Sunday, October 20, 2013


In case it hasn't been hammered into your skull yet by way of my Captain Britain reviews -- I love Alan Davis.  I've met him once, in the Marvel booth at the San Diego Comic-Con in 1999, when he was the "plot-master" for the core X-Men books.  I got his autograph and a head sketch of Cyclops -- which, frustratingly, I seem to have misplaced, or I would present it here.  I regret now that I didn't ask Davis for Captain Britain, but I barely knew Cap back then, having never read early EXCALIBUR, and with the Moore/Davis trade paperback reprint a couple years away.

But anyway, I suppose I should be happy I have any sketch from Mr. Davis!  He is, to me, one of the greatest artists to grace the pages of superhero comics, practically since their inception.  His action is detailed but easy to follow, his costume designs are usually anywhere between "pretty good" and "outstanding", and his mastery of the exaggerated sort of human anatomy that superheroes require is second to none.

Beyond that, as a human male, I find that he draws some of the best-looking women in all of comics.  I love Adam Hughes, Terry Dodson, and several other artists known for their female forms, but the care that Alan Davis puts into his own depictions of the fairer sex, combined with that afore-mentioned mastery of anatomy and storytelling ability, means that Davis is equally adept at drawing a pin-up as he is at depicting a multi-panel sequence of sexy ladies fighting crime.

Davis also has a gift for visual humor, which I've seen matched by few artists in the mainstream superhero world.  More than half the funny stuff in early EXCALIBUR succeeds -- in my opinion -- due to Davis's art.  Chris Claremont is a talented writer, but his attempts at whimsy and humor frequently fall flat.  Paired with the delighful artistic stylings of Alan Davis, however, his gags almost always land.

On top of being a world-class artist, Davis is also an excellent writer. While I would not necessarily place him among my all-time favorite scripters, he definitely has a an unexpected knack for intricate plotting. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than his run as writer of EXCALIBUR. The first nine issues are a textbook example of how to write a main plot and several sub-plots, then dovetail them together -- sometimes unexpectedly -- for a grand finale. When he plotted the core X-books around 1999-2000, a similar expertise was on display. He took the mess of loose ends and mandates handed down by Marvel editorial, and hammered them into a cohesive and surprisingly enjoyable storyline.

All that said, I will readily admit that I haven't read everything Davis has drawn or written. For one thing, I didn't start to appreciate him until the late 90s during that stint on the X-Men.  Besides that, he's been under exclusive contract with Marvel for years now, and Marvel has not published anything I've been interested in reading for about the same amount of time.  But I always pick up classic reprints of his work, and I'm rarely disappointed.

All images on this page are reproduced without permission from Alan Davis's website, where much more artwork is viewable.

I really couldn't figure out which picture to use to illustrate just how astoundingly magnificent Davis's depictions of women are. So after I finally settled on one, I tossed the other two down here. Hope no one minds!.

No comments:

Post a Comment