Monday, January 3, 2011

Top 10: Johnny Zito

Johnny Zito is one half of the writing team (with collaborator Tony Trov) behind digital comics such as Black Cherry Bombshells, Moon Girl and the brand new, D.O.G.S. of Mars. He is also a friend of PING! motherbox PING! and one hell of a snazzy dresser. He was kind enough to contribute his Top 10 most influential writers and artists for our little project. Enjoy, and for the love pete, read the man's awesome books!

Windsor McCay - He is whimsical and detailed yet there is never a wasted line, its really very conservative design. He projects his own intense surreality into every Little Nemo newspaper strip and yet every one is unique and universal.

John Buscema - How to Draw the Marvel Way is a sacred text that will hopefully be in print for as long as there are presses. Any little kid that enjoys drawing should get this book for a birthday. It could change their lives.

Stuart Immonen - Body language. He can get a lot of emotion out of the way Spider-Man swings or Superman flies. Plus the guy never misses deadlines, he's so fast.

Amanda Conner - Facial expressions. Her characters are always the best actors. They emote without having a million hatch lines across their faces. I enjoy watching her rooftop conversations as much as I enjoy the fights.

Chris Bachalo - I was hooked on his storytelling style, over lapping boxes with repeating background in the gutters, far back as Death: High Cost of Living. Already being an X-Men fan I followed him to the launch of Generation-X and the dude just kept pushing his style. He's always refining his lines and manages to stay current with real life and super hero fashion.

Jim Steranko - I only aspire to be as cool as Jim Sterenko's art. Every, single panel is more dynamic, and often more clever, than some artists' whole careers. He can tell a story forward and backward at the same time and both are excellent reads.

Jill Thompson - Yes, she draws awesome witches and cute dogs but her environments and the seamless way that characters integrate into her settings is so amazing. It never looks like a composition. It is totally natural; despite the odd or askew framing she might use.

Paolo Rivera - He is the greatest painter in comics. Like Alex Ross but with action! His Marvel Origin books were brilliant, X-Men and Spider-Man being stand outs.

Christine Larsen - Christine Larsen draws the way I always wished I could. She's a professor of sequential storytelling at a Philadelphia art college. She draws glorious monsters that would make Lovecraft wince but it's her narrative skills that make you fall in love with the monster.

Steve Rude - Everyone wants to see a Batman vs Superman Movie but I wanna see Steve Rude's Hulk vs Superman one shot made into a movie. It's huge and cinematic and heart wrenching... ya know... like most of Steve Rude's art.


Joe Kelly - Humor, pathos and epic villains. Joe Kelly was writing Action Comics when I was in college and it was consistently one of the better Superman books. He understands the Joseph Campbell myth making process and interjects that with rye observations about the genre that elevates the material.

Devon Grayson - Her first few issues of Titans were good enough to make me a fan for life. She has a great, economical use of dialog that captures character moments, leaves room for tone and feels natural.

Dan Jurgens - People shit on the Death of Superman now but at the time it was a genius marketing move. Events leading up to the Man of Steel's demise may be so-so but the death is emotionally crushing.

Kate Beaton - Even though her art is hilarious and fun; I enjoy her unique perspective on history and her taste in boring books. Beaton's observations are so sharp that her work feels effortless and authentic; like all classic comedians.

Grant Morrison - His thoughts are on a whole other level. Not sure I can even accurately deconstruct what I love about his work. I read that when he takes DMT he sees the New Gods. Which is funny because when I take DMT I see Grant Morrison.

Dwayne Mcduffie - The Justice League cartoon and the stories he helped adapt for the cartoon rival the printed comics. That comes from a place of love for the source material rather than trampling over it with change for the sake of being different.

Juliet Doucet - The pacing in My New York Diary is so claustrophobic and the characters are portrayed so disgustingly accurate that I feel trapped in New York every time I read it.

Bill Waterson - Bill's work is untouchable and I've always felt the writing was superior to the art on Calvin and Hobbes because it had to be. He pitched several strips with similar art to Universal Syndicate before they finally ran the one about a boy and his stuffed tiger. The other strips lacked philosophy, the circular logic of public education, and sardonic snowmen.

Dan Clowes - My non-comic reading friends turned me on to Ghost World. Clowes was the first guy doing literary work that crossed over to book store audiences. I'm a big fan of the way he takes the mundane and makes it kind of horrific and hopeless.

Fletcher Hanks - This is a recent addition to my list of influences. I only learned about him a few years ago with the release of his collected Stardust stories, I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets! He's a brilliant lunatic with the imagination of ten sugar addled children. The absurdity of his concepts will gnaw at your brain for days. It's a snap shot of a frantic time in the early life of comic books and it's really opened the door to the golden age for me.

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