Brian Stelfreeze

brian-stelfreezeBrian Stelfreeze has worked for probably every major comic publisher as well as many indy comics labels both current and long forgotten. Dark Horse, DC, Marvel, Image, BOOM!, Top Cow and many more. Doesn’t matter, painting or pen and ink, interiors, coloring or covers, Stelfreeze is a master. He’s an artist's artist and a genuinely cool guy. Whenever I've seen him at a convention he takes time to talk to fans, sign books and even giving pointers and critiques to aspiring young artist.

Stelfreeze has done an incredible amount of cover work. He’s not as well known by the general public as former Gaijin Studio mate Adam Hughes, that doesn’t make his work any less impressive.

Primarily known as the cover artist on the Batman: Shadow of The Bat Series in the 90’s. At the time, his run was the longest continual cover run by a single artist on a monthly title… It may still stand since all the covers were traditionally painted. Stelfreeze painted all 50 cover in his Batman: Shadow of The Bat run from issue #0-49.

While on the topic of Batman. Fun fact for Nightwing fans. Guess who designed the costume in the 90’s for Dick Grayon’s new persona… you guessed it, Brian Stelfreeze. 

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One of my favorite painted Brian Stelfeeze cover is Domino Vol 2 #4. However the first time I ever really noticed Brain's work was a series of connecting covers for Batman’s supporting character one shots, Poison Ivy, Mister Freeze and Batgirl… I think there was a second one with Riddler and Two-face. I remember the style and the colors but most importantly his signature.  It looked like an alien language. Stelfreeze wouldn’t really become an artist I followed until art school and I saw his interior black and white work. Up until that point I had thought Stelfreeze was strictly a cover painter.

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Speaking of cover paintings. There’s a fun story behind the Hero Alliance Quarterly #2 cover he did. Apparently, Brain painted the cover on a Fed-Ex box containing a different cover painting. He did this while he waited for the Fed-Ex driver. If you look at the cover closely, you can see the rippling of the cardboard though-out the painting. Lending credibility to the story. Regardless it's still a cool cover.

I’ve always been a bigger fan of his interior work, personally. The way he lays out the panels and moves your eye through the page is just brilliant. He also draws incredibly cinematic action scenes. Domino vol 2 #1-4, The Ride: Die Valkyrie, Gun Candy, and even Showcase 94 #12 “A Little Knowledge” featuring Oracle. All of them are master classes in action and sequential comic storytelling. 

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There was also a short-lived comic imprint from Dark Horse called Blanc Noir. The imprint only released two titles. One was called the Heretic (1996) #1-4. The back-up story for it was Brian Stelfreeze's Max Velocity. Which to my knowledge it has never been reprinted or collected.

These days Stelfreeze does much of his work digital. The interior art for all 8 issues of Day Men from BOOM! Studios was created entirely on a computer. The first 4 issues of Day Men were reprinted in a black and white large format across 2 volumes. Stelfreeze has said it’s the closest thing to original art for the series. Looking at the Black Panther 1-4 work I’d assume it’s done digitally as well. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t still crush it with water colors and ink. His commission work is all still done traditionally and each one is a masterpiece. 

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I’ve given you just a quick glimpse into this artist's impressive career… But not everything. Part of the thrill of the hunt, is finding things for yourself sometimes. If you want to journey down that rabbit hole, you're in luck. Inigo’s put together a collection of Brian Stelfreeze covers to get you started.

Happy Hunting!

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8 comments

  • I usually prefer detailed art and this guy does that every time. You can look at the pieces for a long time and keep seeing new things.

  • Great write up.

    Brian is really a cool guy. He did a wonderful water color sketch (black) of Black Panther on my 11 year old nephews Blank Panther 1 blank cover at Boston Comic Con. He stopped what he was doing to do it too. His art work is amazing too.

    • Skot Whitman

      That’s a great story! Stelfreeze has always been one of those artist who’s always cool to his fans, especially the younger generation. I hope your nephew understands not every comic artist or creator would just stop and do that. Brian really is a class act.

      Thanks for sharing, I bet that BP sketch cover looks awesome.

  • I met him at the Dallas Comic Show in April of this year. He spent so much time discussing art with fans with unbelievable detail. People were bringing him their art work and he would have in depth discussions with them about THEIR art!

    I am not an artist I found the entire experience really amazing! I am a programmer and listening to him go into scientific detail about color choice was incredible. He discussed that the eye has only so many cones to perceive color with and how that understanding drives color choice and allows the artist to demand what the reader focuses on when looking at a page of art. I felt like I was sitting in on an advanced college art class. He took that level of time and detail with everyone I saw him with.

    Overall a great con experience!!!

    • Skot Whitman

      That’s one of the reason I’m such a big fan of his. He does awesome work and understands the importance of the fans and the next generation of artist.

      You can probably learn more by listen to Stelfreeze critiques young artist at a con than an entire semester at some art schools.

  • Roreaga

    I’m such a fan of Mr. Stelfreeze! thanks for doing this!
    I follow him on twitter & love his WIP posts.

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