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CSBG Archive

Top 50 Comic Book Writers #40-36

Here are the next five writers that you voted as your favorites of all-time based on over one thousand ballots cast! Click here to see the artists #40-36 on the countdown. Click here to see a master list of all writers 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. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning – 310 points (5 first place votes)

39. Brian Wood – 311 points (4 first place votes)

38. Will Eisner – 332 points (2 first place votes)

37. Mike Mignola – 357 points (3 first place votes)

36. Jonathan Hickman – 367 points (7 first place votes)

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


I have Mignola on my artists’ list, hopefully he’ll show up there too.

And I forgot to include DnA, which sucks. Their Marvel cosmic work these past few years has been incredible.

Awesome! I voted for Wood and Hickman!

So did I, DrFunk!

Wood was my #3 choice, and Hickman was #9.

Pretty sure Wood was on my list. Wish I had saved it so I could compare, but yeah so far 3 out of 10.

I didn’t vote for any of these but I can’t argue with there presence on the list even if I haven’t read much Abnett and Lanning.

Initially I was going to refrain from commenting until these lists got further along, but I just have to express my disbelief that Eisner didn’t crack the top 10 (or at least 15). I must be really outdated…

I’m soo out of touch with comics these days. I only know of a few of these guys.

Who is this Mignola guy? and Wiil Eisner?

I voted for both Wood (#8) and Hickman (#5).

Hickman? please, maybe top 10 at Marvel right now, i could go with that. But of all-time favorites? NO.

7 first place votes? geez people must love boring, convoluted stories.

Eisner is a product of his time, why would anyone have him as his favorite? He hasn’t written anything of note for the past 30 years. Why won’t people understand these countdowns?

Part of the frustration with these Top Whatever lists is that nobody seems to have the same understanding of what should or should not be considered “top”. Is it top writers ever? Is it top writers according to objective fators? Is is top writers according to my personnal taste? Is is top writers in comics right now? Is it strategic voting, i’ll vote for not so well known or talked about writers in the hopes of seeing them on the list knowing that Awesome Writer A and Awesome Writer B will make it on the list without my help?
It’s all just soooo much fun! :D

Well, I enjoy reading Eisner stories from 50 years ago more than several modern writers.

“William Shakespeare, who cares, he hasn’t written anything in last 400 years”

Hickman is great and all, but seven first place votes? The dude is still cutting his teeth. You damn fools.

I really want to say that Hickman is far too low, because everything I’ve read from him is nothing short of incredible. But it’s probably too early in his career to put him in the Top 10. Nice to see him make the list, though.

“Eisner is a product of his time, why would anyone have him as his favorite? He hasn’t written anything of note for the past 30 years. Why won’t people understand these countdowns?”

Because some people value the quality of the work more than they do the newness.

But smart people like you understand that the TIME that a comic released is much more important than boring details like the actual quality of the work.

C’mon people! The POINT of these countdowns is to vote for terrible bullshit that you haven’t read since childhood, but y’still got a nostalgic affection for!

DnA? Really?

Would it be possible to produce samples of the writers’ work as well as the artists?

MarkAndrew, I “think” Trey was being facetious about Eisner. I think.

Eisner made my top 10. #5, actually.

Actually, I’m kinda surprised that Einser made the top 50 writers. I sure hope he made the top 20 artists.

“Favorite,” not best. Brian’s been doing this for how long, and people still don’t get it?

I’ll take Invisible People, Dropsie Avenue, Last Days in Vietnam, & A Contract With God over a lot of modern stuff. Will Eisner was one hell of a cartoonist.

I have trouble separating cartoonists into “writers” & “artists.” I think the only writer/artist I voted for in this category was Gilbert Hernandez. To me, the writing of Eisner, Mignola, Walt Simonson, Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, etc. is tied in to the artwork most of the time.

Mike, I suggested to Brian a separate writer/artist list sometime (after he gets, y’know, sleep), because I had a similar trouble trying to breakdown what creators I liked more for art and more for writing. And my top writer/artist was actually just #3 on each of the separate lists. I’m weird, I know.

Thomas Morrison

December 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm

This brings up an interesting point. Stan Lee will easily make the top 10 and could even make it to #1 but what about Kirby,? He was a writer too, and with the ‘Marvel style’ being so loose, those artists had to know how to tell a story. Someone could probably, safely give co-writer/creator credit to most of Marvels silver age output to Kirby. And in the 70’s he DID do it all himself with his 4ft World and other books of that time. And yet I’m pretty sure Kirby will not be on this “Best Writers” list. To most he is just an artists, one of the best but just an artist.

I’m not so sure that Stan Lee will “easily” make the top 10 writers. He was my #10, sure, but given what I’ve seen of the voting so far, I wouldn’t make any definitive statements about who will or won’t make it where on the list. Kirby, though, I doubt will make the writers list at this point. I’d be very surprised, let’s say, but who knows?

But yeah, on a writer/artist list, Kirby would probably rank fairly high.

