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CSBG Archive

Top 50 Comic Book Writers #50-41

The countdown begins now!!!

Here are the first ten writers that you voted as your favorites of all-time. Click here to see the first ten artists on the countdown. Click here to see a master list of all writers listed so far.

(NOTE: I just got these things counted, so I’m gonna be brief. I’ll edit in some further detail later)

50. Walter Simonson – 181 points (2 first place votes)

Walter Simonson’s college thesis was a graphic novel, so you know he was a surefire candidate to be a comic book creator!

He first worked as a comic book artist, but as the 1980s began, he started getting a few assignments here and there as a writer, also. A lot of fill-in work on licensed comics, stuff like that. But in 1983 he was finally given his biggest break as a writer – take over as writer and artist on The Mighty Thor!

Simonson then delivered a long, critically acclaimed run that has gone down in history as perhaps the best run on Thor ever (Lee and Kirby are hard to beat, though).

Around this time, Marvel also released that graphic novel Simonson did in college.

After his run on Thor ended, Simonson took over Avengers as strictly a writer for awhile (with artists John Buscema and Tom Palmer)…

then Fantastic Four was his next project as writer/artist, and once again it was a highly acclaimed run on the title.

During the 1990s, Simonson’s Star Slammers characters got their own series!

Throughout the 1990s, Simonson worked on a variety of projects as a writer. No sustained runs, though.

His next major run was a stint as writer and artist on Orion in 2000…

Once again, this was a critically acclaimed run by Simonson.

He followed with a short run as writer on Hawkgirl (with artist, and former studiomate, Howard Chaykin)…

And most recently he wrote a Catwoman/Demon strip in Wednesday Comics, with Brian Stelfreeze as his artist.

One voter gave his reasons for voting for Simonson:

Thor, Beta-Ray Bill, and especially the Executioner’s last stand.

Another voter, Shurron, also gave an explanation for voting for Simonson:

Walter’s run on Thor is still counted as one of the book’s most memorable.

49. Gilbert Hernandez – 182 points (3 first place votes)

In the early 1980s, Gilbert co-created the anthology series Love and Rockets with his two brothers, Jaime and Mario.

Each brother would contribute their own stories to the comic, with Gilbert spotlighting the fictional Central American country of Palomar, and specifically the life and times of one woman there, Luba, and her family and friends…

Luba is clearly Hernandez’s finest creation, as she is a remarkable detailed and complexly constructed fictional figure. Hernandez’s talents handling strong, independent women has always been a particularly notable aspect of his career as a writer.

Outside of Love and Rockets, Gilbert has worked on a variety of short series, even a stint on DC’s Birds of Prey!

Dark Horse Comics has been home to a few of Gilbert’s other stories, which often take a sort of sideways looks at B-Movie concepts, like the excellent Speak of the Devil mini-series…

More recently, the Hernandez brothers have launched a new Love and Rockets series that is extra-sized and released annually.

48. Daniel Clowes – 185 points (1 first place vote)

Love and Rockets also gave the first break to the next writer on this list, Daniel Clowes, who sent in a story to the Hernandez brothers in the mid-80s. After an appearance in an issue of Love and Rockets, Clowes eventually got his own series at Fantagraphics spotlighting the character Lloyd Llewellyn.

After that series ended, in 1989 Clowes launched Eightball, which was a series of different short stories featuring various characters…

The short story “Art School Confidential” in Eightball #7 was later adapted into a motion picture.

Clowes’ first major success with Eightball was the short stories about two teenage girls titled “Ghost World.”

These stories were later collected into a standalone graphic novel and even later adapted into a motion picture (that came out before Art School Confidential).

After the success of Ghost World, Clowes changed Eightball into specifically a place where he could serialize stories that would later be released as standalone stories (this is something that Chris Ware has been doing in Acme Novelty Library, as well).

David Boring was the first story to specifically begin in Eightball as a “graphic novel in progress.”

The acclaimed Ice Haven also appeared first in Eightball.

Clowes’ most recent project, Wilson, skipped Eightball entirely, though.

It is unclear how Clowes will release his next original project (his new graphic novel release, Mister Wonderful, was first serialized in New York Times Magazine).

47. James Robinson – 187 points (1 first place vote)

James Robinson’s first comic book works came in the early 1990s for Dark Horse Comics, including a few Terminator projects…

He came to DC’s attention with an acclaimed storyline in Batman: Legend of the Dark Knight, with artist Tim Sale…

Then he really made a splash with his Prestige Format mini-series, The Golden Age, with artist Paul Smith.

Before his next project with DC, though, Robinson first began working on the acclaimed Ultraverse title, Firearm, first working with artist Cully Hamner…

Robinson’s next project with DC solidified his status as one of the top writers in comics, with a seven-year run on Starman…

During the early years of Starman, Robinson also had significant involvement with Jim Lee’s Wildstorm titles…

and a highly-acclaimed creator-owned series for Image with Paul Smith called Leave it to Chance…

During his time on Starman, Robinson also did a short stint on Cable…

I would not normally mention it, but when Robinson left the book, his (assistant?) Joe Casey took over, thereby giving the comics world Joe Casey!!

As Starman came to a close, Robinson helped launch JSA for DC…

and then later Hawkman (the former with co-writer David Goyer, the latter with co-writer Geoff Johns).

Robinson then took a break from comics for awhile to work in films.

He returned with an extended Batman storyline…

before becoming heavily involved in the Superman universe for a couple of years…

Along the way, Robinson debuted a highly successful Justice League mini-series…

that led into him taking over Justice League of America as the full-time writer (with artist Mark Bagley)…

Reader Sandy gave his reasons for voting for Robinson:

At his best, Robinson is the greatest writer in comics. Starman is my favorite story of all time. It builds itself into the fabric of the DC universe while still being unique, creates and reimagines a massive cast of wonderful characters, and tells the kind of sweeping epic with introspective, character driven interludes that I love. The prose work in the narrations and captions is incredible. While some of his other work leaves me feeling flat, Starman alone puts him high on my list.

