Some quick background: In April 2005 I got a chance to meet Michael Turner at a comics convention. I had known of his work from seeing his Aspen designs (Fathom in particular is a visual treat). But what was really big then was his Superman/Batman covers. I told him and colorist Peter Steigerwald that his cover to Superman/Batman #13 fifty years from now would be a defining cover for the first decade of the millenium. Some Turner covers:
Turner had brought to the convention albums of all his comic book pencil art to-date. I expected to see some incredible work. What I saw was epic. Leonardo da Vinci epic. As I was “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over the pages his co-creators mentioned the enormous time he puts into each page. His pencils for the Superman/Batman covers were stunning, but his interior art of Batman was intricately detailed to a level you would have to see to believe. Luckily for us, DC caught on to his pencil sketches and put out some alternate covers without the color, but even they didn’t match seeing the pages in your hands. An original Turner piece used for three covers that Aspen owns:
Nothing against Steigerwald–comics need color and his coloring style was and is great–but sometimes colorists hide some of the best of the pencilist’s craft. Sadly, Turner passed away just before the San Diego Comic-Con in 2008 at only 37 and we missed out on half a lifetime’s worth of stunning covers and interior art for sure.
Comic readers are always on the lookout for the next big thing. Like Alex Ross, who has been around in the limelight even before Turner. Alex Ross has a different style, focusing his best work on painting incredible covers of almost every subject you can think of, from DC to Marvel to political commentary. Ross has become the #1 cover artist of choice among fans, almost without debate.
But last year the Green Arrow title started picking up steam with its cover art. Check these out:
A new artist, Mauro Cascioli, had quietly entered the comic book scene and was putting out some stunning painted covers. Who was this guy? Cascioli was born in Buenos Aires in 1978. Between 1992 and 2004 his work could be seen in the Brazil version of Rolling Stone magazine. Then in 2005 he started working for DC Comics. In 2007 he drew interior art and cover work for The Trials of Shazam limited series. And his work in the book looks good, great even. But then look at a page of his original pencil work for the Shazam series:
Cascioli has his own style, but his incredible detail work reminds me of another artist. Yes, Michael Turner. I think his Batman renderings are right up there with Frank Miller’s in The Dark Knight Returns, and Jim Lee’s landmark boot-in-your-face Batman as seen in his “Hush” storyline of the Batman title. And I like how his Superman looks like Christopher Reeve. Cascioli then moved on to the standout series Justice League of America: Cry for Justice. Here is a page of his original interior art to Cry for Justice:
Again, stunning pencils. In my view, Mauro Cascioli is THE artist to watch. What is he up to right now? It’s hard to tell. The DC press releases about its reboot this past month listed more than 100 creators, but Cascioli wasn’t on the list. Now it could be because they intended to only list writers and interior artists. But I hope that DC’s powers-that-be take a second look at Cascioli’s interior pages. Because as much as I love his Green Arrow painted covers, it would be great to be able to open a book and get that same level inside, and from someone whose work is as exciting to see as anyone we’ve seen…well, since Michael Turner.