John Byrne

From Academic Kids

This article is about the comic book writer and artist. For the Victoria Cross recipient, see John Byrne (VC). For the Scottish painter, see John Byrne (Scottish artist).
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XMen135.jpg
Uncanny X-Men #135 (1980), cover by Byrne

John Byrne (July 6, 1950 - ) is a British-born Canadian (now naturalised American) author and artist of comic books. Since the mid-1970s Byrne has worked on nearly every major American superhero. His most famous works have been on Marvel Comics's X-Men and Fantastic Four and the 1986 relaunch of DC Comics's Superman franchise. During the 1990s he produced a number of creator owned works including Next Men and Danger Unlimited. He is currently writing and drawing Doom Patrol and Blood of the Demon as well as pencilling Action Comics for DC Comics.

Contents

Biography

John Byrne was born on July 6, 1950 near West Bromwich, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom. His first exposure to the American superheroes that would dominate his professional life was at the age of six when he first watched The Adventures of Superman on the BBC. In Britain, he was able to read the occasional DC Comics reprint, but it was not until 1958 when his family immigrated to Canada that he first experienced the full breadth of America comic books [1] (http://www.byrnerobotics.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=5806&KW=Bromwich). His first encounter with Marvel Comics was in 1962 with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four #5. He later commented of the book that, "the book had an 'edge' like nothing DC was putting out at the time." [2] (http://www.comicbookresources.com/features/byrne/) Jack Kirby's work in particular had a strong influence of Byrne and he has chronicled many of the characters Kirby created. This included a stint on the Fantastic Four than some fans consider to be second only to Lee and Kirby's run. Byrne has also stated that his early artwork was heavily influenced by the realistic style of Neal Adams.

In 1970 Byrne enrolled at the Alberta College of Art and Design (http://www.acad.ab.ca/) in Calgary, but he left shortly before graduation to pursue a career in the comic book industry. At college he produced his first full-length comic story, The Death's Head Knight, as a promotional item for a show of comic book art. That book was seen by a fellow Canadian comics fan who put Byrne in contact with people in the fanzine community and at Marvel Comics. While still living in Canada he split his time between working for a local advertising agency and illustrating books for Charlton Comics. Byrne coined the phrase "Byrne Robotics" to credit a group of assistants he occasionally used for his Charlton work, the phrase was later adopted for the artist's official website ("Byrne's Robots", (March 2001), Comic Book Artist #12, pp54). Byrne began illustrating full-time for Marvel Comics in the mid-70s. He was often paired with writer Chris Claremont and in 1978 Byrne took over the artwork on the Uncanny X-Men from Dave Cockrum. The pairing of Claremont and Byrne on the X-Men is considered by fans to be one of the high-points of the series. Byrne moved from Canada to the United States in 1980 when he married the photographer Andréa Braun Byrne.

In the early-1980s Byrne had moved on to other books at Marvel, including the Fantastic Four, but by mid-1980s he had became frustrated with the management style of Jim Shooter, Marvel's then editor-in-chief. In 1986 he accepted an offer from DC Comics to help spearhead the overhaul of their failing Superman franchise. The relaunch was a commercial success and that version of Superman is so strongly identified with the artist that it is sometimes called "John Byrne's Superman". Byrne returned to Marvel in 1988 where he turned him hand to comedy with the fan favorite Sensational She-Hulk series. In the early 1990s Byrne began produced several creator-owned books (as distinct from working on other people's characters) published through Dark Horse Comics and he eventually left Marvel to devote himself to these books. Byrne collaborated with his ex-wife's son, Kieron Dwyer, on a back-up series called Torch of Liberty in his Danger Unlimited book.

