I've posted these bits from Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics before:
McCloud mentions, in one of his essays in the Zot! collection, that when he was working on Zot! he studied Peanuts and tried to figure out how Schulz managed to convey such a huge range of expression and emotion with such simple drawings -- and that this line of inquiry ultimately led to that chapter in Understanding Comics.
And you know who's got this whole "simple cartooning" thing down?
The other week my wife and I took our 2-year-old nephew to the comic store. He made a beeline for a display case full of Batman statues. He looked at all of them, excitedly chanting "Batman! Batman!" But there was one he focused on more than any of the others:
He was excited. He was tapping on the glass. He was enthralled.
He's a smart kid.
And I got to thinking, what is it about Aragonés's art that has that kind of appeal? That speaks to a two-year-old, even through two whole shelves' worth of Batman figures?
Just look at it -- the pose, the arms, the fingers, the teeth, the eyes, the nose, the cape, the skinny little legs.
It's expressive. It's funny. It's exciting. And it's exaggerated as hell.
A collection of body parts in a bunch of simple shapes, most of them big and round.
It speaks to us on a fundamental level. A level so simple a two-year-old can see it.
Aragonés is a master. He may be the greatest living cartoonist. I wouldn't argue with someone who suggested he's the greatest of all time.
I was at Phoenix Comicon last month. Most of the artists were approachable. Eastman and Capullo were the only two who had real lines -- and they didn't just have lines, they had three-hour ones.
So my TMNT #50 went unsigned, because there's no damn way I'm waiting in line for 3 hours to meet Kevin Eastman.
I guess that brings up the question of what artist I would stand in line 3 hours to meet.
And I think, maybe, maybe Aragonés. If he ever came to Phoenix, and was just sitting in Artists' Alley signing things instead of spending the entire time doing panels. He'd be the one guy I can really think of who I'd be happy to wait that long to meet. Not Spiegelman, not Clowes, not Crumb, not Los Bros Hernandez -- I love those guys, but I wouldn't wait in line three hours to get their autographs But Aragonés? Yeah, maybe.
And I guess maybe Jaffee, too.