Tuesday 2 May 2017

Favourite Artists - The Incredible Hulk (Updated)

Being a life-long fan of the Incredible Hulk, it was ambition from a very young age to draw the character professionally... something I'm proud to say I've been able to accomplish on several occasions. Over the years, many artists have drawn the character through his various incarnations... bringing their own unique style to the green (and sometimes grey) goliath. I thought I'd present a list of my favourite artists to ever draw ol' Jade Jaws (and would that make the Grey Hulk ol' Grey Gums?). So, without further ado is my list of favourite artists to have drawn the Incredible Hulk!

PS: Seeing as it's one of the more popular ones on this site. I've added a few more artists to the list. Read on, True Believer!

15) Todd McFarlane

Before he co-founded Image comics in the early 90's, and went onto comic-book superstardom with his creator-owned title, Spawn, Todd McFarlane rose to comic book prominence during Peter David's early run on the Incredible Hulk. Shortly after Al Milgrom's stint on the book, which featured the return of the original, grey-skinned Hulk (previously seen in the Hulk's very first appearance in INCREDIBLE HULK #1, waaaayyyyy back in 1962), Todd's version of the Hulk was unlike anything we had ever seen before... looking far more brutish and less human than previous artists work on the book. This is my favourite page on Todd's run... where Betty Banner finally confronts her husband's monstrous alter-ego - and is a defining moment in the relationship of both characters:

Art by Todd McFarlane, inks by Bob Wiacek.
An iconic image of the Gray Hulk... by Todd McFarlane.

14) John Byrne

When John Byrne (who is possibly better known for his work on the Hulk's beautiful gamma-powered cousin, the Sensational She-Hulk) took on the reins as both artist and writer on the Incredible Hulk back in the early 1980s, it was a short but memorable run... which saw Bruce Banner physically separated his monstrous alter-ego. This in turn gave us a totally mindless Hulk, who, on an unstoppable rampage battled the likes of the West Coast Avengers, a new team of HulkBusters (recruited by the now Hulkless Bruce Banner) and a guilt ridden Doc. Samson (who, believing he could rehabilitate the Hulk, released him onto the world at large). John's version of the Hulk was certainly unique to his style... being far larger and more powerful than other artists had drawn him in the past (Byrne took over from Sal Buscema's legendary run on the book). Although these days, Byrne now draws him in a style which is clearly a homage to Jack 'the King' Kirby's original version. For an in-depth look at John Byrne's Incredible Hulk, check out my friend Gary Miller's excellent article at his website.

Art by John Byrne.
A more Kirby-esque green goliath... by John Byrne.
13) Paul Pelletier

One of my favourite modern Hulk artists, along with Mike Deodato and Ed McGuinness (see next entry). Paul's work on Hulk, especially during the FALL OF THE HULKS and WORLD WAR HULKS story arcs feature some of the best Hulk artwork in recent history, giving us a Hulk that is both modern, but still classic at the same time.

Paul draws an INCREDIBLE version of the classic Green Hulk!

12) Ed McGuinness

A lot of things could be said about Jeph Loeb's RED HULK series (which I loved, BTW!), but I'd be surprised to see anyone complain about the awesome artwork of Ed McGuinness. McGuinness's Hulk had something of a classic, old-school quality about it... and it felt like for the first time in years (decades?), I was reading the classic, savage Green Hulk again! Ed's style has certainly developed since his first take on the character, way back in issues 470-471... although it was still awesome even then! Ed was very complimentary to my own work on DeviantART, which I'll always appreciate. Thanks Ed!

A very classic-looking Hulk by Ed McGuinness...
... very different from this version, way back in

11) Gil Kane

One of my all-time favourite artists, Gil Kane had a short run on the Incredible Hulk during the days when it was titled TALES TO ASTONISH, and also drew the very first appearance of what I consider to be the Hulk's greatest foe... the Abomination. Kane's version of the Hulk harkened back to the Hulk that Jack Kirby first drew back in the original 6 issues of the Incredible Hulk... although as one of Marvel's top cover artists proved he could draw a great, more modern-classic version of the character as well.

Classic Defenders.. art by Gil Kane.

10) Dave Cockrum

To my knowledge, Dave Cockrum never drew any actual stories featuring ol' Greenskin... but he did some incredible covers! For these awesome pieces of artwork alone, and the perfect depiction of the classic Hulk, Dave makes the list of being one of my all-time favourites!