The Crazed Spruce

December 5, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Still haven’t seen anything from my list yet, but DnA were part of my 11th place tie. I haven’t read enough of Eisner or Mignola’s work to judge them (though I do appreciate that they both deserve spots on the list), and I’ve never even heard of Jonathan Hickman or Brian Wood. (Sorry, I’ve been a bit out of touch with most of the comic published in the past decade or so.)

Eisner is the third of the four who were on both my writer and artist lists. Shocked to see him rank so low.

I’m not sure you can blame that on the youth of the voters, though. I never read an Eisner comic until around 1980 when I was in college. He instantly became one of my favorites, and that was before I even knew he basically invented the art form.

He should be in the top ten for “The Story of Gerhard Shnobble” alone.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Eisner this high for writers. If he’s not top 10 for artists… And this is favorites, and I wonder if some people who haven’t read much Eisner see him as something that you’re “supposed” to like, but maybe they haven’t gotten into his stuff themselves.

I agree completely about Gerhard Shnobble. The one thing that did hold me back from ranking Eisner higher as an artist was that I’ve read that “10 Minutes”, one of the greatest comics stories ever, was probably more of a Feiffer written story, and that made me wonder how much of the Spirit was “written” by Eisner. Going to his later GNs, though, obviously he wrote them, but I’m (shamedly) not as familiar with that stuff. But that page in Contract with God where the main character is railing against God not keeping his part of the contract — yeah, that earns him a spot.

And no offense, Mutt, but I think you can, if not blame, perhaps forgive, the age of voters. When you first read Einser, I was in diapers. And when you first read his stuff, the Spirit stuff was over 30 years old at that point.

Granted, today, thankfully, all that stuff is fairly easily accessible.

Speaking of Shnobble, have you ever read Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art? The example pages from Shnobble are different from the pages as shown in the Smithsonian Book of Comic Book Comics (highly recommended for anyone who loves comics, provided you can find it). I don’t know if Einser redid the pages for CSA, or what.

For eff’s sake. I LOVE Hickman but he’s written like 40 comics total in his life. And he’s ahead of Eisner???

Hickman shouldn’t be on this list. He has a ton of potential, but he hasn’t pulled it all together yet. His characterization is very weak, and his ambitious stories tend to get away from him. Only ‘Nightly News’ and ‘Transhuman’ fully click.

Of his Marvel work, only ‘Fantastic Four’ seems to have the best potential to come together. It’s also the title where he can rely upon the characterization work others have done before him. ‘Secret Warriors’ is a bit of a dud–too many loose plot threads, no characters to care about. (When a major one died, it had NO emotional impact.) ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ is a question mark.

His ambition is fantastic and commendable, but you can’t confuse ambition and accomplishment, and he’s yet to demonstrate that he can consistently bring his fascinating ideas to fruition

And, yes, it will be a shame if Kirby doesn’t rate on the writer’s list.

Brian’s been doing this for how long, and people still don’t get it?

It’s also at the beginning of every entry, just so people don’t get confused into thinking that this is something other than a popularity poll, and yet…

What else could it even be? What most people seem to mean by “best” as opposed to favorite is “classic by critical consensus.” That this list is not that should be obvious by the fact that the thousand or so voters presumably include a fairly small number of professional critics.

I think a way to judge is to consider that the favorites list is more changeable more frequently. I’d say my favorites list might even be a bit different now than a week ago when I voted.

But voting for best, that’ll be different. I’d say that a best writers or best artists list won’t change too much from year to year, a few people leap on, a few drop off, but overall things stay the same.

I’d be interested to see the favorites list you compiled, what was it, 2006, Brian? It’d be fairly different, I’m guessing. A best of list from then and now would probably not change too much overall, though, I’d guess.

That’s my point, Travis. My favorite artists and writers are mostly the guys who grabbed me when I was a little kid. To discover someone 40 years after the fact is testament to how great they are.

I’d never put someone down for loving Loeb or Liefield. If that was what got them into comics, then I couldn’t be more happy for them.

My favorite music is still the music I loved in High School. Probably always will be.

Aw, this is why I love polls like this. There is best and there is favorite. They are often not the same.

I think Shakespeare is the greatest writer of all time. I’m soooo jealous of those who heard his stuff when it was new. Sure, he’s no Bob Haney, but still. ;)

Remember, though, not all negative comments about a creator’s ranking are necessarily someone not getting that it’s not about what’s objectively “best.”
It can also be a matter of going “he’s that many people’s favourite? Really?” or of being shocked that someone is little enough of a favourite (or a favourite of so few people) as to rank surprisingly low.
Don’t just leap down someone’s throat with “it’s about favourites, and opinions are unassailable!” if someone says something less than positive.

That is true, Jack. It is surprising WHERE some of these people rank. It’s fun to see what other people are thinking, too.

Some of what I’m seeing is that some people think that because they don’t think a certain person is “good”, they shouldn’t be on this list, but obviously other people like them enough. That’s why I’m pushing that it’s favorites, not best. I’m trying to be more positive about these choices. I learned it from watching Cronin!

And Mutt, I’d certainly be happy if more people discovered Eisner early on in their comics reading lives, and embraced his greatness more.

It is fun to see who likes what, and when people comment and say why they like certain creators.

