Alex Ross counts among the greatest and most prolific comic book artists working today and has consistently held my affections thanks to his Gouache and Watercolour style that harks back to the Golden Age of American Illustration. Clear influences coming from artists such as Norman Rockwell and Andrew Loomis, who have passed on a working method and aesthetic that colours all of his work with a sober and realistic finesse. Something which has since been tapped by filmmakers such as M. Night Shyamalan in the excellent Unbreakable.
This is the third collection of work by Alex Ross that I’ve reviewed for the blog and this time it’s a large hardback with over 300 pages full to the brim with work created in conjunction with Dynamite Comics. A company that originally licensed popular characters from Marvel and DC to produce limited edition collectables before progressing to become a fully-fledged comic book publisher. I even have one of their Batman comics (Batman – Harley Quinn #1) signed by Ross up on my studio wall!
Most of your favourite characters are here such as Captain America, Iron man and the rest of The Avengers, along with some past gems of TV land such as Flash Gordon and The Bionic Man. Classic characters are re-born and re-designed including (one of my favorites) The Phantom. Now covered in an eerie, dripping red berry juice instead of the traditional purple costume. There’s plenty of accompanying pencil sketches and unused designs which is always welcome, plus it’s also interesting to see how his rendered style applies to a manga series such as Voltron.
It’s difficult to find a bad piece of work in this book. I wonder if a younger generation might find his style a little old-fashioned, as it is undoubtably steeped in nostalgia with no computer rendering in sight, which I guess is exactly what I like about it, and for the respect it pays to the past masters of illustration i’ll always be a fan.