46. Jim Starlin – 221 points (2 first place votes)

After getting his start at Marvel Comics as an artist, Jim Starlin was given the chance to also plot a couple of issues of Iron Man. With him not knowing if he’d ever get another chance, Starlin populated his first issue of Iron Man with a number of original cosmic creations, including the evil Titan Thanos!

When Starlin was given the chance to take over writing chores for the Captain Marvel series, he brought Thanos into that title as a major adversary for Captain Marvel…

After his Captain Marvel run ended, Starlin took over Adam Warlock, whose book had been canceled due to low sales. Here, Starlin tried his most ambitious stories yet, delving into ideas about organized religion and death. He introduced a number of new supporting characters that are still being used to this day. He also, of course, brought Thanos into the comic…

During this time, Starlin had begun doing independent comic book work, as well. As the 1980s began, Marvel started to become a place where creator-owned works could be done. So Starlin began working on a long epic storyline called the Metamorphosis Odyssey in the pages of Marvel’s Epic Illustrated magazine (as well as in work at Eclipse Comics).

Around this time, Marvel asked Starlin to write the first Marvel Graphic Novel, the death of Captain Marvel!

Soon afterward, Starlin continued the Metamorphosis Odyssey in another Marvel Graphic Novel. This time with the introduction of one of Starlin’s most notable creations, Dreadstar!

Dreadstar would soon get his own series from a new creator-owned line of comics at Marvel.

After a few years working on Dreadstar, Starlin began to do some freelance writing for DC Comics (who he had done some fill-in work during the late 1970s/very early 1980s), including a notable Batman mini-series with artist Berni Wrightson…

and a cosmic mini-series with Mike Mignola where Starlin was finally able to write Darkseid, who was Thanos’ inspiration…

However, after a stint on the regular Batman series ended with Starlin killing off Robin (via a fan vote), Starlin’s time at DC basically ended.

He returned to Marvel where he took over the writing chores on Silver Surfer, with artist Ron Lim.

Again, he brought Thanos back as an adversary. Eventually he brought back all the characters from his Warlock series (Adam Warlock, Pip the Troll and Gamorra, the most deadly woman in the universe). This led to one of the most successful crossovers of the 1990s for Marvel, Infinity Gauntlet…

Starlin began writing a new Adam Warlock (and friends) series after Infinity Gauntlet ended, and the Infinity success continued with two follow-up crossovers, Infinity War and Infinity Crusade.

After some time away from Marvel, Starlin returned in the beginning of the 21st Century with another Infinity storyline, which led into a Thanos ongoing series.

Starlin left Marvel early in the series, and after a short time working in independent comics again, Starlin ended up at DC once again, doing a number of cosmic-related stories over the last four years (including bringing back a character he created back in the 1980s, the Weird).

With his work at DC done, it is unclear what Starlin’s next project will be (IDW just did a beautiful Art of Jim Starlin book).

Voter Nick gave his reasons for voting for Starlin:

The Master of the Cosmic Odyssey describes him very well, as he is easily the best “space opera” writer in comic books. His Warlock stories of the 70s and Cosmic Odyssey were great, but his apex was his brief but brilliant run on Silver Surfer, which turned Thanos into a credible, real villain, and established the awesome concept of the Infinity Gauntlet, one of the best Marvel stories of all time.

45. Dan Slott – 224 points (1 first place vote)

Dan Slott began work in comics as an intern at Marvel Comics. In the early 1990s, Slott was the writer on Marvel’s popular Ren and Stimpy comic book.

This sort of got Slott stuck in “licensed comic limbo,” both for Marvel and then later for DC…

The work was strong, but the profile was not great. Luckily, Slott did a mini-series for DC Comics in 2003, Arkham Asylum: Living Hell (with brilliantly dark artwork by Ryan Sook) that changed the way people viewed him.

He soon got the gig as the writer for an ongoing She-Hulk series for Marvel.

He began to get more work at Marvel, including a sadly short-lived Thing series…

Soon he got his biggest project yet, a spin-off of Marvel’s ultra-popular Civil War crossover, Avengers: Initiative.

Soon after, Slott became one of the team of writers who took over Amazing Spider-Man when the book began coming out three times a month (each writer would handle an arc).

Following Marvel’s next big crossover, Secret Invasion, Slott took over Mighty Avengers…

Just recently, Marvel revamped Amazing Spider-Man once again, now making it a extra-sized book coming out twice a month, and now Slott is the sole lead writer on the book, a significant accomplishment for Slott.

44. Jeph Loeb – 230 points (3 first place votes)

43. John Ostrander – 240 points (2 first place votes)

One voter said of why he voted for Ostrander:

He brought villains (and heroes) to life in Suicide Squad. While other writers use “lesser” characters as cannon fodder, he made me actually care about them (before using some of them as fodder himself)

Voter Ben gave his reasons why he would have voted for Ostrander had he not, well, forgotten to:

I totally forgot to put John Ostrander on my list but if I had he would have been #4. I loved the Suicide Squad – Ostrander did an amazing job keeping me on my toes with the partially rotating cast, unexpected deaths, and the gripping action. But what made the book great was the way he could juggle together so many characters with so many disparate points of view, and make them all feel compelling – the heroes, the villains, and the supporting characters. Any book that can bring such diverse characters together as Rick Flag, Amanda Waller, Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang, Nemesis, Nightshade, Deadshot, Father Craemer, Briscoe, and more, and make me pretty much care about all of them is something special.

