Comic Book Heroes!
Meet five artists extraordinaire who have been crafting your favorite characters for years
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Artist Joe Sinnott is widely regarded as one of — if not the — greatest inkers in the business. For those not in the know, inkers go over the pencil drawings of the artist with ink, adding shade and depth. “Inking is responsible for the mood and atmosphere of every single panel,” says Edward Murr, an illustrator who teaches comic art at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Sinnott teamed with famed artist Jack Kirby; together they defined the look of almost every major Marvel Comics character — although the high point of their collaboration is considered by many to be the Fantastic Four. “They’re like the Rodgers and Hammerstein of comics,” says Murr. A lifelong Saugerties resident, Sinnott — a minor celebrity about town — says that “people are always asking me to draw things.” And those lucky enough to be on his Christmas card list get to view his latest creations: “I used to do Bing Crosby cards, but lately it’s been Spider-Man.”
Starting out: I always drew as a kid, on anything I could get my hands on. Paper bags, whatever. I was first published in the Saugerties High School yearbook. I started professionally as an assistant to one of my art school teachers, Tom Gill [of Lone Ranger fame], who was also working in comics.
Early influences/mentors: I went to [Tarzan artist] Burne Hogarth’s school in Manhattan. When I was accepted, I thought they were kidding me. I thought they were having trouble getting students. The first thing you remember drawing? At four years old, in my parents’ rooming house, I kept copying an Indian pictured on a box of crayons that a teacher staying with us had given me.
Proudest accomplishment: Many of the bios I did for Treasure Chest comics: Kennedy, Eisenhower, MacArthur, the Wright Brothers, Babe Ruth. And the Beatles, for Dell in 1964. Later on, biographical comics of Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. I’m actually more proud of my penciling than my inking.
Character you still love to draw? The Thing, because he can be drawn belligerent- or humorous-looking. The Mighty Thor — he’s a good-looking guy with a nice costume. The Silver Surfer — he shimmers, he’s got that surfboard. There’s a lot you can do with him. Spidey, but he’s not all that easy. The webbing on the costume has to be very accurate.
All-around artist: Sinnott’s drawing and inking skills have helped depict everyone from Spider-Man to the Beatles
What’s difficult to draw? Traffic on a bridge.
Other troubles: The deadlines in comics are very tight; you have to know how to pace yourself.
Current/upcoming projects: I retired in 1992, but I still ink the Spider-Man newspaper strip’s Sunday pages.
As-yet unfulfilled ambition: I often regretted never doing the life of Bing.
The Bing thing: My mother was a big fan of his. I met him on the street when I was in the Navy in World War II. Later, I had a Bing Crosby radio show on WEOK in Poughkeepsie with a friend.
Looking back: People all over the world know my name, but I often wish I had gone into teaching. I’ve worked at home most of my life, and it’s been a bit lonely. I love going to local schools and talking about what I do.
On the Web: www.joesinnott.com
(For our exclusive list of Valley shops where you can find all your favorite artists' works, visit our Spidey's Web feature.)
Up next: Wendy Pini