Zack Snyder: My favorite Superman artist is…

Feb. 05, 2011 | 8:56 a.m.
zack snyder happy Zack Snyder: My favorite Superman artist is...

Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder has his Superman now with Henry Cavill all set to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but when the director closes his eyes and thinks about comics, which version of the Man of Steel does he visualize?

superman stamp Zack Snyder: My favorite Superman artist is...

Superman U.S. postage stamp from 2006. (U.S. Postal Service)

The director of “300” and “Watchmen” is clearly conversant in funny-book history and the question gave him pause.

“There are so many interpetations, so many artists,” he pointed out, and, yes, that’s absolutely true. There’s the pioneer pencil of Joe Shuster and contemporary drawing board of Frank Quitely and scores of interesting candidates in between. Do you go with the old-school steadiness of Wayne Boring, the mythos-reshaping clarity of John Bryne, the singular sinew and crackle of Neal Adams? Perhaps the polished cosmic tableaus of George Perez or the memorable-moment work of Jerry Ordway?

For Snyder, he narrowed it down to a two-man split decision: Jim Lee and Curt Swan.

Swan’s work on Superman spanned five decades and there was a sort of noble, even gentle aura to his work and an absence of flash and grit — the bank robbers in Metropolis even wore coats and ties to work — that create a time-capsule vibe now. In the summer of 2006, the U.S. postal service released a new Superman stamp featuring the art of Swan (inked by Sheldon Moldoff ) and the elemental appeal of the image still sticks with Snyder.

jim lee for tomorrow Zack Snyder: My favorite Superman artist is...

Jim Lee's Superman (DC Comics)

“It’s funny, I have that stamp image — it’s him tearing open his jacket. Its got a retro vibe to it, it’s cool. That’s the background on my iPad. It’s Curt Swan and the way he draws that jawline, it is like Mt. Rushmore, totally, or like ‘The Incredibles.’ Swan is really good.”

Swan is viewed by some as a Norman Rockwell-type figure in DC history and that appeals to Snyder but, on a pure fanboy level, he’s more impassioned by the work of Lee. The artist’s run on the “For Tomorrow” storyline (“Superman” No. 204-215), for instance, captured the brawny and heroic male ideal that, no surprise, resonates powerfully with the director of “300.”

“My taste level goes to the more, I guess, muscular Superman. The bigger, more muscular Superman, the way Jim draws him. Those tend to be the artists I like in comics. So Jim’s Superman, for sure.  That’s not to say that’s how the movie will be, of course, but as far as the comics. It’s an interesting thing to think about though. There have just been so many incarnations and so many great ones. As a fan you don’t really to have to pick, you can enjoy them all.”

— Geoff Boucher

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27 Responses to Zack Snyder: My favorite Superman artist is…

  1. macca says:

    I hope they lose the underwear, over the tights in the next movie.

  2. John says:

    Of course not! The underwear ("briefs") HAVE TO stay! It's the classic Superman costume!

  3. nelson says:

    lol yeah lets get rid of spiderman webbing while were at it lol

    or batmans ears

  4. Joseph says:

    I have to say, the John Byrne era is my favorite for the Superman comics. I loved his reboot of the series in the mid-80s. I was just starting to collect comics as a teenager back then and Byrne's re-imagining of the Superman mythos completely fascinated me, especially following Crisis on Infinite Earths.

  5. bakernator says:

    infact move all super heros form our world.. its a safer lace with out them

    pfftt freaks!

  6. Bruce Meyer says:


  7. Warner Brown says:

    Bryrnes Superman comics were my favorite growing up as a kid. Great stories, very well detailed, and Clark Kent/Superman is more of a badass. I think Nolan mentioned Bryrne as being an inspiration for some of the direction they will take. God I would do anything to intern on the set of this production.

  8. Tmiller says:

    Superman movies are kind of lame. I wish they would make one with Krypto, Beppo and Comet.

  9. jet says:

    This interview was reassuring, because Cavill is way too chicken-boned right now. Lots of people were sort of taken aback at a very metrosexual pick for Superman. Particularly after the rumored True Blood guy who is very physically imposing. It was hard to imagine that the director of 300 would pick the debonair, but soft-faced Cavill. But Snyder worked wonders on 300 and beefing up Butler.

  10. smallstull says:

    Good thing Tom Welling is a man who likes his boxers, not briefs. Who would want to be in movie with Lindsy Lohan?

  11. Ken says:

    Ughh…HATE Jim Lee!! Has to be one of the worst comic book artists EVER, let alone Superman artist. When will these guys realize Supes doesn't have to look like he's on steroids. He's should look NORMAL (albeit on the athletic side!) – more Roman statue than Rambo. Besides, it's Earth's environment that makes him strong!!! Best Superman artists IMHO: Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Alex Ross.

  12. Jack Lee Spencer says:

    So Snyder never heard of Alex Ross or has seen any of his artwork? Ross has the best Superman… with an edge, like George Reeves used to play him. Not a hyper-polite pretty boy. I really hope that's the direction he's going with this… and DON'T MESS WITH THE UNIFORM! They totally screwed up the uniform and the shield in the last one.

  13. Paul says:

    Why are they showing a photo of Charlie Sheen wearing a Superman costume? Winner!

  14. Shawn M Scott says:

    Dan Jurgens… Loved his Superman… Eddy Barrows is shaping up to be a great conduit for the Man of Steel also.

  15. Starr says:

    If you really want to get an idea on what Ccavill will look like, and wimpy he's not, just go and take a gander at the trailer for the film Immortals, coming 11-11-11, where he plays Theseus. You can see plainly that he'll be looking good as Clark…

  16. Claus Talon says:

    Curt Swan set the initial standard. Christopher Reeve's look was based on that look. John Byrne's version was a VERY good enhancement of that image. Alex Ross produced a George Reeves retro classic image that is VERY hard to surpass. I'm inclined to believe that the Byrne version done in Ross's style would BLOW EVERYONE AWAY.

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