Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Indecipherable Hulk


A man of many talents, Canadian artist Kaare Andrews generally has a lot of irons in the fire at any given time, never being content to just coast on the wave of a completed project before feeling the itch to pursue another. Whatever hat(s) he chooses to wear, whether it's as a writer, or director, or penciller/painter (and there's likely even more ground to cover), his work is an attention-getter; and whether you are drawn to it or choose to pass on it, it will likely at least pique your interest, given how atypical his style is. Perhaps a fair way to describe the man is that his work is in a constant, unpredictable state of flux. Under other circumstances, such wording would generally apply to someone who hasn't quite settled on a definitive style which would be recognizable at a glance--but Andrews is proof that the creative outlet need not be pigeon-holed or otherwise limited in either its interpretation or its expression.

If you were reading comics just after the turn of the century (how strange it seems to put it that way!), you would have found Andrews' artistry on a number of covers of Incredible Hulk, as part of ... an experiment? a shift? in marketing the rebooted Hulk mag to presumably appeal to the reader who would buy the issue on impulse just to find out why the heck this out-of-the-ordinary imagery was being applied to a set-in-stone character like the Hulk. Thumbing through my own collection, it looks like I skipped this entire set of issues, and picked up the series again once things on the cover returned to a semblance of "normal." In my own defense, try not to peg me as a reader who never gives a new creative direction its chance; just a month after Andrews' work had run its course, I would wind up being burned by the Thunderbolts issues that began appearing on the shelves which exhibited similar head-scratching covers, though I braved the stories nonetheless. It turned out the book had inexplicably jettisoned its own title characters without warning, its new creative team and experimental story direction hijacking the title for the last few issues of its run. In the case of the Hulk title, it appears that I wasn't willing to brave the content within--better safe than sorry, as the saying goes, a lesson I failed to apply to Thunderbolts.  For what it's worth, I was dead wrong in the case of the Hulk.

The covers featuring Andrews' work also experimented with different styles of presenting the masthead, which at times made it seem like the Assistant Editors were again running the asylum. Once Andrews had moved on, that part of the shift in cover format continued on occasion, this time accompanied by artist Mike Deodato:




But as stunning as Deodato's work was (and is), there's something to be said for Andrews' unorthodox approach; so without further comment, have a look at a sampling of his intriguing covers. Would you have felt compelled to buy an issue, confident of the quality of the story inside--or do you instead come away with the impression that the new cover style is squandering the selling power of its title character ?






NEXT:
C'mon, let's dive into that cereal bowl! You may be surprised at how much it pops.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maurice Sendak! Through friends, my young nephew met him and had a "sit-down" with him, shortly before his passing.
They got along famously, or so I'm told. I'm a bit jealous. But, whereas my nephew is a charmer, Sendak might have found his uncles to be surly louts.
We might have shown up as monsters in one of his books!
M.P.

Comicsfan said...

You have a good eye, M.P.! Yes, that cover of Incredible Hulk indeed appears to pay homage to author Maurice Sendak. If you're curious, you can also find a Sendak-style Avengers illustration from artist Hannah Friederichs (under her pen name AgarthanGuide) at this link. Way cool.

Dale Bagwell said...

Yeah this was a pretty cool but brief era for fun Hulk covers by Kaare. My favorite one is still the Hulk Pops one, with the Hulk/Samson dinner scene in homage of course to the late great Norman Rockwell. The stories inside? Eh, not so much, although I guess Bruce Jones was trying his best with his take on the whole Hulk as wandering fugitive thing.

Colin Jones said...

CF, I always say "Turn Of The Millennium" :D I love these quirky covers and I definitely wouldn't have been put off buying them (if I'd been buying comics - I hadn't yet returned to reading Marvel). Like MP, I also noticed the "Where The Wild Things Are" cover, ha - very amusing. Deadpool's recent run also experimented with some quirky, unusual covers...but not quite as unusual as these.

Warren JB said...

Bruce Jones' run as writer... whether or not you like Kaare's covers (I did) they were the best thing about the comic at the time. It was the run that put me off Mike 'all faces in shadow, all the time!' Deodato, too

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