I think Sanford Greene is one of the best artists in comics, and I plan to use the rest of this article to make you feel like a horrible person if you don’t think likewise. I know that sounds harsh, but you make make a neener-neener omelette without breaking a few eggs.
Now let’s start with the Sanford Greene basics, then we’ll slide right into why I’m such a fan.
Sanford Greene has worked in comics for over a decade. He’s worked for DC on Superman, Legion of Super Heroes, and Teen Titans GO!, among others. He’s also done work outside of comics for SONY, Warner Brothers, Universal, and HASBRO.
At Marvel he’s done Runaways, Uncanny Avengers, and Deadpool. He’s the current artist on Power Man and Iron Fist.
I’ve also had the opportunity to listen to him on a couple of comic panels. He’s an excellent ambassador for comics, gracious, well-spoken, and seems like a genuinely decent and kind guy. I realize it’s difficult for me to get that from a couple of convention appearances, but there it is.
So why am I such a fan of Sanford Green’s work?
His primary artistic influence is Norman Rockwell. ‘Ole Norm isn’t someone we typically think of as an influence for comic book artists, but we forget that Rockwell is one of the most beloved illustrators of the 20th century.
Critics might accuse Rockwell of being “overly sweet” or sentimental, but nobody did “every day life” quite like Rockwell. Plus, there was an optimism to his work, and even the serious pieces had faintest hint of twinkle to them. It’s weird to say that artwork can contain a nugget of hopeful optimism in them, but there it is.
Sanford Greene’s illustrations have a similar twinkle to them. And Greene also does every day life wonderfully. (More on this in a moment.)
Sanford says he watches everything for inspiration, even his kids. It’s clear that Greene has an artist’s eye that is always scanning for how to best illustrate a realism in poses and expression. Greene’s characters look remarkably natural; there aren’t a ton of cheesy power poses like you’ll find in lots of superhero comics, nor are there unnatural distortions in the way figures stand or move. You’ll never look at a piece of Sanford Greene artwork and things, “Whoa, how in the world does a human body twist like that?!!”
He also draws teenagers well. And distinctively. It’s really easy to tell characters apart at a quick glance. Too many comic artists show all the body types beginning to blend together and you spend half your time trying to tell the characters apart. Not so with Greene. I chalk this up to the fact that he really takes care to watch how real people appear, and doesn’t simply use one idealized body type that he traces over and over.
There is a strong sense of action. There is movement to his work, and it’s playful and fun. Again, characters aren’t just striking idealized power poses. Instead, they are punching and kicking and jumping.
It’s enjoyable to look at a Sanford Greene comic. And comics should be fun, right?
His strength is in the quiet moments. One of my favorite panels in Greene’s recent Power Man and Iron Fist is a simple panel with Jessica Jones laying on the couch with her and Luke’s daughter, Danielle, nearby. In a quiet moment that many artists would use as a throwaway panel to breeze through, Greene drew something that felt very real, natural, and sentimental (see points above).
Changed my mind, his strength is in the expressive characters. Characters smile, they pout, they carry a look of shock. Not only are his character models brilliantly and instantantly recognizable from one another, but every single one carries emotion, from their expressive facial expressions to the ways Sanford will make their shoulders slump.
It’s really a joy to look at each Sanford Greene panel and instantly connect with the emotions expressed on both in the character’s faces and in their body language. It’s weird to say that artwork can contain feels in them, but there it is.
There is variety and versatility in his art. Sanford Greene doesn’t do a copy and paste job, using the same figure models panel after panel. Sanford Greene is an artist, he shows the story.
He takes care to make each character look distinct so that they are immediately recognizable. In this way he makes for an excellent artist for new comic book readers, as Greene’s expressive characters help new readers get to know the characters that much better.
Add to that the fact that he can do quiet moments, big action, and characters both young and old, make Greene a very versatile artist.
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Sanford Greene is great, one of the best artists in comics in my opinion, and you are a horrible person if you don’t think likewise. OK, maybe I’m coming on a bit strong there, but I do hope you’ll give Sanford Greene a try.