The 50 best comic covers of 2010 on Robot 6

The 50 best comic covers of 2010 on Robot 6, .O. Ladronn, Paolo Rivera, Massimo Carnevale, Gabriel  Ba, Rafael Albuquerque, Cliff Chiang, J.H. Williams III, Darwyn Cooke, Dave Johnson, Yuko Shimiz, Sean Phillips
Comic book covers, like the covers of books and magazines, have a singular purpose, to attract your attention, get you to pick up the book and plunk down your hard earned dollars in exchange for the promised wonders within.

Comic book covers are important enough that, though they are sometimes created by the artists who have created the interior art for the story, they are often created by other artists who specialize in creating gripping imagery just for covers.

Comic book covers in particular have come a long way from their roots in the traditions of the lurid pulp magazine covers of the 1930’s and 40’s. Some of that element still remains, of course (and I wouldn’t have it any other way), but the concept of capturing the attention of potential readers has expanded to include the subtle and thought provoking.

The variety of approaches to comics offered today has allowed for a range of cover art that includes some wonderful examples of concept, illustration and design.

Kevin Melrose, writing in the always interesting comics blog Robot 6 (part of the Comic Book Resources site), has given us his selection of The 50 best covers of 2010 (actually, he sneaks in 51).

You may not agree with all of his choices, of course, but what fun is a “best of” list if you agree with everything, and he certainly hits the mark for me in an number of cases.

Melrose gives thoughtful commentary on the covers and on the artists who created them. At the very least, the article serves as a fascinating cross section of some of the most interesting work being done in the field today.

Be sure to click on the images in his column to see the larger versions; for many of them, the appeal is in the details.

Also of interest is Melrose’s list of The best of the best of the year lists.

Images above:

J.O. Ladrönn gives us the feeling of the great pulp heroes in his interpretation of a classic comics detective for Will Eisner’s The Spirit #1.

Paolo Rivera’s striking cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #641 pays homage to the great American illustrator Coles Phillips.

Massimo Carnevale’s cover for Northlanders #35 is both subtle and gripping.

Gabriel Bá plays with the magic realist technique of transitioning between two seemingly unrelated scenes as part of the same image in his cover for Daytripper #2.

Rafael Albuquerque’s dramatically cropped image gives graphic power to his cover for Superboy #1.

Cliff Chiang uses strong graphic design, dark but intense colors and subtle textures to give an evocative image of Batman for Detective Comics #864.

J.H. Williams III gives Batwoman #0 a simultaneously modern and early 20th Century feeling, combining the image of the character and city skyline with dramatic Art Deco elements in the graphic design.

Darwyn Cooke’s wonderfully graphic cover illustration for The Outfit harkens to the stylized paperback covers and illustrations of the 1960’s.

Dave Johnson’s cover for Unknown Soldier #22 uses patterns, negative space and subtle color relationships to great advantage, leading your eye down to details like the skull faces in the center of the daisies.

The cover for The Unwritten #13 is awash with Yuko Shimizu‘s imaginative combination of images and graphic elements that play with scale, style and suggestions of motion.

Sean Phillips’ almost monochromatic composition, with its silhouetted background figures, spreads across both the back and front covers of Criminal: The Sinners #4.

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Charles Kaufman

Charles Kaufman
Charles Kaufman is a painter, cartoonist, illustrator and comics artist. His work has appeared in a long list of publications, from underground comix and CARtoons to the Wall Street Journal-Europe, Focus, Computer Artist, Editor & Publisher, New Media and a host of others, along with a range of commercial clients.

His is the creator of Fred and Frank, a long running comics series published for U.S. military personnel stationed in Europe from 1979-1992.

Kaufman works both in digital media and traditional media like acrylic and pen and ink, applying his off-kilter style to gallery paintings as well as illustrations and cartoons.

His paintings, in acrylic on canvas and sometimes other supports like wood or paper, are often of cubist influenced compositions involving women, or wine, or wine and women, as well as a few other subjects including a selection of stylized landscapes. Kaufman has a description of his painting process here.

Among his choice of unusual supports for paintings are crushed soft drink or beer cans, panted with acrylic. The finished piece is then framed for hanging. His crushed can art is featured on both a website and blog.

