I noticed a thing the other day and it’s how many new, up and coming comic artists are influenced by the style of Sean Gordon Murphy. It struck me a while back that these exceptional artists just kind of emerge every five years with their own distinctive style and then everybody copies the Hell out of them for a few years.
This has nothing to do with sales or fame or whatever. I’m talking about artists who influence new comic-book artists and, stylistically, there tends to be two a decade. I was thinking that Fiona Staples just exploded on the scene before Sean with the launch of Saga and the amount of people influenced by her very particular style is staggering over the last half-decade. It’s a beautiful style and I remember my oldest kid seeing it a few months back among a pile of comics and singling it out to read immediately, saying how much she liked the cover. It’s just a kind of magic you can’t bottle.
Before Fiona, I think it was Travis Charest and although he’d been around for a decade and a half by this point we saw his style massively popularised by pretty much all the big Marvel artists between 2005-2010. Hitchy broke through into the mainstream around 2000 and EVERYBODY swiped him, even some of the other artists I was working with who would often lift entire panels!!!) and he paved the way for photo-realistic line-art dominance on his mighty runs. Alex Ross was the most imitated guy of 1995-2000 (broadly speaking) and Jim Lee the 5 years before that. Again, this isn’t always the biggest-selling. I mean the MOST COPIED BY OTHER ARTISTS.
With that in mind, who are the 70s and 80s pack-leaders? Byrne and Miller owned the 80s in cultural and sales terms, but Byrne especially wasn’t really copied. I think Dave Mazzuchelli probably has the upper-half of the 80s and I see half a dozen big artists still very influenced by him 30 years on. Adams has the early 70 and Kirby the early 60s, but who owns the latter half of those decades? Again, not sales-wise. I mean their INFLUENCE. I was talking to Hitchy about this earlier today and he thinks Art Adams or Michael Golden for early 80s as they were huge influences on what came next.