Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Artist Spotlight: Russell Dauterman

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Welcome back everyone to another episode of….! Wouldn’t it be funny if this was actually a television show? Never mind I’m getting off track. But seriously, I hope you all enjoyed last month’s Comic Artist Spotlight because it’s time for another. With last month, our artist was one who was practically all over the place when it came to which publishers she associated with. A quality and quantity game if I say so myself. This week we’re going to take a look at an artist, while with a shorter list of associated publishing companies, continued to impress me with his commitment to longer projects and even working somewhat outside the comics industry. Also, I realize that if you’ve read some of my older comic reviews you probably saw this name dying to come out eventually. This month we’ll be talking about Russell Dauterman.

Dauterman began his career in the comic industry but not as an illustrator, sort of. In 2011 he worked on Captain America: The First Avenger and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as a costume illustrator before entering the comic world proper via Boom Comics in the following year. His first major ongoing work was Suburbia alongside writer, Grace Randolph. Following another year he moved over to DC and Marvel. He worked on two issues of 2014’s Nightwing, yet his true destiny and source for recognition today was alongside Jason Aaron in Marvel. Prior to 2014, Aaron already gained the love of Thor fans everywhere with his shorter run on Thor: God of Thunder. However, once the Original Sin event had passed and we had a new, female Thor, we also got one of the greatest tag teams in modern memory.

Dauterman became the main artist for 2014’s Thor which fans who read the previous series, was a long term commitment as Aaron was planning a full, multi-year storyline that went on for years. While Dauterman wasn’t a part of every single iteration of the series, he was the most featured in 2015-2018’s Mighty Thor and the main artist of the War of the Realms event that was being built towards since his work with Aaron in 2014. After the event however, Aaron chose to reunite Esad Ribic who worked alongside him during his Thor: God of Thunder run. Since then, Dauterman has worked on Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost and is the main illustrator for Marvel’s relaunch of the X-Men universe in Marauders.

If could describe Dauterman’s work concisely, I would say it is refreshingly classic. What I mean by this is that he follows the hallmark animated look of a classic superhero comic, yet at such an advanced level that it’s elevated to a fine art experience. For one, his illustrations “pop”. The amount of detail in even the smallest of objects is consistent with the biggest, creating a three-dimensional feel to the action sequences to the ability of the reader to feel the emotion pour out of the more tense scenes. In another spectrum of thought, another word I can think of is, colorful. Dauterman’s color palette is vast in range and liberal in use. This is harder to explain without examples, but I’ll provide plenty as we move forward. A third note is his backgrounds. While not as colorful as what’s going front and center, it’s easy to lose sight of them while you gaze at everything else. They’re there and they’re wonderful.

Image Courtesy of DC Comics

Let’s start off with a simple piece. This one is taken from 2014’s Nightwing where Dauterman served as a guest illustrator for two issues. While it is definitely light on what he is truly capable of we can still see the attention to detail on the character model itself as well as the atmosphere. When looking at Nightwing you can the “pop” effect in action. His suit shows off the careful precision used in every bit of penciling to set it apart from the background. The foggy sky and city below seem a flat backdrop yet combined with the depth of the character create a purpose for each other that really shows off his style in a stunning yet simple fashion. Let’s be real too, as far as skies go, this one is very aesthetically pleasing.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Now, this next one is an example of the opposite of the previous. You have well over a dozen of Marvel’s most powerful ladies all in one frame, yet, Dauterman hasn’t sacrificed any detail in including them all on a single page. The colors are so vibrant and numerous that it’s almost easy to get overwhelmed but in the very best sense of the word. The background also doesn’t let us down. It’s easy to get tunnel vision with so much that’s going on front and center that we don’t fully appreciate the consistency all around it. The portal behind everyone doesn’t take up the whole bit and we can still see the destruction around Jane as well as floating through the air. Knowing the context of this piece also helps to build on the emotion felt. There’s a sense of pride that Odinson has let his anger of the woman who stole hammer fade and work to save her. Yet, the final piece I’ll show here for today is Dauterman at his very best.

Image Courtesy of Marvel Comics

Taken from the final issue of Mighty Thor, all those that have stayed with the series for so long had their hearts ripped out of their chest when Jane destroyed Mjolnir to defeat the Mangog, knowing it would revert her back to her own body. A few issues earlier Dr. Strange had warned her that should she do this one more time, Jane Foster would cease to exist. Not only that, but up until this very moment, Odinson was still unaware that this was Jane Foster. The two engulfed in brilliant flames captures a single moment in time, nothing else exists. This is all done without words, it’s all in Dauterman’s art which so beautifully captures this tragic and inspiring panel.

Overall, the thing I love most about Dauterman’s work is his ability to elicit so much emotion. Sure Jason Aaron’s story captured our hearts but the art is what made it stick with us. We are visual creatures and we also need to see in order to feel. This is what makes Dauterman’s work so memorable because what we remember most is what we feel and boy does he really make us feel. I hope you all enjoyed this month’s pick. As always, drop some comments below and talk about your favorite piece by Russell Dauterman, and if you have a suggestion for who I should feature next month, feel free to go make a suggestion on our Fandomentals Community! Until next time!

Featured Image Courtesy of Marvel Comics

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