Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Buy Frazer Irving

I've always followed writers more than artists, but I definitely always buy anything involving the artwork of Frazer Irving. Whether it's "The Simping Detective," "Fort: Prophet of the Unexplained," "Klarion, the Witch Boy," or "Silent War," Irving reinvents his style for each project, but somehow maintains the same wonderful level of quality.

So, yes, I'll be buying "Azrael: Death's Dark Knight" just for Irving's art.

I told him as much when I bumped into him at the New York Comic-Con last month, and we got talking about his work on "Klarion" and he said he owed his career in American comics to Grant Morrison because Morrison had to fight really hard to get DC to hire him for the four issue series about the Witch Boy. His style didn't look mainstream enough, apparently, and without Morrison standing his ground, we never would have gotten to see Irving's "Klarion" at all.

Oh, DC! If you can't appreciate the greatness that is Frazer Irving on your own, then maybe you should be publishing something other than comic books.

15 comments:

David Uzumeri said...

DC's initial reticence to hire artists who aren't A) in the house style or B) already major names is baffling. I'm convinced if people didn't already know who they were, J.H. Williams III or Frank Quitely wouldn't be able to get a project there.

Greg said...

Did you ask him where Gutsville was? DID YOU?!?!?!?!?

I thought I was the only person in the world who had read Fort. Good call, sir!

Shecky Shabazz said...

I think DC's inability to both appreciate and hire good artists is one of - if not the - reason they've been trailing increasingly far behind Marvel. They just don't seem to understand the need for comics to look good or recognize good art when they see it. Maybe it's the fact that Marvel's EIC is an artist that makes the difference.

Kris Krause said...

Irving's art is awesome, and I'll be picking up Azrael for both his art and Nicieza's writing.

Preston said...

Damn, I didn't realize Irving's artwork would be in one of the BftC tie-ins since I wasn't planning one picking anything up related to this event. I want to buy this now even though I shouldn't...

Matt said...

Irving is one of the three artists whose books I buy regardless of story (and another on of those, Quitely, also owes much of his American career to Grant Morrison). I hope someone at DC reads your post and decides that it would be best to release a word-balloon-less variant, however; I'm kinda dreading reading a story about Azrael. And I would argue that DC exclusively employs the two best artists in the superhero business (Williams and Quitely) and regularly publishes the third- and fourth-best (Irving and Cliff Chiang). Now that Omega is over I can't think of anyone at Marvel besides David Aja who I actually think draws good comics, though I'm willing to concede Marvel seem to have a much better coloring/production staff. (Wait -- is Weston at Marvel anymore?)

Timothy Callahan said...

I think Quitely, Williams, Irving, and Chiang would be my Top Four Working Superhero Artists too.

Marvel does have Weston (in theory, if "The Twelve" ever concludes), Aja, Lark, JR Jr., Acuna, Bianchi, and the average level of quality is higher overall, with guys like Paquette, Dodson, Coipel, Cheung, etc.

But, yeah, all my Top Four are at DC.

Bill Reed said...

Yeah, I'm a story guy too, but I have a few artists whose work I will buy regardless of the writer. Luckily, Quitely always works with Morrison. And then there's JH Williams and Cameron Stewart. So.

Irving is quite awesome, yes. I wish we could get some more Klarion. Or Gutsville.

Shecky Shabazz said...

My top working artists would be Michael Lark, Frank Quitely, JH Williams and I think David Aja would be up there now, too.

DC has some of the best artists, but they also have a lot of very bland and unexciting artists.
Marvel also has, in addition to those Tim mentioned, Marcos Martin, Mike Deodato, Chris Bachalo, Clayton Crain (I don't suppose I'll get a lot of support on him), Steve Epting, Butch Guice, Stuart Immonen, Lee Weeks and Alan Davis.
Even people like Igor Kordey and Scott Eaton are a cut above DC's standard fare.

By the way, speaking of american audiences having a hard time appreciating british styles - has everyone seen D'Israeli's amazing art on Stickleback? You should do a column on british, Callahan.

David Uzumeri said...

The artistic quality spectrum at DC mirrors the major difference between the two companies IMO - I'd argue the heights reached by a really ambitious, high-production DC title are higher than those reached by Marvel's best books, but the average quality of a Marvel title is higher, and this applies to final products, writers, and artists. Marvel may not have a Grant Morrison, but they also don't have the Kountdown Krew.

Timothy Callahan said...

That's a good point David. DC does have higher highs than Marvel (and always has, I think), but Marvel has a more consistent across-the-line quality. Why is that?

Do you think it's because Marvel is really a Stan-and-Jack-and-Steve creation, and so it's a tighter thing, while DC has always been a hodgepodge?

Or do you think it's the Len Wein and Karen Berger effect? If you look at the great DC stuff, the two of them were responsible for most of it either directly or indirectly.

Bruce Castle said...

Yeah, the art in Seven Soldiers was fantastic all around. That's why it was so great. Well, that and Morrison, but you know he's great, right Tim?

What did you think of this first (Azrael) issue?

Timothy Callahan said...

Oh, I thought Azrael #1 looked wonderful, but this Lane is supposed to be the Third Policeman from the Morrison run? He acts completely differently.

As I said: I'm buying it just for the art.

Matt said...

Aaargh, I always forget the good Marvel guys because they (Lark excepted) work on books that I just think are so mediocre! I think the Marvel books generally look better across the board because of that kind of 'standard of mediocrity' the company has -- they never put out anything as truly terrible as Countdown or Titans but that company will never produce a Watchmen or an All Star Superman. DC, being the more art-oriented company, occasionally reaches astronomical highs on its prestige, top-quality books, but the books that aren't meant to be anything but 'product' come out worse than the Marvel books (which are produced by the more profit-oriented company, and are intended as nothing more than 'product'). Marvel's bottom line comes from producing slick-looking mediocrity every week; DC's comes from selling trades of the good stuff, and their mediocre books seem to be produced by people who care a lot less about what something that isn't supposed to be 'good' comes out looking like. This is a huge generalization, of course...

Web Behrens said...

As big a fan as I am of Frazer Irving, I can't bring myself to buy any "Battle of the Cowl" comics. Ah well. I'll read it some day while sitting in a local megabookstore. (They're good for using as libraries.)

I seem to recall most of the "Seven Soldier" artists getting quickly snatched up into exclusives by Marvel; it seemed especially foolish at the time for DC to let them go.

Whom do they still have? Cameron Stewart, who works on excellent Vertigo series (The Other Side, Seaguy) (does he do any Marvel stuff?). And Doug Mahnke, who actually i would put into the top tier on my list (which of course also includes Williams and Quitely). I loved "Frankenstein"! That and "Klarion" were my two faves of the series, and I'd buy an ongoing of either in a heartbeat.

I'm actually very excited that Mahnke will be on "Green Lantern," not least because I am loving the whole "War of Light" mega-storyline. And it's about time he gets a high-profile series. I'm also a big fan of Patrick Gleason, who draws "Green Lantern Corps" with tons of energy and a unique flair. Good times to be a GL reader.