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Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross Hardcover – October 21, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1 edition (October 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375422404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375422409
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.9 x 12.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With art that looks like a hybrid of Norman Rockwell and Jack Kirby, artist Ross has become the preeminent painter of superheroes of his generation. This lavish coffee- table tribute puts him into a pantheon as exalted as the superbeings he depicts. The son of a preacher and an illustrator, Ross was always captivated by superheroes, but it wasn't until he discovered the use of live models in art school that he was able to realize his visions of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest. Like Rockwell, Ross uses photographs to set up lighting and staging-a process documented in a section at the end of the book-and like Rockwell, he favors otherworldly lighting effects that somehow serve to make his figures more realistic. Like Kirby, he has an innate belief in the iconic power of superheroes that gives them a dimension far beyond the usual four-colored adventures. Whether in Kingdom Come, a renowned tale of the twilight of the superheroes; his own oversized stories written with Paul Dini; or countless posters, covers and commissions, Ross's vision of beings so powerful they verge on arrogant will make viewers glad they don't exist in the real world. Kidd's text is laudatory but never cloying, and the book includes numerous studies, sketches and photos to show Ross's method. While collectors and fans gush over Ross's output, the sheer weight of pictures of every superteam in DC's universe does become somewhat numbing by the end. Still, the immense power of Ross's best images cuts through any clutter, and this volume deftly showcases just that.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-This is a coffee-table tribute to the work of the cartoonist. Kind of an odd blend of Norman Rockwell meets Saturday morning cartoons, Ross's gouache painted art glows on the pages. Interspersed with quotations by the artist and those who know him, Kidd's sparse text takes readers on a brief tour of Ross's childhood to his early days in advertising and comic books, finally ending with the limited series "Kingdom Come" (Warner, 1998), which combined hyper-realistic artwork with unusually complex storytelling. The book not only displays samples of finished works but also includes sketches, photographs of live models, and comic art dating back to the 1930s. For a humorous touch, Kidd includes samples of Ross's childhood art, with pieces ranging from rough copies of comic covers to endearing sculptures of Batman and others made out of construction paper. Ultimately, Ross is an artist who quests to reuse and redevelop classic characters like Superman and Wonder Woman and elevate their stories to a level more sophisticated readers can enjoy. High goals, but this man makes it work.
Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

This is a great book about a great artist.
Michael Montoya
From cover to cover, this over-sized book is packed full of beautiful art work.
Betty Burks
It's a great work, detailing all the work of Alex Ross in DC Comics.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. M. Van Briesen on October 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I had forgotten I ordered this until it came in the mail today. It's a pretty amazing piece of work. If you are an artist (like me) it's almost a text book on how to do it correctly. I found the highlight to be the last few pages of the book where Mr. Ross explains exactly how he created the cover from initial concept sketches to photography through finished art. The book also contains several things I'd never seen before or had just seen poorly printed or web versions of. Just amazing. Well worth the asking price.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on January 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alex Ross brought a new technique and style to superhero artwork that had never quite been seen before in comics. Working almost exclusively in watercolor gouache, he brought a photorealistic style that takes almost everyone's breath away. It marvelously recaptures the essential thrill of comic books: the fantasy of what it would be like if a man could really fly, or run at incredible speeds, or had a magic ring that could do anything. He's often been compared to Norman Rockwell (in his hyperrealism and love of dramatic facial expression), but Ross is his own artist. His intense love of dramatic composition, lighting, and figural motion suggests his roots also extend to the greats of comic artwork, including Dick Sprang, Steve Ditko, Gil Kane, and Neal Adams.
This wonderful collection captures many of his childhood attempts at art and documents not only his changing style but also his creative process (using live and inanimate models, photography, and high-contrast lighting). It also showcases a plethora of his best work for DC, and even includes many rare and uncollected images done for fan publications and even a collector's plates series (!). The fancy-shmancy book design by designer and comics fan Chip Kidd is sometimes a drawback (too many images are sometimes crammed into one doublepage spread, reducing the detail to the detriment of all the images), but the book is terrific nonetheless. It greatly benefits from commentary by Ross throughout explaining what he finds interesting and exciting about each classic Golden and Silver Age comics character.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Quackenbush on October 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you are as big a fan as me of Alex Ross, then rush out a find a copy of this book. No matter what. It gives everything you need to know about his art and the stories behind them. It shows the evolutions of his characters and his backgrounds into how they came to be. If you are in love with comics and the characters then get this. It really shows his love for them as well. From full page spreads to single sketchbook black and white shots, its has it all. Chip Kidd did a wonderful job putting it together and the book is a great read as well. I've been waiting a long time for the definitive Alex Ross book and it's finally here. It's worth every penny.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Parka TOP 50 REVIEWER on February 2, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Length: 0:32 Mins
Alex Ross' comic art is stunning. There are comics where the characters are brought to life by the art and story, but you know they are still created from imagination. With Alex Ross, it's like he's drawing a character that really exists. His sense of realism is unparalleled. He blurs the line between fantasy and reality.

