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I read this cool article by Josh Flanagan over on Ifanboy asking if there are any superstar artists anymore. Read it here. ifanboy.com/articles/are-there…
I don't know what I'm talking about most of the time. I can easily have my views changed since its all a bit trivial, but this is how I see it currently. Feel free to change my mind! Discuss!
      Ive said this before but it seems like there are two main types of comic readers. There are character fans, and comic fans. Nothing is wrong with either! But character fans make up MOST of the comic reading, and they love their characters, so they are mainly a DC fan or Marvel fan, a certain character from their youth fan. Its what sells the most, its what most comic shops make most of their money from. It's all fine and good. But to them, I think mainly the characters (not the creators) are the real superstars for them. They'll buy the comic most of the time no matter WHO draws it. Of course if a known name is attached to the title it'll boost it even more. But it seems the MAIN boost comes from the character for these fans. Proof is when a known creator does a new creator owned title, the numbers on that are MUCH smaller, even if book is loads better than their book they did with a known character. The known nostalgic character wins over new characters for these fans.

Now a comic fan cravings are different. They want comics, not just characters. They want new ideas, new worlds, new stories, new characters.  They are open to buying creator-owned/indie books. They will buy big two books if they look good, but not just because a certain character is in it. This group is small compared to the other group. And sure, there is some spill overage, it's not a definite line in the sand. I like to think this group is similar to movie fans (which is most people we know right?). Moviegoers do like to see same creators/actors at times but seem more open to new ideas, sure there are those that are ONLY into horror or something but most people seem to be open to lots of different movies, actors, and directors. It does seem that when you mention comics to non-comics readers they think superheros, mainly big 2 superheroes. And I think that's the norm with the majority of comic readers as well, when they think comics, they think marvel or DC, anywhere else is just not important to them. But comic fans are more similar to the norm of moviegoers I think.

So when people wonder where the superstar artists are these days, I think it's fair to ask, superstar to what group? But a superstar is someone backed with a large audience right? So how can an amazing artist that does not work for big two ever be a superstar artist if they aren't backed by the majority of where most of the comic reading public is? They cant. But at the same time, Its hard to be a superstar artist at the big 2 when people there are mainly buying the book because of the super stardom of the character anyway.

So, there are no more superstar artists. Just personal favorites, that I think still deserve the title superstar even if they aren't backed by the majority of comic readers. So I will use that word when I wish.

My top 5 current list of superstar artists.

James Harren
Cory Walker
Sean Gordon Murphy
Greg Capullo
James Stokoe
  • Listening to: Killer Mike
  • Reading: Saga
  • Watching: my hand draw comics
  • Playing: nothing
  • Eating: Way too damned much!
  • Drinking: GALLONS a month
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:icongraybann:
GrayBann Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It's funny that you should mention following certain creators on certain titles. For me, there are creators that if I see them on characters I like, the actual creator will keep me from buying it. As for following creators that I like, someone mentioned the perfect storm earlier. Just because I like a creator on a said character in a said universe does not always translate to liking that creator on another series in a different genre or just on another book in another universe.
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:iconanmph:
Anmph Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I agree with you.
Reply
:iconedi-ills:
edi-ills Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2012  Professional General Artist
It's simple, if this artist works the interior on a book then it's a must grab. I can't wait to see what they do next.

Stuart Immonen
Olivier Coipel
Bryan Hitch
JH Williams III
Cory Walker

PS-Adam Hughes if he dares.
Reply
:iconninjaspidey:
NinjaSpidey Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2012
In no paticular order

Darwyn Cooke
Ryan Ottley
Brian Hurtt
Terry Moore
Ethan Nicolle

Also, I will always pick an artist who can finish a run on a series over someone who does a few issues then just becomes the cover artist.
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:iconninjaspidey:
NinjaSpidey Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2012
Although if it were the 80's it'd be

Neal Adams
Walt Simonson
Art Adams
John Byrne
Frank Miller

Although Neal Adams, John Byrne, and Frank Miller have all gone crazy at one point or another. :(
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:iconscruffyscribbler:
ScruffyScribbler Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I pretty much quit reading/buying comics a few years back. Theres a couple exceptions to this, Walking Dead is one of them. I got on with issue one and have been around since. I'm invested.

