only pretty good. But combined with the writing, I love that book.

    • MaxPower MaxPower says:

      I love Chiang, especially on this book, but the selling point for me with WW was definitely Azzarello. The guy from 100 Bullets is going to write Wonder Woman? Well, shit, guess I have to see what that looks like.

  64. BCDX97 BCDX97 says:

    J Scott Campbell was one a long time ago. Whatever happened to him?

    Most of the great artists seem to become cover artists or writers or other stuff. Drawing a monthly book is tough. It’s just too bad. Maybe we just need more mini-series and less monthly books?

  65. Chris Ware and Dan Clowes are probably the closest.

    The Big 2 have almost no credibility outside the comics bubble. Just kind of a fact.

  66. ConanXXXV ConanXXXV says:

    I think the reason there are 3 reasons there is not anymore superstar artists.

    1.The overall quality of comic art is far better than it was in the 80′s and 90′s so a great artist doesn’t stand out as much as when comics were a more generic style. I think a perfect example would be Michael Golden. His art stood out immediately when he did something in the 80′s and now his work looks like any generic DC comic.

    2. The top artists are much more stylized so some people may like the art and some not. Mike Mignola, Darwyn Cooke, the Batgirl artist all come to mind.

    3. When top artists do do something it seems like it is always late or over hyped. Mike Cho and Neal Adams come to mind. For all the hype for years I’ve heard about Neal Adams, boy was that Batman serious terrible.

    One other point is artists you just do covers, specifically a book with 4 covers every month are boring.

    I like Lenil Yu and Ivan Reiss.

  67. not to quibble with the premise, but i quibble.
    this notion about Jim Lee is a bit untested in today’s environment.

    Jim Lee would have to both write and draw a new book that was self published (and preferably non-superhero story) to get a true litmus test of what his current draw is.

    Everything else is just unfounded speculation, mostly.

    This doesn’t take away from the concept of the question “what artist moves units on name alone”

    However, I would say all writer/artist indie creators do that. Not large amounts mentioned above. But nearly all of their fans buy their comics almost regardless of genre or story or character.

    The idea that someone would follow a creator to thier next project rather than keep with a character or company is, was and will be common place for indie books.

    Is this the era of the writer?…if Morrison wrote a comic without art and there were only descriptive words & balloons in panels, would it sell 100,000?

    Can anyone name a writer who sold large volume of books with artwork that by consensus was horrible?

    Obviously the superstar writer is the bigger draw today but we should never underplay the necessity nor the value of the artist…

    but i quibble.

  68. ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

    If Michael Turner was still alive, he would be a rock star, I believe.

  69. filippod filippod (@filippodee) says:

    Short: no.

    More articulate: not in considerable numbers.

    Personal: Alan Davis (as artist), Francesco Francavilla. And Brian Hurtt but I hope he won’t test me because I love him on The Sixth Gun and I don’t want him to stop.

  70. ComicfanLyle says:

    As a new comic fan,after the new 52, the artists that have stood out for me were:

    Ivan Reis
    Greg Capullo(his art fits Batman)
    Yanick Paquette
    Fernando Pasarin
    Tyler Kirkham
    Fiona Staples

    P.s When im choosing a book i look to the characters and the premise,then whos writing it e.g. im excited for the Phatom stranger series after reading the free comic book day comic although i do have reservations as its being written by Dan Didio(i couldnt get into Omac at all).

  71. gobo gobo says:

    It’s sort of amazing how many comments here clearly didn’t read the article.

    I think we’re just generally moving away from Megastars (tm Dame Edna) in general. Audiences are so splintered these days that it seems like no one can become the next Tom Cruise or Jim Lee or Dame Edna Everage.

  72. peekay peekay says:

    I’ve got a lot of love for Francavilla, Samnee, Alex Ross, frank miller, David Petersen and many more artists.

    Sales wise though I think the only artists who i would buy every and anything from would be Dave Sim, Bill Sienkiewicz and Dave McKean. I dont get Jim Lee (or Dave Gibbons as well for that matter. Both seem like hacks in the right place/right time more than masters of their craft. the Jim Lee redesigns have all seemed pretty Azeael like in their tackiness and tbh I’m surprised the 52 flavours haven’t reverted yet).

