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CSBG Archive

Top 50 Comic Book Artists #40-36

Here are the next five artists that you voted as your favorites of all-time based on over one thousand ballots cast! Click here to see the writers #40-36 on the countdown. Click here to see a master list of all artists listed so far!

(NOTE: As I noted before, counting these things took so long that I’m backed up on the descriptions of the winners. I will fill them in later, though. For now, just bare bones results)

40. Adam Hughes – 273 points (3 first place votes)

Here’s a sample page by Hughes (from years ago, before he became more of a cover artist than interior artist)…

39. Alex Maleev – 276 points (2 first place votes)

Here’s a sample page by Maleev…

38. Dave Gibbons – 278 (1 first place vote)

Here’s a sample page by Gibbons…

37. Tim Sale – 283 points (5 first place votes)

Here’s a sample page by Sale…

36. Joe Kubert – 285 points (4 first place votes)

Here’s a sample page by Kubert….

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


5 great artists. No comments needed :]

Not ones I voted, but good ones anyway.

I can’t recall if I ended up vote for Allred but he definetly made my short list. Either way, all three of today’s artist are worthy of top 50 status. It was hard not to vote for Sale! I’m still blown away by the fact that it was much more difficult to vote for artists than writers. Is it because there are many more artist employed in comics than writers? Does anybody have some sort of knowledge regarding this that could clear things up?

Can’t believe I forgot Tim Sale on my list! Glad to see he made it in though.

Now here’s a list I can understand! I can see why all of them are here. Allred and Hughes are my favorites of the bunch.
The Allred picture is a little shocking for me. I’ve always enjoyed Allred’s work but this newer piece (for me) isa very slick looking (and not in a bad way, just different), which is something I never would have attributed to him in the past. I guess he is just evolving as an artist.
Even as atypical and uninterested a page as was picked for Hughes, you can still see some of his greatness here in the explosion and the expression on the guys face.
I’m not a huge fan of the other guys but understand why they are here. Sale is interesting for me. I like his loose brushwork style and his use of heavy shadows, and I really want to like him, but sadly, I haven’t been able to thoroughly enjoy him until now (although this IS a great page by him). True, I haven’t seen all his work but what I have seen seemed like he missed the mark, like he hasn’t reached his full potential yet. I will still be on the lookout for those books of his I haven’t read of his and hopefully I will be rewarded with a satisfying experience instead of the disappointment I’ve felt till now.

I think about writers in comics vs. artists, traditionally there just aren’t that many distinctive writers in the business. Traditionally meaning that until 10- years ago there haven’t been very many, and by distinctive I mean those that set themselves apart from the rest of the industry with intelligent or thoughtful work.
I think this is as much a problem of the market as the writers themselves. The market traditionally has been loath to support anything even slightly out of the norm. In the 80’s there was lots of experimenting going on from seasoned pros AND new guys producing everything under the sun and of those works almost nothing is remembered or revered today. Even as popular and much harolded as Moore has been there are die hard comic fans who really don’t like him. On one forum someone was saying that he really didn’t like the Watchmen and that we’ve read too many books on repressive governments (did we read the same book!?!) This is the kind of mentality that comics have been dealing with throughout the ages. The market just won’t tolerate anything even slightly out of the norm.
Today I think that is changing. There is a much greater diversity being supported by the market than ever before and by much better writers and on popular books. Today things like Madman, Walking Dead, and Y the last man has found an audience. And in mainstream books there are people like Brubaker pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable in our superhero books. But still you have things like Disassembled and Civil War at the topping the charts. Hopefully comics will keep attracting intelligent readers and the amount of interesting stuff will grow. We’ll just have to see.

The Maleev sample is better than anything I’ve ever seen from him before, but I still don’t see the appeal.

Of the artists who use lots of photoreference, Maleev is probably my favorite, even if I’m not crazy about the computer-processed look his backgrounds often have (and I have to say that the sample above doesn’t show his best side).

One thing I love about Maleev is his coloring, e.g.:

After seeing the names so far I have a feeling none of my picks are making this list. I went with my personal favorites and had Jacen Burrows and Juan Jose Ryp as #1 and #2.

I’ll admit I don’t tend to read anything pre-2000 except for classics like Watchmen, etc. So I think I went a little too “here and now” with my picks.

Great Allred art….look at it! Lovely!

I wish Sale and Gibbons would get a regular book again?

Is Gibbons working on a project? Or is he looking at movies/tv design work?

I think Gibbons is doing a new project, actually! With fan-favorite Mark Millar!


I can’t say that I’d have ever included Hughes in any list, but this will probably be the most agreeable chunk of artists this list has to offer.

Any of these are on my top ten, but are definitely great artists.

All good picks, but I especially love the Gibbons Watchmen page for all the little details– Dr. Manhattan leering at Silk Spectre ( who appreciates the attention ), Manhattan’s wife scowling at him as a consequence, the Comedian’s disdainful posture and omnipresent cigar plume, Rorscach actually wearing clean clothes, and best of all, Captain Metropolis looking every bit the pathetic old sack of crap.