He's compared often with Norman Rockwell and it's apt. He, too, uses photographic references to amazing results. However, Alex Ross is in a class of his own too

This book is packed with breathtaking paintings, many are full page. There are also sketches and accompanying commentary talking from anything about his childhood, comic characters and influences like Andrew Loomis and various comic artists. There are lots to read. There's a section which details his drawing process, from getting a reference, to inking and then colouring.

Although there are no chapters, the content is grouped by the superheroes he drew, namely Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Shazam, The Justice Society, The Justice League, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Plastic Man, Green Arrow, Hawkman, The Atom, The Flash, Supergirl, Batgirl and a whole lot more. These superheroes must have felt honored to be drawn by Alex Ross.

This book is really value for money with 320 pages of top quality art. Highly recommended to all artists and comic fans.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By talos72 on November 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have to buy just one published book or comic having to do with Alex Ross, "Mythology" is it. The book is, for the most part, a visual retrospective on Alex Ross' works on DC characters. This edition is thin on text, but heavy on well reproduced yet great artwork. I, being an illustrator myself, really appreciate all the rough drawings and sketches included in the book, because they really show you the methode to Ross' madness.
I also recommend this book for those interested in learning illustration techniques and watercolor. Interestingly enough, you learn a great deal by observing how Ross tries to capture light and color through his work. There is even a page mentioning Andrew Loomis, the great late illustrator and one of Ross' influences. One can definitly see how the artist has drawn inspiration from the golden age illustrators and those of the 40's and 50's. His depiction of Superman is by far my favorit.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By P. Nicholas Keppler on January 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Alex Ross rose to fame with 1994's Marvels, a mini-series that chronicled the Marvel Universe from the perspective of an ordinary person. Yet the comic book painter's career really took off when he began working extensively at DC Comics (the Pepsi to Marvel's Coke). This is largely because Marvel has attempted to strip superheroes of their myth-like aura while DC has more or less embraced it and there is something very mythic about Ross' art. His paintings are larger-than-life, and fully embrace the fantastic nature of superheroes. Common to Ross' work is not only flying supermen, but shocked crowds, birds-eye-views of cities and extremes of light and darkness. Meanwhile his use of vintage costumes and reproductions of classic images resonate deeply in the American psyche, where these characters are held as icons.
Yet his superheroes are also very human in a way. He never forgets Superman's integrity, Batman's determination, or Wonder Woman's pride and makes each hero's defining characteristic evident in their faces. He even paints a wonderfully cheeky Plastic Man.
The coffee table book Mythology is an excellent sampling of the comics books, posters and T-shirts and more Ross has painted for the company. The three biggest focuses are his kindly, luminous Superman, his dark, noble Batman and his almost overwhelming portraits of the all-star Justice League of America. Lesser coverage is given to Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Green Lantern and others.
Mythology also takes readers behind the scenes of Ross' work. They get to see fully grown men pose in Superman and Captain Marvel costumes as Ross' models and see how a painting develops, step-by-step.
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