Who the hell is Jonathan Hickman? And I’m not saying that sarcastically… seriously, who the hell is he?

I just glanced at his Wikipedia page, and apparently he broke into comics in 2007. And he gets 7 first place votes? Yeah yeah, I understand this is favorite not best yadda yadda, but like Jack Norris said, we’re still allowed to be a bit shocked and appalled at what people’s favorites are.

I clearly haven’t read any of this guy’s work, so I’m not knocking his talent, but 2007!!! That would be like me saying the Fleet Foxes or Vampire Weekend are my favorite band ever! I mean, I really like both, I think they released great debut albums, and I’m looking forward to their upcoming work… but that’s a far cry from ranking them ahead of The Rolling Stones, or even Radiohead (even on a favorites-not-greatest list).

As for Mignola, I’m a bit shocked to see him here. I voted for him on my artists list, but it never even occurred to me to think of him as a writer. I love Hellboy, but the writing isn’t exactly dazzling. It’s like praising the acting in Avatar; sure, there was nothing wrong with it, but it’s not exactly what you think of as the movie’s best quality. But anyways, I’m not really complaining, just surprised to see him on the writer’s list. But as an artist? Damn that boy’s good.

Great to see DnA get some love. They are two of the best “Sci-Fi” comics writers out there, if not THE best. From their run on Legion to Guardians of the Galaxy, they have written consistently good stories. In fact, consistency is another great trait the boys have that a lot of other comic writers sorely lack.

I have to read some MIgnola stories that aren’t drawn by him too. The man’s art is just so amazing, it won’t let me have an objective opinion of him as a writer.

Favorites list is indeed more easily changeable, were I to give my list today it probably would be different.
I had some classic creators on my list because I keep on enjoying their work, though I also do have some interesting people who I couldn’t put on “most important” or possibly even “best” creator list. And I did leave out several people whose importance or skill I easily admit but who I don’t care that strongly about to name them as favorites (Tezuka, Spiegelman, Crumb to name three).

But in similar fashion it is interesting to hear the nay-sayers voice their opinions (and it is true that if there were a “Bottom 50 Comic Book Creators” list some of the names would show up on both).
And one can wonder about high ranking of someone who doesn’t have particularly big body of work. Has that creator really managed to impress so many people so strongly in such a short time, or is it that people voting for him haven’t read that many comics…

Of writer/artists Mignola and Eisner are among the trickier ones in terms of how to separate writing and art. For some I find it quite easy to weigh two crafts independently (e.g. Jaime writes well enough but his greatness lies in the art, while for Beto it’s other way around), but not all…
Kirby of course is also tricky because large part of his best writing was invisible and credited completely to Stan Lee.

I’m spitballing here, but while he didn’t make my short list (possibly my top 20 or 30, though), Jason Aaron is someone who has only been around a short period of time that I could see making some people’s lists based on how good Scalped and the Other Side are, as well as having done entertaining work on Ghost Rider and Wolverine. And without regard as to how long they’ve been reading comics either, his stuff is that good.

I’d guess too that someone like Aaron who hasn’t been around long might rank a little higher with some people because he’s currently producing his high quality work, whereas someone like, for example, Chris Claremont, produced his best stuff years ago, and his current stuff doesn’t seem to be lighting the comics world on fire.

But I love hearing the ACTUAL reasons why people voted the way they did. I hope Brian decides to have a separate post where we can post our lists and our reasons. (If he, y’know, wants to.)

Damn 15 down and not one of my favourite writers yet. Ah well still some good ones!

Nice one Brian!

Mike Mignola is one of the finest artists in the business, but I can’t see him as anything other than a crappy writer. Abnett and Lanning are passable at best.

Complaining about votes for Eisner is just ridiculous. He didn’t make my list but he is still one of the greatest anmes in comics of all time.

Abnett & Lanning surprised me. I have nothing against them but they don’t seem especially notable.

Jack Norris,

I hear what you’re saying, and griping about creators is perversely fun. I just take issue with people saying so-and-so doesn’t *deserve* to be on a list, or that one creator ranking above or below another is a travesty. Opinions aren’t unassailable (e.g. “Steve Gerber was not awesome” is flat out wrong), but there’s no way a popularity poll can be objective.


If you’re looking for a comic Mignola wrote but did not draw, try Jenny Finn. Mignola and artist Troy Nixey crafted a very creepy horror story in the Lovecraft vein.

I’d say the only problem with there polls isn’t that people vote for favourites rather than some kind of objective critical merit… It’s that a lot of people seem to go for a mash up of both.

Like someone will fill most of their top ten with writers like jeph loeb or dan slott who have done things that they personally enjoy, and then put alan moore at number 1 whether they actually like him or not, because they feel like he’s ‘supposed’ to be there.

Was watchmen really everyone’s favourite story? Or was it just the one am overwhelming majority of people felt they had to put at number one?

I think my point is summed up by the number of people saying they reluctantly put stan lee on their list. A pure ‘favourite’ list is always going to be more interesting than an ‘important’ list, so it’s a shame the two inevitably get muddled. Which is not to say i’m not enjoying all the debate!

