Here’s a series of Norman Rockwell inspired “Saturday Evening Post” cover art that features some classic DC Comics heroes and villains. The art was created by DeviantArt user OnlyMilo a.k.a. Ruiz Burgos.
Most of these titles will be relatively modern, since I’m not a big fan of vintage comics. It’s just a personal preference. Bolded ones are my personal favorites. I’ll skip around in terms of chronology, and I’ll be avoiding major events like Infinite Crisis, Identity Crisis, Final Crisis, etc.
The Death and Life of Superman novelization by Roger Stern - If you want to get the whole story behind Superman’s iconic death, it might be more economical to buy this novelization, instead of the individual (and sometimes pricey) comics. The background that this book provides on Superman is really invaluable and tells the story better than the comics did, in my opinion. Introduces Steel and the 90s Superboy! Adapted into the Superman: Doomsday movie.
Superman: For All Seasons - this origin story ties into John Byrne’s Man of Steel series, but you don’t need to read that to enjoy this. Norman Rockwell-esque art and some very heartwarming Superman tales.
Superman: No Limits! - My favorite of the “new millennium” Superman stories. Involves the return of the Daily Planet, Mongul, Kryptonite, etc.
Superman: Return to Krypton - A very interesting exploration of Superman’s home planet, even if it is a tad confusing. Krypto’s preboot origin is here.
Superman: Birthright - In my opinion, the best Superman origin story ever written. It really captures the essence of Superman, while maintaining modern relevance and an almost cinematic quality. This kept becoming canon, then not-canon, then canon again. I consider it canon on principle.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies - A really famous and well-written team-up series between Clark and Bruce that emphasizes their friendship and their complementary skill sets. (Adapted into a movie of the same name)
Superman/Batman: Supergirl - Kara Zor-El’s preboot, modernized origin. If you’re interested in Superman’s conflicts with Darkseid, and Supergirl in general, I’d definitely check this out. (Adapted into Batman/Superman: Apocalypse)
Superman: Emperor Joker: This comic is just wild. Basically, what happens when the Joker gets unlimited cosmic power? You don’t really want to know – but at the same time, you kind of do.
Superman: Ending Battle - Someone is targeting people that Clark Kent knows. Almost every supervillain on the planet is thrown at Clark in this volume. Superman gives one heck of a speech at the end.
Superman: For Tomorrow - A really deep look into the philosophy of Superman, which focuses on Clark’s tendency to walk the line between a man and a god. In the story, he has recently suffered a great personal tragedy, and as he tries to retrieve what he lost, a few major complications and mysteries arise. This has, in my opinion, some of the most beautiful Superman art ever pencilled, and a story that is so poetic that it needs several readings to be fully understood.
Superman: Unconventional Warfare - Enter Ruin! A really, really insidious villain who’s desperate for revenge against the Man of Steel. With tons of tech and intelligence on his side, Ruin proves to be quite a problem – and a mystery. Also – this is where Lt. Lupe Leocadio enters, and she is so badass.
Superman: That Healing Touch - Not a great volume, but necessary for the context of Ruin’s continuous story. Some OMAC stuff gets introduced around here until Infinite Crisis, which can get confusing in terms of chronology.
Superman: Sacrifice - I’m not sure if this is a controversial storyline, but overall, I found it to be one of the few truly well-written superhero vs superhero tales (it’s Superman vs Wonder Woman, ultimately). But the context of their battle is the real substance of this story. (This volume also definitively proves why Superman, if he is really trying, will beat Batman)
Superman: Ruin Revealed - Ruin’s story gets wrapped up, as the title suggests.
Superman: Strange Attractors - Gail Simone writes a wonderful Superman (and Lois Lane, incidentally). This Superman has an abundance of heart and power, as evidenced by battles with Doctor Polaris, Doctor Psycho, Black Adam, the Queen of Fables, and even Livewire (in her first comics appearance).
Superman: Up, Up, and Away! - takes place after Infinite Crisis, and is directly affected by its events. Even if you don’t read that event. PLEASE read this comic. It gives a wonderful look at how a human Clark Kent may behave considering how, in this comic, he’s no longer Superman. Few Superman stories humanize and characterize Clark like this one does.
Superman: Back in Action - I loved seeing Superman team-up with a variety of heroes that aren’t necessarily considered A-List.
