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BF Awards 2012 - Best Artist - Mainstream: Greg Capullo

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There have been many interpretations of the Joker over the years, from a mischievous trickster to a murderous psychotic. However, the version by penciler Greg Capullo is perhaps the first to genuinely creep this reviewer out.

Building off recent events in which the character’s face was surgically removed then reattached, Capullo’s Joker is truly the stuff of nightmares. His features are always slightly askew, as distorted as the Clown Prince’s twisted mind. His skin is stretched like pale white leather, his eyes nothing more than points of white in a sea of darkness, and that famous grin spreads across his face like a gash of crooked yellow teeth.

A terrifying Joker is but one of the horror-influenced touches Capullo has contributed to Batman’s world. Since joining writer Scott Snyder on the re-launched Batman #1, Capullo’s loose and stylized pencils, along with his flair for the macabre, have made Gotham City more unsettling than ever. The rogues of Arkham Asylum seem grotesque; true monsters produced by a diseased city. Capullo’s design for the Court of Owls masks (plain white with owl-like features and sinister, narrowed eyes) is understated but very effective.

Even Batman took on an aspect of the horrific after being drugged by the Court. Capullo presented us with a crazed, wild-eyed Batman with a scraggly five-o'clock shadow, blood-spattered lips, and a tattered cape. On covers, his descent into madness took an even more dramatic form as the character mutated into an owl-like monstrosity.

Yet horror is not Capullo’s only contribution to the series. His Batman moves with a fluid grace but manages to retain the intimidating, muscular bulk of a fighter. It’s pretty clear why he still rules the night. Using simple body language, Capullo has also instilled personality into each of Batman’s allies, sidekicks, and enemies, playing them off each other and amping up the tension of each scene. Even new characters like Lincoln March have been designed in a way to serve the story, his resemblance to the animated version of Bruce Wayne subtly hinting at his true identity.

With nightmarish imagery and a gift for storytelling, Greg Capullo has been an excellent match for the Dark Knight and has been chosen as Broken Frontier’s Best Mainstream Artist of 2012.

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