After the 1990s comics bubble burst Byrne returned to DC Comics (1995) and then to Marvel Comics (1999). One of themes of Byrne's work at this time, and for much of his career, has been the exploration of untold elements of popular character's origins and histories. Several of his more revisionist works were not as broadly well received as his other more successful work and some fans disliked his treatment of plots that had been introduced by writers other than the character's creators. During this time Byrne began to introduce new elements into his art. He expanded his use of computer models to augment the drafting of cityscapes and scenes. He also began experimenting with diagonal panel arrangements. John Byrne's work, particularly his later work, his opinions, and his relationship with collaborators has become a subject of interest and debate amongst fandom. These discussions can become heavily polarized by the fans perception of Byrne the Person over Byrne the Artist. One interview noted that "Byrne's self-admitted lack of faith in humanity has kept him at arm's length from some and some may take [it] as a narcissistic conceit. He has many an opinion about the lack of vision and leadership for the comic book industry. He is well-informed, literate and not one to suffer fools well." [3] (http://www.comicbookresources.com/features/byrne/)

Byrne's Career

Fanzines and Charlton Comics

Byrne produced his earliest work while attending the Alberta College of Art [4] (http://jbgallery.ourbunch.net/cgi-bin/thumbs.pl?CAT=collegedays). His first published comic book was The Death's Head Knight from ACA comics. He also created superhero parody Gay Guy for the college newspaper, which poked fun at the campus stereotype of homosexuality among art students. Gay Guy is also notable for featuring a prototype of the Alpha Flight character Snowbird.

Byrne made his first professional sale in 1971 to The Monster Times. In 1975 his first assignment at Marvel Comics saw publication in Giant-Sized Dracula #5. Meanwhile, Charlton Comics editor Nicola Cuti published Byrne's fanzine character ROJ-2000. This led to Byrne's first full assignment in Charlton's Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch, followed by Doomsday+1, Space: 1999 and a single issue of Emergency!.

Marvel Phase I

The X-Men

In the latter 70's Byrne became a regular artist at Marvel. Byrne was teamed with writer Chris Claremont on several of the company's less popular publications, such as Iron Fist, Marvel Team-Up and finally the X-Men in 1978. On the X-Men Byrne was penciller as well as Claremont's co-writer. Their collaboration was critically successful, producing ground-breaking stories such as "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "The Days of Future Past" that were to influence the superhero genre for decades after.

Byrne later likened his partnership with Claremont to Gilbert and Sullivan's. A source of friction arose from the duo's use of the Marvel Method, a process whereby the artist and writer would agree on a plot that the artist would illustrate in whole before handing to the writer for the addition of dialogue and captions. Byrne felt that at times Claremont's dialogue alterated the tone and narrative that they had previously agreed upon. One example cited by Byrne is the conclusion to "Days of Future Past" where his original intention was that the X-Men should escape their post-apocalyptic destiny but Claremont's scripting cast ambiguity on that outcome.

The Fantastic Four

In 1981 Byrne took on Marvel's Fantastic Four as both writer and artist. His five-year run of stories was commerically and critically successful, compared by many to the original classic stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Byrne's approach to the FF was a mix of traditional characterization and experimentation. For example, the Thing was originally a troubled loner but subsequent writers turned him into a comedic character. Byrne gradually returned the Thing to a tragic figure, spinning him off into solo adventures, replacing him on the team with the She-Hulk, and having his girlfriend Alicia Masters leave for the Human Torch.

Byrne made the Invisible Woman a more assertive, self-confident, modernized woman (it was he who renamed her from "Invisible Girl"). She would also discover her powers to be greater and more versatile.

Byrne tried to give arch-nemesis Doctor Doom a more consistent characterization. For example. Lee and Kirby disagreed about the extent to which Doom's unmasked face was disfigured. Lee thought Doom had horrible scars but Kirby felt it was only a minor scar. Byrne resolved these viewpoints by revealing that Doom originally had a small scar but put on an iron mask while red hot, causing horrific disfiguration. Also, Byrne felt that Doom's guest appearances in other books was mischaracterized (such as in Chris Claremont's X-Men) so robot doubles of Doom were revealed to have appeared in those instances instead.