But for the most part I feel it's all "old hat" and "been there done that" and most of all TOO F^$%ING EXPENSIVE! Even digital books are outrageously priced for someone like myself. When I do check out a book I am usually disappointed. And it's not the art... it's the writing.

Now, I'm not looking to bash anyone in particular so I won't. But I don't miss "the superstar artists" at all because those people are the same ones that took MUCH longer than a month to do a book. I grew up with talented guys writing and producing a book every month like clockwork. when you can't produce a book why should i support it?

now there's people that say things like "I'd rather have a great book than an ontime crappy book!" to those people I say comics managed to be great for decades and were never THIS late.

I pretty much quit supporting books around that time and only maintained very few books. As prices skyrocket I can't imagine me getting back into comics. No "superstar artist" is going to drag me back in. You need quality products (by talented people) at a manageable price...

I don't think there's "collectors" anymore. There's READERS and you need to be priced at a READERS rate.
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:icondilutral:
dilutral Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
This is a great topic, love reading the discussion.

my 2 cents:
we don't have any new Superstar artists cause we have too many options,
there are lots of really good talent working in an industry that isn't as popular...
The fans are fragmented and sometimes haven't even discovered some of the coolest artists.
I'm pretty sure many big 2 fans haven't checked out your stuff and therefore don't know about Wya.

Also guys like Joe Mad, J Scott Campbell and Mike Mignola aren't focused on comics anymore.
Guys like Jason Pearson, Adriana Melo and even Chris Bachalo can't do long story arcs...

There are still awesome artists starting to pile up followers like Rodin Esquejo, Kenneth Rockafort and Ryan Bodenheim
Reply
:iconyorko:
yorko Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
supersolid list! James Harren is the next big thing
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:icontsujigo:
tsujigo Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My personal Favorite Artist are as follows
1-Cully Hamner
2-Chris Burnham
3- Dan Hipp
4- Erik Larsen
5- John Romita Jr
6- Masamune Shirow
and lastly you mister Ottley
[ why because they all do something wild ,exciting and totally unexpected from anyone out there now ]
but in all these days I am more into is the Clever Inventiveness powered by their unbound imagination and brought to life on the page with there skill . [ and in kind I am Inspired by the Talented People above just because they Think Outside the Box as in terms of storytelling alone in my Book ] but I believe all artist of any skill set can be superstars in there own right . [ but that`s just me ladies and gents ] all in all great question .
Reply
:iconrentnarb:
rentnarb Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012
My superstar artist list includes writers as well because the story is really the big draw for me.

If these guys draw or write it I buy it!

1-John Romita Jr.
2-Robert kirkman
3-Ryan Ottley
4-Peter David
5-Marjorie Liu
Reply
:iconrentnarb:
rentnarb Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012
On a side note I do pick up a lot of Time Sale work as well as work from the Dodsons.
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:iconbehomby:
Behomby Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012
Top 5 superstar artists for me -

Mike Mignola
Skottie Young
Lan Medina
Humberto Ramos
Tony Moore
Reply
:icontrinity346:
trinity346 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
In advance I apologize for the long diatribe but here I go....

I had to think about this for a little while and have come to the conclusion that artists will pique interest in a comic but that this medium demands both visual and written impact to drive sales. The period in the 90s where an artist could carry a title on, essentially, visuals alone was an aberration.

Case in point, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, their collaborations literally saved Marvel, making it the premier publisher of comics. When Kirby went off to DC during the 70’s he could not truly replicate the same success.

Neal Adams was a hot commodity working both at Marvel and at DC at the same time. Yet it is when he was paired with writer Denny O’Neill that sales for titles like Batman and Green Lantern/ Green Arrow series soared.

Another example is Alex Ross paired with Kurt Busiek on Marvels, Mark Waid on Kingdom Come and Paul Dini for the Worlds Greatest Super Heroes graphic novels.

Other examples include Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's run of stories for Batman and Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s work on the Authority.

Currently, Jim Lee piqued interests in consumers when named penciller for Batman, Superman and Justice League titles but it is because he was paired with writers like Frank Miller, Jeph Loeb, Brian Azzarello and now Geoff Johns that really drove sales.

