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2022 Year in Review: Best Cover Artist

By | December 8th, 2022
Posted in Columns | % Comments

Welcome to the Multiversity Year in Review for 2022! We’ve got over 25 categories to get through, so make sure you’re checking out all of the articles by using our 2022 Year in Review tag.

There are those who will tell you that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Comic fans know better! Covers are meant to sell books, to draw readers in. Sometimes they tell stories of their own. Sometimes they even lie! Regardless of their intended purpose, we take time every year to pay tribute to our favorite cover artists. Though some of them also may do interior comic art, we are focusing on the cover work by these talented individuals.

3. Russell Dauterman

I was actually surprised to realize Russell Dauterman was my favorite cover artist of the year, but then I started thinking, and started digging, and realized how many massive projects he’s undertaken this year that I just took for granted. His costume cover series, the trading card cover series, his connecting Green Carpet cover series, the innumerable number of design covers, any one of those would be a stand-out achievement on its own. But the fact that he could do them all at once, on top of regular covers for “Scarlet Witch” and “X-Men Red” makes this a historic run.

With the departure of the three creators that arguably built the Krakoa era, Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz and RB Silva, Dauterman has become an essential architect for it now. Every cover for “X-Men Red” led me into the issue brimming with excitement, and his Hellfire designs were once again the most creative use of superhero costume design this year. In fact, I think this year has been a real mission statement for Dauterman in terms of presenting a visual argument for the legacy, necessity, and versatility of costumes. Every cover proves how far you can go with that idea. He has a reputation now where if his name is even close to a book it’ll improve its style.

If I could compare Russell Dauterman’s path to anyone, it would be Alex Ross, they’re both unmistakable artists who can tap into a quintessentially superheroic image, channeling that into a career of covers. It’s hard to imagine Dauterman doing anything but refining that in the years to come. – James Dowling

2. Alex Ross

Comics tend to go against the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” A great cover helps your book stand out from the pack. An Alex Ross cover elevates a book to the next level, giving you a sneak preview of the story you’re about to read. That’s why he’s on our list for Best Cover Artist in 2022. Ross’s work continues to be exceptional, adding to the experience of reading the comic by giving insight into the character’s conflicts and helping to set the tone of the comic. For example, his “Fantastic Four” #1 cover captures the psychedelic and colorful nature of the team of cosmic explorers, a perfect prelude to North’s smaller-scale story of Thing and Alicia exploring a time loop town. But if you compare this to Ross’s work on a book like “Iron Man,” you can track Tony’s conflict, with the helmet acting as both mask and cipher, shield and prison.

It’s hard to miss an Alex Ross cover. The composition is always exciting and has a way of catching your eye. Whether it’s a badass team shot or an action shot, they are dynamic and make your want to pick up a copy. That’s the power of a good cover, and that’s why Alex Ross continues to be one of the best. Joe Skonce

1. Peach Momoko

2022 was a year of gorgeous looking books. But the one series that kept impressing me with each subsequent issue wasn’t so much a series in the traditional sense. Marvel’s carved out a little corner of the House of the Ideas for international comics star Peach Momoko to play in. And her “Demon Days” and “Demon Wars” one-shots have been my favorite books to just look at. Momoko’s brilliant blending of traditional Japanese art with superheroics. And personally speaking, I’m a sucker for reimagining classic characters anyway.

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But what makes her art appealing is more than just turning The Hulk into a yokai or Juggernaut into a samurai. With using a more traditional painted style, you run the risk of the characters looking still or lifeless. And comics as a medium rely on that kinetic energy, even with just ink on a page. It’s the difference between your cast posing or being posed. But Momoko’s work strikes that narrow balance between the two, giving us something that looks illustrated, but feels alive. Although that dichotomy has been one she’s played with her entire career. When asked to provide an artist’s statement for a showing at Portland’s The Lovecraft bar, she claimed “I only illustrate the females in my artwork. You can not [sic] tell by the expressions if they are dead, or if they are alive.”

Considering that her “Demon Wars” books have made more than a passing nod to “Civil War,” she’s loosened up with the “only females” restriction.

It’s worth noting that Momoko has said in interviews that her first influences were early from American comics, coming to the more traditional artwork after traveling abroad. And not just the historic pieces, but mid-20th century folk styles as well. It’s also not hard to see more than a little Junji Ito in her work. She lists horror films as a major influence on her art. And judging from her earliest black and white prints, and some of her more gruesome color work, she’s earned her place next to him in the sequential world.

But what really sells her work are the small flourishes and details. The way her branches sway. The curls of her smoke and flame. The crackle of Psylocke’s psychic weapons. For as much as she preferred the clean chiaroscuro of her early black and white, her color work is phenomenal. The layered reds and yellow flames of her “Ghost Rider” covers contrast nicely with the dark grays and black backgrounds that fill the page. But we’ll discuss more of her covers later. Spoiler alert.

Whether it’s incredible green oni, sentient Yoroi armor, or a warrior in a blue falcon helmet, the Momoko-Verse has provided us with brilliant design work. And her vibrant style brings them to life with amazing fluidity. And I’m looking forward to “Demon Wars” bringing us even more Momoko-ized versions of the Marvel Universe. Also, her symbiotes are super freaky too. Seriously! Her Venom and Carnage are like huge and smoky and… okay, I’ll stop. – Chris Cole

//TAGS | 2022 Year in Review

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