Alpha Flight

In 1983 Byrne launched a new Marvel title Alpha Flight, starring his original creations first introduced during his tenure on the X-Men. This team of Canadian superheroes was to become a cult favorite, though Byrne felt that Alpha Flight was an artistic and creative low point for him. Alpha Flight is also notable for featuring the first openly gay superhero character, Northstar (though his sexuality was only hinted at in Byrne's stories.) After two years Byrne traded his Alpha Flight assignment with writer Bill Mantlo for the Incredible Hulk.

Licensed Work

Also in 1983 Byrne began an Indiana Jones series. Lucasfilm turned out to be a very demanding licensor, asking for story changes even after the art had been finished. Frustrated, Byrne left the book after the second issue. Byrne would rarely work with licensed properties afterwards.

Conflicts with Jim Shooter

During these years at Marvel, editor-in-chief Jim Shooter left a profound creative impact on much of Byrne's stories. For example Shooter's objections to Byrne and Roger Stern's plans for Captain America led to the duo's resignation from the book. The tragic conclusion to the "Dark Phoenix Saga" was not Claremont and Byrne's original intent, but Claremont's protest against Shooter's story demands. Against Byrne's wishes, his emotional Fantastic Four story "Hero" featured Shooter's creation the Beyonder.

None of this sat well with Byrne. While he once complimented Shooter's job performance, he had become critical of Shooter's perceived micromanagement. Shooter had alienated several other comics professionals in the past, and Byrne ended up joining that group.

In 1985 Byrne accepted DC Comics's offer to work on Superman while retaining his assignments at Marvel. Though this was given the blessing of Marvel's president, Byrne suspected Shooter opposed it. Then in 1986 Byrne abruptly left Marvel when he thought that Shooter was interfering with his storylines, and would not return to Marvel until after Shooter departed. He participated in parodying Shooter's characters while at DC, and remains critical of Shooter to this day.

DC Phase I - The Superman Revamp

Main Article: The Man of Steel reboot

In 1986 Byrne and DC rebooted the story of Superman for the first time in the character's publishing history. In The Man of Steel mini-series Byrne introduced many changes while retaining core elements of the character's personality and mythos. For the next two years Byrne would act as writer and artist on most of the Superman comics.

Byrne was very successful in sales on his Superman run, but ended up leaving Superman suddenly. He did not discuss the details at the time, but later said that he felt DC comics didn't support his changes. When both the fan press and mainstream press interviewed DC about the changes, he felt that the management did not back him up and distanced themselves from the project, and was concerned about how his changes would affect the numerous licenses. Frustrated with this, he ended up leaving the series and going back to do Marvel work.

Marvel Phase II - Post Shooter

After Superman, Byrne returned to Marvel. He took over West Coast Avengers, renaming it Avengers West Coast, and started several storylines on this book. Byrne caused some fan controversy when he retconned the Vision's origin and removed the Scarlet Witch's children, which changes the tone of the characters very soon after Englehart's Vision and Scarlet Witch maxi-series. Byrne eventually was given the core Avengers title, and worked to tighten coordination between the two teams, and also pitched the idea for Acts of Vengeance, a crossover event that affected virtually every Marvel title. He also created the characters dubbed "The Great Lakes Avengers", and restored the Golden Age Human Torch to the Marvel Universe.

Another book Byrne wrote and produced breakdowns for was Star Brand, a New Universe title. Byrne worked on this as part of a major revamp of the book line, as coordinated by Mark Gruenwald. Byrne helped the title adjust to the new editorial policies regarding the New Universe, and his presence on the book helped increase sales. However, critics and fans also noted that Byrne was taking over the title that had most personal connection to Jim Shooter, and that Byrne's changes included sudden personality changes to the title character, the elimination of the existing supporting cast, and the destruction of Pittsburg (Jim Shooter's home town). Eventually Byrne moved away from this and focused on new characters, but his run on the book ended when the entire New Universe line was cancelled.

