A stunning edition of Marvel's Iron Man, in a similar style to Ross' Mythology series that he created for DC Comics (also shown on our site).
Also available as a paper edition
Before breaking into comics, Ross worked as a storyboard artist. His first published work was the 1990 five-issue miniseries, Terminator: The Burning Earth, written by Ron Fortier and published by NOW Comics. Ross created all of the art, from pencils through coloring for the series. He performed similar work on a variety of titles over the next few years. In 1993, he completed his first painted superhero assignment, the cover of a Superman novel, Superman: Doomsday & Beyond.
Ross's rendition of the Justice League
During this time, Ross met writer Kurt Busiek, and the two began submitting proposals for series that would feature paintings as their internal art. Marvel agreed to a project that would tell much of the history of the Marvel Universe from the perspective of an ordinary person. That limited series, Marvels, was released in 1994, and chronicled the life of a photojournalist, as he reacted to living in a world of superheroes and villains.
Busiek, Ross, and penciller Brent Anderson went on to create Astro City, first published by Image Comics in 1995 and later by Wildstorm Comics. The series features an original superhero world and continues the theme of Marvels, exploring how ordinary people, superheroes and villains react to a world where the fantastic is commonplace. Ross paints the covers and helps set the costumes and the general look and feel for the series, which has been published sporadically in recent years.
Promotional art for Kingdom Come. Top row, left to right: Green Lantern, Superman, The Ray, and Red Robin. Bottom row, left to right: The Spectre and Rev. Norman McCay (in background), Power Girl, Hawkman, and Wonder Woman.
In 1996, Ross worked with writer Mark Waid on the DC Comics limited series Kingdom Come, which presents a possible future for the DC universe, in which Superman and several other classic superheroes return from retirement to tame a generation of brutal anti-heroes. The work featured Ross' redesigned versions of many DC characters, as well as a new generation of characters.
Ross followed Kingdom Come with Uncle Sam, a non-superhero work for DC's Vertigo line, an experimental work that examined the dark side of American history.
In the early 2000s, with writer Jim Krueger, Ross plotted and designed characters for a trilogy of Marvel limited series, Earth X, Universe X, and Paradise X, which combined dozens of Marvel characters from various time periods.
Between 1998 and 2003, writer Paul Dini and Ross produced annual tabloid-sized editions celebrating the 60th anniversaries of DC Comics' Superman (Peace on Earth), Batman (War on Crime), Shazam (Power of Hope), and Wonder Woman (Spirit of Truth), as well as two specials featuring the Justice League, Secret Origins and Liberty and Justice.
When M. Night Shyamalan's film, Unbreakable was released to video in 2001, the DVD included an insert with Ross' original art, as well as a commentary by Ross, regarding superheroes, in the movie's special features.
In 2001, Ross won acclaim for his work on special comic books benefiting the families of those killed in the September 11, 2001 attacks, including his portraits of paramedics, police and firefighters. He has also designed DC merchandise, including posters, dinner plates, and statues. In late 2001, Ross painted four covers to the December 8, 2001 TV Guide, which depicted Tom Welling, Kristen Kreuk and Michael Rosenbaum of the TV series Smallville, and Superman.
In early 2002, Ross designed the promotional poster for the 2002 Academy Awards, which depicted Oscar perched atop the First National Building. The Academy loaned Ross an actual Oscar statuette for a week for him to use as reference for the painting. Ross stated that he photographed members of his family as if they were receiving it. That same year, he was one of four artists who depicted Spider-Man on one of the covers to the April 27, 2002, issue of TV Guide as a promotional tie-in to the feature film Spider-Man.
In 2004, DC compiled the coffee table book Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross, written and designed by Chip Kidd, and featuring a foreword written by M. Night Shaymalan. In late 2005, a paperback version of the book was published to include new artwork by Ross, including sketches for his Justice mini-series.
Also in 2004, Ross designed 15 paintings for the opening credits of the film Spider-Man 2. The paintings presented key elements from the first film. Ross later donated the paintings to be auctioned off on eBay to benefit the United Cancer Front.