Being larger than life is not a natural fit for Alex Ross. Once a shy kid who took refuge in drawing superheroes, the artist has grown into a kind of hero himself to comic book fans everywhere. The opening reception for a survey of his work at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge in November drew record crowds as fans, some in costume, came to meet their idol in person. It’s a fitting tribute for an artist who’s often been called the ‘‘Norman Rockwell of comic book art.’’
‘‘Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross,’’ up through Feb. 24, traces Ross’s career back to his childhood in Lubbock, Texas, when he drew his first comic book heroes at age 4. Included in the exhibit, his crayon on paper drawing from 1974 shows remarkable skill for a 4-year-old. ‘‘Supper (sic) Heroes!’’ reads the child’s handwriting at the top of a picture that includes Batman, Robin, Spider-Man, and Captain Marvel, characters Ross watched on television as a small child. It foreshadows the work he would go on to make, including ‘‘Kingdom Come,’’ in which multiple superheroes come together in one miniseries.