Masters Of Imagination

Masters of Imagination presents an overview of the careers and works of the 13 world-class cartoonists elected to the Comic Book Artists Hall of Fame. More than 250 full-color illustrations plus illuminating commentary by Mike Benton offer insight into the creative processes that made these artists the very best in the world. Comics scholar Benton follows his five-volume History of Comics series with a more narrowly focused work profiling 13 artists who have arguably made the greatest impact on the comic book medium. His well-chosen lineup includes commercially dominant titans such as superhero king Jack Kirby, Superman cocreator Joe Shuster, and Mad’s Harvey Kurtzman; humorists Carl Barks (the unbilled chronicler of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge) and Walt Kelly (who created Pogo for comic books years before his newspaper-strip appearance); and relatively unknown “artist’s artists” Alex Toth and Bernard Krigstein. What all his subjects share is that they emphasize not flashy illustration but storytelling–the design, pacing, and flow of narrative. Benton’s compilation fills a genuine need, since information on these figures has heretofore been available only in brief entries in reference books and articles in small-press magazines. Younger comics fans probably won’t recognize most of these masters’ names, but their work will be studied by aspiring comics artists long after most of today’s trendy creators are forgotten. Gordon Flagg.

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