A Word From Al

There is a disease that has infected young comic book artists these days and some of them have infiltrated Spider-Man. Call it Manga or its American cousin "animation style", it is a deliberate effort on the part of today's creators to bring about a more "cartoony" look in comics previously grounded in the Kirby-Romita-Adams school of "realistic" rendering. Now I am no enemy of exaggerated comic book styles. I am a big fan of Fred Hembeck, Daniel Clowes, Peter Bagge, Will Eisner, Roberta Gregory, C. C. Beck, Seth, Gary Larsen, Matt Groening, and George Herriman. I even think that various stylistic approaches work very nicely with Spider-Man, from the original Steve Ditko look to the flashier Todd McFarlane work, but when Peter starts to look like Richie Rich, Joe Robertson resembles insulting racial caricatures of the early part of the century and every woman looks like Larry Flynt's sweetest dream, then it is time to draw the line.

I am not seeking the recall of every artist that works on Spider-Man (you know which ones we're talking about) but I am hoping for an end to the endless stream of "talented newcomers" that have been overwhelming these books lately. What's the matter with the artists who have rendered Spidey in the past? I'm not even talking about fan favorites like Ditko, McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Mark Bagley, or John Byrne. Take Ron Frenz as an example. Here is an artist who never received much recognition from fans, who was always considered workmanlike and dull...but compare his work on "Hobgoblin Lives" with any work presently being done in the regular books and see how it outshines them. If Ron Frenz' work looks masterful next to the new artists, then why not Mike Harris, Alan Kupperberg, Rick Leonardi, Alex Saviuk, Brett Breeding, Bob McLeod, Keith Pollard, Pat Broderick, Ron Wilson, Kerry Gammill, Greg LaRocque, Al Milgrom, Steve Geiger or any others who understand anatomy and perspective and have done solid super-hero work in the past? What's become of all these artists anyway? Wouldn't any one of them be better for Spidey than...ahem...Steve Skroce?