42. Brian Azzarello – 275 points (3 first place votes)

41. Peter Milligan – 292 points (2 first place votes)

Come back tomorrow for the next five writers on the countdown!

As a general note, do not use the comments here to bash creators. It seems that a lot of posters need to tone their rhetoric down about 150 notches. If you think a creator is too high or too low, feel free to say it, but just keep it civil. -BC

98 Comments

I thought Jeph Loeb would end up on the list, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it!!!!!

Jeph Loeb got more points than Walter Simonson.

Why CSBG audience, WHY!?

Recently Loeb may indeed have problems, but his batman and some of the Super/Bat stories certainly put him on the list.

I, obviously, haven’t seen the rest of the list, but I can’t help but think that James Robinson would have ranked much higher if he’d never returned to comics and his legacy was still Starman, The Golden Age, Leave It to Chance, Firearm, Grendel Tales, etc. and no one had ever heard the words, “Cry for Justice”.

None of my top 10 yet… hopefully they are all higher up the list!

well there goes any hope of John Wagner being on the list “SIGH”

Seriously Dan Slot made it thats just… wrong (

Los Bros Hernandez are at least on top 50, and like I voted for them (Gilbert as writer, Jaime as artist).
And looking at the point totals, I know several creators I picked have no chance whatsoever (unless CSBG is full of secret Hugo Pratt or Mary Fleener fanboys).

“Seriously Dan Slot made it thats just… wrong (” –cyrus

Know what’s worse, cyrus? I’m also bangin’ your mom. :-O
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Just kiddin’. :-)

I noticed most of the guys that made it today are primarily known for one great work (Simonson: Thor, Azzarello: 100 Bullets, Robinson: Starman, etc.), which seems appropriate for the lower part of the list. I feel reasonably confident that everyone from my list will make the top 25, except perhaps Marv Wolfman, who could be showing up in the next day or two.

A question: Are Bendis and Johns both destined for top 10 finishes (maybe even top 5)? I won’t have a problem with Bendis being that high (as long a it’s not at the expense of Stan Lee or something) because he at least has a true legacy and calling-card; he’s completely changed the way dialogue and conversation are written and handled in comics. But if Geoff Johns or Mark Millar make the top ten… yikes. I have at least enjoyed some works by both, but also agree that they have done huge amounts of butchering and hack-jobs.

Simonson and Milligan means I´m 2/10 so far.

Hey…..don’t be an ingnorant slott! BTW, I voted for you Dan! You deserved it. Excelsior!

Robinson and Loeb both made me flinch a little because both writers’ recent output has just been dreadful, but I can also understand some nostalgiac love for both as they have done some good work in the past…

Robinson- Starman, Leave It To Chance, JSA, Golden Age, etc.

Loeb- Batman: The Long Halloween & Dark Victory, Superman: For All Seasons, Challengers Of The Unknown, Daredevil: Yellow, etc.

I was gonna make disparaging remarks about Jeph Loeb and James Robinson’s recent output, but now that Dan Slott’s personally responded to an insulter, I’m just going to tip my hat and be on my way.

Cyrus – “well there goes any hope of John Wagner being on the list “SIGH”.”
Well I voted him in my top 5 – so if there’s enough 2000AD/Judge Dredd love out in Internet Land I think he may have a chance.

And I forgot Simonson as a writer. But there were so many difficult choices, and I regret leaving so many cool creaters off my list anyway, so no matter.

I dont care if Dan Slott is in this list. I reaaly dont care about him (even if his banging Cyrus’ mom) . But Seeing Loeb higher than Simonson and Starlin… THAT’S OUTRAGEOUS!

The lower rungs of these lists are always more interesting than the top ones. You get folks whose work is less read than the average Big Two superhero writer (Clowes, Hernandez). You get folks that are closely associated with one classic series (Simonson, Robinson). You have a guy whose best work is long out of print (Ostrander).

The interesting one is Jim Starlin. Given how endlessly his cosmic work has been praised, I would have thought he would place higher than 46th.

The most surprising thing about Loeb being on the list is the 3 first place votes. Those are some loyal fans!

@Third Man: I agree with you. Bendis will probably be in the top ten, and it will sting for me, because I’m not a fan of his at all. But if Johns or Millar end up there too…that’s going to be harsh!

2 people so far from my list, James Robinson and Dan Slott. Great list so far.

I don’t get the Slott hatred. arguably wrote the best Avengers title in the past decade,(you mean action in a comic book? I didn’t know they still did that)

I’m surprised at some of the low rankings for guys like Starlin or Simonson, and have to agree with the people that are afraid that means guys like Bendis and Miller are going to be top ten. I just hope Waid beats both of them. (I can’t complain though, since I didn’t vote)

John Wagner almost made my list. He was in my top 15, but when I whittled it down to 10 he didn’t make the cut. Carlos Ezquerra made my top 10 artists, though.

Starlin being relatively low – – although considering how many people have written comics over the decades, top 50 isn’t bad – – may have more do to w/ the age of the voters…… His Death of Warlock in the Avengers/MTIO Annuals back in {I don’t want to put a year on how long ago that was!}- – is one of my all time favorite comics in terms of writing and art.

Glad to see Dan Slott make the list. He was 9th on my list. He hasn’t had that “masterpiece” work yet, but he’s one my favorite currently working writers with lots of solid work. I think he gets underrated due to his work often having a strong humor component. His She-hulk had lots of funny moments but was the best take I’ve seen on the character and opened up a world of super hero law that was fascinating. I wish someone would re-visit that area.

I’ll be curious to see if either of my manga writers make the list. I’m not sure if either of them could be lower on the list than 41. Andi Watson probably doesn’t have enough notoriety to do so either despite a great body of work.