I believe it is very rare that you have a well-written comic that does not have a decent artist but I think the best-written books will typically have the best artists.
Reply
:icontrinity346:
trinity346 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
Diatribe continues...

Regarding category of collector, I don't fit into either category but if forced to label it I would consider myself a generalist. As I do collect select characters but I also collect select creators. I, like many, have to be selective and would rather spend based on a track record. What I mean is that, based on my aforementioned belief, the best-written books have the best illustrators.
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:icontrinity346:
trinity346 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
End of diatribe...

I couldn't limit myself to only to 5 superstar artists so are several, 20, of my favorites in no particular order.

Jim Lee
Bryan Hitch
Tim Sale
Joe Madureira
Adam Hughes
Frank Cho
Ed McGuiness
J. Scott Campbell
Simone Bianchi
Travis Charest
Dave Finch
Matt Wagner
Dave Dorman
Steve Rude
Tony Harris
Tim Bradstreet
Arthur Adams
Neal Adams
Berni Wrightson
Frank Miller
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:iconblamrob:
Blamrob Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You need to do a Levi's commercial. That'll do it! :D
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:iconjo-colors:
jo-colors Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Even better: Wrangler.
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:iconchuckdoodles:
ChuckDoodles Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The superstar artist phenomenom was artist based BUT driven by characters. Jim Lee's claim to fame came about because of X-men. He did things visually with the franchise that had never been seen before. Artist obsessed fanboys like myself strove to be like Jim Lee, Mark Silvestri, Todd Mcfarlane, act. and like music fans, collecting any and everything they did. Covers, one-shots, spin-offs, merchandise, literally anything! Like any music fan, we tried to imitate them. Those that couldn't imitate them wanted to be surrounded by everything they did.
Even though characters like Spiderman initially gave these artist their start, it mutated way beyond that into an over inflated market based on superficial images. No one cared about stories (at least I didn't) only who was drawing. Artist really were superstars making every fan believe it was possible not only to survive but THRIVE in a medium the rest of the world deemed worthless.

Just my two cents...
Reply
:iconchristopherstevens:
ChristopherStevens Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
I totally agree. I think the superstar status of the 90's with guys like McFarlane and Lee was a bit of a fluke in some respects. Never really happened before or since to that degree. Perfect storm scenario that may never come again.
Reply
:iconharmany04:
harmany04 Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Student Filmographer
interesting. i never thought of this that way. now that you explain it i guess i am more a character fan.
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:iconweidel:
Weidel Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
That's an interesting concept. To some degree all very true. I follow a few artists and will buy anything they do. I read a few titles that it's the title and not the creative team that I'm into ,for example the new TMNT and Superman. Neither of those books do anything for me art wise. I feel Turtles is way too sloppy and half assed and Superman is really solid but feels boring and too traditional. Then there are creative teams where I will buy anything they do. I adore everything from Darwyn Cooke and the creative team of Loeb and Tim Sale always leaves me wanting more. Jim Lee is another that I buy everything of. He draws his heroes a bit too big for my taste but visually he's tuff to beat when it comes to dynamic and exciting page layouts.

I fully agree with you on Capullo and Murphey, I have all of Greg's Batman work and it's just stellar and I'm just discovering Murphey and looking forward to a lot more.
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:iconmoray-eel:
moray-eel Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
Great choices - I think all the guys above (except James Stokoe as I don't know who he is but now I will go look) are incredible. I also think there are plenty of fantastic artists out there like Stuart Immonen or Terry Dodsen and that Ryan Walker guy :)
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:iconmoray-eel:
moray-eel Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
See how much I love Cory Walker? I even married you to him. I meant Ryan Ottley. lol
Reply
:iconbrett2dbean:
Brett2DBean Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Filmographer
nice article, interesting ideas.
Reply
:iconseanmcfarland:
SeanMcFarland Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
First off, your top 5; monsters. Seriously talented, just killer artists and you fit in there nicely as well. Definitey some of my favorite art to look at.

When I think of superstars though, I think of the big names the Dos Grande look to attach to their respective blockbuster projects. Hitch, Immonen, McNiven, pretty much everyone associated with the before Watchmen thing.

Not necessarilly my favorites, but they can move books, and even if the story is complete rubbish, the art will look good.

