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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 5:10am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I just confidently proclaimed on a Facebook post that Dave Cockrum is comics' best designer, and then I'm just now taking another look at all the character designs Alex Ross has done for ASTRO CITY (and remembering KINGDOM COME and BATWOMAN, etc.) and they're pretty darn great.  And, of course, Neal Adams gave us the bearded GREEN ARROW, HAVOK, the blue & white ANGEL costume, and plenty of others (I happen to like the look of all his Continuity Comics characters).  And then there's Kirby...

So, I thought I'd put it out there--Who is the best character/costume designer in comics?  (And for this quiz, I'm not differentiating between first designs and re-designs.)  Numbers should matter somewhat: Rich Buckler did great with DEATHLOK and DEVIL-SLAYER, but I can't put his two up against Ross or Kirby's many dozens.

So, is it--
DAVE COCKRUM
NEAL ADAMS
JACK KIRBY
ALEX ROSS
or someone else?

And nothing to slight JB or others.  And I don't want to mix up admiration for KIrby's power or Ross' painting skills with a true assessment of their actual designs (designs that would stand the test of time by being well interpreted by others).  I feel that--

Neal Adams is comics' best penciler, Alex Ross is comics' best painter, John Byrne is comic's best storyteller, and Kirby is, well, the best.  And then there's Ditko...  But who's the best designer?



Edited by Eric Jansen on 04 July 2018 at 5:16am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 5:23am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Gil Kane.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 5:30am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Steve Ditko for Spider-Man and his rogues’ gallery, not to mention Dr. Strange, the red and gold Iron Man, Eternity, and his Charlton characters. 

I’d add Gil Kane to the list of names being considered.
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Marc Baptiste
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 5:45am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Gil Kane or Dave Cockrum... argh!!!

I will go with Gil Kane for those minimalist, sleek, elegant, streamlined looking costumes that I love so much.  

Marc
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Bob Simko
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 7:03am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Yeah...Gil kane, hands down.
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Jack Bohn
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 7:33am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

 Eric Jansen wrote:
And I don't want to mix up admiration for KIrby's power or Ross' painting skills with a true assessment of their actual designs (designs that would stand the test of time by being well interpreted by others).


I listen to a podcast that often expresses pity for artist who aren't George Perez who have to draw Nightwing's collar so it makes sense, so I take your meaning.

Gil Kane was Roy Thomas's go-to guy to give heroes a start in MARVEL PREMIER and such for others to take over. I agree with his decision.
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Mark McKay
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 7:33am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Kane’s costumes look timeless, Cockrum’s feel a bit more of the moment. Some are very cool, but seem more dated now.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 7:51am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Kane’s costumes look timeless, Cockrum’s feel a bit more of the moment. Some are very cool, but seem more dated now.

••

Kane tended to play against the conventional tropes. Look at his Green Lantern, as a prime example. Sure, the boots and gloves are there, but the trunks are not. And the gloves are white.*

As I have noted before, I was constantly blown away by Dave's costumes, especially since he used his own catalog of tropes over and over. Thigh high boots, opera gloves, a sash. It was as if he had a magic template, because every time he used it the costumes seemed new and fresh.

___________________________

* One of many things the movie got wrong. I can almost hear the production designers. "Check it out! They kept forgetting to color his gloves in the comics! Now we've fixed that!"

And then someone notices that the green of the ring plasma is lost against green gloves, so they make it so bright it's almost white.

sigh

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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 9:02am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Kane did something similar with the Atom - boots, gloves and belt, but no trunks.  The use of red and blue with a simple design gave him good color balance and a unique look.

His redesign of Adam Warlock for Marvel Premiere was a little different the boots, bracelets and belt seemed to fit pretty well with the Counter Earth/Jesus Christ theme.  But the design was not nearly as simple as the Green Lantern or Atom.

Iron Fist was another fairly simple design with the collar, "slippers" and dragon scar being the only unusual design elements.  Kane had used a similar collar design for Morbius a few years later, in what was a pretty simple design with the exception of his "bat-wings" under his arms (like Spider-Man's webs).

Kane also had a hand in the design of Tigra when she was transformed from the Cat - and again, it's another fairly simple costume (basically a bikini) with Tigra also having orange fur and striping covering her body and some vague cat-like features (mainly her eyes and fangs).

The main theme (if there really was one) in his designs seems to be simplicity, which generally holds up pretty well over time.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 9:17am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Gil's costumes tended to follow the natural lines of the body.

(At the risk of being accused of speaking ill of the dead, I really did not like what Darwyn Cooke did with existing costumes. Jack Kirby would sometimes draw trunks as having short "legs", and Cooke brought this to his versions of the DC characters. Only Wonder Woman had ever been drawn that way before, and on someone like Green Lantern it just looked wrong.)

