Artist Erik Larsen vs. Marvel’s “House” Style

Troy-Jeffrey Allen
3 min readJun 15, 2021

by Troy-Jeffrey Allen

Within the realm of comics, the 1990s are known for being the era of the superstar artist. Among the big name pencilers of the decade, Erik Larsen’s name is likely to come up in that conversation. But even the heavyweights of that time had to start somewhere…

Recently, on his Facebook feed, Image Comics co-founder and Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen took to Facebook with a few pages of his earlier works to showcase how sometimes the “house” process can chew up your work and spit it out. Pay particular attention to the faces…

Before his career path took a turn as a fan-favorite artist on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, Larsen’s first Marvel work was on THE MIGHTY THOR #385. It appears that his unique art-style didn’t mesh well with Marvel’s then immovable house-style — that is a publisher-mandated style guide for artists that ensures characters look a particular way. Larsen doesn’t point fingers in an accusatory way, but it’s clear that inker Vince Colletta and then art director John Romita went back over Larsen’s work to adhere to some sort of “set-in-stone” look.

So, who wore it best? Personally, I’ve always enjoyed Erik Larsen’s artwork. Particularly his 90s run on the Spider-Man books (I actually liked his version of that character more than The Toddfather’s). So, I’m going to side with Erik’s pencils on this one. What can I say? I love me a good bowl cut Hulk!

You can see more of Larsen’s compare and contrast pages from THE MIGHTY THOR #385 (Vol. 1) HERE.

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Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes BAMN, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.

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