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ALEX ROSS, continued

In 1998, when I was beginning the cover design process for the first four America's Best Comics covers, I was asked to invite Alex to provide alternate covers for each of the first issues. He did a fantastic job, making us both look good. Alex also helped me out by designing the ABC "star" symbol that I had been struggling with. Later Alex also provided the cover for the line's first "Annual", the America's Best Comics 64-page Giant. My only regret is that a long talked-about plan to have him illustrate one of Alan Moore's stories for the inside of the books never quite happened.

Top 10 #1 front cover

©America's Best Comics, LLC

While the Earth X series was being produced, Alex was also working on oversized painted books for DC, scripted by Paul Dini, featuring Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Captain Marvel. These took years to produce, and they are wonderful, but they used type instead of lettering, so I wasn't involved in those. For the final book in the series, though, featuring the entire Justice League, Alex wanted a more traditional approach, and I was brought in to letter it. The result was JLA: Liberty and Justice, a mix of lettering and type that told the story well, I think, and gave Alex a chance to paint lots of DC's costumed characters for the first time.

JLA Liberty and Justice page

JLA: Liberty and Justice ©DC Comics, Inc.

This led to another epic project, the twelve-issue series Justice, also featuring the Justice League of America, this time facing a cabal of their greatest foes. To help him get through the immense workload of this series, Alex painted over pencils by Doug Braithwaite, who had done a stellar job on some of the Earth X books. Alex and co-plotter Jim Krueger fashioned a story that harkeed back to the way the characters were handled in the 1970s, but with enough modern twists to keep the reader guessing, and it proved very popular.

Justice 6 page

©DC Comics, Inc.

One lettering note: each issue is narrated by one of the main characters in captions. To help make that more clear, I developed backgrounds for the captions to match each character, using their chest symbol or some other defining colors for each one. When I did the first one, for Batman, Alex asked, "Are you sure you want to go down that road again? Remember what happened with X-51." With that in mind, I've tried to keep them as subtle as possible.

More recently I've been working on a Marvel project co-written by Alex and Jim Krueger, Avengers/Invaders, which has all the best Marvel characters, both old and new, in an intricate time-spanning story. And I can't fail to mention the exclusive signed print we recently did together, Comic Book Dreams, available on my BUY STUFF page, for which Alex created new artwork.

Working with Alex Ross is always challenging and fun. Alex continues to provide new areas for me explore, and wonderful art to work on. Hopefully we'll have a chance to do more in the future.

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All text and images ©Todd Klein, except as noted. All rights reserved.

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