Dave Cockrum's original, unpublished cover to INCREDIBLE HULK 208.
9) Earl Norem

During the 1970s the Hulk was one of Marvel's hottest properties, thanks to the popularity of the TV series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. This resulted in Marvel releasing a second Hulk title, THE RAMPAGING HULK, a black and white magazine-style book which featured stories for the older reader (much like it's companion magazines THE TOMB OF DRACULA, HOWARD THE DUCK and THE SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN). These magazines featured some beautifully painted cover pieces by fantasy artists such as Ken Barr, Bob Larkin and Earl Norem. Earl produced many covers for the book... even after it transitioned into the more TV series-influenced HULK! MAGAZINE, creating some truly iconic images of the Green Goliath.

Rampaging Hulk no.3... cover by Earl Norem.
Hulk! Magazine issue 16. Awesome cover artwork by Earl Norem.
Rampaging Hulk issue 9. The Avengers have captured the Hulk... or have they?!

8) Jack Kirby

The Hulk's daddy! When the Hulk first appeared back in 1961, the Gamma-powered alter-ego of Dr. Robert Bruce Banner had grey skin, was less brutish and a lot smaller in size, and drew a lot from the look of the classic Universal Frankenstein monster (which was one of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's initial influences for the character). During that original six issue run, Jack's style of drawing the Hulk seemed to change each issue... with the character becoming more brutish and definitely more bestial (sometimes having only three fingers and toes, much like Jack's other monster creation, the Thing from the Fantastic Four). However, no matter how Jack drew him, the result was always the same... it was INCREDIBLE.

7) Ernie Chan

Whether it be his cover collaborations as Validar with Rich Buckler, his inks on Sal Buscema, or his own cover art... Ernie's iconic work on the Hulk are among some of my all-time favourite Hulk images!

The Spash page from INCREDIBLE HULK #219. One of my favourite pages ever
published in a comic book.

6) Herb Trimpe

The artist whom many consider to be the definitive Hulk artist, and certainly the artist who had one of the longest runs with the character. Starting on the title back in the late sixties (just after it had changed from TALES TO ASTONISH to THE INCREDIBLE HULK with issue #102), Herb took over the art chores from Marie Severin, although I believe he inked her last couple of issues. During his run on the book, Herb worked with several talented inkers, including John Severin, Sal Trapini and Joe Staton - which may explain why his version of the Hulk changed various times during this run. Despite this, Herb is generally considered the artist that gave us the classic version of the Hulk that we know and love to this day. 
Another point to remember is that Herb Trimpe was also the artist on Incredible Hulk #181... the book that introduced the world to a certain X-Man, who would go on to be one of Marvel's most popular characters. Any guesses who that may be, bub..... 

A classic Herb Trimpe Hulk cover.
The first appearance of 'the' Wolverine... by Herb Trimpe.

5) Bob Larkin

Honestly, it's just these images alone that make Bob Larkin's Hulk one of my all-time favourites... these were cover pieces for the 1970's HULK! Magazine (whose stories were based on the popular TV show of that time, starring the late, great Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno). I've always felt that the Hulk character would be ideally suited for horror-style stories, and these images prove it... the first being especially reminiscent of the classic Universal Horror FRANKENSTEIN movies. This is a Hulk that looks incredibly powerful... without being over-proportioned, which artists tend to do in modern comics. I miss covers like these...

Hulk! Magazine issue 14 cover artwork by Bob Larkin. This is possibly my
all-time favourite image of the Hulk. I love how it's evoking the feel of the classic
Universal Frankenstein movies. 

Hulk! Magazine issue 18. Desert Island Hulk!
Bob Larkin's iconic Hulk poster, which has since been
homaged by numerous artists.

4) Ron Wilson and Alfredo Alcala

During the 1970's, Marvel published a series of black and white magazines aimed at the older reader. These included SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN, TOMB OF DRACULA and the aforementioned HULK! MAGAZINE... which began as RAMPAGING HULK. Initially featuring black and white tales of the Hulk set in the 1960s (which were intended to be set during the time of the first 6 issues of the Incredible Hulk... although Bill Mantlo discarded these issues as being canon that during his run on the main title), the magazine, much like its titular character underwent a startling metamorphosis with issue 10. The stories, now in full colour shifted focus to the current day... and were more influenced by the classic, hit TV series. They were drawn by Ron Wilson and inked by, among others Ernie Chan, Bob Mcloed, Rudy Nebres and Alfredo Alcala. It's the issues inked by Alcala that really stood out for me, and featured some absolutely amazing artwork. They were beautifully coloured as well... Marvel recently reprinted this series as part of their essentials collection, but unfortunately only in black and white. I hope someday they reprint them in colour format... so the artwork can be seen in its original glory.

