BF Awards 2011 - Best Artist Mainstream: J.H. Williams III

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There are a lot of talented artists working in comics today. Some master anatomy and draw incredibly realistic figures.  Some specialize in the fantastic action that superhero comics are known for.  Some work to expand the limits of the art form itself.  But no one can illustrate a comic book like J. H. Williams III.  Why? Because his work on Batwoman cannot be measured by normal metrics, and there just aren't enough superlatives to do it justice.

You don’t just read a book drawn by J.H. Williams, you flow through it.  A reading experience unlike any other in comics, he draws (no pun intended) the reader into the book - you become one of his trademark cloudy figures floating over the artwork.  It's not just as simple as saying he draws a beautiful character, although he does do that. In fact-- as a side note-- a friend mentioned how attractive he found Kathy Kane. 

I was in the process of reminding him that she wasn't real and drawn by J. H. Williams and when I finished I paused and said "yeah, that actually made her more attractive to me too. His characters are just that good. They are definitely realistic, and yet he touches each one with an expressionistic flair that makes them stand out just the way he wants.  Witness Kathy Kane’s pale skin, otherwise a normal character, her skin tone is such a shade that it stands out and you immediately follow her through the story.  It’s small touches like this that make his characters stand out and stay with you long after you finish your initial reading of the story (as invariably, you will want to read it again).

Williams doesn't just draw his pages, he designs them with his signature panel layout (and using the term "panel" seems to be shortchanging his work).  With it he controls the pace of his readers, it's hard to want to move your view to the next scene, such is the beauty of his art.  But the next scene is also so amazingly beautiful that it's like he's massaging your eyes.  Most amazingly, despite the unorthodox page design and layout, the story is never hard to follow.  He merges mysticism with realism, intersplices scenes of lovemaking with incredible violence and never does anything seem out of place.  It just looks amazing.  

It is astonishing that after working with luminary writers Alan Moore (Promethea), Grant Morrison (Seven Soldiers), and Greg Rucka (Detective Comics), it’s by working on his own that he may have unlocked his greatest potential.  Perhaps that is due to lessons learned working with those writers along the way, developing and perfecting his style.  Maybe we are all just witnessing the true potential of a master of the art form.  Whatever the reason, we’re all lucky to have him around, creating this masterpiece for our enjoyment.

And with all of that, how can anyone else be considered for the Best Artist of the Year?  I dare say that as long as he's working, this is his award.

Full list of the 2011 Broken Frontier Award winners

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  • Richard Boom

    Richard Boom Jan 20, 2012 at 6:41am

    amen!! Completely agree on this! The graphics he is doing are amazing!!

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Jan 20, 2012 at 9:53am

    The only man in the world that can make me read a Greg Rucka comic!

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