I based my list on three primary things combining in a mash-up: longevity in the field of the author/works done by the writer, quantity and versatility of the writer, and an admittedly unquantifiable but personal view of the impact of the work towards the field itself (have they done anything really noteworthy that stands the test of time or is treated as something seminal by the comic population even if opinion on said work differs?).

Once that was settled, when stuck for order in the middle, I defaulted to “if these were the only comics I could have, whose would I rather have?” and went with that.

So that’s my way of doing it, and it’s imprecise as all get out. Others will have other ways, and I think what makes the debate here what it’s been is that we may, on some level, expect others to judge things the same way. When it doesn’t, then I think we get the shock and awe and negativity.

FWIW, I thought Starlin would be much higher, but what the hey…

Oh, and Moore wasn’t my number 1 (neither was Morrison or Miller), but he made the list…and for more than Watchmen.

Yeah, Moore was on my writer list too and not just because he is important. He is one of those writers whose comics I have found pretty much always worth reading and enjoyable, from grand works like Watchmen and From Hell to somewhat flimsier Top 10, Skizz and D.R. and Quinch.

Even if it was a “best” list it would turn out to be a “favourites” list anyway, because the subject is too broad for anything else.

Who, except MAYBE a small handful of hardcore comics historians, has read enough to hold an informed opinion of every conceivable candidate of the last 80 years?

The widely read will always have the upper hand on the obscure no matter what objective you have with a poll.

Even if it was a “best” list it would turn out to be a “favourites” list anyway, because the subject is too broad for anything else.

Yeah, exactly. That’s why I don’t ever bother with “best,” because I assure you, whoever is picking Artist X as their favorite is also going to think he/she is the “best.”

The thing about “the popular new guy” making the list is that then I go out and buy his stuff and usually I am disappointed. I bought JSA for that reason. It was an OK ride, a little excitement but overall pretty standard fare with lots of holes in the logic of the stories and disappointingly cheep resolutions to complain about. I won’t be buying any more of Johns stuff any time soon.
I just wish that when someone raved about a creator, it would be about someone worth the rave. I know everyones tastes are different but, like others have stated, if you could only have 10 comic works (runs/graphic novels) would you really pic these new guys works? And 15 years ago this list would have looked very different. I’m sure Liefeld would be all over this list. And where is he now?
Actually a “favorite runs” list might be a more objective list than this because then people choose the work not the name.

There was a “best run” voting here a couple of years ago.

Alan Moore wasn’t #1 for me.

He was #2. :)

People hating on Hickman who haven’t read his stuff are ridiculous. The argument that someone is “too new” to be on this list is likewise ridiculous. Hickman is doing the most ambitious stories coming out of either the big two and has already done possibly the quintessential media commentary comic of this century. Go read his books or STFU.

Everyone who hyped Einstein, The Beetles, Picasso, etc… early on were RIGHT!

Is the 2003 CBR forums list archived somewhere? A leaderboard marking how many slots each writer/artist has risen or fallen since the last chart would have some entertainment value, I think…

I thought about it, Jeff, but the difference in voting size is SO great that it really wouldn’t be a reasonable comparison. The 50th ranked writer on the CBR forums had, like, 40 points. The 50th ranked writer this year had 181 points. How do you compare the two?

I actually resisted putting Alan Moore on my list because I was trying to make it a “favourites” list and not a “consensus best” list. But the fact is that, lots of times, I’ve read an Alan Moore comic and really enjoyed it and thought it was really good. Not always the same characters; not always the same kinds of characters; not always the same artists or kinds of artists. On the list he goes.

I just glanced at his Wikipedia page, and apparently he broke into comics in 2007. And he gets 7 first place votes? Yeah yeah, I understand this is favorite not best yadda yadda, but like Jack Norris said, we’re still allowed to be a bit shocked and appalled at what people’s favorites are.

Even if all Jonathan Hickman did in his whole career was Nightly News, I’d vote him in my top 10. No matter how short his career, the man’s brilliant.

People hating on Hickman who haven’t read his stuff are ridiculous. The argument that someone is “too new” to be on this list is likewise ridiculous. Hickman is doing the most ambitious stories coming out of either the big two and has already done possibly the quintessential media commentary comic of this century. Go read his books or STFU.

Exactly. The man’s failures are about 100x better than most other writers’ greatest works. If anything I feel bad he placed so low.

I clearly haven’t read any of this guy’s work, so I’m not knocking his talent, but 2007!!! That would be like me saying the Fleet Foxes or Vampire Weekend are my favorite band ever! I mean, I really like both, I think they released great debut albums, and I’m looking forward to their upcoming work… but that’s a far cry from ranking them ahead of The Rolling Stones, or even Radiohead (even on a favorites-not-greatest list).

Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man), Sylvia Plath (Bell Jar), Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights), John Kennedy Toole (Confederacy of Dunces) and Margaret Mitchell (Gone With The Wind) only produced a single novel in their lifetimes. If quantity is so important , does that mean the prolific Brad Meltzer is obviously much more deserving of being on all-time top novelist lists than Ellison?

Hickman is a MUCH, MUCH BETTER writer than Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend are bands. Not a good analogy.

