Ross was born in Portland, Ore., in 1970 and raised in Lubbock, Texas. He was drawing TV commercials from memory at age three, and at four he began drawing images of his favorite superheroes — Superman, Captain Marvel and Plastic Man.
By 13, he was drawing and scripting comic books, and at 17, he studied painting at the American Academy of Art in Chicago where he was influenced by Salvador Dali’s hyperrealism and by such classic American illustrators as Norman Rockwell and J.C. Leyendecker.
He began his professional career as a storybook artist for an advertising agency. When he was 19 he received his first comic assignment from Marvel Comics, a comic titled “Terminator: The Burning Earth.” Five years later, he created the illustrations and cover art for “Marvels,” a full-feature comic book co-written by Kurt Busiek.
Ross won the Comic Buyer’s Guide Award for Favorite Painter seven times in a row, resulting in the retirement of the category.
Jeremy R. Clowe, manager of media services at Norman Rockwell Museum, first learned about Alex Ross with the publication of his four-issue limited series, “Marvels,” in 1994.
“I had grown up collecting and drawing comic books but had mostly lost interest in the early 1990s as comic art began to look very samey, and the storylines a little too grim,” Clowe said. “Ross’ fully painted series of books were a true wonder, and the storyline of ‘Marvels,’ told from the perspective of everyday citizens interacting with superheroes, once again light up my imagination.”
Clowe said he has long thought that an exhibition of Ross’ work would be a perfect fit for the Norman Rockwell Museum.
“The fact that Ross was influenced by Rockwell ties it all together — he is certainly continuing many of the same illustration traditions,” Clowe said.
A members’ opening event for the exhibition will take place on Saturday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with a rare appearance by Ross, who will conduct a book signing during the evening event.
To learn more about the Norman Rockwell Museum, the exhibit and upcoming exhibit-related programs and events, visit www.nrm.org