Friday, April 15, 2011

José Luis García-López

If you've owned any officially licensed DC Comics merchandise in the last thirty or so years chances are you've seen the artwork of José Luis García-López. It's a very clean and distinct style that instantly pulls me back to childhood. I will touch briefly on his history but the main focus of this post is his Poison Ivy illustrations.

From Wikipedia:
Early Life: José Luis García-López was born on March 26, 1948 in Spain, and lived subsequently in Argentina. He was inspired by artists as Alex Raymond, Harold Foster, Milton Caniff, José Luis Salinas and Alberto Breccia.

Career: During the 1960s, García-López worked for Charlton Comics. In 1974 he moved to New York, where he met DC Comics editor Joe Orlando. His first interior art credit for DC was June 1975's "Nightmare In Gold" back-up in Action Comics #448, where he inked the pencils of artist Dick Dillin. The following month, he inked the pencils of Curt Swan on a "Private Life of Clark Kent" backup story in Superman #289., before graduating to full pencils on a back-up story (written by E. Nelson Bridwell in Detective Comics #452 (October 1975).

Other notable works include Atari Force, Cinder and Ashe, Road to Perdition, Deadman, New Teen Titans and various DC superheroes. His work on Twilight has been praised, receiving an Eisner Award nomination[2] and comic critic Timothy Callahan (author of Grant Morrison: The Early Years) has suggested "García-López was never able to create such a vivid comic book world as he did in Twilight" and that "his penciling and inking in Twilight is gorgeous. Gritty, sometimes grim, but always gorgeous."[3]

His 2000s work includes JLA: Classified with writer Gail Simone.

The Wikipedia entry is sorely lacking because it does not even mention the DC Comics Style Guide. One of the things he is very much known for creating.

DC Comics Style GuideJosé proved to be the perfect choice for this most intensive of projects. Over the course of months--if not years--José turned in page after page of glorious images, and in the process created a new and sparkling identity for the DC characters... an identity that defined the look and feel of the DC pantheon of super-heroes then, and continues to do so to this day. In no uncertain terms, José's vision of the DC Superheroes is the vision that introduces millions of children (not to mention their parents) to the world of DC--a number far greater than comic book readers. Over the years, his illustrations have appeared on thousands of products--it's a credential that's seldom mmentioned but shouldn't be overlooked, and quite possibly makes José Luis' imagery the most often-seen of any comic artist. ~Andrew Helfer, Modern Masters Vol. 5

I still smile ear to ear whenever I see classic group action shots like the one above. It evokes a sense of pride, history, and even joy. There's no pretense in the García-López style because it doesn't try to be cool. (It just is.) It's part Neal Adams, part Hanna Barbera.

There's not a ton of Poison Ivy images done by García-López but the few that exist are simply gorgeous offerings. Most of them were done for licensing/commercial reasons but I've only seen one or two actually used. The earliest image that I can recall was done for the film Batman and Robin. It was a fight scene with Poison Ivy raging at both heroes. The images weren't movie accurate and were done, more or less, in the spirit of the film. That is why Poison Ivy looks less like Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy and more like her comic book counterpart.

DC Comics Style Guide
Poison Ivy battles Batman and Robin

DC Comics Style Guide
Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze battle Batman, Robin, and Batgirl

I absolutely love the following illustration. I don't know what it was for but she's done in the exact same style as the Batman and Robin pieces. Perhaps this was a style guide for the film (merchandise) that was never officially used. Either way, the hair is fabulous, the costume perfect, I don't even mind the asymmetrical footwear. Ultra-glam Poison Ivy? Yes please. Artists (namely men) take note. You can draw beautiful women without making them look ridiculous or trashy.

Poison Ivy Turnaround
Poison Ivy in a unique García-López style

Licensing Image
Another fantastic drawing. This is quintessential silver age Poison Ivy. Even the giant venus flytrap is gorgeous. One thing to keep in mind is that Brett Breeding inked the following three pieces. The man has skills.
The vixen of vines! What an eye for plant detail. Right? The hair is gorgeous and the costume is immaculate down to those killer boots. However, the jaw is a bit "strong" for my tastes. If you catch my drift. I must say, this actually makes me miss the classic costume.Licensing Image
Licensing Image I saved the best for last. My friends, you are looking at what is probably my absolute favorite drawing of Poison Ivy. I love everything about this piece. That pose is amazing and that face is flawless. Thank the gods that somebody put this on a t-shirt (see below).

If you're interested in buying this t-shirt you might want to head over to and have a look around. It is available in other places but they have TONS of DC Comics related t-shirts. There are so many options that feature the art of José Luis García-López. I've got my eye on a Wonder Woman t-shirt (pay no mind that it's pink). Anyway. I'm probably going to buy another one because I've worn mine to bits.

The back of Modern Master's José Luis García-López edition reads as...

Ask any comic book artist who the best draftsman in the business is, and you'll come up with one answer: José Luis García-López. A master of anatomy, of composition, and of storytelling, he not only astounds his readers, but his peers as well. He is also one of the most visible artists in the industry, as his illustrations can be seen on toy packaging, in DC's "Got Milk?" advertisements, and even on jars of peanut butter. In a sense, he is the face of DC Comics, yet most of his fans know little about him...until now. His work on Superman, Batman are only the tip of the iceberg of a career which has earned José Luis García-López the title of Modern Master.

Modern Master indeed! If you want to see loads of García-López artwork go to you won't be sorry. (I found a few of these images there. So credit to the original uploaders.)

