This week, Marvel released the GENE COLAN TRIBUTE, a special collection of classic reprints illustrated by the legendary Gene Colan produced in conjunction with the Hero Initiative
proceeds of which will go to benefit the celebrated artist.
Gene Colan has influenced countless professionals with his work on titles like IRON MAN and TOMB OF DRACULA, inspiring the next generation of comics talent. But Colan doesn't stand alone as the history of Marvel produces no shortage of incredible writers and artists worthy of being idolized.
This week, Marvel.com asked editors and creators here at the House of Ideas for some of their professional heroes.
It's Friday, so kick back, relax and enjoy.
TOMMY LEE EDWARDS (artist of MARVEL 1985):
I've read comics from the very moment I learned to put letters together to form words. But it probably wasn't until I was about 10 years old that I started paying so much attention to who actually created
the comics. As I liked to draw so much, I was really into the artists. When I was junior high I idolized John Romita Jr. on UNCANNY X-MEN and Walter Simonson on THOR. Seeing John Workman's work alongside Simonson's art was the first time I really noticed the lettering, as well. It made such an impact on me, that John has lettered virtually every comic I've drawn for nearly 15 years! And I still idolize Romita JR., Simonson, [Howard] Chaykin, [Jack] Kirby, [Alex] Toth, [John] Buscema, and all of those childhood heroes.
TODD NAUCK (artist of AMERICAN DREAM):
As an artist I idolized many artists when I started collecting comics in 1984: Mike Zeck's SECRET WARS and CAPTAIN AMERICA, Walt Simonson's THOR and X-FACTOR, Rick Leonardi's Spider-Man and DAREDEVIL, Alan Davis' X-Men specials and EXCALIBUR.
But the artist that I idolized the most was Arthur Adams. His figure work, details, and storytelling really influenced my love of big group superhero comics. His X-Men Annuals and New Mutants Specials blew me away. I loved how he choreographed such a large number of characters and made each character distinct. No one got lost in the crowd. His work is always has something to come back to and look at and discover.
KEVIN GREVIOUX (writer of NEW WARRIORS):
Everyone always has Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the top of their list and I'm no different. They were by far the greatest creative tandem in the history of comics. Their quality of creativity and the sheer amount material they produced was just unequaled. If you just look at FANTASTIC FOUR #33 through #69, you have a virtual treasure trove of ideas that Marvel is still mining to this day. I'm also going to give a shout out to John Buscema and John Byrne. In a way Buscema was Marvel's Neal Adams. And by that I mean an artist that had a type of realistic classic
style that just popped off the page. And John Byrne, in my mind, was Marvel's first great artist/writer. Everything he drew had power, and his story-telling was simple yet amazingly engaging.
DAVID AJA (former artist of IMMORTAL IRON FIST):
Let's go with a few[creators] I was, I am, and I will be in love with: Kirby and [Steve] Ditko, "The Johns" Buscema and Romita, [Jim] Steranko, Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, Frank Miller, [J.M.] DeMatteis, Mike Zeck, Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, Bill Sienkiewicz, David Mazzucchelli, Barry Windsor-Smith...I could go on and on, and I'm sure I would always forget someone. I was a geek, you know, all I can say is all those people have done comics that had been important in my life. Thanks to all.
MARK WAID (upcoming writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
Steve Gerber. He was the first Marvel writer after Stan to have his own distinct voice, and he made a gargantuan impact on me by showing me that the best stories are often the most personal ones.
Oh, wait, I was supposed to say Joe Quesada, wasn't I? Joe Quesada.
MARC GUGGENHEIM (writer of YOUNG X-MEN):
Wow. I don't know if Marvel.com has the bandwidth to cover all the Marvel writers, artists and writer/artists I idolized when I was growing up. I think any list would have to start with Chris Claremont and John Byrne for their work on UNCANNY X-MEN, John Byrne—him again, but as writer and
artist, this time—for his work on FANTASTIC FOUR, Frank Miller for DAREDEVIL, Walt Simonson for THOR—does anyone remember how unreadable that book had been before he came along?—Paul Smith and David Cockrum for that aforementioned UNCANNY book and last but definitely not least—in fact he should be near the top of my list—is Bill Mantlo, who I idolized not just for his work on ROM, Spider-Man and MICRONAUTS but especially for achieving my dream of being an attorney and comic book writer. The man's a god.
RALPH MACCHIO (Marvel Senior Editor):
Of course, as with everyone else, it was Stan whose work I just loved. He's the guy who brought us all along with the Marvel style.
Of the second generation guys, one whose work I always had a great respect for was Don McGregor on both the Black Panther and KILLRAVEN. I was a regular letter writer to both those books. Aside from Stan's initial scripting on the character, no one has ever brought T'Challa and Wakanda to life more compellingly than Don. It's a testament to his creativity that his creation of Eric Killmonger has lasted decades as the Panther's arch foe. And he and Craig Russell took the "War of the Worlds" concept to new heights in the KILLRAVEN book, populating it with a hugely entertaining cast of characters, distinctive in every way. It was obvious to me as a reader that Don was putting his heart into these series and I reacted to it by becoming deeply involved in both books. Don is one of the good ones.
