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.


David H. said...

wow! what a great blog you have here. i'm a big Suicide Squad and Swamp Thing fan and i happen to like Poison Ivy a lot too. her tenure in the pages of the SS was classic stuff and part of what made that title so great. and of course who doesn't love all that sexy Poison Ivy fan art and cosplay out there!?

Deadly Garden said...

Hey! Thanks for the compliment. Sometimes you never really know if people are paying attention (lol). I plan on doing a Suicide Squad specific post that discusses Poison Ivy's time in the Squad. I'm certainly going to link to your blog if readers want a more well rounded perspective. Also, I added you to the links list here too.

Stay tuned!

David H. said...

yeah even when they like a blog site there's just not that many people out there who feel inclined to share their thoughts about the postings by leaving comments. i don't know what that's all about cause i'm just the opposite. i nice blog site with out any comments is kinda like a nice restaurant with no customers in it. i prefer a more "interactive" experience when it comes to blogging. speaking of which you may find this posting of interest:

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