Yeah, to say that four years into his career it would be nuts to put Bob Dylan on your favorite musicians list (where he’d be up to Blonde on Blonde on his album releases) is silly to me.

A lot of the people who are going to be rightly in the top 20 were clearly great, and had already written at least parts of their best work, four years into their careers. (Neil Gaiman, Matt Wagner, Scott McCloud come to mind.) If a poll like this had been done in 1989, it would probably have almost exactly the same top 5, maybe even top 10, as this one is going to. Which is a problem for the medium in and of itself, but it certainly shows that 4 years is enough time for greatness to shine through.

(If you go from ‘first issue of a new series conceived by the writer’ and thus get to exclude apprentice/journeyman works like Busiek’s early DC stuff, you could probably add even more name. Not Alan Moore, though, because of Maxwell the Magic Cat….)

True that writers like Ralph Ellison, Sylvia Plath and Margaret Mitchell produced one great novel each. But while I might call those books my favorites (I won’t, because I haven’t read them), I’d still be hard pressed to name the writers as my favorite novelists. Because they wrote just one book.

Musical analogy: Colossal Youth and Germ Free Adolescence are among my favorite albums of all time. However, I wouldn’t name Young Marble Giants or X-Ray Spex among my favorite bands, because they basically made just that one, great but one, album. Favorite work =/= favorite creator.

I didn’t put Hickman on my list, but only because I’ve read very little of his work (Nightly News was excellent and I liked the 1st 2 Secret Warriors trades, but that’s it).

Jason Aaron, however, made my list because he’s one of the best writer working in mainstream comics right now. In fact, I get excited when I’m buying the latest Scalped trade. I’m looking forward to reading more of his Ghost Rider comics, and I’m on board for anything else the guy has to offer. I don’t get that kind of charge from any other current writers. He didn’t break into comics much earlier than Hickman, but Scalped alone puts him on my list.

Aw c’mon. I came here to see somebody’s mom get banged. Will someone please bang someone else’s mom?

If nobody else had Kirby as their number one writer then Ben Grimm bangs sgt pepper’s mom.


I think you misunderstand my issue. Quantity of work doesn’t mean as much (in this case) as perspective. If a poll of greatest movies ever was done in 1999, Titanic would have been in the top ten. If a movie list were done in 2001, Gladiator would have ranked high. If a poll of greatest comic writers was done in 1993, I shudder to think how high Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell, and Todd McFarlane would have ranked (and that’s not meant as a knock on Fab; he was my favorite comic writer in 1993, but he’s not exactly a top 50 ever guy). And yes, if this list were done in 1991, Neil Gaiman probably would have made it already, less than 3 years after his first comic. Sometimes, rushed labels of greatness are absolutely right, most of the time, they’re wrong. But what they all have in common, regardless of accuracy, is that they’re rushed.

As for my Fleet Foxes/Vampire Weekend analogy, I don’t know how close it is, because (like I said), I haven’t read any of Hickman’s work. Though if you can’t find any talent in either of those bands, then we might not find a lot of common ground in our opinions anyways.

And Brian- Yes, clearly someone in 1966 picking Dylan as one of the greatest musical artists ever would have been in their right mind. Dylan is one of the 20 greatest and most important artistic figures of the 20th century. Is it fair to compare Jonathan Hickman to him? (Maybe it really is… again, I haven’t read his stuff. What shoud I be rushing out to buy?)

Thanks for the suggestion, Mike. I love Lovecraft’s stuff, so I think I’ll enjoy that one.

@ Mike

If you’re into Jason Aaron, obviously pick up The Other Side if you haven’t. Only Scalped surpasses that as his best comic work.

As for his Marvel stuff, he did like one or two issues of Black Panther during Civil War that were absolutely amazing. IMO they represent his best Marvel work. Sadly that stuff got no attention because it was another tie-in by a (largely) unknown (to crossover fans) writer.

On the Lee/Kirby tip, I don’t mind if you snub those guys. You’d be wrong, but it’s your opinion. On the other hand, if you put Stan Lee in your top 10 writers and didn’t put Jack Kirby as a top 10 writer then you probably have a serious misunderstanding of how the Silver Age Marvel stuff was produced.

Third Man, I get what you’re saying, but some works you can tell are just popular because they’re recent, trendy and in the minds of the public, while some movies you can tell even while they’re new are going to become classics that will stand the test of time. I don’t think just because something is new you can automatically assume it’s being voted on just because it’s kewl or trendy and in vogue right now unless you read it first.

For example, when I saw the first Matrix movie for the first time, I knew instantly I was watching something that would be considered an influential cinema gamechanger for generations to come. Same goes for Walt Simonson’s Thor, Claremont/Byrne’s X-Men and Miller’s Daredevil, Dark Knight and Batman Year One. Same for Michael Jackson’s Thriller. When Prince’s Purple Rain came out, everyone knew they wouldn’t have to wait a decade or more to see if it would be a classic. It was one of those things where you knew instantly because you simply never heard or saw anything like 1980s Prince in your life.