  73. JLB68 JLB68 says:

    While not a Jim Lee’s level of super-stardom, artistlcly, IVAN REIS outdoes Jim Lee in a big way. Jim Lee is fantastic, but Ivan Reis is much better. Put Reis on Justice League, and the numbers will quickly reassert themselves as fans see his art.

  74. JoseRivera83 JoseRivera83 says:

    I have to say, I was never a fan of the idea of the “Superstar” comic artist. Jim Lee being a prime example of why I think that label is often annoying.

    Now, let’s not get confused here, I think Jim Lee is a good artist. You can’t deny that. But really, his work has never connected with me. His art is too scratchy for my tastes. His work on Image was good, but it was never for me. He had his own little section of the comics community in Wildstorm, and I was happy with that…THEN he came to DC.

    Hush was a nice story but I don’t see why people love it. Superman: For Tomorrow was awful. While you can certainly blame both Loeb and Azzarello for that, what really gets under my skin was how his art on the books was treated like the second coming. For a while when I saw anything Superman or Batman related, it was Lee’s art.

    Cut to a few years later when he couldn’t finish All-Star Batman and Robin due to his commitment on DC Universe Online.

    Cut to recently where he’s named co-publisher of DC Comics and one of the men who gave us the new 52 reboot.

    I’ll give it to Lee, he’s an artist who knew how to market himself and make “Jim Lee” a brand name.

    And I feel bad for saying this too, because he’s actually a nice guy in person. But he’s never connected with me as an artist. And as for being one of the men in charge of DC…I dunno.

    The “superstar” artist has never been something I’ve enjoyed in comics the same way I’ve never enjoyed the “Superstar” writer like Mark Millar; sure, the name will get some people to read comics, but I’d rather buy a comic because I enjoyed the story and the art, not because of the name attached. Just because Jim Lee draws something doesn’t mean I’ll automatically think it’s genius…Hush wasn’t that good. Just because Mark Millar writes something doesn’t mean I’ll like it…War Heroes, anyone?

  75. significarta says:

    Two points
    Firstly I am surprised nobody mentioned Stuart Immonen. If Fear Itself was as much of a financial success as Marvel claims it to be it sure as hell wasn’t the story or writing that made it shift units like it did. I know I stopped reading it halfway through but collected it all just to drool over the sheer gorgeousness of the art.

    Secondly the artists that DC has lined up for Before Watchmen, is as close as you can get to superstars in today’s market. And DC is well of aware of this..

  76. farceur318 says:

    I feel like every time Phil Noto does a book you see tons of people saying “I normally don’t red this book, but I’ll be picking it up just for the art.”

    He’d probably have to work more frequently to be considered a “Superstar” though.

  77. troy3825 troy3825 says:

    “The Star is dead” is true and interesting, especially extending the concept to movies/ music/ TV.

    The only answer to Josh’s question I can come up with is NONE. There are no names who would really push sales.

    The only thing I can come up with is situational: Legendary Name (Miller, Moore, Lee, McFarlane) PLUS Improbable/ Post-Bitter Fallout Legendary Title (DD/ Bats, Swampy/ Watchy, X-Men, Spidey). Even these insane fantasy reunions would only sell big for a few issues.

    …and there would be massive internet complaining about “all the hype”

    Finally, Nickelback and Land are crying all the way to the bank.

  78. J-Shap J-Shap says:

    Alex Ross would probably be big enough to push books like Jim Lee does, if people actually bought a book for the cover.

  79. My Fave artists: Leinul Yu, Steve McNiven, Jock, Frank Quitely, Gary Frank, Moritat, Sean Philips, Chris Bachalo, Alex Maleev, Lee Bermejo (borderline Superstar). I wouldn’t have picked up certain books unless the above artists weren’t tied to them.

    Who I think is a Superstar/book mover artist: Lee, Silvestri, McFarlane (if he actually started pencilling again), Reis, Capullo, Finch

    Nickelback: To me, Liefeld without a doubt. Creates a lot of buzz with a lot of shit to follow :)

    But the real book movers are now the writers. Morrison, Johns, Snyder, BKV, Millar, Hickman, Brubaker, Bendis, etc., etc.

