Favorite Artists: Paul Pope

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If you haven’t explored the work of Paul Pope I can’t really blame you. He’s pretty obscure even by way of comic artists. Most of his work is criminally out of print.

I first heard about Pope back in the 90s when some friends of mine reviewed his indie comic THB in their ‘zine (‘zines were like blogs before the internet). I managed to snag issue #1 of THB in my local comic shop. THB #1 was pretty different from a typical DC/Marvel publication. It was black and white and thick, more the weight of a catalogue than a typical comic. The art itself was very loose, changing styles as the story progressed: from heavy ink, to B&W washes, then almost appearing to be the pencil roughs for long periods.

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The story of THB was at once typical sci-fi fare (a girl growing up on Mars) and at the same time something very unique thanks to Pope’s world-building skills. However the thing that really had me hooked was the art. In my humble opinion Pope understands how ink should be used. All of his drawings have a fluidity and energy that are enhanced by the drama of being black and white. He’s someone I try to ape when I ink.

Just look at the energy and excitement in these two panels where the heroine of THB destroys an evil piano.

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Pope recently stirred the pot a bit when he remarked that DC Comics only made comics for 45-year-olds and he wanted to make comics for kids. I wish more skilled artists approached comics with the same zany attitude that Pope does.

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The only work of Pope’s that is currently in print is his new series Battling Boy. It’s really great stuff: lots of fun with outstanding art. I only wish it had been published in black and white. Pope’s work always seems to look sharper without color. Personally, I’m still hoping for a reprint of all the THB comics in black and white. I have no idea why it hasn’t happened yet.

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