Modern Masters: Paolo Rivera

Modern Masters: Paolo Rivera

I really like the guys behind TwoMorrows. They made a go of publishing historical magazines and books about comics at a time when few others were. However, their publications are aimed at a core, comic shop-based, male audience that is so clearly irrelevant to what I enjoy about the medium.

Take, for instance, this latest volume, the 29th. (It’s labeled 30 because number 23 never came out.) As the series has progressed, the subjects have gone from well-known, acclaimed creators with lengthy careers to people whose credits I couldn’t name if paid. Paolo Rivera has apparently illustrated Spider-Man and Daredevil, but although his images are pretty, I wasn’t familiar with his credits.

And that’s one problem with the Modern Masters series. The volumes assume that you’re already familiar enough with the title artist to want to buy a book of their unpublished sketches and an interview about every detail of their career. The information isn’t provided in a way that’s friendly to those new to the creator — there’s no simple listing of his credits and no overview of his work as an introduction. The text just jumps right in with where he was born and his first art.

Modern Masters: Paolo Rivera

It’s not just the series, but this volume I quibble with. Rivera is, at the time of release of this book, under 35. I know the subjects for this series are selected based on availability (who’s willing to participate in the interview process) and salability (who’s going to sell enough books to their core audience), but calling someone so young a “master” doesn’t seem very fair to them, setting up expectations that don’t take into account future career development.

Every time I mention one of these books, I also feel the need to point out that, while they’re covering young Marvel creators, they haven’t yet found a woman artist they either consider a master or one who’s willing to be part of the effort. I would really love to see a series entry about Kate Beaton, for instance, or Jill Thompson or Colleen Doran or Ramona Fredon (who would be more in keeping with their audience). That’s just a few who come to mind, focusing on those known to the comic shops.

All this just means that there’s no reason for me to read these books. I’m not their audience, and they seem to have found enough people who are that they’ve put out this many entries in the series. If you like the featured artist, it’s a nice way to get more examples of his work and artistic process, particularly when the books go on sale for under $10, as they are now. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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