by Steven Biscotti
An essential part of any comic book story is the art. Without the artists, we wouldn’t have such a great visual medium and we would not have the marvelous modern-day mythologies that we take for granted today. Admit it, when did Spider-Man become amazing to you? Was it when you read about an ordinary boy being bitten by a radioactive spider? Or was it when you saw him clad in blue and red webbed spandex, crossing the sky like lightning by a mere thread? What about Superman? Was it hearing about a strange visitor sent from a dying planet to Earth who would grow up to become a champion of all things good? Or seeing that legendary iconic symbol of hope, the “S” within a diamond? Ever since my grandfather introduced me to the world of comic books, I have been reading ever since. But it wasn’t until three years ago that I truly started to care about the art.
I have been reading comic books since 1992. I knew the main people like Stan Lee, Bob Kane, and Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I recognized the names of Steve Ditko, John Romita, and Bill Finger. But aside from casually knowing these people, I didn’t recognize the importance of them fully until 2011! It wasn’t until DC Comics started the culturally divisive and controversial “The New 52”, an initiative focused on people like me. Someone who may have read a comic on an every few weeks basis, but not on a weekly one. Someone who recognized names, places, and events from the movies, but not from the source material. For me, it was the start of something new and fresh. It was the jumping on point where I could finally read Superman and Batman and not be bogged down in years of cannon and ret-cons. For me, it was the moment where the comics came alive. And creators and artists were no longer just names. But became gods and goddesses behind the heroes and villains I had known (and the ones I was just becoming acclimated with) all these years.
DC Comics “The New 52” transformed me from someone who would pick out a few comics here and there to someone with a weekly pull list, with over 15 titles read a month. I enjoyed reading Scott Snyder’s “Batman” and Brian Azarello’s “Wonder Woman” but I LOVED Greg Capullo’s “Batman” and “Cliff Chiang’s “Wonder Woman” even more. It was where these artists took these characters and truly made them pop. Where my imagination was opened like a magic box opened by a child, and no longer were the days where it would take me just a few minutes to finish an issue, but where up to an hour could be spent on a book. I could get lost in each panel and fall in love with each splash page. Specifically, Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul’s work on “The Flash” has been my favorite. And it was their run, starting with issue #1, that I’d find myself repeatedly talking up this creative team to anyone with an interest in comics and to just about anyone that would listen. It was through Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato that I learned how to love comics.
Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s run on “The Flash” and current work on “Batman: Detective Comics” is a great place to start with if you’re someone who loves great comics, enjoys cinematic art, or like me three years ago, wanted to fall in love with one of the best storytelling and visual mediums out there! The longtime collaborators, especially on “The Flash”, brings to mind an Eisner-esque style that is irresistible, fun, and just great to look at. The breakdowns scream to be brought to life on film (and hopefully the producers behind this fall’s upcoming CW show “The Flash will take note), the brushes, ink, and water-color are constant reminders as to why Francis Manapul is behind the book and you’re not, and overall their work, in my opinion, is the way a comic book should look and feel. And an invitation to dream! So here’s to Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato and the countless other artists who have not only forged unforgettable icons, but have invited us all to fall in love a little bit each Wednesday.