  80. jpriester73 jpriester73 says:

    I’m relatively new to comics (only reading things outside of Captain America/Secret Avengers for a year). How popular is Alex Maleev and Michael Lark. I love their stuff on the back issues of Daredevil I picked up and that book seemed pretty popular. Is it Bendis and Brubaker driving those books or are Maleev and Lark equally powerful at bring in the bucks?

  81. Rhymer Rhymer says:

    Jim Lee might be Stephen King. I won’t argue these. But Frank Quitely … he is Thomas Pynchon. That’s worth something.

  82. bmw5930 says:

    For me, George Perez is still that JIm Lee-star. I’ll follow Perez to ANY book. Can’t say the same about Lee. I know Art Adams had that potential years ago, but never pushed thru. As for the Nickelback of artists, someone who has a following, has a name but people see him or her as a poser? Hard question. Is it the same as not liking an artist? If that was the case, the first name I could think of is Al Milgrom. But that’s old school. Would have to get back to you on that. Maybe John Romita Jr.?

  83. bonus question: I agree with jr jr
    there is only one jim lee, but only one other star with as much star power is of course mcfarlane, who would not like to see more of his work on other big books. why not have a battle one takes dc the other takes marvel and they each draw say 10 different books each and the most in sales wins.

  84. Just a random note, saying The Avengers has no stars doesn’t seem to be the case. Maybe not mega-level stars, but stars none the less, especially Sam Jackson. They’re not exactly casting unknowns there.

    Hmmm the artist thing is interesting, it does seem like it was practically uniquely a 90s thing, having huge star artists like Jim Lee, McFarlane, etc with buzz. I think the majority of readers in most eras cared about artists but maybe not so specifically.

    As for right now yeah it does seem to be niches, there are artists who have a loyal fanbase who’ll buy all there stuff, like say Simon Bisley, but not enough people to be considering superstar popular.

    Jim Lee is definitely still right at the top, though AvX and Batman outsold Justice League the past couple months.

  85. penickart says:

    There’s too many comments to read, but has anybody mentioned Stuart Immonen or Olivier Coipel? I think they’re the two heaviest hitters at Marvel right now. They get moved around from book to book for exactly that reason: to increase the numbers on the given title.

  86. davcrav says:

    I would buy anything Stuart Immonen worked on. He’s put several books back on the map with his style (his recent Avenging Spider-Man was spot on).

  87. Bonidex Bonidex says:

    I still think Jim Lee, Finch, Hitch and Cassaday move a lot of comics.
    I love Cassaday, Romita Jr, Deodato, Immonen and specially J.H.Williams III. I seriously buy any comic he makes, just for the art.

  88. DavidClark DavidClark says:

    Assuming the premise of the question is valid….besides Jim Lee, in particular order
    Ivan Reis
    Frank Quitely – because of the popularity of his work with Morrison
    Capullo would now – because of the wide readership of the rebooted Batman
    George Perez
    Maleev?
    Andy Kubert
    (DC heavy list, I know)

    Another commenter somewhere up there made a great point, that more than any other factor, it’s probably the WRITER that has more weight on sight unseen buzz and purchases.

  89. CrimsonBlur CrimsonBlur says:

    Manapul is a superstar. Ivan Reis is up there. George Perez. Andy Kubert…. And its agreed Rob Leifield is the Nickleback of comics. Jim Lee is good, but he’s not the top to me (just my thoughts), Ivan Reis and Manapul are tied at the top to me right now.

  90. sitara119 sitara119 says:

    todd mcfarlane is the correct answer.
    i’d like to say frank miller, but he’d definitely have to write it, too.

  91. nastysnow nastysnow says:

    ill get a ton of heat but i love greg land and he sells books

  92. undertak1983 undertak1983 says:

    John Romita, Jr. and Humberto Ramos are amazing artists with their own unique style.
    I don’t think artists move books as much as they used to.
    I think writers move books like crazy. Make mine Rick Remender and Scott Snyder!!!

