"He [Ron] has managed to perpetually hone his craft, and amazingly his latest work is always his best. When I see a book that Ron has drawn, I am shown exactly what I should be doing with my own work and I am truly inspired."
– Howard Porter, from his foreword.
With a lot of these Modern Masters volumes, they'll go with an iconic illustration on the cover to grab the reader. (i.e. Spider-Man or Batman, some character that the casual reader will see and say to themselves "what is this?") This volume has a warrior standing atop a pile of fallen soldiers in a very Frazetta-esque illustration. If the volume were for Frazetta, I could understand. But Ron Garney is an artist best known for his critically acclaimed run on Captain America with writer Mark Waid.
Having been a fan of Ron Garney's for several years, it was a joy to read. The book starts with a look at his childhood and his influences in art from his family, (His grandmother was a painter and his father had "some artistic ability."), and the comic books and artists that first caught his eye.
Like most comic artists who got in the industry between the '70s to '90s, Jack Kirby was a source of inspiration for Ron. He cites the legendary battle between the Incredible Hulk and the Fantastic Four's Thing a top the Washington Bridge, (Fantastic Four #12, March 1963), as one of his fondest comic book memories. Ron would later get to take a stab at the battle himself as he was able to draw the two fighting in Hulk #9 (scripted by Jerry Ordway, co-plotted by Garney).
That aside, the volume itself doesn't fail to show some of Ron's more famous subjects as it follows his career from the early days of working on Moon Knight and G.I. Joe, (under the secret mentoring of legendary comic book artist Mike Zeck), up through his more recent stints on Wolverine and Spider-Man.
The interview was very candid and delved into a lot of things that the general public wouldn't have any ida of. This was largly due to the interviewer being conducted by a former Marvel intern and current interviewer for TwoMorrows Publishing, Jorge Khoury. While at Marvel, Jorge was witness to a lot of Ron's rise to stardom on Captain America. The interview does do a great job at getting Ron to go into different things that he was thinking while going from one project ot the next.
The interview does offer a look into the mind of an artist. Different thought processes that go into creating dynamic pages. Is it a thorough look into how he creates? No, but it is an enjoyable interview that spans his entire career with a lot of attention given to his work on Captain America and Wolverine, with lots of behind the scenes stuff, like rough ideas for various covers and pages.
Passive fans might enjoy the read. For the aspiring comic artist or fan of Ron Garney's work, I highly recommend it as it does show why Ron is included in the Modern Masters.
Steven A. Wilcox is an aspiring comic book artist whose work has appeared in various small press books, mostly from the El Paso, TX publisher; Project4Studios. He has been a comic book fan for as long as he can remember. His favorite part of doing reviews and interviews for Comics Bulletin is it gives him an excuse to read more comics, watch cartoons and talk to his favorite creators. He can be contacted on Twitter at @StevenWilcox72 or on Facebook.