Spotlight on Greg Capullo: 21st Century Da Vinci

by Patrick Bain

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Leonardo Da Vinci is perhaps the greatest artist of all time. He shaped the future with his works.  Who are the future shapers of modern comic art in the 21st century?  Consider my first candidate Greg Capullo, spotlight artist of Batman and Spawn among others.

Returning to Da Vinci, his renown as an artist complemented his fame as a scientist and inventor.  If painting the Mona Lisa wasn’t enough, Leonardo’s heroics as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle must not be despised.  (That statement sounds wrong!)  Regardless, Da Vinci represents an individual far ahead of his time.  Centuries later we remember Da Vinci’s accomplishments.  Whose 21st century visual storytelling will be acclaimed?  Who among modern artists should wear the mantle: 21st Century Da Vinci?

What are the qualifications of a 21st Century Da Vinci, that is, a Future Shaper?

Subjective qualities of a Future Shaper include good to great artist, favorite of fans, nice hair, and a good personality.  Wait… those factors don’t work for you?  Then, I will focus on quantitative factors like a history of high demand art sales.  Let’s also look at body of work on high profile comics and characters.  Additionally, GoCollect market metrics speak louder than any art critic.  Finally, I trust fan-demonium to identify artists worthy of the Da Vinci title.  So, don’t be shy about propping up your favorite modern artists.

Is Greg Capullo a 21st Century Da Vinci?

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Greg Capullo at NY Comic-Con (Oct. 6, 2017 – source: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images North America)

Let’s turn the spotlight on Greg Capullo.  A quick Google search of Greg Capullo demonstrates his fan appeal.  I even found a site that mentioned him as number 2 on a list of artists from the last 25 years.  Capullo generated a tremendous following from his labors with Todd McFarlane on Spawn.  Our modern Da Vinci spent close to a decade on Spawn, one of the most successful creator-owned comics.  I also like to see that an artist enjoyed a long run on mainstream characters like Spider-Man, Superman, the X-Men, and Batman.  Greg Capullo shines in that spotlight with a meaningful run on Batman.  Clearly he has a body of work well appreciated by his fans.

Batman Artist Greg Capullo

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Batman 1 (2nd Series) Art by Greg Capullo

Capullo’s Batman credits are solid.  He was the primary artist working with Scott Snyder on the “New 52” Batman series for six years beginning with issue 1.  Capullo rocked with bandmate Snyder on the Metal series.  If you’ve read this far, you must be a Capullo fan.  What Batman artists past and present would you compare him to?  Personally, I see some Jim Lee, but let me hear how he stacks up for you.  Further, do you identify Greg Capullo as one of your favorite Batman artists?

GoCollect Demand for Batman Books by Capullo

Excluding the monstrous number of variants for the Batman #1 reboot, GoCollect FMV comes to $130 on that issue.  Real sales data for 25 transactions in the last month produced an average of $127 for graded 9.8 copies.  GoCollect Fair Market Values for issues 2, 3, and 4 in the series are $100, $65, and $110, respectively.  Those market values are for graded 9.8 comics.  The special interest that makes issue 4 jump up compared to issues 2 and 3 bears watching.  I described in my blog, Looking for the POP in Art, how an impressive gain in the price for an issue could be an early indicator of where huge growth may occur in the original art market.

Big Drop Off for Greg Capullo Spawn?

The FMV for Spawn #16 speaks volumes about Capullo demand.  Issue 16 was the first Spawn featuring Capullo art on McFarlane’s character.  The prior issue boasted McFarlane pencil and inks. I almost always hated the successors when a favorite artist stopped working on a comic I liked.  Shockingly, the FMV for Spawn 16 is $85, presumably related to Capullo’s first Spawn work.  Issue 15 and all prior issues except #1 and #9 fail to meet or beat that 9.8 FMV.  I’m not surprised that there could be a little bump, but I’m shocked that all those McFarlane issues are underperforming by comparison.

For Me, This is STILL about the Art

The idea behind a series of articles called 21st Century Da Vinci featuring various modern artists is to help identify where original art demand is going.  Like Da Vinci, the best artists are remembered. Thus, “Da Vinci” artists create fans who grow up reading their comics and later pay big bucks for their art.  So, let’s see examples of Capullo art to see if demand is already building for his work.

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Spawn #247 cover art by Greg Capullo and Danny Miki

For those unfamiliar with original art, cover art usually enjoys the greatest demand.  This alternate cover for Spawn 247 was created in 1997 but not published until 2014.  The cover fetched $5,975 in 2017 through Heritage Auctions.  Next, consider the interior Batman 6 Page 14 page below.  As an aside, on the CAT scale, the Batman page grades CAT R6.  Moreover, this interior Batman page suggests there is already significant demand for Capullo’s work.  Specifically, the Batman page fetched $3,720 in 2020.

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Batman 6 Page 14 art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion (CAT: R6)

Mona Lisa or Leaning Tower of Pizza

So, how do you see Greg Capullo’s place in comic art history?  Is he another Leonardo Da Vinci–perhaps his priceless Mona Lisa is waiting to be purchased?  Maybe Greg Capullo is more like that other Leonardo who wears a half-shell and eats pizza in his sewer home?  Personally, I think Capullo is closer to the Louvre than the sewers of New York.





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