John Cassaday Spotlight

February 12, 2016

In my post about art, I confessed my love for John Cassaday’s artwork.  I could go on for hours about how amazing every line he draws is, but I will try to keep it under control.

He is known primarily for two projects.  Planetary and Astonishing X-Men.  He also did the opening issues of Uncanny Avengers and the recently restarted Star Wars comics as well as other projects, but Planetary and Astonishing X-Men are his major works.  His work tends to be more in touch with a realistic and highly detailed art form, which makes it look more… cinematic I guess.  I imagine this is why he tends to specialize in covers and does limited interior work, as his pages must take a considerable amount of time to get done.  Which is probably why after his work on the first two big series, he shifted to a more limited work load.

Planetary was his collaboration with Warren Ellis, an exploration of “mystery archaeology” over the course of twenty something issues.  A lot of the covers were takes on classic pulp covers from the thirties, with a lot of the storyline dealing with concepts of those pulp novels–takes on Godzilla, Sherlock Holmes, the Shadow, James Bond and others were explored over the course of this series.  Cassaday’s artwork did an incredible job of bringing the story of Ezra Snow and his team to life as they confronted an evil facsimile of the Fantastic Four.  This series was only thirty issues and took ten years to finish, but in a lot of ways well worth the wait.

The other big project he worked on was his X-Men series with Joss Whedon, the acclaimed Astonishing X-Men.  Now, this series had a lot going for it.  Whedon got to write the series in his own witty style, it continued the work Grant Morrison had done with redefining the dynamic of the team… basically just reminding us what was good about these characters.  Cassaday was the perfect artist for this series in a number of ways.  He helped make these characters more believable and brought it back to reality–as close a comic book gets.  He avoided the dangerously oversexed and over-masculine tendency while still making the characters a joy to look at–even the ultimate T and A character, Emma Frost, looked considerably more effectively utilized in these pages.  Though I imagine it is a challenge to depict her as anything as oversexed.

More recently he has stuck to limited runs on comics, doing a five or six issue run at the start of the series before shifting more to working on covers more exclusively.  Good stuff and at least we still get to see his work.


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