For years, I was a real writer-first kind of guy where comics were concerned. I enjoyed certain artists, sure, but the creators I followed were almost all writers. Recently, though, that’s changed a bit, and there’s a more even split between the two. I’ll buy pretty much anything Jamie McKelvie, Becky Cloonan or Ryan Kelly draws, for example. True, I often come to these artists through the writers they collaborate with, but it’s their work that I end up following.
I’m lucky enough that most of the time, they get attached to stories and series I’d have bought anyway. Sometimes, not, though, and one of the times where it was more important for me to get a comic to admire the artwork than the writing was Wonder Woman #600.
Now, I don’t have any connection with Wonder Woman, as a character, at all. I appreciate her as the “mother” of all super-heroines, but in the sense of entertainment value? Not even a little. If it’s possible, J. Michael Straczynski’s re-imagined version of the character interests me even less – so why did I end up buying this, the comic chiefly renowned for being the debut of that rework?
Two people: George Perez and Amanda Conner. Both fantastic artists, who posess all the qualities I love in an artist – a gift for storytelling, the ability to pack in details (whether on buildings in the background, or on character’s faces) and – perhaps most importantly – a sense of humour. That last element is something missing from a vast majority of comic artists, who seem to forget that it’s okay to be a little playful or slapstick sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being deadly serious – unless you never do anything besides that.
After all, comics are a truly collaborative medium. If a writer has suggested a light tone for a scene or character, the artist should pull their weight too. It’s incredibly hard, as a reader, to separate what elements you can attribute to a writer and what to an artist, but read a wide enough range of work by a single creator and you eventually get a reasonable feel for it.
The fact that this oversized anniversary issue contained two stories drawn by Perez and Conner was enough for me to overcome my indifference towards Wonder Woman (and the DC Universe in general) and buy it. The stories might be fairly generic, the character might be more successful as a t-shirt than a story, but with those artists attached, you can be guaranteed of reading a story that will look gorgeous, and probably teach you something about the mechanics of the medium when you read it. Just as anything Alan Moore writes deserves a look, the same is true of artists like Perez and Conner.