You might be right that Hickman is too new to make it on the list and is only getting ranked so high because he’s trendy now, like a Liefeld or Milli Vanilli in their heyday. Or I might be right in saying that he’s on par with an Early Bob Dylan or James Brown or Eminem or Frank Miller…someone who you only need a little exposure to early into their career to know they’ll be one of the greats. But if you haven’t actually READ Hickman for yourself, how can you so confidently he belongs in the former category? Especially because there are plenty of examples in every field of people who clearly stand out as being destined for greatness early in their careers?

Dan Abnett is one of my favorites, since I’m a big fan of his everlovin’ long ongoing hitman epic SINISTER DEXTER in the pages of 2000AD. He’s still flying solo on that, so I think he’d deserve to be on this list even without the other guy. ;-)


Thanks for the response.

The plain truth is, I’m not confident at all that Hickman isn’t great or belongs in the former category, that wasn’t the nature of what I was trying to say. Rather, I’m asking the people that voted for him: Are you people confident that Hickman IS destined to be one of the great ones? DO you think reading Hickman now, despite his new kid status, is like hearing Prince in 1984 or James Brown in 1965? Is reading Hickman now like reading Swamp Thing in 1984, Daredevil in 1981, Sandman in 1990, or one of those other rare times that you just know instantly you’re seeing a game changer? If the answer is yes, then clearly HIckman deserves to be here and I need to go check out his stuff. If the answer is no, or is closer to “well, he’s not quite on that level, but he’s still really good,” then he probably doesn’t deserve to be on the list. At least not yet.

My local library generally has a VERY good graphic novel selection, and I can usually get most things I want. I just checked today (inspired by this conversation), and they don’t have a single thing Hickman has written. So, if I were to go and buy something of his, where do I need to start?

But yeah, to reiterate in simple terms: I’m not trying to say Hickman definitely shouldn’t be here; rather, I’m wondering why everyone else is so sure he should be.

Saying the same as Third Man, we who have no experience with Hickman’s writing do have a right to ask “really?” because in polls like these he might just be the flavor of the month favorite of people who know no better (and God knows these polls always have those, no matter what the poll or when it is run), and it’s actually more likely than that he is a new demigod in the making.
And those who have read Hickman can then weight in their opinions that yes, he really is a new demigod in the making.

If he is just good, well, then, if I have to pick between someone who has made four good runs and a couple of satisfactory ones and someone who has made one good run, I’d pick the former as my favorite.

I’ve only read a portion of his Fantastic Four’s run. While I think Hickman is good, I don’t think he is great, at least from what I got from those stories. Lots of exposition, and quite a bit of anvils being dropped in the “moral of the story” department.

I suspect one of the reasons he is so beloved is that he is very much the opposite of the grim-n-gritty, cynical writer more typical of today’s comics. But I may be wrong, I probably am, because I didn’t read any of his non-FF works, I may be missing something.

I also think Hickman is somewhat overrated at this stage. The Nightly News was very good, but the writing was not exceptional. His FF stuff was fun-ish, but it really wasn’t good enough to hold me, and I did give it a chance. I haven’t read Transhuman yet, though I’m quite keen to.

Brian Wood deserves to be at least this high. I had to pull him from my final 10 after a slight reshuffle, so I’m glad he made it.

DnA are always enjoyable, but they’d be far away from my top 10.

I can’t really rank Mignola as a writer, as I haven’t read enough of his stuff. I do hope he ends up quite high on the artists list, though he didn’t quite make the cut for me.

I’ve never read any Eisner. Strap me to the back of a donkey and exile me from the village.

[…] Top 50 Comic Book Writers #40-36 (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

I’ve never heard about Hickman before this list so I did some research. CBR did a fascinating interview with him on his Nightly News here –


Well I doubted that he was any good. I assumed he was like all the other popular writers working for the big 2 today, but after reading something about him my interest is peaked. Looks like I’ll be reading Nightly News some time soon.

@ Third Man

Definitely check out The Nightly News. If you’re into the history of science and/or the Marvel Universe, check out S.H.I.E.L.D. If you like the Fantastic Four check out that. If you’re into Roman history and sociology, check out Pax Romana. If you’re into marketing, biotech, or reality TV, check out transhuman. You can probably skip Red Mass for Mars.

And for those of you advocating the “wait and see” approach to making these lists, I have some comments.

It’s certainly fair to have this attitude and demand a certain sized body of good work for a creator to make this list. On the other hand, it is foolish and unhelpful to use this “wait and see” approach in order to see if a contemporary creator can stack up to the Moore’s, Millers, and Gaimans.

Those guys did the stuff that made them famous in the 80’s. THE 80’s! There were relatively few quality books for the Watchmens of the world to compete with. Further, there was no internet. The comics community, without the internet and in the early days of the direct market, was so different. It was still an outsider community with an “us against the world” attitude. Thus the community rallied around great works. Nowadays it is much harder to be universally recognized as “great” thanks to the connectivity of the fanbase, the of comics culture into mainstream culture, and the sheer number of good titles being published.

Even other guys who will be at the top of the list, Morrison, Ellis, Ennis, made hay in the early to mid 90’s before the current environment will mature.