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Byrne's first issue on his return to She-Hulk, number 31. Also pictured are Byrne himself and the book's editor, Renée Witterstaetter.

He also launched The Sensational She-Hulk series, at the request of Mark Gruenwald, who wanted a unique take on the character. For the latter series, Byrne wanted to do the book as a comedy, making She-Hulk self-aware of her status as a comic book character, and had the character break the fourth wall at times, and dealt with a supporting cast of so-called "lame-o's", bizzare minor characters in the Marvel Universe, such as Xemmu, the Headmen, the Circus of Crime, the cast of US1 and Razorback, and Doctor Bong.

Byrne's run on the series was unexpectedly interrupted. As Byrne tells it, he was allowed to approve or reject storylines regarding She-Hulk. A graphic novel called She-Hulk: Ceremony written by Dwayne McDuffie featured a scene that Byrne felt insulted the character's and reader's intelligence. She-Hulk was repeately breaking razors shaving her legs, which Byrne felt she wouldn't do after the first one broke. Editor Bobbie Chase overruled Byrne's objections. When Byrne complained to Tom DeFalco, then editor-in-chief at Marvel, DeFalco supported Chase. Thus, Byrne decided to quit the book. Even with Steve Gerber changing the tone of the book to satire (similar in tone to his Howard the Duck series), the book's sales suffered. After a few years, when editor Chase left She-Hulk, Byrne returned to that title for a few years before it was cancelled.

Byrne also left both Avengers titles suddenly also from conflict with DeFalco. Byrne had pitched a storyline centered around the Scarlet Witch, and had already built sub-plots around it. Byrne had pitched the peak of this storyline as a crossover event, but DeFalco canceled it. DeFalco, after discovering Byrne was working on this storyline anyway, ordered it cancelled. Byrne felt he could no longer work on either Avengers title and left suddenly.

Despite Byrne's problems with DeFalco, he did not leave the company like he did under Shooter's run, and Byrne then developed the Namor series and did writing chores on Iron Man.

Namor was a different take on the Sub-Mariner, featuring the corporation he established back in the early days of Fantastic Four. It dealt with the business world and business-related villains. Byrne drew the project using his experimental zip-a-tone style. He also used the book to restore Iron Fist to life, since he felt the character was killed off in a poor manner.

His Iron Man restored The Mandarin as Iron Man's chief rival (backed by Fin Fang Foom). It should be noted that a lot of Byrne's stories for Iron Man were adapted in the 1994 animated series from Marvel Entertainment.

One of the final ill-fated projects he worked on at his second tenure at Marvel was scripting X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. After 17 years as writer on the series, Chris Claremont had left, due to conflicts with the editorial staff. Byrne had started making plot plans for the book, and was even interviewed by Patrick Daniel O'Neil in both Wizard and Comics Interview with these plans, and he was even featured in an Entertainment Weekly article about the book. However, Byrne was limited to scripting the books, and found working with artists Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio to be problematic. Claremont had left the book in part because the artists were late and made plot changes at the last minute, and Byrne had similar experiences. Byrne also found he could no longer identify with the characters. Before he could quit, Byrne ended up being replaced as scripter without even being told.

Sideline at DC: OMAC

When wrapping up his second tenure at Marvel, he also worked on a limited series for DC, a revamp of OMAC. OMAC was unusual as it was a prestige-format book entirely in black and white. It sort of fell under the radar of his usual projects, perhaps due to the black and white format, a lack of marketing, or the status of OMAC as a minor character.

Creator-Owned Projects, Legend, and Dark Horse

Byrne decided to do several creator-owned titles, published through Dark Horse Comics. His first project was John Byrne's Next Men. Many fans were pleased with his work, and although his work was not as popular as the Image creators, it was well received by fans, and was one of the top-selling Dark Horse titles. Tying into Next Men was a graphic novel, 2112, which was a new story based around original art he did for a Stan Lee graphic novel that ended up not being used.

