From time to time, it’s good to salute the fine, hardworking men and women that give life to the comics we know and love.
This week I wanted to point out Phil Noto. Currently, Noto is doing a run of Marvel 80th Anniversary variants that combine to make the absolutely lovely full image posted above.
What I love about Phil Noto’s work is the amount of personality he puts into the characters he draws. Not just capturing the persona of the character themselves, but giving them humanity and realism.
Back in 2015, Noto did a series of variants that were all designed to look like snapshots of the heroes, both candid and otherwise, and just perfectly encapsulates his ability to make these heroes something that we don’t often see: casual. He has an eye for establishing a situation in one single image and making all the characters fit that scenario perfectly.
His art itself is both elegant and subtle in it’s own way. Soft and organic, it breathes a life into the characters that many artists simply can’t achieve. Noto also has a knack for making the characters themselves unique and natural in his appearance. I was looking back on his work on Black Widow, and noticed his subtle inclusion of two moles on Natasha’s face: one on her cheek and one just shy of her nose. Choices in physical appearance like this, being so subtle in nature, are not something you see often, but makes the character incredibly realistic.
Noto’s art is recognizable, unique and so often playfully nostalgic. Much of his work is draped in a light nostalgic haze, like a still from a 1970s thriller or a movie poster from the ’60s. His control over the art form translates into his interiors as well, where he utilizes clean lines and delicate panel structure to move the action across the page at a steady tempo, overlapping panels and utilizing splashes only when truly necessary.
I highly recommend everyone take time to examine the works of Phil Noto. A comprehensive list can be found here. Some of my favorites below:
Thanks for all the beautiful bits of art, Phil. Looking forward to many years more!