Thomas Morrison

December 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I totally forgot about Brian Azzarello! He would have made my list. There are not many writers of comics that have set themselves apart from the pack, IMHO. It’s a hard thing to do. But Azzarello’s 100 Bullets was so unique and appetizing that I think he really deserves to be on the list. He is a true original and has moved the medium of comics in a new direction. How many writers can you say that about?
I’m surprised Robinson is so low on the list as well. His Starman was so unique and monumental that I think he deserves to be up there with the big boys like Busiek and Waid at least.
It’s no surprise that Hernandez or Clowes made it so low on the list. It’s more of a surprise that they made it at all. I’m wondering how high my #2, Art Spiegelman made it on the list, or even IF he will make it… we’ll see.

I almost voted for Robinson. I probably would have if not for Cry for Justice.

I’m just glad to see Ostrander on the list. He wrote rings around 90% of his contemporaries, especially on Suicide Squad and the Spectre.

I think I put Beto at number 1. His minor characters have more life than most writers’ leads.

Ostrander deserves a place on this list just for transforming a crippled (women-in-refrigerated) Barbara Gordon into Oracle. Factor in “Suicide Squad” and he should easily have placed higher.

Dan Slott’s reply cracked me up, but he makes the list IMO just because he made me want to read Spider-Man again with ASM #648. As for Loeb, I think his work has suffered, but I have Long Halloween, Dark Victory, Spider-Man Blue, Daredevil Yellow and Hulk Gray all on my bookshelf and while Tim Sale is a big reason why, I never buy a book for art alone.

Hey A.S. — Hugo Pratt was on my artist list as well (I hope), so there’s at least two votes for him.

LOL, Cyrus got owned

So far the only one from my list to show up is Gilbert Hernandez.
This isn’t filling me with hope for my top picks.

I’d be surprised if Spiegelman made it to top 40 :)
Then again, I put on high positions people like Carl Barks and Rene Goscinny, who have a good chance of not making it either despite major impact, importance and skill…(add Tezuka, Otomo and Crumb and we have quite strong “they were robbed” group, if they fail to show up on higher positions).

I thought about Andi Watson, he and Pete Milligan would have been on my #11-15 picks.

As for Loeb, I think his work has suffered, but I have Long Halloween, Dark Victory, Spider-Man Blue, Daredevil Yellow and Hulk Gray all on my bookshelf and while Tim Sale is a big reason why, I never buy a book for art alone.

Eh, but the main credit to Loeb in those works is his restraint, the fact that he wrote almost nothing and let the artwork tell the story in all of them. The actual stories rarely stand up on their own merits because they’re just a pretext for Sale to draw a splash page of Two-Face or a double page spread of Daredevil taking on Electro. I mean, kudos to Loeb for setting up all those fantastic illustrations – I enjoy most of the works you mention for exactly that reason – but to vote him #1 for his Tim Sale collaborations is kind of like voting Toni Kukoc the best basketball player because he passed the ball to Michael Jordan a lot.

“to vote him #1 for his Tim Sale collaborations is kind of like voting Toni Kukoc the best basketball player because he passed the ball to Michael Jordan a lot.”

ZING!
That’s a beautiful analogy, Cass.
It needs to spread far and wide across the web.

Ricardo Marques

December 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm

AS: I bet Barks is going to make it (he was the only one on both my lists). Goscinny was my nº 1 but I don’t think he’s going to score enough points.

It’s true, Starlin’s recent DC work has been pretty terrible, but he did some marvelous stuff for Marvel and elsewhere back in the day. With a lot of classic creators (Claremont leaps to mind), you have to excuse a lot of the later stuff and hope it doesn’t color their early work too much in retrospect.

Dan Slott would have been #11 for me. His She-Hulk was so great. If nothing else, he gave us Awesome Andy, folks.

Ostander, thus far, has been the only one I’ve picked (from either list) to make it.

I voted for a Robinson, just not James Robinson. I voted for Alex Robinson of “Box Office Poison” and “Too Cool To Be Forgotten” fame. (Or not fame, as the case probably is.)

My first writer shows up! I don’t expect one of my choices to show up on the list at all but i’m pretty confident the remaining 8 will show up. Pretty cool list so far.

i bought all the starman trades on ebay due to all the hype. maybe it was better than everything else coming out at the time, and i did enjoy it, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. i loved the prose, the take on opal city itself, the sentimentality of it all, the cast… but it fell short for me in certain important areas. specifically, the main character doesn’t have any flaws. that’s a problem for me. yeah, he’s sort of a fish-out-of-water at playing hero initially, but that passes rather quickly (and largely off-panel), but he really doesn’t have any inherent character traits besides being sentimental. it’s well-written, but it’s missing something, and while it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what, perhaps it’s multi-dimensional characters. everyone’s perfectly alright, but what you see is essentially what you get. it’s all just too straightforward. the shade was by far my favorite character, because he’s perhaps the ONLY character that’s actually interesting. not a bad story, but it’s definitely missing something. also i felt like it was rather uneven; it took a while to hit its stride, and even though it’s considered a robinson/harris joint, by the time they’re really starting to get it right, harris is on his way out (when he’s only just come into something resembling his trademark style. and snejbjerg does fine, but there’s nothing special about him). if they hadn’t spent so much time finding their respective and collective voices, the series might be every bit as good as everyone gives it credit for. but as it is, it’s a strong series not without its flaws that probably holds up better than most anything else being published at the time. that’s my 2 cents.

My mom’s a grown woman – she can bang whomever she wants! You might have to ask my dad about it, though – he might take exception.

Four guys made both of my lists. Starlin and Simonson were two of them.

Jim Starlin and Walt Simonson didn’t at least make it past the top 30?!