Byrne's work at Dark Horse was eventually published under the 'Legend' imprint. This line was not intended to be a universe, but more or less a label of like-minded creators, including Frank Miller and Art Adams. Mike Mignola's Hellboy was one of the other titles involved in the line, and Byrne provided scripts for the early issues, working from Mignola's outlines.

While doing Next Men, which to some had a lot of the feel of Byrne's old work on Uncanny X-Men, Byrne decided he wanted to do a more classic superhero project. He launched Danger Unlimited (DU) as a limited series. After this series was published, however, sales were a little lower than his Next Men sales. Byrne made a controversial statement that the book was not profitable for him. Byrne decided to launch another series, Babe. This series was a little more light-hearted comedy, similar to She-Hulk (although without breaking the fourth wall). Many fans felt disappointed with him dropping Danger Unlimited and were less thrilled with Babe. (Byrne did tie-in the Babe characters with the DU universe at the end of the Babe 2 series.)

By stating that his creator-owned work wasn't successful enough for him, it disillusioned some of Byrne's die-hard fans. Writer Steven Grant has theorized that this may have contributed to Byrne's decline in popularity [5] (http://www.comicbookresources.com/columns/index.cgi?column=pd&article=1738).

Next Men came to an end in the mid 1990s. Byrne had intended for this to be a temporary hiatus, but around this time, the comic speculation market had caused a severe collapse, drastically reducing sales of such books across-the-board. Byrne says he will release the final twenty issues of the series when the market will support it, but has not defined those parameters.

DC Phase II - Wonder Woman and the New Gods

Byrne first returned to DC to work on a revamp of Wonder Woman, and then later New Gods. Byrne's goal was to make Wonder Woman a "major player" in the DC universe. He tried to work with much of the mystical and mythological aspects of DC's library, adding certain characters to the cast. He made Diana a goddess, established Darkseid as an enemy, introduced a new Wonder Girl, and established that Diana's's mother, Hippolytia, was active as Wonder Woman in World War II with the Justice Society of America due to a time travel storyline. Byrne also tied in the gods to the second project he started working on. Byrne worked on New Gods, and then ended up cancelling that book and releasing a new title called Jack Kirby's Fourth World.

Sales were good on both books. Some fans were disappointed however with Byrne's request to use and retcon the origins of both Donna Troy and Etrigan, the former being written out of her role in Green Lantern and then saddled with additional backstory, the latter subject to a retcon that, while bringing the character back towards the original Kirby, was unpopular with the fans.

Near the end of his run, Byrne outlined a line-wide crossover for DC called Genesis, establishing that all DC characters got their powers ultimately from The Source. Byrne was disappointed with the results of the crossover though. Byrne ended up leaving both titles due to editorial change, as well as concerns that he would no longer have final control over a few of the characters, who were going to be used in JLA by Grant Morrison.

Marvel Phase III

Spider-Man: Chapter One

After wrapping up many projects at DC, he returned to Marvel to work on several projects.

Byrne was hired first to do art on some of the Spider-Man books. The Spider-Man titles were suffering after some disappointment from the end results of a long drawn out Clone Saga, which ended in fans leaving the books.

The Spider-Man line was to return to basics. The editors at Marvel wanted Byrne to assist with this project, so they hired Byrne to do a revamp of Spider-Man's origin, similar to Byrne's prior work on Man of Steel. Spider-Man: Chapter One was a 13 issue series that refined elements of Spider-Man's origin, retelling a lot of the earliest stories and origin. Byrne ended up changing a few elements, most notably tying in the origin of Doctor Octopus with Peter Parker's.

