I thought I would start a bit of a discussion on the subject of Frank Robbins, who may just be my favorite cartoonist. Sure I have many other artists I like more in other respects, Buscema for instance, Kirby, Moebius to name a few. But for his overall work, his esthetic, boldness/inventiveness and great skill with layout/storytelling and black placement, raise him past a mere Caniff imitator and in my book he surpassed Caniff as a draftsman, he had way more guts and vitality in his work, vitality he maintained from beginning to end of his career when he stopped drawing and writing Johnny Harzard in 1977 and retired to Mexico.
Again another thing to admire about him. He didn't grind away till 'old-man' drawing robbed him of his art, the long slow public slide of ability. No sad old "alkie", mean and bitter, or sad and bitter which was the fate of many old cartoonist, especially comic book artists. Nor did he ( that I'm aware of) "ghost out" his work having a handfull of assistants doing work for him like many cartoonist did and do, some even eventually giving up their strip to their "ghost" all together.
So though I don't really rank artist in this way I think Robbins is my top guy. I say this because I find myself looking at his work more for both study and at times inspiraton than any other cartoonist.
When I was younger, far younger artists like Neal Adams were my gods, more realistic guys, being young and foolish, immature really, I gave artists who drew more "realistically" more creedence. It seemed being 'correct" or "realistic" was more important to me for a while. I still loved cartoonie stuff, Chuck Jones cartoons and Jack Kirby. But it seemed to my young mind the realistic guys had an edge.
Yet though I ate everything Neal Adams, buying all his books, even the ones he just did covers on I still loved Robbins' tippy-toe' weird versions of captain America which was so anti-Kirby, so anti-Marvel. Though Kirby himself was also heavily influenced by Caniff as well early in his career. As a teen I couldn't really understand why I liked Robbins. I also was just not aware of the history of comic strips and Robbins' stripwork on his strip Johnny Hazard, or even the "father or cofather along with Noel Sickles--Milton Caniff beyond a few Terry and the Pirates reprints in a book on comics.
Here is a bigger copy of the Johnny Hardard Sundayfrom 1958 I own. This scan is at full size.