I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that they were so low on the list, or the fact that Jeph Loeb passed both of them. As for his earlier work on Batman, I felt it was overrated. I’ve read both Long Halloween and Dark Victory and thought the latter was superior, but not great. LH had a few details that left me scratching my head, and his work at Marvel drives me insane.

I honestly don’t mind James Robinson too much though.

See, I thought we were getting 100 of writers and artists, not 100 total :( Ah, you did enough work Brian.

Beto and Milligan made my long list, Ostrander and Slott probably should have, and Robinson might have if I’d read more of Starman.

If Dan Slott’s still reading, I would have voted for you based on the Ren and Stimpy book. “I am the punt pole on the gondola of LIFE!” You made JR high a little more tolerable.

The Crazed Spruce

December 4, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Well, none of my picks made it so far, but I had Robinson and Ostrander part of a freaky-huge tie for 11th. (And if I’d read more of Azarello’s stuff, he might’ve made my short list, too.)

Only one here from my list was Robinson.

Of course, I didn;t write my lists down and have forgotten whom I had. Brian, any way you can get someone their lists?

So far out of my ten I’ve seen Clowes and Milligan, glad they at least made it on the top 50.

Gah! Someone mentioned Marv Wolfman, and I totally forgot him from my own list.

While I didn’t put Dan Slott or Jeph Loeb on my top ten lists, I have no problem w/ either one being in the top fifty (although I could rank a top 50 and not include either.) Everybody has a personal favorite writer or a few series they remember. I’d like to think Bill Mantlo (for Micronauts, Rom, Cloak and Dagger and his later Peter Parker stuff) made the list. I’d also like to think Mike Baron (the writer of my favorite mid/late eighties series Badger and Nexus as well as the defining writer for Flash . ) Bet they’re folks who think that both these guys just produced dreck. And that’s fine. THIS is a popularity poll and like any sports poll, The consensus best will be at the top. AND more recent faves as well as childhood fondness will have a role in the choices. Either way, I’d be surprised if Grant Morrison or Alan Moore both failed to make the top twenty. Great poll and looking forward to the rest.

“Starlin being relatively low – – although considering how many people have written comics over the decades, top 50 isn’t bad – – may have more do to w/ the age of the voters…… His Death of Warlock in the Avengers/MTIO Annuals back in {I don’t want to put a year on how long ago that was!}- – is one of my all time favorite comics in terms of writing and art.”

yep, and I have over 3000 scripters/ writers represented in my collection. So, I’d agree top 50 ain’t bad. 1977 for the epic Starlin AVengers/ MTIO annuals ( which are the concluding chapters of his first Warlock series.) The storyline is still epic and still holds up today (ignore the ’70’s dialogue—this was still light years ahead concept wise.) Favorite 70’s series- Tomb of Dracula. Marv Wolfman hit his stride w/ this series and followed up w/ New Teen Titans. The best mainstream super hero series of the first half of the 80’s (better than even the X-Men during this time.)

I voted Milligan strictly for his severely underrated X-Force/X-Statix run. Glad to see him up there.

And as a pre-emptive strike, I just wanna say to any writer or artist that I may or may not disparage along the way: if you wanna claim to be banging my mom, well you’re the loser in that equation. Hah!

I almost certainly would have voted for Robinson and Azzarello had I remembered them. Milligan, too, more than likely.

I always basically pit career highs against each other for purposes of comparison, though, and I don’t consider the lows. If you wrote a bunch of crap, I can ignore it, but I can’t create a new masterpiece at will. I’d rather have a great piece and a total failure than two pretty good works.

Hans Goodman-

Getting the Starman trades is the whole problem… you need the omnibi. With the trades, DC stopped reprinting all the supplemental material about 1/3 of the way through, so you’re missing 10-12 Times Past issues, the Shade mini-series, the 80-page Giant, the Mist one-shot, some Showcase backups, etc. You’re only getting the central narrative, which is very good, but incomplete and never intended (by Robinson) to be the way people read Starman.

The equivalent would be reading Watchmen without any of the flashbacks, text backups, or Black Freighter panels. You’re still getting a great story, but one that pales in comparison to what it should be.

I understand the Starman omnibi are incredibly expensive ($300 for the six of them), but if you can’t go that route, pick up the complete series on Ebay with all the tie-ins. You can read the descriptions of the Omnibi on DC’s website to find out exactly what’s reprinted in them, so you’ll know what you need to get to literally have the full picture.

Once you’ve read it all, I believe Starman is second only to Sandman for greatest ever start-to-finish-by-one-writer comic saga.

I actually agree with Hans Goodman’s comments on Starman. There are problems with Robinson’s writing. He is overly sentimental and sweet, and I find he sometimes slows down and burdens climactic fight scenes with narrative (as he did in the very 1st Starman story arch against the Myst’s son). it’s not a perfect work by any means, but even as flawed as it is, it still is better than almost anything else that has been published. He gave us an amazing new type of hero in Jack Knight/Starman. He gave us Opal City, and he gave us the Shade, one of the greatest villains ever. And the new Myst is nothing to sneeze at as well.
Robinson didn’t make my top 10 list but I still would put him up there with the greatest talents in the bus for this work. It’s that unique and good.

Glad to see James Robinson made the list.
His recent stuff hasn’t exactly been good, which is why I was a little nervous as to whether he would or not, but Starman and the Golden Age are still two of the greatest books I have ever read. His most recent Blackest Night Starman issue gives me hope that his new The Shade mini will restore his name to the place it rightfully belongs… and hopefully bury any memory of “Cry For Justice.”

Good to see Ostrander and Simonson.

Walt does have my favorite Thor and I’m a big BRB fan.

