New Book Showcases Primary Superpower
IN HIS 29 years as an artist in the comicbook industry, Alex Ross has become known for painting many superpowered masterpieces.
An Eisner Award-winning artist known for a style that seemingly brings the superheroes he paints into the real world, Ross has created iconic artwork for series such as “Marvels” alongside writer Kurt Busiek in 1994 and “Kingdom Come,” a collaboration with Mark Waid in 1996.
Ross recognises that for fans who grew up reading comics in the ‘90s, his almost-cinematic artwork filled a void. There were no connected live-action superhero movie universes. At best, fans could hope for a Batman movie every few years, before Joel Schumacher made even that not a guarantee.
Back then, to take in a comic book page painted by Ross was to treat your imagination to what your favorite superheroes might look like if they were standing right next to you. Ross says that visual experience for fans was always his goal.
“I was hoping that I could connect my way of interpreting these characters, which wasn’t too much of a case of overthinking or redefining them as much as trying to clarify how you could make them seem visually applicable to reality,” Ross told The Washington Post. “Of all the painters of my era, if none of them were as driven to that goal, I wanted to be the guy who leapfrogged ahead of them to make it my thing, so that everybody would think of me as sort of the Norman Rockwell of comics.”
Ross’s approach to art is as simple as it is meticulous. Paper, pencils and paint are his constant supplies. Ross uses live models, action figures, photographs and sculptures that he molds himself as references for his art. He once sculpted an Iron Man piece and dipped it in chrome so that he could satisfactorily apply a reflective surface to his version of the armored Avenger.
Time has come to define Ross’ art, in terms of the amount he puts into his craft and how little of it he has to enjoy the end results. Ross admits to working every day of the week for almost the first two decades of his career. He’s only given himself weekends off over the last nine years. He stays busy now painting covers for multiple Marvel Comics series, including the current “Captain America” series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and “The Immortal Hulk” written by Al Ewing. It’s a schedule that doesn’t leave much time to reminisce.
Ross hopes his fans will have more time than he’s had to take in some of his best works with the release of “Marvelocity,” a curated collection of his best Marvel works over his career (available for purchase from Pantheon Books), including painted pages, covers, childhood artwork, never-before-seen art and an original 10-page Spider-Man story he wrote and painted. The book reunites Ross with Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear, who worked with him on a 2003 book, “Mythology,” a collection of his best works for DC Comics.
“We don’t really get in the weeds of what it took for me to make projects or all the nuts and bolts of behind the scenes comic lore,” Ross said. – Washington Post.
Alex Ross at his art studio in Chicago.- Photo courtesy of Alex Ross-Pantheon Books