Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.18: Bill Sienkiewicz

No.18: Bill Sienkiewicz

Bill Sienkiewicz is an American comic artist and illustrator who brings the influences of artists like Egon Schiele, Ralph Steadman and Gustav Klimt to bear in his instantly recognisable work. Starting work as just a jobbing artist at Marvel in the early eighties, he has transcended his early career to become the ultimate comic cover artist and film poster illustrator. Words: Joel Meadows…

photo©Joel Meadows. All Rights Reserved

Sienkiewicz is known as a groundbreaking artist now but it was not always this way. Training at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts in Newark, New Jersey, the artist began his career as a copyist of DC and Marvel mainstay Neal Adams. He showed his portfolio to DC’s art director Vince Colletta who contacted Neal Adams and Adams put him in touch with Marvel’s editor-in-chief Jim Shooter.

Shooter was so impressed with him that he was soon drawing The Hulk and Moon Knight for Marvel. Moon Knight was the book that initially got him noticed but it was his work on Marvel’s X-Men spin-off New Mutants that really put him on the map. His unconventional page construction and his experimental covers made the series a hit and suddenly Sienkiewicz was an in-demand artist in mainstream comics, even though his approach marked him out as anything but conventional. 

Sienkiewicz admitted that he worked to a tighter schedule on New Mutants in his interview with Joel Meadows in Insight’s book Masters of Comics back in 2019: “I used to be far more regimented by default in the years working on New Mutants. I’d often leave my studio in Westport (Connecticut) at night and drive past a bank with a large clock that flashed the time and temperature; more often than not, I’d drive past it as it was flashing the time of 12.34am., easily three nights out of five.”

New Mutants led to the illustrator creating a series of covers for Marvel on books like Rom, Dazzler, The Mighty Thor, Return of the Jedi and The Transformers and he also drew the Marvel adaptation of David Lynch’s Dune. 

His first interior work for DC came in 1986 when he drew one of the chapters for Batman#400, a comic for which he also created the striking cover. 

From 1986 to 1987, he worked with top creative powerhouse Frank Miller on Daredevil spin-off Elektra Assassin at Marvel as well as the original graphic novel Daredevil: Love And War which showcased the hero’s deadliest adversary The Kingpin. Both series showed off a broadening approach to his work, incorporating influences from the worlds of fine art.

In 1988, Sienkiewicz wrote and drew surreal thriller Stray Toasters for Marvel’s Epic imprint. The artist collaborated with writer Andy Helfer on DC’s revamp of The Shadow series, drawing both covers and interiors. 

Also in 1988, Sienkiewicz contributed to Alan Moore’s political graphic novel Brought To Light. He worked with Moore again on the series Big Numbers but only two issues were ever published. He also painted the adaptation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick for Classics Illustrated. He drew 30 Days Of Night: Beyond Barrow for IDW.

In more recent years he has focused on creating eyecatching covers for books like DC’s Batman, Detective Comics and Batman: Black And White and Fortnite vs Marvel and Moon Knight: Black, White And Red at Marvel. He does occasionally return to the world of interior pages but this is a rarity these days.

He did speak about how he approaches creating interior pages in the Masters Of Comics interview: “I get the script or plot, break it down – usually if it’s a 22 page story, I will ask for a plot of around 17 pages, so I can pace things out or give the story room to breathe . next comes layouts, and thumbnails, as a very rough idea of the direction I want to go- a roadmap- Then I just either shoot reference or gather it up from different sources. And then dive into the finishes, keeping in mind the pacing and tone of each scene , as well as ingraining the script into my head so that it is second nature and I needn’t keep referring to it. It all flows.”

He is also a very experienced movie poster artist, creating memorable art for movies like Logan, John Wick and Black Panther, often inking his friend Denys Cowan. He also created the posters for Spider-man: Into The Spiderverse, Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven  and 2018’s Halloween. Sienkiewicz also worked on FX’s groundbreaking Legion TV show, based on the X-Men character. 