We’re passed the point where the comics community will anoint another Alan Moore. The closest guys are people like Grant Morrison, who doesn’t have that quintessential work simply because the nature of the era in which he published allowed for so many divergent opinions of his work to gain traction. People therefore will argue whether JLA>Invisibles>Seaguy>X-Men, etc… Another guy might be Chris Ware but his limited popularity and intellectual inaccessibility prevent him from gaining the mainstream acceptance that a guy like Frank Miller got.

The comic book commentary/review/editorial industry, thanks to the internet, is bigger and more varied than ever. It is unlikely they’ll ever agree on another “classic.” This sort of agreement is necessary for the kind of greatness the “greats” achieved during the infancy of the direct market. Our mature market of today has no time for such foolishness. Go read what you like, your favorite is the best.

What really impressed me about Nightly News is that it was one of the few comic books I’ve ever read that discussed news and politics that actually seemed to understand how the real world worked rather than the lazy college student level type of Daily Show reactionary liberalism that seems to be the highest level of social commentary most modern comic writers seem capable of. The conservative slanted comic stuff is also lazy, there’s just much less of it. But Hickman, he really had a lot more nuance and depth in those topics and transcended the lazy left vs. right stuff.

Also, to be fair, I’m one of the few people who utterly HATED the Mark Waid run of the Fantastic Four. It just read like a really bad DC comic to me, especially the scenes like Kirby as God. So my opinions seem to be very different than most modern fans.

ArrestThisMan, thanks for the recommendation for The Other Side. i will have to check it out.

The Aaron Black Panther issues I did buy, and quite enjoyed. They’re some of the only Marvel comics I read from that year, and I would love to see Aaron write more Black Panther.

I dug Nightly News, mostly for the reason T. stated. Was Pax Romana (I think that’s the name of his other recent indy comic) of comparable quality?


Did you also dislike the centerpiece of his run, the thirteen(or so)-part Doom epic? Because I can agree that pretty much all of Waids characterizations were off, but that arc was some damn fine superhero comics.

@ Mike

Like a lot of Hickman’s lesser stuff, Pax Romana starts great but sort of putters out at the end. It’s all big concept and discussion but short on your typical comic book conclusion stuff. If you are into alternate histories and know a lot about sociology and the history of Rome, then I’d check this out. If the premise of the book (commandos go back in time to make sure Rome never gets toppled) then check out out. I’d say Transhuman is closer to the nightly news in style (though it has a separate artist).

Honestly, beyond Nightly News, the quintessential media commentary comic of this century, I like SHIELD the best of all his work. It’s so damned ambitious and has goaded me into several hour long stints browsing Wikipedia.

T. –

You really like Jonathan Hickman’s FF that much? I’ve read the first 12 issues or so, and I think it was pretty good, but slightly underwhelming, from all the praise I heard of Hickman. I quite liked the first storyline with the multiple multiversal Reed Richardses. But what’s up with all those issues with all setup and no dramatic tension? I hate it when science fantasy becomes just a travelogue.

Mark Waid I have issues with. For one, I don’t like his take on Doctor Doom, making him totally despicable. But at least all issues had dramatic tension.

I read “Nightly News,” and thought it was an admirably ambitious debut. Fine, but not great. The writing didn’t have any heart. His design work sings though.

“The Other Side,” on the other hand — that comic is a work of art. Aaron and Cameron Stewart telling a Vietnam War tale, from the opposing perspectives of two protagonists, each roped into fighting for their country. Track down the trade! (Fun fact: Stewart even traveled to Nam for research.)

You really like Jonathan Hickman’s FF that much? I’ve read the first 12 issues or so, and I think it was pretty good, but slightly underwhelming, from all the praise I heard of Hickman. I quite liked the first storyline with the multiple multiversal Reed Richardses. But what’s up with all those issues with all setup and no dramatic tension? I hate it when science fantasy becomes just a travelogue.

I haven’t read his FF.

And I agree Waid’s books had dramatic tension. I give him that at least.

To come in late to the “does a newbie belong on this list” party, I haven’t read any Hickman, but I trust people who say he’s really good and that he belongs on some people’s favorites lists. I made the comparison to Jason Aaron, who’s been around maybe a little longer, but whose work is very impressive as well. You can definitely say that someone is really good right off the bat.

Something T said I think illustrates a point that’s worth mentioning, though. He mentioned how seeing the Matrix, he knew it was a game changer. What I’m wondering (not having seen any of those films), based on what I’ve read of the response to the second and third movies, if you pan those movies like many others do, would you still rank the Wachowski Brothers as highly as filmmakers? Similarly, T, since you haven’t read Hickman’s FF, if you do read it and don’t like it, would he still make your top 10 list?

Interesting questions to ponder.

ArrestThisMan, I put Stan Lee at 10 on my list, and didn’t put Kirby on my writers list, because I put Stan on more for Spider-Man :)

To Gavin Bell, I put Moore at #1 for WAYYY more than Watchmen. V For Vendetta, first and foremost, but the ABC stuff is ALL awesome, 1963 is wonderful, Swamp Thing, what I’ve read of Miracleman, what I’ve read of BoJeffries saga, DR and Quinch… Moore’s done SO MUCH good stuff that it’s a shame that he’s reduced to “the guy who wrote Watchmen” (and I do love Watchmen too, mind you).

