Modern Masters Volume Seven: John Byrne by Jon B. Cooke and Eric Nolen-Weathington (book review).

Just to show I do buy occasionally, I pulled this softcover, a third edition from 2012 no less, of ‘Modern Masters Volume Seven: John Byrne’ by Jon B. Cooke and Eric Nolen-Weathington. As with all of this series of books, there are extensive interviews detailing the artist in question’s early life and love of art, breaking into the industry and career.

Along the way, you get a lot of art, pencilled and inked, convention sketches and so forth. I’ve got a couple original X-Men pages in my own collection which should speak for itself and I’m fairly familiar with his background of his being brought up in the UK. I wasn’t aware that Byrne collected some original comicbook pages but, like me, he also picked them up before the prices skyrocketed.

Like Byrne, until I read, here that I didn’t make the connection between the X-Men two-parter, ‘Days Of Future Past’ with the ‘Doctor Who’ story, ‘Day Of The Daleks’. Thing is, though, even this isn’t the first to have people coming from the future to change the past. There’s a Michael Rennie starring film from 1966 called ‘Cyborg 2087’ that had a similar plot and before that Harlen Ellison’s two stories in ‘The Outer Limits’ TV seris doing a similar thing which became the basis for ‘The Terminator’. It’s an old plo that occasionally pops up and I’m sure there must have been some paper fiction before that if I look around.

Byrne’s sentiments about how much of modern comicbooks are unreadable should strike home with some of our generation here. I think I would be more inclined to think that they lack depth though. More so as the editors are controlling the writers and not allowing them to dig deeper for plot than what they want. I think that’s more telling about editors than writers and will take a couple generations to sort out.

You’ll notice I’m targeting a couple things I reacted to than everything. It’s very odd looking at how Byrne signs his name now looks almost indistinct. It’s all well and good wanting to be distinct but it really is more like a scrawl now.

The art selection, especially the 32 page portfolio at the back should fulfil most of your needs. Looking at the layouts, pencils and inks together, it does make it a good lesson in how to easily recognise Byrne’s style, especially as to how he does faces. Then again, when you’re as prolific with art as Byrne has been over his career it’s inevitable that people like me for eye for detail put it together.

GF Willmetts

November 2019

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2012. 125 page illustrated softcover. Price: $15.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-893905-56-6. Direct from them, you can get it for $13.56 (US))

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