Most recently, he has contributed to charity comic project Operation USA’s benefit anthology book, Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds, edited by veteran comics editor Scott Dunbier.

Sienkiewicz created the vogue for painted comics with artists like Dave McKean and David Mack following in his footsteps. He has a very distinctive style and a bold approach to his work, whether on covers or creating interior pages. He brings the worlds of painting and illustration to his canon while still showing his love of the comic book form.

He admitted in 2019 in the same interview that he has gotten quicker as an artist: “I have become faster at doing the work, slower and more involved with the concepts, setup, and prep and reference gathering. But doing the actual work, it flies.”

Sienkiewicz was truly in the vanguard when he developed the style that would become his trademark and his influence is still felt now, over forty years after his professional debut. His use of collage in his work and his chameleonic ability to adapt his approach to suit the project marks him out as one of the finest practitioners of the form.

Here’s links through to the other entries in our 101 Greatest so far as well

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.19: Jack Cole

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.20: Bernie Krigstein

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.21: Graham Ingels

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.22: Al Williamson

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.23: Barry Windsor-Smith

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.24: Alex Ross

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.25: John Byrne

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.26: Mike Mignola

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.27: Basil Wolverton

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.28: Howard Chaykin

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.29: Moebius

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.30: Dave Gibbons

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.31: Creig Flessel

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.32: Milt Caniff

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.34: Burne Hogarth

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.35: LB Cole

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.37: Bill Everett

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.38: Robert Crumb

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.39: Mac Raboy

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.41: Jim Starlin

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.42: Mike Zeck

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.43: Adam Hughes

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.44: Daniel Clowes

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.45: Gene Colan

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.46: George Perez

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.47: Michael William Kaluta

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.48: Cary Nord

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.49: Frank Quitely

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.50: Mike Ploog

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.51: Johnny Craig

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.52: Darwyn Cooke

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.53: Steve Dillon

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.54: Gil Kane

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.55: Michael Zulli

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.56: John Romita

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.57: Joe Maneely

 

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.58: Marshall Rogers

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.59: John Severin

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.60: Alex Toth

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.61: Brian Bolland

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.62: David Mazzuchelli

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.63 Reed Crandall

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.64 Harry Anderson

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.65 Nick Cardy

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.66 Matt Wagner

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.67 Bryan Hitch

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.68 Shawn Martinbrough

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.69 Al Feldstein

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.70 Nestor Redondo

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.71 Tarpe Mills

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.72 Eduardo Risso

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.73 JH Williams III

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.74 Irv Novick

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.75 Dan Zolnerowich

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.76 Gilbert Shelton

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.77 Tommy Lee Edwards

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.78: Sean Phillips

 

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.79: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.80: Dan DeCarlo

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.81: Marie Severin

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.82: John Paul Leon

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.83: Jim Lee

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.84: Denys Cowan

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.85: Ross Andru

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.86: Paul Gustavson

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.87: George Evans

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.88: Michael Golden

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.89: Matt Baker

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.90: Todd McFarlane

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.91: Fiona Staples

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.92: Carl Barks

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.93: Carmine Infantino

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.94: Alan Davis

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.95: CC Beck

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.96: Syd Shores

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.97: Bob Fujitani

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.98: Tim Sale

Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.99: Jim Aparo

https://tripwiremagazine.co.uk/headlines/tripwires-101-greatest-comic-artists-of-all-time-no-100/

https://tripwiremagazine.co.uk/headlines/tripwires-101-greatest-comic-artists-of-all-time-no-101/

 

The post Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.18: Bill Sienkiewicz appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.

No.18: Bill Sienkiewicz Bill Sienkiewicz is an American comic artist and illustrator who brings the influences of artists like Egon Schiele, Ralph Steadman and Gustav Klimt to bear in his instantly recognisable work. Starting work as just a jobbing artist at Marvel in the early eighties, he has transcended his early career to become the
The post Tripwire’s 101 Greatest Comic Artists Of All Time: No.18: Bill Sienkiewicz appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.Read MoreTRIPWIRE MAGAZINE

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