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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 9:37am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Jack Kirby  - Fantastic Four, Black Bolt, Galactus, Captain America, Doctor Doom, Galactus, Goliath, Silver Surfer

Steve Ditko - Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Blue Beetle, Green Goblin

John Buscema - Vision, Yellowjacket, Mephisto, Valkyrie

John Romita - Bullseye, Punisher, Black Widow, Nova

Gil Kane - Green Lantern, Atom, Iron Fist, Morbius, Adam Warlock, Captain Marvel

Dave Cockrum - Storm, Phoenix, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Ms. Marvel, Element Lad, Thunderbird, Starboy

Carmine Infantinio - Adam Strange, Deadman, the Flash, Black Canary, Phantom Stranger

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Darren Ashmore
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 1:32pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Gotta put George Perez on the list. His designs run the full range from simple (like Changeling for example), to very complex (like the Scarlet Witch redesign in the 90's)
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 3:14pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Hmm...I had neglected to put Gil Kane on the list, even though I love his Captain Marvel and the others mentioned above.  But did he do enough to beat Kirby or Cockrum?

But while I love George Perez's artwork and some of his designs, he also (Sorry!) produced some of the WORST designs!  (I hate Troia with a burning passion!)  If this were a points system, I feel like some of the bad ones have to cancel out the good ones.

But John Romita Sr.?  Yeah, I forgot to consider him too.  Besides those listed above, he also designed (or had a hand in designing) Luke Cage, The Rhino, the Kingpin, Brother Voodoo, Wolverine(!), and--he almost deserves to win just for this--Mary Jane Watson!!


Edited by Eric Jansen on 04 July 2018 at 3:15pm
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Mario Ribeiro
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 4:16pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Hah, I love Troia. Hate the Wonder Girl uniform, though.

Cockrum
Ditko
Infantino
Kirby


Edited by Mario Ribeiro on 04 July 2018 at 4:16pm
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Robert Shepherd
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 7:37pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I can't pick a favorite but here are some designs that really stand out to me.

Kirby - Thing, Galactus
Ditko - Dr. Strange
Kane - Captain Marvel (I assume he made the red/blue version and Gene Colan made teh Gren/White version? My favorite (blue/red), so maybe that means Kane gets my vote.)
Cockrum - Storm, Nightcrawler
Perez - Taskmaster, Deathstroke
Byrne - Terrax, Puck
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Robert Cosgrove
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Posted: 04 July 2018 at 8:26pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Have to go with Ditko.  Spider-man is probably the best design since the original big two, Superman and Batman.  His Blue Beetle is exceptional.  Then there's Dr. Strange, The Creeper, the original Captain Atom, Iron Man, and a lot of great villains.
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 05 July 2018 at 12:58am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Yeah, just looking at those heroes and all the Spider-Man villains, Ditko is indeed in a class by himself.  I think of the Vulture and what a unique design that is and how so many people through the years have tried to revamp him or make him look "cool" and yet nothing beats Ditko's original.

As an artist who just happened to draw a lot of these characters in recent months (for practice), I have to say that the Ditko and Kane creations are probably the most FUN to draw!  (And some of the Adams and Kirby's are hard to draw well...unless you're Adams and Kirby!)  Oh no--I'm talking myself out of my original four!

But then again, Cockrum's are pretty fun to draw too, and they usually look good no matter who draws them.  And they bring a smile to my face.  OK, there are six or seven great designers, but I'm still leaning toward Cockrum.
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Lars Sandmark
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Posted: 05 July 2018 at 6:35am | IP Logged | 18 post reply


A few of my favourite costume designs are by John Byrne.

Guardian
(super) Count Nefaria
Silver Banshee
Wolverine
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 05 July 2018 at 7:49am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Carmine Infantino definitely deserves some distinction of merit for designing the iconic Flash in the late 50s, but I find it hard to argue with those saying Gil Kane. His Green Lantern design is brilliant and I'm also a big fan of his revamp of the look of Captain Marvel.

But then Cockrum did so much great work... 

Either Cockrum or Kane!
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Brennan Voboril
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Posted: 05 July 2018 at 9:38am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

I'd have to go with Jack Kirby.  I can't think of anyone who even comes close.  Just think of all the costumes he's created.  For me, second and third would go to Dave Cockrum and Gil Kane.  
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Paul Lloyd
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Posted: 05 July 2018 at 10:16am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Alan Davis? I'm thinking of Captain Britain, and the ClanDestine, and the tweeks he made to existing designs in The Nail and Superboy's Legion.


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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 06 July 2018 at 4:32pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Yes, Gil Kane. But Neal Adams goes up there if only because he gave the Angel a beautiful costume with boots that look like honest-to-god-actual boots.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 06 July 2018 at 10:25pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Literally the first thing the next artist got rid of! Granted, it was Sal Buscema and he was probably given about eight minutes to draw the whole book, but by the time I was on THE CHAMPIONS the leather boot were gone "forever" -- and they'd turned yellow!
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Robert Bradley
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Posted: 07 July 2018 at 12:08am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Yep, Angel's boots were white in X-Men #66 (the issue by Sal Buscema), then the book was cancelled and the X-Men went into that period where the didn't were costumes in their guest appearances for a while and then eventually showed up in Captain America #174 in their original costumes (another Sal Buscema story).

Angel was given the bland red & yellow costume with the headband in Champions #1 (drawn by Don Heck) and changed to the red & yellow version of the Adams costume in Champions #8 (probably because the Ghost Rider and Black Widow already had black costumes with "blue highlights").
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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 09 July 2018 at 2:34pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

The red-and-white-and-yellow version of Angel's costume had the most godawful combination of colors. Yellow? Ick. Ack. Only his hair should've been yellow.
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