JOE KELLY (upcoming writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
This one's easy. I was in 7th grade when I rediscovered comics, and the one that pulled me in was a NEW MUTANTS cover by Bill Sienkiewicz, during the Demon Bear saga. The instant I saw those pages, I was hooked—I didn't know comics could look
like that! The funny thing is, shortly after, I saw Art Adams for the first time, and he became my other art god, albeit on a completely
different end of the spectrum! The two of them were my absolute favorites during those formative years, and they continue to have a special place in my heart—and
lucky me, I've had the incredible honor of working with them both. And would like to again—ahem!—Art? Bill?—ahem!
PAUL CORNELL (writer of CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI: 13):
It's Stan. In the future he'll be up there with the Brothers Grimm and Hans Anderson as one of the all time great children's writers. His ease of communication and way of reaching out to the reader are great ways to teach reading, and the range of vocabulary this taught, and the delight in words remain incredible. My parents chose right when they gave me those comics. He remains under-praised and undervalued.
WELLINTON ALVES (artist of NOVA):
I love Bryan Hitch's work because he has a unique style with great storytelling and makes his characters so beautiful and interesting.
JEFF PARKER (writer of AGE OF THE SENTRY):
I was lucky to be able to read lots of Marvel's reprints in the 70's so I got to soak in the majesty of Jack Kirby's Silver Age work, mostly with FANTASTIC FOUR. Big power and big ideas just blasted out of those books at me, and made me think large-scale.
Then not much from Marvel really hit me that way again until the 80's, when I was walloped with an uru hammer courtesy of Walt Simonson beginning his legendary run on THOR. Simonson pushed every button for me, gave me intriguing plots and subplots, grandiose drama and developments and tied strongly into the actual Nordic myths. He had the energy of what Kirby had done and the writer chops to go along with it.
Both of those creators are true creators of modern myth, and I owe a lot to them!
IVAN BRANDON (writer of SECRET INVASION: HOME INVASION
: Bill Sienkiewicz had the most profound impact on me growing up. I first noticed his work on NEW MUTANTS, and as a kid, it was one of the very first times I looked to see the name of the person behind the art. It changed completely my impression of what a comic
DAVID MICHELINIE (former writer of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN):
Unfortunately, Marvel Comics wasn't around during my first childhood, so I really didn't idolize any Marvel creators while growing up. I discovered Marvel in college, when a friend suggested I check out AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. I did, and was hooked. The book was being written by Gerry Conway at that time, so I guess I'd have to blame—er, thank—him for getting me back into comics. A list of other folks I looked up to during that period, for keeping me involved with Marvel stories, would probably include Len Wein, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema and a whole bunch of others.
CHRIS YOST (co-writer of X-FORCE):
Art Adams' work on the X-Men, and specifically the NEW MUTANTS SPECIAL EDITION, changed me forever. It was the first time I actually wanted a creator's autograph, and I finally got it. I'd never been to a comic convention before, but I found out about a show in Michigan he was at. I stood in line with people who literally had boxes
of comics for him to sign, and I think he was pretty psyched when I only had one.
MIKE CAREY (writer of X-MEN: LEGACY):
I discovered Marvel twice, the first time courtesy of Stan and Jack's FANTASTIC FOUR—in British black and white reprint editions—[and] the second time via Chris Claremont's X-MEN. They had one thing in common, which was to give you this sense that the universe was expanding and the horizon was getting further away. There's nothing cooler than that.
TOM BREVOORT (Marvel Executive Editor):
The most obvious guy for me to talk about in this regard would be Jack Kirby, but instead I want to speak about somebody else.
When I started working at Marvel, and for the next six or seven years, John Romita Sr. was our Art Director. He was in charge of overseeing the production of covers, handling art corrections, and doing extensive artwork and design illustrations for our licensing division. As I began my career working in the Special Projects division, I had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with John.
John is a perfectionist, which in some ways is his Achilles heel as well as a source of strength. John is never satisfied with his own work, and would constantly redraw and redraw a perfectly acceptable piece of artwork striving for some intangible perfection that he saw in his head but couldn't quite materialize on paper. He never truly understood the extent of his own talents and abilities, and always responded to a job as though this at last would be the one on which everybody would realize that he'd been a fraud all those years, just faking his way through it, and he'd become a laughingstock. This in contrast to the fact that this was John Romita—the guy who made Spider-Man Marvel's best-selling character, who carried on with FANTASTIC FOUR when Kirby left, who brought CAPTAIN AMERICA back from the brink of cancellation in the 70's when patriotism of a certain nature was considered out of style.
John carried his perfectionism into every facet of the job, but not in an off-putting way. He was always extremely generous with his time, especially to young artist who were just breaking in. There are a whole crop of creators who learned important
elements about storytelling and composition and excitement on the page from speaking with and working with John Romita. The same is true of whole generations of editors. Because John would be so bothered by certain tiny things—the way two elements on a cover would haphazardly tangent to one another, the way figures and elements of a cover image would interact with the logo and other cover elements in terms of establishing special relationships, the way cover copy would sit on the image and how it was handled—the repeated exposure to his anxiety and desire to get every detail right was drummed into everyone who worked with him. And so, today, I now drive my subordinate editors crazy in precisely the same way, as all of the same flukes of composition and design that would have irritated John now irritate me when I look at our upcoming covers, and need to be fixed.