THIS is what you should be copying from Watchmen, American Comics Industry! Not heroes who can’t get an erection without a mask.

The best part about that is Rosharch’s posture and speak. Standing up straight, confident gestures, speaking clear and informative sentences. Its almost like a completely different person to the psychopath that present day Watchmen takes place in.

I voted for Adam Hughes thinking about his interior art for Gen 13: Ordinary Heroes. I think other artists emulated/were inspired by him since then. Glad to see he’s on the list

You guys need to put better pics up of Adam Hughes covers. This interior from years ago does not do him justice compared to all the wonderful cover work he is currently doing.

These guys could have been 11-15 on my list.

Thomas Morrison,

The prominence of writers in comics improved greatly in the last 15 years or so, but there have been several notable mainstream comic book writers in the past. Check out Steve Gerber’s ’70s comics, particularly Howard the Duck. He worked a personal, idiosyncratic vision into his work unlike anything else on the stands at the time. Jim Starlin and Steve Englehart expanded what could be done with super-heroes, writing stories that spanned time and space but explored politics, sex (code-approved style), and the characters’ inner lives. Alan Moore and Frank Miller changed how mainstream comics could be written. Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Jamie Delano, Howard Chaykin, and a few others were revolutionary. Even super-hero writers like Roger Stern, Chris Claremont, Peter David, and Marv Wolfman gained big fan followings because they were perceived as being better than their peers. While the hot artists got a lot of fans and acclaim, there were definitely writers who distinguished themselves from their peers.

Yeah, this is a good chunk of artists. Allred was probably closest to making my list, but missed out. When is this Allred page from, because it seemed when the Madman Atomic Comics series started, he changed up his style significantly, and it was less visually pleasing to me. That’s partly why he missed my top 10.

I was going to ponder Hughes, since he hasn’t done much interiors lately, I don’t think, but then I remembered the Gen 13 Ordinary Heroes mini, and those pages are lovely.

Mario, I thought I’d have a harder time picking artists, but when it came down to it, the writers list was harder. Of course, I did that first, so I think I just wanted to get my artists list over with :)

Probably because there are more artists overall doing different kinds of stuff (Kirby is not Clowes is not Sienkiewicz is not Allred), it’s harder to narrow down. I have several theories about writers, but no overarching one.

Thomas Morrison

December 5, 2010 at 6:32 pm

To Mike Laughlin – I agree with you that there were great writers in the 70’s and 80’s I have Doug Moench (for Master of Kung Fu), and Roger Stern on my list. Marv Wolfman is remembered fondly for Tomb of Dracula, McGreggor did some cool stuff as well, but they weren’t really remembered for it. Not until Moore and Miller were their any writers with comics that collectors sought out. I guess the market was just not ready for them before that.
In the 90’s you saw some major inroads being made by writers, but still the market was dominated by the Image guys. It wasn’t until 1998 when you start seeing things like Planetary and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen did things really start to change.

None of these guys made my list, but I would never be disappointed to open a comic and see their art.

I would have rather seen a Gibbons page from something other than Watchmen though, since Moore is so specific in his scripts that you have to wonder how much of what you are seeing comes from Dave’s mind and not just his hand.

But he is one of the best ever at expressive facial expressions.

The Crazed Spruce

December 5, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Until I double-checked my list just now, I was positive I had Dave Gibbons on it. I must’ve replaced him with Brian Bolland at the last minute. He’s definitely part of my 11th-place tie, though, along with Allred and Hughes.

I’m not very familiar with Alex Maleev’s work, so I didn’t vote for him (though he does seem to be pretty damn good), and while I appreciate Tim Sale’s sense of layout and design, I’ve always favoured a more realistic style.

I know you’ve done more than enough work for these lists, Brian, but I was wondering about a couple things:

I hope we’ll get at least a listing of the rankings below 50 for each list (y’know, when you get sleep).

And I was wondering if you’d want to have a post where we could post our lists in the comments (if we want to). I’d love to see the lists of certain regular commenters here. I know from his comments, for example, that the Mutt has been reading comics longer than some of us (to put it a certain way), so I’d be interested to see who he picked. T has strong opinions on comics, so I’d want to see his list (I bet he REALLY picked Meltzer and Loeb for his writers lists! :) And there are plenty of others I’d want to see too, but it seems it’d work better on a separate post so as not to derail the specific list.

“Expressive facial expressions?”

Damn, Mutt. Step away fro the beer!

So far, it looks like everybody on both lists has at least one #1 vote. That’s cool.

I think, but I’m not positive, that David Finch on the other artists list DIDN’T have any #1 votes. Other than that, I think everyone else is loved best by at least someone.

Good choices today.

I don’t LOVE Hughes or Allred, but have no complaints about either and do enjoy their work. Maleev I really like.