Sales were good, and the editoral staff wanted to do this to help simplify continuity. However, fan reaction was poorer to this book than to Byrne's Man of Steel. Byrne's singular vision of characters over time had irriated fans who felt he didn't respect the writing of others. For instance, a comic at the time was Untold Tales of Spider-Man by Kurt Busiek, who wrote stories that took place "in-between" the earliest issues of Amazing Spider-Man. Some felt that Lee and Ditko's origin's did not need Byrne's extra changes, and some felt his ignoring of Marv Wolfman's addition to the origin was a snub against him. Even other professionals criticized the revisions, and after a few years Chapter One was not considered a "canon" tale, perhaps a case of Krypto-Revisionism affecting how Marvel treated the storyline.

During this time Byrne created the third Spider-Woman, Mattie Franklin, who he later wrote in a short-lived spin-off series, which met with generally poor reviews.

The Lost Generation and the Hulk

With fellow friend and writer Roger Stern, Byrne and he wrote a limited series called Marvel: The Lost Generation, which followed the story of a new band of heroes dubbed The First Line that occupied the time between World War II and the Modern day. With the Marvel Universe originally starting in the 1960s, and the existing policy of only 7-10 passing years between the launch of the Fantastic Four and the current titles, both writers felt there must have been other events going on in the Marvel Universe between that time, so this series was to fill in the gaps between those two eras.

Byrne worked for a very short period on the Hulk, which lasted less than 10 issues, including a controversial annual, where he introduced a retcon establishing involving the Skrulls as being partially responsible for the Hulk's origin, later disowned from canon in Captain Marvel at the request of the editors. Byrne has refused to speak of the reasons for his departure from the book.

X-Men: The Hidden Years

Main article: X-Men: The Hidden Years

Finally, Byrne created a title called X-Men: The Hidden Years. Since Byrne felt alienated from the current X-Men title but wanted to work with those characters, Byrne made the proposal to write a series that took place between the last X-Men issue to feature the founding team and Giant-Size X-Men #1, which established the new roster. His appreciation for the work of Neal Adams led him to use a new style on Hidden Years of laying out panels in the format Adams frequently used, with angular panels instead of the usual square grid.

While the debut of this title was initially successful, it soon dipped to be lower than most of the other X-Titles published by the company. Some fans complained about Byrne's storylines moving too slowly, and that he ignored some of the established backstory for characters done over the years (via retcons) such as Magneto's motivations. Other fans, however, enjoyed having an X-Men book that was not mired in complex continuity and crossovers, which was the norm at the time.

Byrne ended up leaving Marvel yet again due to problems with the new management, now represented by Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas. The new administration was disappointed that the successful X-Men movie did not translate into an increase in comics sales, and complained that the X-books had become too self-referential and bogged down in a convoluted continuity. They ordered several changes to the line, and Marvel cancelled several of the peripheral X-titles, including Hidden Years. Byrne felt that the management did not handle this well, and claimed the book was turning a profit while other titles that had worse sales like Spider-Girl were kept alive. Because of this, he has vowed not to work for Marvel until a new editorial regime is established, and refers to the current Marvel as M****l.

Inter-Company Crossovers and Generations

In addition to his Marvel Work, Byrne wrote two notable inter-company crossover one-shots. Galactus/Darkseid, The Hunger, and Batman/Captain America. The latter work is one Byrne considers his best, and deals with Batman and Captain America teaming up against the Red Skull and the Joker.

Byrne worked on a prestige format 4-issue limited series for DC, Superman & Batman: Generations. Generations took place in it's own continuity. The story consisted of chapters in the lives of both characters, taking place in different decades, and paying homage to the creators and storylines of those times. The 1930's chapter, for instance, dealt with Superman and Batman as they were protrayed at that time, as vigilanties, while the 1950's chapter deal with Mort Weisinger-themed storylines. The storyline took place in "real time" as well, with the characters aging and offspring taking over their parents roles. This project was generally well received.

Byrne followed up these books with two sequels, the first dealing with other DC heroes in chapters in-between the stories of the first series. The second sequel was a 12 part time-travel storyline mostly taking place in between the years 2000-3000, dealing with much of DC's alternate futures. These follow-ups weren't as well-received sales-wise, perhaps because much of the special qualities of the first series weren't reflected in these sequels.