Ostrander’s Suicide Squad work is killer, whenever he gets those characters it’s awesome. The more recent mini was an awesome display of just slowly building and building until just having things completely explode into glorious chaos. Loved it.

Bummed to see Slott and particularly Loeb, but whatever, at least they’re low.

Starlin doesn’t deserve to be higher because he’s been largely a hack for some time now. Tired retreads and forced Thanos vehicles. I’m okay with him ranking though because he does have some quality stuff under the belt, too.

Re: Starlin

I like Starlin, but I think there’s a clear reason he’s so low that people are ignoring…

With the exception of his brief Batman tenure, Starlin is almost only associated with one type of story, and that is the cosmic epic. A hell of a lot of comic fans don’t like cosmic sort of stories, and for those people, Starlin likely wouldn’t even make their top 100 writers. I’m not saying this is right or wrong, it just is. Starlin has very limited range as a writer; he does one thing better than just about anybody else, but that one thing is something that a lot of people dislike.

Starlin is sort of the flipside of the coin as Mike Grell. I also like Mike Grell, but I don’t expect him to make this list, because he can really only write one style of story, with one type of character. (To some extent, the same could be said of Frank Miller, but Miller was SO good, and SO innovative, and SO influential that his limitations of range are easy to overlook. The same can’t easily be said of Starlin and Grell.)

Grell and Starlin both have their place in history as being innovative creators who have done a handful of great works, and both are important for being writers AND artists. But when you compare them to guys like Moore, Morrison, Waid, Ellis, Busiek, Bendis, Byrne, David, etc… I mean, those guys have range. They’ve all had their highs and lows, but each of them have had highs in a wide variety of genres and types of characters, so it’s likely that a much higher percentage of comic fans have enjoyed their work at one time or other.

It’s like the difference between pumpkin pie and a dessert buffet. Starlin may be a damn good slice of pumpkin pie, but if that’s not your thing, well…

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron . . . Thank you Mr. Clowes and everyone who voted for him–especially you who calls him the greatest of history. Dig it.

I don’t see what’s so bad about Slott. I’ve mostly just read Spider-Man, plus some Mighty Avengers, and while he’s had a few weak stories, they’re always competently written, and always contain at least some good ideas. I think I’ve only ever read three or four issues by Loeb, so I have no idea if the hatred for him is justified or not. The few issues I read were pretty mediocre, but not enough to form much of an opinion about him.

Spider-Man/Human Torch by Dan Slott IS a modern masterpiece!

It would be great if alan moore doesn’t make the top 5, just to see who’s mum he’s going to bang in retaliation

I strongly disagree with those who say that Starlin is limites to the space-cosmic- odyssey. He co- created Shang-Chi and Richard Dragon, had a great run on Batman and wrote one of the best Batman stories EVER: The Cult ( and Im sure that aint just my opinion). maybe he is best known for his cosmic stories, but since hes responsible for Dreadstar, The Magus Saga and Infinity Gauntlet you sure cant hold that against him. He didnt make my top ten list, but he would sure be on the top 15.

Davey Boy Smith

December 5, 2010 at 8:19 am

Dan Slott is a great writer. I’m not sure if he is deserving of a place among the top 50 comic book writers of all time (I guess it comes down to whether or not the work of every comic book professional is truly taken into consideration; also I’m in no position to say as I haven’t read everyone else’s work), but everything he writes is at the very least an entertaining read. Of his work, I have so far only read Arkham Asylum, the last few Thing issues and the aforementioned Spiderman/ Human Torch mini-series. All these are well-crafted, extremely funny, very original and memorable tales that are superior to the output of other mainstream comic book writers, IMO. I’ll even go one stup further and state that the Arkham Asylum mini-series could be considered one of the very greatest works of Batman-fiction ever (along with Miller’s interpretations and some of the Gotham Central stories).

Why all the Loeb hatred? Sure, he’s written some stinkers, but considering some poor, misguided folks are certainly going to rank mega-hack Bendis way up there on the list, I wonder how many actually read their comics as opposed to looking at the pretty pictures. Bendis is the reason I gave up reading Marvel after 30 years.

@ Sam:

Loeb praise inevitably produces cries of “Thought Crime!”, just like not praising Jim Starlin enough.

The more interesting contrast is Geoff Johns, who is certain to chart much higher and is a very similar writer. Both have been hit & miss for me personally. With Loeb, his work with Tim Sale is often great and his work with weaker story-tellers is often incoherent.

Johns is very similar, but with less variation. I have never read a truly great Johns comic, but his work with certain artists (i.e. Doug Mahnke) is very good and his work with others is lackluster. Yet, there is certain to be a 20 place spread in their rankings.

@Sam:

If you’d kept reading, you’d know why Loeb is hated these days.

That said, you’re also right about Bendis. At one point, he was a talented creator. His work on Daredevil and Alias is really strong stuff. But these days? He’d be the biggest hack in the industry, if he didn’t have Loeb and Millar to compete with.

Simonson, Hernandez, Robinson, and Starlin are all solid choices. My gripe here (not that I have to have one) is Dan Clowes being No. 48. If you did a survey of Alternative, Indy, Underground, Literay, Fine Art, Fantagraphics, Drawn and Qurterly, Top Shelf, Ape, SPX, MOCCA comics readers I would guess two names would have the top two spots, Dan Clowes and Chris Ware. You could argue that Shultz or Herrimon might hold that spot, but I doubt it. I understand this is not a Comics Journal poll (which has it’s pro Clowes biases ), but it is disheartening that even arguably the best living cartoonist in America, according to those who maybe snooty, but also have some ligitmate reasons (like he is a master of the craft in both draftsmanship and storytelling seen once or twice a generation) can’t even make the top ten in the “popular” crowed. All I can say is, many people here must really hate stories about dismal people, even if it is crafted by a god. Or maybe hr makes the top of the other list. Or perhaps they don’t know who Clowes is. In which case, marketing by Marvel and DC has won. Oh, that would be it.

