Alex Ross & Chip Kidd | Art Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Alex Ross & Chip Kidd 

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Even if you're not a comic book fan, you could easily be impressed and entertained by Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross. If you are a fan, it'll blow you away. Written and designed by the equally celebrated Chip Kidd, Mythology is part Ross bio and homage, part history of cartoon illustration, and all big, bright, glossy reproductions of Ross's photorealistic watercolors (he's been called the Norman Rockwell of comics, an appellation he doesn't shy away from, citing Rockwell as an influence). Among the many nice touches included: Ross's mother's work as a fashion illustrator in Chicago, Ross's childhood pencil-and-crayon drawings of Superman and Batman, philosophical observations ("Superman should never reflect any fashionable trend or other affectation of a specific era--hairstyle, speech patterns, etcetera. He is beyond that. He is out of time."), and notes on the challenges inherent in the craft, as in--speaking of Wonder Woman--"the problem of imparting a sense of ferocity to a protagonist clad in what amounts to a one-piece bathing suit." Kidd leads the reader through Ross's education and artistic process, exploring his admiration for the moral rectitude (and ambivalence) of his superheroes in detailed sections on Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Captain Marvel, shorter ones on enduring characters like the Green Lantern, the Flash, and Aquaman, and an examination of Ross's politically charged "Uncle Sam" series. Ross's superheroes are indeed heroic, by definition, but his paintings convey the emotional weight of their responsibilities--their humanity, if it can be called that. Ross and Kidd will sign copies of Mythology on Saturday, December 13, from 3 to 6 PM, at Chicago Comics, 3244 N. Clark, 773-528-1983.

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