Modern Masters Volume Five: J.L. García-López edited by Eric Nolen-Weathington (book review).

I have a confession to make. When I was allowed to make a selection from the TwoMorrows back catalogue to review, top of my list from their ‘Modern Masters’ collection was the book about artist José Luis García-López. Although I hadn’t seen a lot of his early non-super-hero work and then only his occasional fling into super-hero comics in recent years, I just loved his style on DC Comics’ ‘Atari Force’, you had to love Packrat, and it became a firm favourite while it lasted.


This book has a lengthy interview with García-López from his life in Spain and Argentina and then his move to the USA. This book gives insight into what attracted him to comic art, more from the comic strips than the comicbooks, which shows a different perspective in the latin part of the world. He had enough work from Western Publishing and DC Comics from the out-set so never got as far as Marvel.

Looking at the various artists who influenced his work, the two main American ones were Neal Adams and Ross Andru, both of which are pretty obvious from his super-hero style comic books. It’s interesting reading his emphasis on what could and couldn’t be done with particular heroes like Superman and Batman, more so that he would later be asked to create the DC Style Guide that was used for promotion and as pointer for artists who worked there.

Something that I hadn’t known before was García-López is a self-admitted slow artist and sees perfection over deadline that even he admits is probably his greatest failing. He also admits to not being a tight penciller, preferring to be a bit looser if he is going to ink himself. Looking at his pencil pages here, I thought they were pretty tight and put that down to him being very self-critical of his own work.

It goes without saying that there is a lot of art in this book, showing the developing García-López to his later work. All of which is still inspiring. García-López has what I call a clean style which is why he can switch from serious to cartoony and still looks good. Then again, I suspect it only appears that way after he lets loose with an eraser.

Are there lessons that any of you aspiring artists can learn from this book? Plenty, actually. García-López treats each work as a challenge and is prepared to do the research for period material so that he can bring it to life. His attention to such detail is jaw-dropping and he does something that is important and that I impounded on some of the artists that I taught the basics to. Drawing the super-heroes is one thing, but you have to draw the mundane equally importantly as well. When I saw the picture on page 83 on a man holding a large radio in his hands, García-López had not only got the shape but the texture of its speakers. If you learn nothing else from the man, then learn that. It is texture that brings his pictures to life.

It goes without saying that I enjoyed this book and it’s a fabulous insight into the art of José Luis García-López.

GF Willmetts

December 2012

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 117 page illustrated softcover. Price: $14.95 (US). ISBN: 1-893905-44-6)

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