Loeb’s Superman work alone put him in my list. Haven’t read his Marvel stuff, but Hush, Long Halloween and especially his Batman/Superman run were quite superb.

Loeb and Bendis are both absolute hacks, yes. Sad when you consider how much pull they combine for at Marvel.

As for Johns, he isn’t like the man or anything, but he’s fundamentally more solid and consistently bearable than the two above-mentioned writers. His GL has been a bit lackluster overall and he’s got too big a hard on for the Silver Age, but his JSA was killer, as has most of his work on the Flash and particularly the Rogues.

Loeb is all over the place for me. The Marvel “Color” series is awesome. His most recent work sometimes is crap, sometimes is mindless fun. I wouldn’t include him in any such lists.

The others I am okay with.

James Robinson, what the hell happened to you, man? If we consider only his Starman-era work, I’d easily include him in the Top 20 writers. Nowadays he goes from lukewarm to horrible. And it makes me even sadder when once in a while I see small glimpses of the writer he used to be (Starman Blackest Night, a few of the better stories with Mon-El).

@ Rene:

Robinson’s best work has all come on stuff that was either:
1. Grounded in WW2 era characters
2. Largely his own creation
3. Both

Give the guy his own little corner of a shared universe and I think that you would still get magic. The stuff he struggles with is heavy inter-title continuity. If DC announced a James Robinson Vertigo title (or him on something like Wonder Woman), then I would be totally excited.

Most of the guys on this list are great within a certain range and spotty outside it.

Dean, I read rumors somewhere (probably Bleeding Cool) that Robinson is going to be working with Jill Thompson on a new Shade series. Dunno if that’ll be Vertigo or not (given how DC apparently is folding those characters back into the DCU), but it might be interesting.

Maybe Robinson had his talent damaged when he was working in Hollywood, and he’s just yet to get his mojo back. Maybe this new Shade series, if true, will do it for him.

Recently Loeb may indeed have problems, but his batman and some of the Super/Bat stories certainly put him on the list.

No they don’t. Jeph Loeb has never written a good book in his life.

Ah, all is right with the world when T disses Loeb. I feel… warm, and safe, and secure.

Like I said elsewhere, I’d love a post where we can all post our lists. I think we all know T really voted for Loeb and Meltzer :)

(Actually, T, I would like to know who made your list.)

@Third Man:

we’ll see if i ever end up grabbing up all the issues they left out of the trades (as you might guess, i’m particularly interested in the shade mini). i’ve thought about it, and i certainly liked the book enough. if there was a complete collection of everything they left out of the trades, i’d snatch it up and drop a fair chunk of change on it. but even at amazon’s prices, the omnibi are too steep, and i’d surely have quit after reading the first, given the relative weakness of the early issues and the fact that i often find myself at odds with fellow comic fans about their die-hard favorites. that said, i’m certain they didn’t leave out 10-12 Times Past issues (though i know it was a handful). $100 is about all the budget i have for a complete series of that size, and i certainly feel i got my money’s worth. i’d be more than a little surprised if DC left out so much essential material as to even, say, double the reading experience. if i’m missing out, so be it, but it’s hard to believe your watchmen comparison is apt, as all the stuff that didn’t constitute the “central” narrative was absolutely essential to appreciating the story as a whole; without it, you have a competent, straightforward, ordinary comic. i’d be astonished if that stuff would infinitely enrich the story, which is really what you’re saying.

@everyone: Jeph Loeb stinks and probably never wrote anything worth reading in his life. I remember liking Superman for All Seasons, but i’m going to have to go back and read it again some time to see if i wasn’t just hypnotized by Tim Sale’s artwork. i tell ya’ that guy’s had more of a boost from the artists he’s paired with than anyone in history.

Thinking about it, I’m kinda surprised Loeb didn’t rank higher. I’m not fond of some of his stuff (his “mysteries”, like Long Halloween, Hush, and the Red Hulk stuff, don’t really work), but if you like something big and dumb, it can be entertaining. I liked the one arc of Superman/Batman where there was all the alternate earth stuff, but then, I’m a sucker for that kinda stuff.

And looking at the Starman books on DC’s website, I find it hard to believe they left out that much from 10 trades, but maybe they did. I’m kinda wanting to get all those Omnibi now, though. And was issue 81 that more recent Blackest Night issue?

Pete Milligan was my #6.

I’m disappointed he’s so low.

Dan Slott didn’t make my top 10, but he’s one of the best straight-forward superhero writers out there so I’m glad he’s on the list.

My #6 makes it in: Gilbert Hernandez

@everyone: Jeph Loeb stinks and probably never wrote anything worth reading in his life. I remember liking Superman for All Seasons, but i’m going to have to go back and read it again some time to see if i wasn’t just hypnotized by Tim Sale’s artwork. i tell ya’ that guy’s had more of a boost from the artists he’s paired with than anyone in history.

It’s not just his collaborators that matter. It’s also the other writers that operate as his ripoff sources that make the difference in the quality of his works. The less original contributions a story of his has, the more likely it is to seem good. I say “seem” because he still tends to “mash up” the homages badly in such a way that the seams still show, resulting in a poor story if you ever stop to think about them. But rather than be obviously terrible at first sight like most of his work, it’s terrible upon reflection.

I wouldn’t say Sale’s collaborating was strong enough to make Loeb’s writing good, just that it was strong enough to make it go from “obviously terrible upon first read” to “seems good but is incredibly terrible once you stop to think about it.”

