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.
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.
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.
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.