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The countdown begins now!!!
(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
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