Superman: Kryptonite - How exactly was Kryptonite discovered? Nice Superman characterization, even if the ending is a little confusing. This ties into For All Seasons, though it was written long afterwards. More art by Tim Sale, if you like that style, is contained inside.
Superman: Redemption - For some reason, few people know about this truly AMAZING story in which Superman deals with his connections to religion, and how people relate him to different faiths. I feel like this story really showcases Superman’s steady moral compass and compassion.
Superman: Last Son of Krypton - Superman finds a little Kryptonian boy and decides to adopt it. It was lovely to see Superman try to fulfill the role of a father, because frankly, he fits the part perfectly.
Superman: Brainiac - One of Superman’s most famous rogues is Brainiac, and he was due for a modern makeover. This comic does it nicely with great art by Gary Frank – not to mention that it gives Supergirl a big role. (This comic was adapted into the movie Superman: Unbound)
Superman: Grounded - Not the best set of Superman stories, but the heart’s there. I’m putting it in the reclst because the art is decent most of the time, and it provides some background for the New Krypton arc, which I will not put on this reclist because I did not enjoy it.
Superman: Reign of Doomsday - I will mention that you should read both volumes of Superman: the Black Ring to fully understand this arc. Basically, this is the final curtain on preboot Superman, with Action Comics (which was pretty much the longest running comics series) wrapping up with over 900 issues! Gorgeous art by Kenneth Rocafort is inside, and almost the whole Superfam plays a part.
Action Comics #775: This is where Superman gave his most influential speech to Manchester Black. Adapted into Superman vs the Elite AND MUST BE READ BEFORE ENDING BATTLE.
Superman #661: I just really love this team-up between Lois Lane and Wonder Woman, in which Superman becomes a sorta damsel in distress (but still kicks butt, nonetheless).
Action Comics #791: A tale from Clark Kent’s past, about his high school years.
Action Comics #792: Some old-fashioned investigative reporting starring Clark Kent and Lois Lane.
Action Comics #810: The heartwarming New Years issue with lots of neat art styles and stories.
Not in the main universe:
Red Son: I liked this story, but didn’t love it as much as the critics did. The story centers around what might Superman be like, if he was raised in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
All-Star Superman: This is a truly iconic set of Superman stories, set around the idea that Clark is dying from radiation poisoning, and trying to get his final affairs in order. Everything in here is pretty fantastical and disjointed, but still magically written. Great art by Frank Quitely. Adapted into a film of the same name.
Superman Adventures: This series is based on the 1990s Animated TV Series (which is great, by the way). If you like that, check these out.
If you didn’t watch Smallville as a Superman fan, I seriously recommend that you do. It may not be true to the comics, but it was one of the first superhero action dramas on primetime television, and thus, very influential to the trends we see today with Arrow, the Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, etc. The series was continued in a comics series called Smallville: Season 11. It’s actually one of my favorite comic series of all time. Here are the volumes:
Guardian - Hank Henshaw’s introduction and Lex Luthor’s return!
Detective - Smallville’s version of Batman introduced, with Barbara Gordon as one badass Nightwing!
Haunted - delves into Smallville’s version of the Flash.
Effigy - Batman and Martian Manhunter team-up in a side story.
Argo - Legion of Superheroes, Kara Zor-El’s gorgeous costume, and more!
Valkyrie - Team up with Lois Lane and Lana Lang, kicking serious butt!
Olympus - Wonder Woman, Steve Trevor and Felix Faust are all introduced to Smallville continuity.
Alien: The world deals with revelation that Superman is an alien, and the Monitors – the biggest villains – are introduced.
Lantern: Superman becomes a Green Lantern alongside John Stewart!
Chaos: Lois and Clark get transported to various universes and have to fight the Monitors.
Continuity: the Monitors come to destroy Earth. Smallville’s Justice League defends it.
Hi! So, I've been following your art through deviantart, tumblr and blogspot for some time, but I couldn't find your thoughts on improvement. Do you have any thoughts on it? Like, are anatomy books[loomis, hogarth...] that helpful? Having a drawing/sketching routine? Don't draw "cartoon" until you know how to draw "real" stuff? Or, maybe, the-most-valueable-piece-of-advice-ever? I find you very inspiring and would love to hear some thoughts from you (: Wish you all the best!
Thank you kind stranger!
Agh, I’m actually having trouble writing about this because I’m going through a strange mental recalibration on how I think about and approach art. But I’ll try my best to answer!