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The Art Of Joe Jusko

1/07/2011. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy The Art Of Joe Jusko in the USA - or Buy The Art Of Joe Jusko in the UK

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pub: Desperado Publishing. 328 page illustrated very large hardback. Price: $49.99 (US) and it is hard to get a lower price and it is hard to get a lower price although I pulled my copy for about GBP 20.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-9795939-7-0.

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I have been a fan of Joe Jusko’s art for a long time. I still have on my bedroom walls three of his posters, which are reproduced in this book, ‘She-Hulk At Muscle Beach’, the thieving Black Cat and Deathlok – the first two I find extremely uplifting and funny from time to time because they tell a story unto themselves. It’s interesting comparing them to the reproduction in this book because the latter has deeper blues. Jusko points out in relation to other pictures he’s painted that it is often the printers that fiddle with the tonal level and outside of his control.

What this book does is shows the wide variety of work Jusko has done in the past thirty years and the high regard he is given by the professionals in the illustration world. It is also biographical as Jusko explains about his poor upbringing, his love of comics and breaks into the comicbook industry. You come away from this thinking he’s one of us made good.

I was more familiar with his work at Marvel and oddly, he’s never done any work for DC although he has painted some of their characters for other clients, despite winning an award as promising artist by them while he was still young. However, what is demonstrated here is his work on the likes of Tarzan, John Carter and especially Vampirella, not to mention the trading card boom of the 1990s, that he is still very much an artist in demand. This is all done in his own words and often with the pencil design sketch in a warts and all fashion showing how his paintings develop and his opinions on his own work and how he prefers to paint wild cats than horses. Jusko also points out which artists have influenced him, especially John Buscema, while not outright copying them. His technique of throwing materials at his paintings to get what he wants to achieve is inspirational and something he would not have leant at art school is something we can all learn from. After all, being continually experimenting means you’re less likely to be complacent with techniques. Equally, as he points out, Jusko also learns from comments made by other artists like Boris Vallejo in that red becomes redder in contrast to black. I’m beginning to wonder what I can do with acrylic ivory black as it isn’t normally amongst the paints I use myself as most instructions are to avoid using black whenever possible.

There’s a lot of information revealed in this book. I hadn’t realised his painting of Mary Jane Watson for the ‘Marvel Swimsuit Special’ had never been reprinted until now. It’s also one of the best renditions of water droplets on a human body that I’ve ever seen. I was also surprised by just how many of his painted cover comics I actually have in my collection including one where he was dressed as Captain America for a ‘Marvel Team-Up’ cover. The odd time I thought Jusko had rushed some art, as with some of the trading cards also appears to be true as well because of the company giving such tight deadlines. The only non-Jusko work I would have liked to have seen here is the covers Michael Golden did for a comicbook series, ‘Cops: The Job’, Jusko wrote but that’s me being picky cos I never saw them.

One of the things I did come away from reading this book is to remind myself to keep on painting. Whether you paint or not, this book is truly inspirational and Jusko even gives a couple demonstrations of how he achieves his work.

This is simply a gorgeous artbook and I’m just surprised how long it took for one to be released.

GF Willmetts

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