Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Death, Rebirth, Realization & Dan Green

For those of us of a certain age, the name Dan Green means a little something.

Walk up to a comics fan over the age of thirty and say the name, "Dan Green?" One, they will probably run away and hide amongst the stacks of Uncle Scrooge comics until it's safe to not interact. Two, there will be a knowing. Good or bad, there will be a knowing.

For those who don't know who Dan Green is, he is a comic book inker. He inked the X-Men.

That means he inked The Eighties.

For nearly a decade, there he was, inking away. During his run on The X-Men he inked all of the future greats.

Jim Lee. Marc Silvestri. John Romita, Jr.

Now, the other day, I was reading volume 18 of the excellent Modern Masters series. This one happened to feature John Romita, Jr. and as I read through the pages I came to a realization. Dan Green killed Romita. Not physically or anything but... artistically.

Yeah, he pretty much killed him dead.

Growing up, I hated... hated John Romita's artwork. On X-Men, he was just there to provide the pictures for writer Chris Claremont's story and that was it. As far as I was concerned, that's all he was there for: pencil helper monkey.

And then something happened Romita went on to do Daredevil and for some reason I started liking him, some guy named Williamson was inking him and made his art... not suck as much as it used to.

I was happy for Romita that he finally learned how to draw. Then Marc Silvestri soon followed and his art was alright, I guess. His people looked a little skinny but I kept hoping that Dan Green would fix that but it never quite happened, meaning Silvestri sucked it! (Last two words said as sixteen year old Devon would have so eloquently put it.)

Later, Jim Lee came onto X-Men and I had a track record with this guy. He was the guy from The Punisher and his art was nice. I really liked it and I was so ready to see what he could do on the X-Men. Jim Lee and The X-Men: you know if you shine a strobe light in an epileptic's face they pass out, if you said those five words to a comics fans, they'd induce nerdgasm.

Later, Jim Lee got inked.

Mind you it wasn't terrible or anything just not as good as his Punisher work. Not as good as the slick work the inker on Punisher War Journal, Scott Williams, was doing.

It was at that very moment I realized what an inker does. The penciller lives and dies by the inker's hand.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have much respect for Dan Green. When he was on, he was on but the fact of the matter is that he never really brought out the best in anyone's pencils. I always got the impression that he stayed in his spot for the simple fact that he was competent and could hit deadlines. A must on a book like X-Men, a title well known for suffering production delays due to pencillers turning in work late.

Now, John Romita, Jr is considered a modern master and primarily inked by Klaus Janson. Their artwork is gorgeous, a near-flawless clinic of pencilling and inking in collaboration.

Again, I actually like the man's work. I'll never forget when I saw his name in a DC Comic, The Weird. His name lent that not-very-good comic a certain sense of gravitas in my eyes. Anything that could lure Dan Green away from the X-Men must be special, an event.

That's what it comes down to. Dan Green inked one of my favorite eras in comics. For what it was, I appreciate it.

So, my question to you is this:



midnightimages said...

Dan Green was also a penciller, and a pretty darn good one too.

He worked on some pretty good issues of one of my fave titles (Doctor Strange) in the 1980's.

He ALSO produced completely PAINTED artwork for the Marvel Graphic Novel:

Doctor Strange: Into Shamballa
(written by JM DeMatteis)

It is a thing of consummate beauty.

Now, I know that some of his inking was basic.
And frankly, you posit two horrid pencillers (JR jr just wasn't all that great at the time he picked up X-Men - PLUS they were ALL trying to keep well within the Paul Smith style - which was very popular when he left the book and JR jr took it over.

And Silvestri's X-men work did indeed SUCK IT.

Nothing was going to help THAT crap.

So, Dan Green is indeed one of my unsung art heroes.
He gets no love because most people equate him with basic inker.

But, I'm sure MANY pencillers LOVE to have him BECAUSE he didn't screw up their work.
If they sucked, he could make it better, but he didn't inflict his style over theirs.

And his pencilling and PAINTED work is fabulous.

Really. You should check it out.

ChrisM said...

Pat Broderick was THE man for drawing nuclear stuff-Captain Atom and Firestorm. He also draw cool run on the Micronauts... Loved his stuff to death. His recent work has been for Eros comics drawing some oddly stylized porn which looks...odd given how I remember him.

I always liked Terry Austin. He inked John Byrne of course, but on those rare occasions, he inked Bob Layton, Michael Golden and of course his classic run with Marshall Rogers.

But an unsung hero? Sal Buscema. His art never quite made it to my favorite-but I could always depend on him to draw my favorites dependably-the Avengers,Fantastic Four, whomever. He was always better than Don Heck, but was never quite as high on my ranked list as George Perez or John Byrne.

Anthony Strand said...

Unsung hero?

Bob Lappan. His lettering is smooth, clear, and was perfect for the sitcom-y rhythms of Justice League International. The few issues of JLI that he didn't do, in fact, just feel completely wrong.

And the writers and artist knew how important he was. When they reunited for the two miniseries in the early part of this decade, Bob Lappan was right there with them, lending the proper look to Booster & Beetle's wisecracks.

John Foley said...

David Mazzuchelli. A master of subtlety. No crosshatching or painted-on costumes.

Graig Kent said...

Dan Jolley - was kicking out two incredibly entertaining - and different - series with DC (Firestorm and Bloodhound) and suddenly disappeared, with Bloodhound being cancelled and Firestorm getting gentrified. His earlier works with Tony Harris (JSA: The Liberty File/Obergeist) were pretty great too.

midnightimages said...

I'd like to add:

Armando Gil (FABULOUS inker! If you've ever seen what he does, you'll understand.)

José Luis García-López (can never get enough of that man's pencil work. So simple. So complex. So perfect.)

Alex Nino (I know he drives some people crazy, but crazy is a place I like to be. I wonder if he was an inspiration for Tom Sutton? Sutton's 1970's work had some serious Nino goin' on.)

Bill Everett (besides creating the SubMariner - among others - he had some smooth lines when he was drawing stuff like Dr. Strange after Ditko left the title).

There are others, but then, I should probably just blog about it myself (no time for that, so I'll leave this here).

Rob S. said...

Dennis Jensen. I don't think he did many comics -- or many that I read, at any rate -- but when he inked Carmine Infantino on Flash in the early-300 issues, he gave Infantino's art a sheen that I'd never seen before. It was the first time I'd ever noticed an inker's contribution, and he impressed the hell out of me.

HeatherD2003 said...

I'm looking for info on Dennis Jensen. I know he was an inker for the Flash comics but that's all I've been able to find. Any other info would be great


Rob said...

I was a big fan of Dan Green's inking back during the Uncanny X-men days, and thought that he complimented John Romita Jr perfectly.

trillium said...

HeatherD2003, I know a bit about Dennis Jensen....I knew him from college days. I even have a couple of promotional comic books he did for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. What would you like to know?

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I.M Fletcher said...

I quite liked Dan Green over Silvestri in the late-80s X-Men I read. I really don't like John Romita Jr to this day (although I did buy all those Nocenti/Romita Jr Daredevil issues).