Art by Ron Wilson and Alfredo Alcala.
Colours by Steve Oliff.
Art by Ron Wilson, inks by Alfredo Alcala.
Colours by Steve Oliff.

3) Pablo Marcos

During the 1970's, Marvel UK's comics were mostly black and white titles, which reprinted stories from their American counterparts (with the exception of Captain Britain, which featured exclusive strips originated by the US Bullpen for the UK only). One of these titles was THE MIGHTY WORLD OF MARVEL, in which the Hulk was the titular character. Each issue would feature several US strips, all broken down into a serial format (so one US issue of the Incredible Hulk would be featured over 2-3 issues of MWOM). For this reason, Marvel UK would feature originated covers on some issues... although they were certainly on par with the covers on the US titles. It's the ones by Pablo Marcos that remain big favourites of mine... and in many ways it's Pablo's Hulk who is the one I grew up with along with Sal Buscema's (who I'll get to shortly... no guesses as to where he is on this list!). I'd have to say that Pablo, along with Sal's is the definitive Hulk for me.
As a point of interest... other artists who produced originated covers at the time were Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom and Ron Wilson. And the editor of MWOM at the time I started reading it was none other than the Pet Shop Boys lead singer Neil Tennant! Who'da thunk it...

Once More... The Hulk! A Classic Hulk
image by Pablo Marcos.

Havoc Is The Hulk! I remember this cover being used
 as the screen shot for the TV series back in the 1970's
when it took an advert break. Art by Pablo Marcos.

2) Dale Keown

When Dale Keown debuted on the Hulk title in the late 80's/early 90's, it was during a time when the Banner's personalities were fragmenting, and the Green Hulk was starting to re-emerge (leading to the debut of the merged Hulk... who had the face and mind of Banner, the Gray Hulk's attitude and the Green Hulks strength). While I enjoyed previous series artist Jeff Perves run on the book (he made the Mr. Fixit character his own), I couldn't have imagined anyone more perfect for the book during this epic tale than Keown. He gave us the most powerful looking Hulk since John Byrne, with his own modern, powerful style. Dale's art was clean and powerful, yet without the over-exaggeration a lot of todays artists are guilty of... plus he also understood the aesthetic differences between the Green and Gray Goliaths (hair styles being an important factor. I'm sorry, but in my book the Green Hulk should always have the 70's mop-style wild hair, and the Gray Hulk the Kirby-syle Frankenstein style hair. This is just me being a nit-picking Hulk fan - but I degress....). Dale stayed on the book until just before #400, and then joined the Image Comics crowd with his very own creation and fellow behemoth, Pitt.

The return of the Green Hulk.. a classic moment in
Hulk history, as only Dale Keown could draw it.
Inks by Joe Rubinstein.

Heeeeeerrrrrrre's JOHNNY! Apparently Dale based this
on Jack Nicholson. The debut of the Merged Hulk..
inks by Bob Mcleod.

1) Sal Buscema

I think it's no secret to those who have followed my work (and this blog!) who my all time favourite Hulk artist was going to be! I have loved Sal Buscema's version of the Hulk since I had my first Marvel comic bought for me way back in 1977... and since that day Sal's Hulk has been the definitive version of the character. During the 1970s, Sal was artist on both the main Incredible Hulk title, and the DEFENDERS.. in which the Hulk was a leading character. On both books, Sal's work was inked by such classic artists as Joe Staton, Ernie Chan, Joe Rubinstein and Klaus Janson. Again, Sal's Hulk is the definitive version of the character for me... and was a major inspiration in my wanting to draw comics. Thank you Sal :)

Classic Sal!

A truly terrifying mindless Hulk is unleashed upon a helpless
world by Sal Buscema and Gerry Talaoc.

Hulk vs Banner!! Pencils by Sal, inks by Klaus Janson.

There you have it... my list of favourite artists to draw the Hulk. Honourable mentions go to Al Milgrom, Marie Severin, Jeff Purves, Mike Deodato and Ron Garney. I hope you have enjoyed reading this... feel free to let me know who your favourite Hulk artists are, otherwise you may make the Hulk angry...

... and you wouldn't like him when he's angry!