Tim Sale was in a tie with John Romita Jr, Sam Keith, and John Totleben as the single most difficult artists to knock off my own list; they definitely would have been #s 11-14 in some order. I do have to say I’m surprised Sale is so low. I figured he would be a top 20 guy.

Gibbons was #3 on my own list. I think he’s been remarkably influential, and he’s the sort of artist that has the ability to look “right” on almost any type of project, which isn’t something a lot of artists can say. Even though I picked him so high, I did worry a bit that he wouldn’t make the cut, so I’m quite pleased to see him show up. It gives me some renewed hope that Bill Sienkiewicz will still be coming up.

Just out of curiosity, do people think Brian Bolland and Dave McKean will make the list even though they’re almost exclusively cover artists? I disqualified them from my own list on those grounds, but I really love both of them and simply got to a point with my artist list where I was looking for any reason to knock people off and get it down to ten.

And which Kubert brother will rank higher? I picked Andy… I just think his stuff is a bit cleaner and never looks rushed. I think a bit too much of Adam’s stuff looks semi-mailed in, as though he has a lot of trouble with deadlines and/or biting off more than he can chew. But, that’s still a minor complaint. I love both of them.

Allred – he’s a Scientologist, yeah?

What, no commentary? I enjoyed reading those.

I thought Allred was adapting something related to the Book of Mormon into comics at one point, so I don’t know if he’s a Scientologist. Yeah, according to wikipedia he’s a Mormon.

What significance that has, I dunno, but there ya go.

Damn – How is Tim Sale so low?

Other than that, these are all good choices. I doubt there’ll be another bunch in this list I find so agreeable.

My only vote on this list was Mike Allred. My #4 hits #40.

It was probably a mistake to leave Mallev off though.

Maleev does use references for his art, but I’ve seen him in sketch duels at the Toronto Comiccon, and his art chops are just fantastic without them. I like his stuff a lot.

it’s weird that the top artists poll seems a lot more wide open than the writers poll. I’m pretty sure the top 5 writers will be some combination of gaiman, miller, moore morrison and maybe stan lee, but i honestly couldn’t predict who’ll come out top in the artists. I just hope it’s not jim lee…

hughes at 39? and you pick the worst page he probably has ever done…:D. hughes is legend(top 10 without a doubt) and his influence is what neal adams was in the seventies. side note-picking steve dillon to be anywhere on this list is mystifying-his pencils are the work of a hack…as evidenced by the fact that when you show most of what he has done you pick covers(i.e. hellblazer cover) done by other artists.

Gavin Bell-

The five writers you mentioned for the top spots were five of the top six on my list. I dropped Stan Lee to #6 on my own list because he’s a bit too trying and dated to read these days; it feels like doing homework. But as an idea man, I just couldn’t justify leaving him off. Chris Claremont was the guy that knocked him out of my top 5.

But yes, Moore, Miller, Gaiman, and Morrison were my #s 1-4, in that order.

that’s actually a great analogy – stan lee being like homework. I know exactly what you mean!

So did Allred just disappear?

Allred was moved to the previous post, and we are getting Top 51 of artists. Apparently someone was forgotten from the countdown higher up…

All great artists. Sale is the only one of these that actually made my list though (at number 10).

It might’ve been better to leave Allred on this post and just change up the numbering on the next post, because I don’t know if people are going to catch the change up, Brian.

But Joe Kubert, yeah, he’s good. And the best part is he’s STILL good.

Maybe I am predictable, because the 5 writers Gavin mentions were all on my top 10. Or maybe they’re just that awesome. But Stan Lee is very entertaining — check out the first couple Essentials books of SpiderMan and FF for proof.

Adam Hughes might be more influential and higher up if he did more interior work at a faster pace. Lovely stuff, what he has done, and he’s probably a bigger influence than I realize, but …

And read the Atom Special #1 from about ’92, ’93 for proof of Steve Dillon’s mastery. Great stuff even back then. And that Preacher fight scene that Brian shows a page of for Dillon — great stuff. You can feel it when Jesse gets his arm broken. Ouch! Yeah, he can’t do exciting covers, but his characters show emotions, and that’s an invaluable skill. I wish he and Ennis actually did City Lights. It might’ve been their classic.

Glad to see Joe Kubert on the countdown. There are very few artists in the industry who can move from war comics to super-heroes to crime comics to history with such fluidity.

Any chance of showing some of Kubert’s 40’s work? I was really amazed and impressed when I first saw a reprint of Sargon in Batman #238, DC 100 pager, reprinted from Sensation comics #57, sep 1946. It reminded me of a young Frazetta. Great stuff!

Has anyone read Kubert’s Dong Xoai GN? As a story, it is pretty boring – you can pretty much skip past all the words. But the artwork is amazing. And he drew it in his mid-80s! That blows my mind. I mean, the man is literally as old as my grandfather, and he is still drawing amazing comics.

Gibbons was my #8 and the first on my list to show up. His layouts on Watchman are utterly exquisite.

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