Black History Month 2011: Olivier Coipel

February 14th, 2011 by | Tags: , , ,

Olivier Coipel
Selected Works:: Siege, Thor by J. Michael Straczynski Omnibus

For a while, Bryan Hitch held the crown of slam bang superhero action. On The Authority and The Ultimates, he took his Alan Davis-inspired style and redefined how what cool action scenes meant in cape comics. Hitch splurged on spectacle: hundreds of space ships, hyper-detailed rubble, and battle-scarred landscapes. He held the crown, until Olivier Coipel came along and knocked it right off his head.

My first exposure to Coipel came in House of M, an event comic that had a story that was actually pretty terrible. Despite that, Coipel’s art shone through. His broad, muscled figures really sell the power and majesty of the superhero. He can do that big, nasty superhero action that the fiends live for, and he only got better as time went on. He knocked Thor out of the park, and Siege, with inks by Mark Morales and colors by Laura Martin, looked amazing.

I don’t think of Coipel being a realistic artist, at least not in the way that Hitch or Alex Ross are realistic, but I do think that his comics look real. He’s got more in common with that old Alan Davis style, where characters have believable proportions but are absolutely subject to cartooning or exaggeration for effect. Coipel draws straight up comic books, without realism being the goal. If it looks good on the page, he does it. Sometimes this means drawing regular humans, but more often than not, it means playing with scale. His superheroes are barrel-chested and broad as a house. His faces are cartoony, perfectly caricatured, and exaggerated when things get emotional.

I dig this guy quite a bit. His comics look real because he’s just a consummate artist. He doesn’t have to work in the same lane as Hitch to get the same effect, and for my money, he’s holding the crown of what an event comic should look like.

(I accidentally uploaded a fifth image. Here it is.)

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One comment to “Black History Month 2011: Olivier Coipel”

  1. David, I hope you check out the Legion Lost trade when it comes out. Coipel drew the Legion before he bailed for Marvel- his work is a little more raw, less polished on both that and the previous arc, called Legion of the Damned, which isn’t collected yet.