Kaufman also creates limited edition 3-D constructions that are probably a little difficult to convey in photographs.

In addition he creates “Fish Art” under the pseudonym of F. Frank.

Some of Kaufman’s work is collected in a book called Detail Views: Paintings within paintings, that is available from Back Wall Art. New collections of his 116 Faces and Crushed Can Art are due soon.

Oswald Achenbach

Oswald Achenbach
Oswald Achenbach was a 19th Century German landscape painter who found his greatest inspiration in italy, in particular in the area around the Bay of Naples, with it’s dramatic vistas of Mt. Vesuvius, and Rome and its environs.

He found drama in landscapes and cities of Southern Italy as well as the daily lives the played out against them both.

Achenback was the brother of Andreas Achenback, who was also a noted landscape painter.

Oswald Achenbach studied at the Dusseldorf Art Academy and later returned there to teach. His students included Themistocles von Eckenbrecher.

Peter Van Dyck

Peter Van Dyck
Painter Peter Van Dyck studied at Wesleyan University and at the Florence Academy of Art, and is currently a member of the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

His academic background shows in his dynamically balanced compositions, superbly handled color and refined draftsmanship.

Though his subjects include portraits and still life, he often focuses on interiors, in which the play of light though windows, in mirrors and across geometric arrangements of objects takes a central role.

His application of paint can vary from smooth to brusquely textured surfaces, on which his fascination with reflected and refracted light also comes into play.

His interior paintings can have some of the light infused stillness and rich reflections off dark wooden surfaces found in the interiors of Edmund Tarbell, and of the Dutch masters of interior painting like Vermeer and De Hooch who likely inspired both artists.

Van Dyck sometimes chooses subjects that other artists might see as unlikely to be rewarding, like a house heating system, a garden tractor or electric heaters, and finds in them patterns of color, texture and shape that make them seem as natural for subjects as traditional bowls of fruit or arrangements of pottery.

There are two galleries on his web site, recent work and an archive. You can also find his work represented by The John Pence Gallery, Eleanor Ettinger Gallery (work here), Grenning Gallery and Artists’ House Gallery here in Philadelphia, where he is currently part of a group exhibit that is on view until January 16, 2011.

Dyana Hesson

Dyana E. Hesson
I’m not always appreciative of floral subjects in paintings, too often they focus on the pretty at the expense of the beautiful.

Dyana E. Hesson is an artist who was born in California and is now living in Arizona, where she earned her degree in art from Arizona State University. She paints floral and botanical subjects with a difference, seeming to focus on each individual petal as if it was a sculptural object, wrapped in light and shadow.

Many of her luminous oils are painted at a relatively large scale, 40 x 40″ (100 x 100cm) or larger, though some are considerably smaller. She finds intricate landscapes of form within flowers, and renders them as crisply delineated shapes with rich colors, often accentuated by dark, softly gradated backgrounds.

Her subjects include plant forms other than flowers, and all of them have sense of botanical accuracy, though I’m certainly no expert in judging that.

Her website has a section of Original Oils, which is divided into sub-sections, as well as a section of limited edition prints. You can find additional galleries of her work on the websites for David Bonner Galleries (also here, here and here) and Manitou Galleries.

Hesson is featured in the current (January, 2011) issue of American Art Collector.

Scott Anderson

Scott Anderson
Scott Anderson is an illustrator based in Santa Barbara, California. He is also a faculty member of the art department at Westmont College.

Anderson’s refined, carefully crafted illustrations are done in oil on gessoed illustration board. In addition to the portfolios on his website for illustrations and sketches, you will find additional images on his blog, along with preliminary studies, figure drawings and still life paintings.

Of particular interest are a series of postings showing his working process, as in this post about the illustration of an angel contemplating a rose shown above, top.

Anderson also occasionally posts about artists that he admires, including his recent post about J.C. Leyendecker, which I mentioned here.

Also of interest are his posts about the “Dialog sketchbook” (also here), chronicling progress on a Moleskine sketchbook that he and illustrator Peter Cusak have been passing back and forth, each artist in turn painting a two-page spread before returning it to the other.