BEST ARTIST EVER #3: ROBBI RODRIGUEZ

Robbi Rodriguez is legally blind, which is weird ‘cuz he’s a comic book artist. And one of skill and versatile style at that. So far he draws Bub-y Wolverines, buccaneering girl-pirates, and monkeys toting side-straps. For those reasons and more, he’s also this week’s Best Artist Ever # 3. 

WHY RODRIGUEZ IS THE SHIT

I don’t know what Rodriguez’s eye condition is or how much it affects his work, but I can tell you this: It doesn’t fucking matter, mein freund. This shot of a Nightcrawler page shows he’s still at the drawing table. Literally. 

Lucky for us. Now we get to see more of Rodriguez’s work. Take the colorful poster above; it’s a visual re-styling of X-Force that uses the simplicity of two flashy colors to backlight the book’s starring team.

For a year and a half, X-Factor covers reflected the darker undertones of the books’ plots (when a lead character succumbs to an ancient evil he’s been fighting for years and tries to set the world aflame, well, shit gets dark, no?) with a long run of covers steeped in palettes of deep purple and midnight navy. Issue #19 shows the team resurfacing from the apocalyptic muck, and in the process, points readers’ minds to what comes next.

The energy in the poster does just that. X-Force stands united as a team, their faces forward (‘cept Fantomex, but he wears a mask so it’s like he’s got no face anyway) staring right into the eye of whatever’s ahead of ‘em. While the color purple paints a splashy, sloppy X and the loud blanket of yellow triggers a subconscious brand-new-day feeling, Rodriguez’s hazy, purposefully unrefined pencils sketch a team with loads of in-your-face attitude (You know, the actual kind of team Wolverine would lead), right down to the shit-eating grin I can feel beneath Deadpool’s mask.

Speaking of, check out that attention to detail in the characters’ expressions: true to his existential cool, Fantomex’s eyes are serenely closed, Wolverine’s face just says “Bub.”, Frowning Warren looks as crabby as ever, and Psylocke’s wrapped in her cloak of alert aloofness, just like every woman I’ve ever loved. Ah.      

And all that is just the tip of the Savage Land-iceberg of what Rodriguez can do. In the kid-friendly Polly and the Pirates, dude uses a totally different line style, one that’s as smooth, sharp, and tidy as the priss-turned-pirate Polly, whose cheery story it gushingly outlines.

On the flip side, Rodriguez’s weekly webcomic, Frankie Get Your Gun, sees the artist getting his hands dirtier as writer and artist. This time with an acid western Rodriguez self-describes as a “70’s revenge tale set in a Cormac McCarthy book”.

I have to mention that Frankie stars a tough-as-nails woman named Frankie Kansas whose sole purpose in life is to hunt and kill a band of villainous land-grabbers with her left arm, which isn’t an arm but a double-barreled shotgun. Also, monkey with a side strap.  

If someone with Rodriguez’s condition has the creative vision to craft and draw such cool characters—and add such stylish atmospherics and attitude to existing ones—then clearly we should revisit the definition of “legally blind”.

WHERE TO FIND MORE

Follow @RobbiRodriguez on Twitter, check out his artwork on Deviant Art, read Frankie, Get Your Gun. or buy X-Force #19 and Polly and the Pirates.

As always, big up to Comics Alliance for their Best Art of the Week post, where I find these awesome artists and spend my Saturday nights writing about them.