Thursday, April 2, 2009

My Favorite Things

There's a small group of artists who make me want to give up drawing and just stick with the writing. I look at their work and think, "Yeah... I'm never gonna be THAT good...".

For the record, the top four people on that list are Tommy Lee Edwards, Michael Gaydos, John Paul Leon, and Ashley Wood.

The fifth person on the list is Sean Phillips.

I've been following Phillips since his first fill-in issue for HELLBLAZER. And back when I used to daydream about writing that book, Phillips was always my first choice for artist. The funny thing is that Sean Phillips did end up taking over HELLBLAZER (with the great Eddie Campbell as writer for the first four issues) in the late 90s, and somewhere in there Sean went from being a GOOD artist to being a GREAT artist. I can even pinpoint the exact issue where it happened (his second). Without any warning, Phillips loosened up his lines and created a whole new look for his art that just blew me away. Still blows me away, actually.

A few years later, when I was living in L.A. and playing bass in Joe Casey's band THE SELLOUTS, I used to show up for rehearsal to find stacks of xeroxed pages for Joe and Sean's WILDCATS run. I think this was probably the point where I went from admiration to pure jealousy. The pages were not only beautiful, but there were so many of them. Phillips was churning out work faster than I thought possible. And it all looked so damned GOOD.

Since then, Phillips has really taken off. He did a lot of UNCANNY X-MEN, the amazing SLEEPER for Wildstorm, MARVEL ZOMBIES, and now CRIMINAL and INCOGNITO at Marvel. And his work has gotten even better and more sophisticated with each new project.

I don't really go into comic shops that much anymore, so I've picked up most of Sean's newer work in trade paperback form from my local Borders. They sit in a stack on top of the bookshelf next to my art table, and whenever I'm feeling too good about myself as an artist, I open one up for a reminder of how far I have to go.

On a personal note, I sent Sean a fan email a few years ago and told him that I had his WILDCATS issues open for inspiration while I was drawing the NIGHTCRAWLER mini-series, and he kindly wrote me back to say that he had my NIGHTCRAWLER open while he was working on UNCANNY X-MEN.

So he's unbelievably talented AND nice. Not to mention he can paint. Yeah... there's just no way I could even compete.

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