  93. I’m usually a glass-half-full kinda guy, but with this question I don’t think there are any artists nowadays that have that kind of superstar quality about them. The closest I can think of is Joe Madureira, who now brings in fans of his game character designs (with a whole lot of overlap) to any new comic work he does. I don’t know the numbers for Avenging Spider-Man #1-3, but if I’m not mistaken, his Ultimates run was wildly popular for a minute, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t for Jeph Loeb’s “stellar” writing.

  94. Chris Arrant Chris Arrant (@chrisarrant) says:

    Hmm, that’s an interesting one. After Jim Lee, like you said it would be Bryan Hitch and Steve McNiven. I think John Cassaday, if preview art showed he was on his game, could deliver pre-orders. Marc Silvestri is close to that, as is Francis Manapul or J.H. Williams 3. Frank Quitely’s another person who could conceivably do it, as is Alex Ross.

    And here’s some outside choices that could definitely raise sales but don’t seem to want to do it on company-owned books: Todd McFarlane, Frank Miller, Steve Ditko, Mike MIgnola.

  95. muddi900 says:

    I am not going to read this whole goddamn thread, and I know Darwyn Cooke must have been mentioned, but I must add that no one would have bought an adaptation of a decades old crime series if it weren’t for him.

  96. doomedhuh doomedhuh says:

    anytime there’s a would be superstar artist everyone on the internet will just dismiss them as “cheesecake”

  97. Mr.Enigma Mr.Enigma (@EJsingley) says:

    Theere has been mention of every fossil in medium. Every artist that hasn’t put pencil to paper in years. Even the guys who can’t put out a single, page shortend ,comic every month.
    In the past 4 years there has been one artist who has been consistent i his craft and has worked with the biggest names in comics. Ivan Reis. When Green lantern was capturing our interests a few years ago, Mr. Reis was penciling the hottest book in the stores. His continued success on Aquaman shows the range and talent it takes to take two C list characters and make their worlds interesting.
    Let us not forget Marcos Martin. This guy is on fire. His work on DareDevil has helped propell the title to the top of the charts and his work on Spider-Man brought everybody back to the days of Stan and Steve.

    • artpunk007 artpunk007 says:

      I totally super agree about Marcos Martin…love his stuff, and he should be the regular on Daredevil, period.
      Disagree about fossils…Frank Quitely and John Cassaday are still young men, and I guarantee that if either one signed up to do a regular, big two series, it would absolutely sell out….Picture either one of them doing Justice League. You telling me that wouldn’t sell? To be fair, as to the article’s point, that ain’t likely. However, keep in mind that it’s only recently that Jim Lee became really active again (as a comic artist)…he’s not exactly prolific either…and J.C. works actively in other mediums (directing t.v. shows, of all things..)…so yeah, for my money, Jim Lee, Frank Quitely and John Cassaday are in a League of their own (sorry about the pun)…BUT
      I’m lookin’ at the Before Watchmen series, and seeing everyone else that could possibly qualify.
      Shout outs to Olivier Coipel, Steve Epting and Salvador Larocca (reverse League) and thank god for Spider Men…I was dying for some new Sara Pichelli (my favourite new artist of the last few years)

  98. Djinn says:

    My Superstar artist(s) changes from time to time, I have more than one but the first one that comes to mind now a days is Jae Lee or Frank Quitely, other than that Jim Lee is awesome, Doug Mahnke…I’m only getting started here….

  99. skydog skydog says:

    Jack Davis?

  100. fought13 fought13 (@fought13) says:

    I’m still pretty new to comics, and maybe I don’t know enough about this topic, but if I see the name Steve Dillon on a book I buy it.

    • Roldan Roldan says:

      Yeah but I’m pretty sure most of us prefer Dillon when he doesn’t work on a superhero book. Wolverine and Incredible Hulk just proves that he can’t do superhero but give him something like Hellblazer or Punisher and he does magic.

  101. DavidRose92 DavidRose92 says:

    Way late to the party here, but nevertheless — I think the real issue here is the way comics are distributed anymore. If I felt the only way I could read, for example, Steve McNiven’s artwork was to buy the individual issues — I’d buy every book of his the WEEK it came out. But figure in the fact that I can look at his art online, wait for the trades, or just get it later digitally, and I feel less and less compelled to buy his artwork JUST for his work.

    So, in summary, an issue of supply rather than demand.