Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross

Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross


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Mythology returns, in a newly expanded paperback edition of the book Entertainment Weekly awarded a grade of A, saying: “Alex Ross brings to his work an unparalleled sense of the real. His heroes–both super and mortal–have weight; they exist in space, and that space is affected by them in ways never before seen on the page.” And so here they are, the incomparable cast of the DC Comics universe: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, the Green Lantern, and the rest of the Justice League as you’ve never seen them before. Mythology brings together the best loved comic characters in the world, brought to life by Alex Ross, one of the most astonishing young artists working in the medium today. The award-winning designer/writer Chip Kidd and photographer Geoff Spear have teamed up to create a book like no other, with an introduction by M. Night Shyamalan, the acclaimed director of The Village and The Sixth Sense.

Ross has often been called the Norman Rockwell of comics, and this book reveals not only his lifelong love of these classic superheroes but also his vision: Mythology takes you into the studio for a behind-the-scenes look at his fascinating creative process. The combination of Ross’s dynamic art and Kidd’s kinetic design makes images from his most memorable stories–including Kingdom Come, Superman: Peace on Earth, Batman: War on Crime, and Uncle Sam–soar off the more than 300 pages.

The new material centers on Ross’s startling new comic book series, Justice, including sketches, preliminary art, prototype figures, and more. Mythology is a book in which every page explodes with the power of the icons it celebrates.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375714627
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/08/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 408,089
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Alex Ross has produced more than 1,500 pages of comics material in less than fourteen years–an extraordinary body of work that has earned him every major award in the industry. Ross was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1970 and eventually settled in Chicago, where he attended the American Academy of Art. Among his best known books are: Marvels, Kingdom Come, Uncle Sam, Earth X, Superman: Peace on Earth, Batman: War on Crime, and JLA: Liberty and Justice.

Chip Kidd is the author and designer of Batman Collected and Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz. His book jacket designs for Alfred A. Knopf helped break new ground in the field from the late 1980s to the present. The Cheese Monkeys, Kidd’s first novel, published in 2001, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Geoff Spear has photographed for numerous publications, including Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, GQ, Newsweek, and The New York Times. His images have also appeared in national ad campaigns for AT&T, American Express, Citibank, and IBM. His photographs for Batman Collected were chosen for the American Photography annual of the best of 1996.


An Interview with Alex Ross

Barnes & Mythology is a stunning "coffee table" art book that features the work you've done over the years for DC Comics. Did you ever think you'd be the subject of such a lavish tribute?

Alex Ross: If I ever thought that I would get this kind of treatment, I wouldn't have expected it so early in my career. The chance to have Chip Kidd design a book around you is an experience above all others.

B& It seems that you've done a lot more work for DC than for Marvel -- is that because of the iconic characters DC has, or are there other factors that explain it?

AR: I've formed a strong relationship with DC since I started working with them ten years ago. As it is, the characters fall into an easy framework in my mind of the greatest lineup of heroic legends that comics know. It's very easy to lose yourself in the DC Universe without running out of ideas and inspiration.

B& When did you realize your true calling was to be a comic book artist?

AR: I had hoped since around the age of three or four to have something to do with drawing comics, and there really wasn't much else that distracted me from that goal in my lifetime.

B& Your mom was a commercial illustrator. Do you believe that a portion of your prodigious talent is hereditary?

AR: Certainly there can be something passed down of art talent or disposition. As it was in our family tree, her father passed it on to her, and she to me. Whatever it is that motivates you to learn more and perfect your craft is mostly to do with your specific circumstances in life and less to do with heredity.

B& You're famous for using live models in your work, a rarity for comic book artists. Where do you find your models?

AR: Actually, it's not that rare for comics to be created from studying life. The 1930s Flash Gordon comic strip, which was hugely influential on all American superheroes, was done using model reference. I also know many people doing comics today approach it no differently than I. Generally I find my models amongst the people I know, and oftentimes I consider how I can incorporate all of my friends into my work.

B& You're often referred to as the Norman Rockwell of comics -- how do you feel about that comparison?

AR: Any positive comparison to Norman Rockwell is flattering. The phrase is a simple way to try to describe me to people outside of comics, and I'm perfectly happy with it, as long as I can live up to it.

B& Who's more fun to draw, Superman or Batman?

AR: I like drawing faces, and you get more face with Superman, so that's more fun.

B& What was the first comic book that really "grabbed" you as a kid?

AR: Spidey Super Stories. This was a comic meant for a younger reading age, based upon The Electric Company TV show that Spider-Man appeared on.

B& You're a big fan of Captain Marvel, who at one point in time was the world's most popular comic character but had fallen into semi-obscurity by the '60s. What's his appeal?

AR: Charm. The character design, the villains, the abilities, and the overall style of his adventures is very special to comics for the innovative qualities they held.

B& Your frequent collaborator, Paul Dini, has done a lot of great work on the various Batman animated series in recent years. Do you ever see yourself working in the animation world?

AR: Paul and I have discussed various cartoon ideas involving my design, but nothing has taken precedence over my comics work yet. It may be something to develop in the future.

B& Your version of Wonder Woman manages to be quite sexy and statuesque, despite the fact that she looks like a "real woman" (as opposed to the unrealistically proportioned "good girl" characters popular in today's comics). Is it true that she's modeled after Lynda Carter?

AR: As much as I would have liked to have used Lynda Carter, it wasn't our right to depict her likeness, and I have based the character upon various models that match a certain ideal I have in my head for what she should look like. As beautiful as I think she should be, I never envision her objectified.

B& You've also got a new large-format graphic novel coming from DC this fall (another team-up with Paul Dini) that features the entire Justice League of America, called Liberty and Justice. Is a JLA story, for you, the ultimate "fanboy" project?

AR: In a great many ways, this is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Since I was a little kid, I've been drawing my little superhero "graphic novels" with the Justice League as a big focus. I wanted to create something that would honor the history of this group, its characters, and the talent that came before Paul and me.

B& How did you decide which characters to feature in Liberty and Justice? Is this your "ideal" JLA?

AR: The characters that appear in this group are as they are known by most of the world, in the form that they held for decades. The Justice League is a group concept born of the Silver Age of comics, from the 1950s through the '60s. The members that comprise it, to my mind, were designed to a level of perfection in this period and don't deserve revision.

B& Marvel seems to be outpacing DC in getting movies made of their characters. What DC characters would you like to see head to the silver screen? How about a Kingdom Come animated miniseries?

AR: If DC could get the "Shazam!" movie off the ground, I would be happiest, especially for the irony of Captain Marvel finally getting his due after being counted out for so long.

As far as Kingdom Come goes, why would you animate it instead of a live-action film? If you could do it at all, I would think that the translation of my painted work to another medium would most logically be to a real-life presentation. There are a great number of characters deserving of a larger stage to be seen on, and I take from the success of Marvel's films, which were long overdue, that every worthy character may one day get his or her story told.

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