Recent Projects

Byrne created a creator-owned series for DC called Lab Rats. This project was not as successful as his prior creator-owned work, and was cancelled after eight issues. Byrne blamed the poor sales of the title on "bad retailers" who he said would not order enough of the book.[6] (http://www.slushfactory.com/content/EpupypAlVAmAyLXMoi.php)

At the suggestion of Mike Carlin Byrne teamed up with Claremont for a six issue Justice League storyline, The Tenth Circle, and they were joined by their old X-Men partners Terry Austin as inker and Tom Orzechowski as letterer. The series also ended up restoring the original Doom Patrol to modern continuity. The Doom Patrol was the subject of a reboot—this story established that this was officially the first appearance of the characters, with no attempt to explain it via a retcon. This caused some fan controversy, but DC allowed this because of the failures of the existing Doom Patrol projects and the desire to see the classic team back in action. The appearace of the Doom Patrol in JLA ended up launching the new Doom Patrol series, which Byrne still works on.

Byrne recently launched the title Blood of the Demon, featuring The Demon, as well as doing art for Action Comics with writer Gail Simone.

Non Comic Book Projects

Byrne drew ten weeks of the comic strip Funky Winkerbean while its creator, Tom Batiuk, was recovering from foot surgery.

In addition to his comic book work, Byrne has published three novels: Fearbook, Whipping Boy and Wonder Woman: Gods and Goddesses. He also has short stories in the Hotter Blood and Shock Rock anthologies. Fearbook was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award by the Horror Writers of America as "Best First Novel".

Art Style

Byrne has stated his major influences on his art style are Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Steve Ditko, Neal Adams, as well as the style employed in the British comic The Eagle.

Byrne's original work was very rough and his drawings emphasized a lot of curves over straight lines.

His original style of inking his own art lacked the smooth lines achieved when others inked his work, as can be seen in his run on The Fantastic Four. Byrne's inking improved quickly over time and as Byrne adopted new techniques, and by the time he moved to Superman he had less need for others to ink his own work.

He tends to favor large panels--in the mid-1980's his individual panels tended to be larger than the panel layouts used by his contemporaries in the field. It was also during the mid-1980s that Byrne was being influenced by the work of the French artists.

Byrne has had fan criticism about "drawing the same face." That is an exageration[7] (http://www.byrnerobotics.com/forum/uploads/JohnByrne/2005-06-22_113707_Faces.jpg), but most critics probably only mean that many of his characters look alike, not that they all literally have the same face.

Today, Byrne often handles all aspects of his books except for coloring. While he experimented with his own hand-developed lettering fonts in the early 1980s, he now utilizes a computer font based on the handwriting of the letterer Jack Morelli (Byrne helped create the font for Morelli on the agreement that he got to use it himself).

Byrne has experimented with different styles, including the following:

  • The Use of zip-a-tone in his art, specifically on Namor, OMAC, and Danger Unlimited. He stopped using it by the mid-1990s.
  • Adapting a style of "faux overlapping" panels in his early 1990s work, similar to Todd McFarlane
  • A "White-Out" issue of Alpha Flight that took place during a blizzard.
  • Experiments with simultaneous storylines occuring in an issue of The Incredible Hulk, as well as a second Hulk storyline with all-splash panels in Marvel Fanfare.
  • Co-Pencilling a story in Action Comics #600 with George Perez, with Byrne doing Superman and Perez doing Wonder Woman.
  • The use of Computer Graphic Models for items like buildings, robots, and vehicles. Byrne inks the models afterwards so they blend in with his artwork.
  • The use of a Neal Adams technique of angular panels that don't follow a grid-based format. He favored these panels when he started on Hidden Years, and used them in many of his other recent books.

Selected bibliography

A complete bibliography of Byrne's comics work is maintained at the Byrne Robotics Checklist (http://www.byrnerobotics.com/Checklist/categories.asp).

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