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:
"WHO ARE SOME OF THE UNSUNG HEROES OF YOUR OWN PERSONAL COMICS EXPERIENCE?"