The Steamy Art of Joe Benitez
In my most humble opinion, it could be that one of the most overlooked artists working in the past 20 years in the funny book industry is none other than the glorious Joe Benitez. Yes, I do wholeheartedly understand if you haven’t heard the name yet, or if you’re only familiar of his name but not his work. But if you’re one of those people who has been following his works (good for you, by the way), the name Joe Benitez has turned into the equivalent of a lot of the most wonderful illustrations in the whole comic book world. If I’m being completely fair, however, it’s safe to say one of the reasons Joe Benitez is not as well-known as other artists out there is because he was only able to properly cement his name with what could be his best work to date in 2010, which is the Lady Mechanika series. The character, which is still an active series to this day, has garnered quite a cult following mainly because of Joe Benitez’s distinct art style. I guess what I’m trying to say is that just the art alone is well worth the price of admission. Resulting from the success of Lady Mechanika (or Lady M, as fans call the character), Joe Benitez has moved on to be one of the driving forces when it comes to providing designs for the whole steampunk subculture worldwide.
Let’s go back in time a little bit, though, and look at the man’s career prior to his steampunk godhood. Before Lady Mechanika arrived at the stands to hook readers onto, Joe Benitez had already been around for quite some time in the industry. By the way, one of Lady M’s most charming characteristics is when you consider that it is one of those gems that come once in a blue moon: it’s a purely independent property published under the artist’s own label, Benitez Productions). Going back to our little trip through memory lane, Joe has been in the comic book scene gifting the world with his art and stories for larger publications, such as Image, Marvel, and DC Comics, these past 20 years. Particularly, Benitez’s big break came in the early years of Image Comics and the whole steroid era of comics, which was in 1995, when he came up with his very own superhero team known as Weapon Zero. During his tenure in the title, he pulled double shifts by taking on the role of both writer and artist for his fledgling extreme team.
But, like I said, he has since become one of comics’ staple creators that any fan of great steampunk – no, let me say that again – any fan of great comic art would be remiss to not put on their watch list. You see, Joe Benitez doesn’t begin in end with Lady Mechanika: he has also done a number of issues for DC, serving as artist for the likes of Supergirl and Detective Comics. To cut it short, we’ve just seen the beginning of what Joe has to offer.