As others have noted, the overshipping, the constant breaking and subbing of runs, seems to limit the ability of a new artist to gain momentum and rise to the elite level of notoriety. Is this a calculated move by the industry to prevent another Image exodus? Quite likely.
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:iconchrismunro:
chrismunro Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Well, I think it's really about the change in the industry in the last ten years. Back in the 90s it was all about the artists making characters look cool (by putting them in poses no human could actually do). But now it's shifted to focusing on the writers. It really doesn't matter who draws the books anymore, sometimes to the point where artists with less realistic styles get less Big Two work. But you put a hot writer on a book and it'll sell even if most fans wouldn't normally buy the book.

I think we need to remind people how important artists are, and then we'll see some greater recognition for the work they do.
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:iconryanottley:
RyanOttley Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Artist
Exactly, reminding people how important the artist is, is key. I think artists should write more often. Do side projects here and there. Explore. SHow your skills.
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:iconmichaelodomart:
MichaelOdomArt Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
I can't help but think that scheduling also plays a big part. Any of those top names at the Big 2 are switching off after every story arc which doesn't really build any momentum. Todd McFarlane was THE guy when I was a kid and was writing,pencilling,inking,(and in a couple of cases lettering) every issue of Spider-Man. He stayed at the top of the Wizard artist list long after he stopped doing artwork. I wonder sometimes if he had only done an arc of Spider-Man if I would have been interested enough to keep buying comics.
Reply
:iconseangordonmurphy:
seangordonmurphy Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
Great read man! Maybe the reason Jim Lee and those guys were superstars is because the comic fans and character fans crossed over in the 90s (with the amazing sales and all) creating a "double boost" of sorts with the original titles. And because there are less original/indy titles that take off, the double boost isn't there.
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:iconryanottley:
RyanOttley Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Artist
makes sense to me! Yeah when those older superstars do new stuff for both big 2 OR indie, the big 2 always sells better since it's backed with those familiar characters. So the appearance of superstardom is still there. Like adding an Art Adams cover sells books, but if he brought back Monkey Man and O'brian it wouldn't sell nearly what he does for the big 2. So it makes sense for the superstar artist of the past to just live off of doing covers instead of the back breaking low paying work of interior art. Which is sad, I'd love to see more interior art from these guys, covers do nothing for me.
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:iconrandysiplon:
RandySiplon Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
It's kind of a weird question because most of the artists that were superstars 20 years ago are still working in comics and still pretty popular. Does the name Jim Lee ring any bells? To me Mike Mignola and Arthur Adams are superstars, and they've been around for 30 years. We just don't have Wizard magazine around anymore to tell us who the hot artists are. Although I usually disagreed with them. On a side note, I feel really douchey calling someone a "superstar". Seriously, say it out loud once. Thanks for that. lol
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:iconrandysiplon:
RandySiplon Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Also, I wrote this response before reading the article. I see it mentions Jim Lee obviously, but I think there are definitely some artists who could fill his shoes in a heartbeat on that book. You being one of them. I apologize for the obligatory ass kissing. :)
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:icon10th-letter:
10th-letter Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
forgot: Eric Canete
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:icon10th-letter:
10th-letter Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012
Superstar is not a synonym for popular or favourite. When I think “superstar” I think John Byrne (back in the day). A guy that could walk into any office and essentially demand to work on, let alone relaunch, a title (not that it was pleasant for anyone)…and get his mug on the cover of Time magazine.
I’d say a big part of that is because he handled the writing also. (not that that was pleasant either).
Most of those named rely far, far too much on photo reference (some outright tracing (should be against the law). And Jim Lee is an utter bore.
Doing only covers (for awhile) hardly “devalues” one’s work. I’m sure I’m not alone in still placing Bill Sienkiewicz at the top of Personal Fave, growing up on all those 80s covers…

Some current faves:
Ryan Ottley
Stuart Immonen
Chris Bachalo
Rob Guillory
(Cory rocks, but simply isn’t present enough)