Long Halloween borrowed heavily from Presumed Innocent, Silence of the Lambs, and Godfather I and II. Watch the opening scenes of Godfather and then read the first issue of Long Halloween. Watch all the movies I listed then read the whole series. THEN try to read the parts of the book that AREN’T ripped off from those 4 movies and judge the writing on THOSE. I guarantee it’s the same level of dreck as his recent Marvel work.

Same goes from Superman For All Seasons, most of the parts that made sense were directly lifted from previous Superman retellings, and Loeb just slapped them together, but the seams still showed because they were loaded with plot holes if you analyze better.

To all the people who claim his writing was ever good but now is nonsensical brain dead fluff, I offer this question: how did I so accurately call it years in advance how brain-dead and nonsensical his writing was even back when a bulk of his work was his Tim Sale collaborations? Anyone reading this site for years KNOWS I’ve always described Loeb’s talent and writing abilities as being what they currently are, even when he was doing his Sale collaborations? Do you think he tried to write down to match my impressions? No, that was the level he was ALWAYS writing at if you looked past the writing he was lifting from other writers and only focused on HIS contributions to a piece.

It would be great if alan moore doesn’t make the top 5, just to see who’s mum he’s going to bang in retaliation

That made me laugh.

Dan Slott is mentioned, with some of his best work
Bravo Dan, even if I think he deserves to be ranked higher

I liked the one arc of Superman/Batman where there was all the alternate earth stuff, but then, I’m a sucker for that kinda stuff.

Me too. That arc (Absolute Power) and Challengers of the Unknown probably stand as the only really good stuff I’ve read by Loeb.

Beto and Clowes are the first two on my list!

(Actually, T, I would like to know who made your list.)

I think I’d have to say, off the top of my head:

1. Akira Toriyama
2. Stan Lee
3. Eiichiro Oda
4. Masashi Kishimoto
5. Roger Stern
6. Walt Simonson
7. Jonathan Hickman
8. Matt Wagner
9. Brian Bendis
10. Jason Aaron

I know I’m making some notable omissions tho

I’ll be very surprised if the top three writers are from outside the UK.

Oh, and is there a reason why Loeb, Azzarello and Milligan didn’t get a summary of their work?

Hey I put Dan Slott at #1! Great to see that I wasn’t the only one voting for him. He’s easily the best superhero writer around at the moment. His She-Hulk, Thing, GLA and Initiative titles are among my favourite series of all time. Kudos Dan!

And don’t worry about the naysayers….some people just don’t like things that aren’t all grim and gritty. ;)

T, I’m ashamed to say I don’t know who the Japanese writers on your list are (well, by name, if you said anything they’ve done I’d probably go, oh yeah right). But the rest of your list is pretty damn good. I put Stan the Man on my list at 10, due a lot to Spider-Man, but also having just read the Essential FF v.2 (Inhumans, Galactus, This Man This Monster). Plus any other old Marvel stuff is highly entertaining.

Thanks, T.

I plan on posting my lists on the master list, if anyone cares.

And don’t ever accidentally hit f11, or you’ll freak out when all your taskbars go away, like I just did.

I’ve been thinking about the writer/artists in comics. It seems that the the good artists that write often have weak stories and vice versa. It’s rare that a writer/artist finds that perfect balance between story and art. I love Mike Allred’s work but his stories are a little weak. Even Kirby (in my opinion) was a weak story teller, relying on his art to keep the readers attention. Were as Miller is primarily a story teller (brilliant). His art is often stripped down to it’s basic elements. Someone that in my opinion struck that great balance that comes to mind is Chakin’s 1st story arc on American Flagg, and early Jon Sable by Grell.

T, I’m ashamed to say I don’t know who the Japanese writers on your list are (well, by name, if you said anything they’ve done I’d probably go, oh yeah right).

Dragonball, One Piece and Naruto respectively.

Look forward to seeing your top 10 on the master list.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, some of the “bangin’ your mom” posts made it into a story on Bleeding Cool.

I bet you’re all proud of yourselves now, huh?

Good to see Slott has apparently recovered from his boneitis or whatever and is now trolling the internet in full flight once more.

Those mystery 36 hour bug things are killah, huh blood.

Simonson’s FF run is so underrated. It has to be the most fun anyone has had writing that book since Kirby and Stan Lee. And it goes without saying that the art is awesome. The Acts of Vengeance issues are silly in a good way, but skipable , I guess, and there are some fill in issues to watch out for, but it’s well worth trying to pick up everything else. I know you can still get the back issues for a lot less than the cost of the four Visionaries trades. Robot Joe Stalin!!! ROBOT. JOE. STALIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I cannot recall who I voted for, but I’m pretty sure I voted for Starlin. I pretty much grew up on his stuff.

And T, I did in fact go, oh, yeah, that’s right. Not a huge fan of manga myself, but I do dig some. I have read some One Piece and thought it was good. Probably my favorite manga are What’s Michael and Yotsuba &. Unfortunately, I don’t know the names of those creators. Oh, and Tezuka’s good stuff, and Lone Wolf and Cub, and Akira.

I should be posting my lists on the master list in a bit.

Oh, and dunno if it’s just me, but none of the Starlin images come up.

No, Travis, none of the Starlin images are coming up for me either, not at my home computer or my computer at work.

Yay, Robinson was my #3.

casual comics reader

December 12, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Robinson’s quality of work would shoot up at least 75% if he could fix his dialog style. It’s so unnatural. Seriously, try to read it aloud.

casual comics reader

December 12, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Robinson’s quality of work would shoot up at least 75 percent if he could fix his dialog style. It’s so unnatural. Seriously, try to read it aloud.

was waiting for both James Robison and the legendary jim Starlin to show up on this list. for loved star man and also what Starlin did with Thanos and Adam warlock. not to mention dread star.

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