Last year, I had taken a trip to Toronto that just happened to coincide with the Fanexpo convention. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, my lovely wife took mothering duty for a day while I perused geek merchandise with mobs of brightly costumed patrons. With any and all nerd interests laid out in front of me, there was only a single priority for me that day: an autographed print from J Scott Campbell.
Known for his thin and curvy women, Campbell unapologetically draws sexy pin ups and has built his career on it. Back when he started in the 90s, however, Campbell made a name for himself as a co-creator of 'Gen 13' and ‘Danger Girl’ series. Campbell has proven that he is an incredible visual story teller with his art and layouts which I think this gets overlooked. This is no surprise as Campbell stopped doing interiors for comics and has freelanced pin ups and cover art for the past couple of decades. Though I would love to see Campbell flex his narrative muscles, it’s clear that he made the smarter and more lucrative decision to become an illustrator. On the up side, Campbell is well sought after artist, which means that he works with a wide variety of companies on iconic characters.
When people ask me who my favourite comic artists are, J Scott Campbell is on the shortlist. The style and expertise in his drawings flow naturally for the veteran artist. Because he draws beautiful women, it’s an easy criticism to say that he objectifies women and perpetuates the poor depiction of women that plagues the comic industry. This is of course a fair argument, but I find the Campbell puts a lot of subtlety in his work. The characters he draws are the ‘ideal’ body types, but he does this for both men and women. More importantly, Campbell takes effort to bring personality into the people he draws. Whether sultry, domineering or innocent, Campbell has uses expressive faces and body language to bring out a character.
Sufficet to say, I did meet Campbell and he was incredibly nice. Not only did I get the print that I was hoping for, I somehow ended up walking away with three signed lithographs that are currently framed up in my comic room.