The writer of the small essay (?) completely derailed his thesis by bringing tv and movies into it, thereby losing me, yet ironically bringing up the immense problem with comics today: comics translated to Other Media…
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:iconbaranyatamas:
BaranyaTamas Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Well, if we need to brand comic readers this way, I'm definitely a comic fan. A good story is more important to me than a decent style, but I admit that I don't read ugly stuff no matter how good their story is.
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:iconartistneedham:
ArtistNeedham Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012
My top around 5 favorite artists right now, You, Kevin Maguire, Mike Allred, George Perez, Alex Ross, Ed McGuinness, and Alan Davis (I could name more). I think its fair to say that Jim Lee is a superstar artist, I know some people who are buying JLA because of him.
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:iconmarvtmartian:
MarvTMartian Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Hobbyist
wow, That's a lot of big replies. My only comment is that America's Got Powers & Suoercrooks (I'm told) are selling like crazy!! 2 small publisher comics with big names attached.
Personally I'm a followers of artists (& some writers, Millar, Kirkman)
favs...
Ottley
Deodato
Cho
Capullo
Mitten (was awesome on Wasteland)
& a LOAD more
Reply
:iconravensdojo:
ravensdojo Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012
Funny to see someone I consider one of the modern super star comic artists posting this.
Reply
:iconryanottley:
RyanOttley Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Artist
Ha! Thanks man.
Reply
:iconledspider:
LedSPIDER Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012
Damn right Sean Gordon Murphy ! That dude rocks!
Reply
:iconmcd91:
mcd91 Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I always follow artists. Being one myself, ahem, more or less, I just love to see new developments and growth in their craft. Why on earth there is not such a huge audience which can appreciate it will forever be a mystery to me.

Anyway, you are also on my top five list. Why you are no superstar is also beyond me.
Reply
:iconebony-chan:
ebony-chan Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012
Well most of my superstar artists are here. You are one of them.
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:iconsamgorsuch:
SamGorsuch Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Student General Artist
I can very much agree, and happily say that I am in the second group lol
Reply
:icondrawmonkey:
DrawMonkey Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Alright, after reading the article, my idea of superstar was a little different. But I still stick with my thoughts.
Reply
:icondrawmonkey:
DrawMonkey Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Superstars in any form are few and far between ( I've had too many wine glasses to really remember that phrase ). It's like the movie or music industries ( and I'm sure any other entertainment area I'm forgetting ). It's so easy for Joe average to make something ( be it movie, comic, music, et cetera ) that's it's hard to pin point a handful of superstars. People that wouldn't have had the means of showing off their talents are now able to because of new technologies, especially in the ways of the internet ( also known as the ninernets ). Gone are the days when you had to move to big cities to get noticed. Now the whole world is an arts community. I mean, look at the talent pool on DeviantArt alone.

I don't think the superstars are gone, they're just in more specific categories. You even have to think of how an artist conveys the story in her/his style. I've honestly only been getting into comics in the last year or so but I definitely fit in the comic fan more than the character fan. It actually helps that I didn't grow up with a specific tights wearing super person. I go by story, writer, or artist ( not necessarily in that order ). And it's definitely a good time to be into that stuff. Sooooo much goodness.

Great list by the way.
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:iconagnine:
agnine Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012
Don't forget Olivier Coipel
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:iconryanottley:
RyanOttley Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Artist
Oh I dont! I love that guy!
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:iconrobertatkins:
RobertAtkins Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012
I think there is still a top tier of artists that will sell a certain number of books, no matter what they are on. But the term "Superstar", I think went out when the image boom crashed back in the late 90's. There aren't artists making ridiculous money anymore. A really good living? sure and they are in the top tier.

The majority of comic artists live a middle class lifestyle and try to do their job really well. They each have their pocket fan base, which can grow based on the books they work on, (which supports your "Character fan" suggestion). They have to be talented, but industry awareness is qualified by the books they are associated with.

I think there are groundbreaking artists too, that take a chance and bring a new style to the industry or a new approach to storytelling. They may or may not be very well know (yet) but often they are respected by other artists within the industry and their work gets recognized.
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:iconryanottley:
RyanOttley Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Artist
I dont know. I think the top tier artists WILL sell well to the character fans because its attached to characters. But when that same top tier artist does something new and unheard of, the fan following is considerably smaller, therefore the superstardom feels like its gone unless he's working on nostalgic characters.
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:iconmrblackcap:
MrBlackCap Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2012  Professional General Artist
Anyone mention Chris Bachalo? He's always been in my top favs :)
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