Like many of us that collected comics in the 90′s, I didn’t follow writers like I followed artists. Thanks to Image Comics, the 90′s felt like an era that was all about the art, and I couldn’t help but fall into that trend. I loved guys like Valentino, Mcfarlane, Lee and Larsen and I gleefully purchased everything they put out. It’s often said that this was a somewhat creativly bankrupt time for mainstream comics, and that may be true, but the attention to artist felt like it was at an all time high and somewhat unavoidable.
Out of all the big artists of the 90′s, the guy that stood out the most to me was Stephen Platt. His style was big, over the top and visceral. Everything about it was chaotic and hyper, filled to the brim with movement, violence and testosterone. From the very beginning, I absolutely loved it.
Platt’s rise to the top seemed to happen at an impossibly rapid pace. His work on Moon Knight became an instant hit, and his first issue as the series artist was huge hit with collectors (the shop by my house was charging 50 bucks for it at one point). He quickly jumped to Image Comics where he worked on Prophet and single-handedly made the book a must read title. I mean, come on, nobody was buying the book for Liefield’s writing prowess. It was all about Platt’s art.
Of course, Platt’s work had its fair share of criticism, much of which was deserved. There were the swipes, and the overly endowed women and impossibly muscled men, all of which seemed to be hallmarks of his artwork. The thing was, as somebody that grew up watching (and loving) Rambo, Commando and Bloodsport, I couldn’t help but love the look of his books. They were McFarlane-esque, but bigger, louder and more anarchic. Despite all the comparisons (and swipes) there was something unique and instantly recognizable about his work.
It only takes one look at the cover of Prophet #5 to understand why he appealed to those of us that were raised on 80′s and 90′s action movies. Sure it was hulking and overblown, but so was Rambo: First Blood Part 2. For me, Platt’s work is the peak of the 90′s comic book explosion, both the good and the bad of it. Most of us have moved on, and we look for different things in comic books these days, but I can’t help but feel a little bit nostalgic about Platt’s Prophet work.
Perhaps inevitably, Platt faded from the comic world. The mainstream love affair disappeared, and he worked on his own book, Soul Saga, quietly outside the limelight. I could be wrong, but I don’t even think the final issue was ever published in America. Now, the comic world has moved on, and he’s all but gone. We’ve seen no real output from him in years, and I can’t be the only one that is slightly disappointed in this. Say what you will about the man’s work, but in a day and age when everything is photo referenced to the extreme – giving many comics a stiff, awkward look – at least Stephen Platt had a style and energy all his own. Couldn’t his art fit perfectly in a Conan series? Shouldn’t Dynamite call him to illustrate their Expendables comic? There has to be something out there for him, and I know what ever it is, I’d buy it. For old times sake, at least.