Photo of José Luis García-López credited to:

Side note: There are a few items featuring Poison Ivy with artwork done by Kerry Gammill though García-López is often mistakenly credited by fans.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Superboy #2

Written by JEFF LEMIRE; Art by PIER GALLO; Cover by PHIL NOTO; 1:10 Variant cover by GUILLEM MARCH

The vegetation of Smallville is out of control, and all evidence points to Poison Ivy as the cause! Superboy's friend Simon thinks there might be more to this than meets the eye, but he'll have a hard time convincing Superboy of that now that he's in the thrall of Ivy ! Originally on sale December 8, 2010.
Superboy #2aSuperboy #2b
Premise: The plants of Smallville are taking over and Superboy must find out why. Naturally all clues point towards Poison Ivy until she shows up to prove her innocence. It is discovered that a mysterious machine is behind the plant mischief; a machine that Ivy decides she wants for herself. There isn't much of a fight before Ivy is taken down. After being attacked by genetically modified purple frogs, compliments of Superboy's friend Simon (yes frogs), she is knocked unconscious by the force of the exploding mysterious device. The plants begin to wither as Superboy attempts to set things right. A task that includes delivering Poison Ivy back to Gotham City.

Opinion: As far as Poison Ivy cameos go this one is rather dull. But I can't decide if it's the mediocre story or the mediocre color job that failed to excite me.

I'm sure this issue is part of a larger story that will give it better context. But I don't follow this series. Also, it's hard to tell if this is out of continuity or not. I'm assuming that it is because Poison Ivy has been busy over in Gotham City Sirens trying to wrangle Catwoman and Harley.

The artwork here is mixed. I like the quality of the inks but I really don't like Poison Ivy's look. That hair is a crime! Though I must lay most of the blame at the colorist Jamie Grant. There's way too much yellow going on here. She looks sickly. I shrug.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"DC Women" by Felipe Massafera

Every now and then I see a piece of art that leaves me speechless. This panel done by Felipe Massafera is one of those times. It was submitted for public viewing on June 24, 2009 but I only noticed it today. Shame!

I happened upon this piece when I found myself at the DC Women Kicking Ass tumblr. (Upon last viewing it is their current header.) Of course my eyes immediately darted to lower left when I spied a woman wearing green lipstick with leaves in her hair. It's Poison Ivy and a determined Batgirl looking for a fight with the rest of DC's finest females in tow.

"DC Women" by Felipe Massfera
I honestly don't know much about Felipe Massafera as of this writing but I do plan on spending some quality time at his deviantART page. His work is immaculate and immediately evokes the style of Alex Ross. However, there's a certain glamour in this piece that differs from Ross. I think Alex Ross has a tendency to portray his women in an overly masculine (tough) style. Whereas Massafera allows his female characters to be strong yet feminine.

Poison Ivy detail
Upon arriving at the deviantART page that features this piece I noticed Mr. Massafera doesn't share many details about this panel beyond these few words.

This is a commission i did for my friend Hao last year, it was really fun paint all these beauties, many thanks to my friends Lara and Aline who posed for me. Its gouache on strathmore illustration board.

I don't mind the brief remarks because something this beautiful speaks for itself in so many ways. It's wonderful and atmospheric and frankly I wish I could be there to watch this battle take place. Bravo!

Batman Live

I've known of the Batman Live World Arena Tour for quite some time but I had no idea Poison Ivy was a part of this production until today. How this got past my attention is way beyond me. The first official group shot has been released and it features many colorful characters including the Joker, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, the Riddler, the Penguin, Poison Ivy, and of course Batman and Robin.

The overall motif appears to be very "comic book" with obvious nods to the original 1960s Batman television series and sprinklings from the animated DCU. Let us not forget that this is very much a musical.
Batman Live Cast Photo

The costumes range from great to good to "what the heck". I think Batman and Robin look a bit too much like the film of their namesake. Schumacher-esque if you will (but no Bat nipples). Harley doesn't seem to fair as well either. I'm not a huge fan of the blue/red styling and the lack of a jester hat is just wrong. At first I thought it was for performing reasons but then Catwoman is in a full cowl so there really is no excuse. The male villains look fantastic and fun in classic looks. However, I have mixed feelings on Poison Ivy's costuming.

Poison Ivy Concept Art

If they would have stuck to the concept art for the production Poison Ivy had the potential for a gorgeous display. I do understand avoiding the green skin because the makeup application would have been entirely too tedious. But there was no reason to ignore the more structured swimsuit area of the costume. They settled for what appears to be sequin covered vines around the arms and legs and a patchy lingerie like ice skating outfit. It's not terrible but there's a too-forced air of sexiness here that could be easily read as cheap. It's not a total fail but every other character has a very substantial costume while Ivy appears to be ready for a bedroom tease. See the final costume in action below.

The woman portraying Poison Ivy is Russian born Valerie Murzak. Valerie appears to be a circus performer who specializes in aerial acts. In the cast credits she is identified as portraying a "character" but is not included in the primary cast line-up. I'm suspecting she is there to fill out the stage with some sex appeal but may not have a full speaking role. Perhaps her skills as an aerialist will be put on display.

If you click over to the the official Batman Live website you will find a full Poison Ivy character profile. A profile that includes a few images from Batman Hush and desktop wallpapers. Jim Lee has been credited for doing the promotional artwork so it's no surprise that his Hush contributions also make an appearance. You'll notice that he created a different version of Poison Ivy for this show.

This traveling production is touring the UK so we Americans may not get to see Batman Live. Though if it does well perhaps they will bring it stateside. I would definitely go. Good luck Valerie and do our girl proud! For further behind the scenes footage go to SFX's Youtube channel.

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