Do you have a link to the forum list, Brian? While it’s not worth you comparing this list to that right here, but some of us would be interested to compare on our own.

And I’m reminded of DnA that I really liked the Nocturne mini they did some time ago for Marvel. And the Legion stuff I read, but Nocturne really tickled my fancy.

Gavin, my list only has writers that are my favorites. But I also tried to rank… well, not importance, I don’t give a f… for that, but Iregularity.

I really, really, really love Alan Moore’s work. And he’s number one on my list because EVERYTHING I’ve read of him I found at least excellent, often genius. I’ve never read anything of his that I disliked.

As comparision, I quite like Kurt Busiek’s work, but that is more a case of hit-and-miss with me. When Busiek is good, I think I like him even more than Moore, because he touches deeply my love for superheroes in ASTRO CITY and MARVELS. But many times Busiek is just business-as-usual. So I ranked him #5 or so.


I like moore too, and i’m certainly not suggesting he doesn’t deserve to be top 5. But even though watchmen and from hell are two of the best comics i’ve read, i have a hard time calling him one of my favourite writers. He’s a little cold and detached for me. Even though i can agree miller is not as good a writer, his best work gets to me in a way moore’s can’t. I put gaiman at number 1 because he’s the best of both worlds.

True that writers like Ralph Ellison, Sylvia Plath and Margaret Mitchell produced one great novel each. But while I might call those books my favorites (I won’t, because I haven’t read them)

I gotta tell you, if you haven’t read these books, you should put away the comics, turn off the TV, pause the video games, or whatever else you are doing in your free time, and read these books. Once you’ve read them, you can go back to business as usual. You’ll thank me (and T) afterwards.

@ Gavin Gaiman is more “the guy who wrote sandman” than Moore is “the guy who wrote Watchman.” Both guys are awesome and have done great work since then, but Moore hasn’t had any high profile books that were as pedestrian as 1602. Eternals was the bomb though. I’m also roping in all the other endless stuff that Gaiman did with Sandman. Further, as Miracle/Marvel Man shows, Moore is superior.

@ Pelkie Fair enough. Have to say, even though I’m a Spider-Man guy, those FF issues are superior to the early Amazing Spidey stuff.

I’m probably on my own here, but I found V for Vendetta to be very pedestrian indeed. Maybe it’s because it’s an early work and I read it after I read Moore’s really good stuff, but I just found it kind of obvious and uninspiring.

From Hell is awesome, however.

Thomas Morrison

December 9, 2010 at 7:44 am

V is a funny work. It was started in Warrior magazine in the early 80’s along with Marvelman/Miracleman but it was stopped half way through as Warrior died and Alan went on to DC to write the Swamp Thing. It wasn’t for another 5 years (maybe) that Alan went back to it. With that said, I think both of these works suffered from this hiatus. Alan was a different person when he went back to these works than he was when he started them. Sure I think the ending of V is pretty uninspired on the other hand I think the beginning is hugely inspiring. I think all his Early works were hugely inspired, V, Miracleman, and early Swamp Thing. In fact Watchmen or Killing Joke is not my favorite work by Moore, It’s those early comics that he did. It’s hard for me to say which of his early work I like best because they are all amazing but I guess Miracleman might be the one if I had to choose. The concept was amazing, and The art was incredible. I just loved all the action in that series. I mean You have Kid Miracleman grabbing Moran by throat in the first few episodes, and after an incredible fight and resolution, just when you think there’s no where to go, he introduces Cream and the whole Spook show! Great stuff!

ArrestThisMan, I put Stan Lee at 10 on my list, and didn’t put Kirby on my writers list, because I put Stan on more for Spider-Man

Me too.

To ArrestThisMan and JoeMac, I was teasing a bit about the Stan Lee stuff. I did in fact put him on for writers, and more for Spidey, but since almost ALL of his stuff (until about 1970 or so) is cool, it all makes my list. I AM aware, however, of the Marvel Method and the notion of Kirby and Ditko being as much a part of the writing as Stan. They just didn’t quite make my list.

V for Vendetta — the “Valerie” chapter is worth the entire work. I’m not positive, but that MAY have come after the hiatus. If so, the work is that much stronger for it.

And if you think Moore is cold and detached, read some of his funny stuff. Tomorrow Stories may be my favorite series of his (maybe…). Splash Brannigan and Jack B. Quick are hilarious stuff, as is First American.

So, Brian, will you double back after you’ve posted all the other lists and put in some pics on this list, or no? I mean, it seems like you have to do a ton of work for these lists.

So, Brian, will you double back after you’ve posted all the other lists and put in some pics on this list, or no? I mean, it seems like you have to do a ton of work for these lists.

Hopefully! :)

Hurray for Hickman making the list! I haven’t read his more recent works, as my tiny comics budget gets monopolized by Mouse Guard and Atomic Robo, but The Nightly News rubbed me just the right way.

One thing I’ve noticed is… Brian never really does fill these results in, does he?

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