Have you ever wondered why Batman or Spider-Man never look the same in different storylines? Graphic novel stories may have remained exciting and engaging across the generation but the looks of superheroes have always changed and metamorphosed into something you have never seen before. The reason behind the dynamic look and feel of superheroes is the team of artists that draw these characters.
It is no secret that DC and Marvel rotate the art teams for superhero comic stories. However, the readers and critics are now asking if rotating art teams is actually harming the superhero genre. You may have noticed that superhero comics are often written by single writers but drawn by a pool of artists. So, is this an indication that the contribution of the writer is far more significant than the team of artists? This is not solely true because in roulette games multiple players play but winners are few. This simply proves that fortune favours the bold and fame favours the talent.
The origin of recent controversy
Recently, Marvel comics announced the relaunch of astonishing X-men, written by Charles Soule but the publisher also announced that there will be a team of artists instead of a single one. They said Aco, Phil Noto, and Jim Choung will draw the panels of the book. It clearly shows that the contribution of the writer is given more importance by the publisher while the artist has been neglected and this brings us to a larger controversy, what are the pros and cons of rotating an art team?
The difference in approach by DC and Marvel
In 2016, DC comics declared its rebirth initiative and surprised the fans by declaring that Scott Snyder will lead the “All-star Batman” storyline. The publisher also proudly announced that this new book will feature some of the prominent artist such as Danny Miki, Dean White, and John Romita Junior in the first arc of the story while the contributions by Tula Lotay, Afua Richardson, and Jock will feature the later issues of “All-star Batman”.
The prime difference between All-star Batman and Astonishing X-Men is DC highlighted the artists and writers equally. On the contrary, Marvel announced the name of book and writer initially but they unceremoniously declared the name of artist three weeks later.
Marvel is criticized but DC is not Flawless either
We have just discussed that DC gives more importance to his artists but the fact is DC comics has its shortcomings as well. For example, in some of the books they have incorporated back-up stories just to reduce the artist’s workload. Also in some comics like “Justice League of America ” they have announced that it will be drawn by four artists but later readers found that only three artist worked on the book.
Another major problem of employing art teams and rotating the artists is that all the members of the team do not get the same level of respect that they deserve. The limelight is generally hogged by the chief artist. For example, people say, the Flash is drawn by Joshua Williamson but the truth is Neil Googe, George Corona, Davide Gian Felice, Felipe Watanabe, and some other artists work on the “Flash” as well. I wonder if you have ever heard the names of these people.
Is this truly what the criticism?
Well, this is not a new problem! Besides DC and Marvel, other publishing houses also employ the team of artists for major graphic novels. If you think from a job perspective, you have to say that this process of work gives more opportunity to the fresh artist and lets them earn significant amounts of money for their creative work.
Some of the finicky readers may appreciate the opportunity given to the young artist but they may complain about the difference in approach and style in different issues of the same comic book. For example, suppose you pick-up a copy of Astonishing X-men and you have never read it before, you may like the first part painted by Jim Choeung but when you pick-up the second part crafted by Greg Land, you will notice the difference in art and while the first part may have appealed to you. The second part could turn you off due to its different art form.
The concept of employing a team of artists and rotating the team members for different parts of the same story is not problematic as long as each member of the team gets equal recognition and is appreciated by the publisher as valuable members of the creative process. The only thing that artists are asking for is the credit that they deserve.