Chris Bachalo (born August 23, 1965) is an American comic book illustrator known for his quirky, cartoon-like style. He became well-know for stints on DC Comics’ Shade the Changing Man and Neil Gaiman's two Death series. He also illustrated several of Marvel Comics’ X-Men-related series, including Generation X (which he helped to create), Uncanny X-Men, and Ultimate X-Men. He has also illustrated the creator-owned series Steampunk.
Bachalo was born in Canada but was raised in Southern California. He has told interviewers that, as a child, he wanted to be a carpenter until he discovered he was allergic to dust. He attended the California State University at Long Beach, where he majored in graphic art and illustrated a few underground comics.
After graduation, Bachalo sought work in the mainstream comic book industry. His first published assignment was The Sandman #12 (1989) for DC Comics. DC soon after hired as the regular artist for Shade, the Changing Man, an older property revived as an adult-oriented series by writer Peter Milligan.
Bachalo’s early work shows strong influence from Sam Kieth, Bill Sienkiewicz and Michael Golden. As his style developed, however, Bachalo’s work became more idiosyncratic. His early 1990s style is minimalist with strong, thick lines, quirky characters and little concern for realism. Bachalo did not shy away from detailed landscapes but showed a rare penchant for pages with many small panels.
In 1993, writer Neil Gaiman selected Bachalo for the Sandman miniseries Death: The High Cost of Living, starring the Sandman’s older sister. At the time, Sandman was one of the most popular and acclaimed series in the industry and the miniseries helped boost Bachalo’s visibility. The creative pair also reunited for Death: The Time of Your Life in 1996.
Some consider Bachalo's mid-90's work on Shade, the Changing Man and the two death mini-series to be the pinnacle of his accomplishments.
After working at Marvel (below), Bachalo briefly returned to DC in 1999 for The Witching Hour mini-series with writer Jeph Loeb for Vertigo.
While at DC Comics, Bachalo illustrated the first issue of X-Men Unlimited, which Marvel published as an anthology X-Men comic book. Based on the success and fanfare from X-Men Unlimited #1, in 1994, Bachalo ended his stint on Shade and began working for Marvel Comics. He then illustrated the first three issues of Ghost Rider 2099, one of in a line of series reinventing popular Marvel characters in the year 2099.
However, he was soon assigned to create a new junior team of X-Men with Uncanny X-Men writer Scott Lobdell. The group Lobdell and Bachalo created, Generation X, was purposely bizarre and idiosyncratic because the two wanted to avoid the recent trend in superhero teams, where each team member represented a recognizable stock character.
Generation X became a hit with the series’ namesake due to Lobdell's realistically cynical and emotionally immature teen characters and Bachalo’s atypical artwork. Bachalo illustrated the series through much of its first three years, taking a break in late 1995 and early 1996 to illustrate the second Death miniseries, Death: The Time of Your Life.
During his time on Generation X, Bachalo’s artwork underwent a change. Heavily influenced by the popularity of Joe Madureira, Bachalo's characters became more cartoony and manga-like, with unseemly large eyes, heads and hands. He gravitated towards extremes in anatomy, drawing characters that were previously portrayed as bulky, short, or thin as even more so.
In 1997, Bachalo left Generation X for Uncanny X-Men, arguably the comic book industry’s most popular title, remaining until the end of 1998.
In 2000, Bachalo launched Steampunk, a comic book series inspired by the genre of fiction of the same name, which emulates early science fiction and in an alternate version of the early 1900s. The series is written by Joe Kelly and is part of DC Comics’ imprint for creator-owned series, Cliffhanger. The series was criticized for Bachalo's incredibly detailed pencils, small panels and muddy dark coloring, which sometimes made it difficult to discern what was happening. Similarly, Joe Kelly's writing was not as straightforward as a mass audience typically preferred. Contrarily, the book's supporters praised it for those same reasons, as well as for the sheer imagination of the characters and story. The series, intended to be 25 issues, ended prematurely after the second story arc in issue #12. It is currently available in two reprinted trade paperbacks, Steampunk: Manimatron (ISBN 1-56389-762-8) and Steampunk: Drama Obscura (ISBN 1-4012-0047-8).
When Richard Friend inks Chris Bachalo's pencils, the piece is signed “Chrisendo”, a portmanteau of the names “Chris”, “Friend”, and “Bachalo”.
Back with Marvel
In the early 2000s, Bachalo completed occasional work on various X-Men series, including Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate War, Grant Morrison's New X-Men (collected in New X-Men vol. 5: Assault on Weapon Plus) and the sequel to the Age of Apocalypse crossover.
Bachalo was also the artist on Captain America for 6 issues (#21–26, running December 2003–May 2004 cover dates) penciling a divisive run written by Robert Morales. In an attempt to humanize Steve Rogers, the pair managed to split his fanbase fairly resoundingly resulting in the departure of both from the title (Morales two issues after Bachalo).
Bachalo was the artist for the X-Men title along with writer Mike Carey after completing his final story arc for Uncanny X-Men (#472–474). During this time, he was often filled-in for by artist Humberto Ramos.
Bachalo has also penciled (and coloured) a number of cards for the Vs. collectible card game. These have been renditions of both Marvel and DC characters.
On top of his continuing work for Marvel, Bachalo finished issue #7 of Comicraft's Elephantmen, an issue 4 years in the making. The issue was done entirely in double-page spreads and marks his reunion with Steampunk writer Joe Kelly. The issue's story, “Captain Stoneheart and the Truth Fairy” also represents Bachalo's first work outside Marvel and DC since his fill-in issue of Witchblade.
Bachalo was one of the four artists on the Spider-Man event "Brand New Day", along with Phil Jimenez, Steve McNiven and Salvador Larroca.
- 302 subject(s) created by "Chris Bachalo"
- 235 work(s) where "Chris Bachalo" worked on a cover
- 1 work(s) that "Chris Bachalo" edited
- 1 work(s) that "Chris Bachalo" wrote
- 188 work(s) that "Chris Bachalo" penciled
- 20 work(s) that "Chris Bachalo" inked
- 82 work(s) that "Chris Bachalo" colored
- 402 cover(s) "Chris Bachalo" worked on
- 553 image(s) "Chris Bachalo" worked on as penciler
- 49 image(s) "Chris Bachalo" worked on as inker
- 187 image(s) "Chris Bachalo" worked on as colorist
Links and References
- MothComiX: The Official WebSite For Original Art by Chris Bachalo
- Chris Bachalo Checklist
- Chris Bachalo Image Gallery at Comic Art Community