Top 50 Comic Book Writers #30-26
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 #30-26 on the countdown. Click here to see a master list of all writers listed so far.
NOTE: As I did last time, I’m featuring five notable works per creator.
30 Jack Kirby – 398 points (12 first place votes)
Jack Kirby, along with his partner, Joe Simon, was one of the first true superstars of comics. After the great success of their character, Captain America (which they would both write and draw)…
the pair got deals working for DC Comics and other companies as a duo. They created a number of characters and revitalized others still. They worked on comics in all sorts of genres, including helping to create the romance comic book!
Eventually, a drop in comic book sales caused the partners to split up and find solo work. Kirby eventually got a steady gig at Atlas Comics, soon to be known as Marvel.
While at Marvel, Kirby co-created some of the most famous characters of all-time, including the Fantastic Four, the Hulk and the X-Men.
On the Fantastic Four, Kirby steadily went from co-plotting the book with scripter Stan Lee to just flat-out plotting the books himself…
This worked out very well for fans, but not so great for Kirby, as he was not really getting the same credit as Lee.
So when DC made Kirby a major offer to come work for them in the early 1970s, Kirby took it.
At DC, Kirby’s most famous creations were definitely his work on his Fourth World stories of the New Gods (Orion, Darkseid, Mister Miracle, the Forever People, etc.).
But once the Fourth World line of comics ended, Kirby introduced a variety of amazing characters throughout the rest of his time at DC Comics…
After his deal with DC ran out, Kirby returned to Marvel for a number of notable series (that he wrote and drew), including Captain America, Black Panther and the Eternals.
Kirby eventually split from Marvel once again and spent most of the 1980s working in animation and independent comics, although he had a notable run to DC in the mid-80s where he “finished” his Fourth World saga.
Kirby passed away in 1994.
29 J.M. DeMatteis – 399 points (5 first place votes)
John Marc DeMatteis began working for DC and Marvel on a variety of fill-in projects in the late 1970s, but his first big break was when he got the regular gig on the Defenders…
While on the Defenders, DeMatteis became even more well-known with an acclaimed stint on Captain America (mostly with artist Mike Zeck)….
In the mid-80s, DeMatteis introduced his acclaimed creator-owned series, Moonshadow, for Marvel’s Epic line of comics (DeMatteis would eventually take the title to DC).
Around this time, DeMatteis began to do more work for DC Comics, including a very prominent and extensive stint scripting the Justice League series of books over Keith Giffen’s plots.
It was during the late 80s that DeMatteis wrote one of his most acclaimed stories ever, Kraven’s Last Hunt, that would foretell DeMatteis’ later extensive involvement in the Spider-Man titles throughout the 1990s…
DeMatteis has written so many other titles and worked on so many other series, it seems weird to try to list them all here. Currently, he is scripting Giffen once again in the pages of Booster Gold and has a number of Marvel projects.
28 Denny O’Neil – 401 points (3 first place votes)
Can you imagine being Dennis O’Neil and having one of your very first notable comic book assignments being scripting Steve Ditko’s final issues of Doctor Strange?!? But that’s just what happened to O’Neil, who stepped in to replace Stan Lee (who Ditko no longer wanted to script his Doctor Strange work)…
Soon after, O’Neil became the regular writer on Justice League of America, a major assignment at the time…
Over the next few years, O’Neil would re-work/revamp a number of DC’s most notable heroes, including a significant run on Green Lantern with Neal Adams…
an ultimately fairly short-lived revamp of Superman…
and perhaps most notably, a reworking of Batman into more of a “Dark Knight” after a number of years with the character being slightly on the lighter side of things…
During his Batman work (a number of issues of which were drawn by Neal Adams), he also co-created the major Batman villain, Ra’s Al Ghul (and his daughter Talia).
O’Neil would work for Marvel again in the late 1970s into the 1980s (including a stint on Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man and Daredevil) before returning to DC in the mid-80s now as an editor in charge of the Batman line of comics. O’Neil would remain in charge of the line until he retired in 2000.
During this time, O’Neil also had a significant run on the Question as well as a 100-issue-long run on a character he created for the Batman titles in the 1990s, Azrael.
27 Keith Giffen – 403 points (3 first place votes)
Keith Giffen first gained prominence for his abilities as a writer when he began co-plotting the hit DC title Legion of Super-Heroes with writer/co-plotter Paul Levitz. Giffen had been drawing the book for awhile and Levitz allowed him to share ideas for the title.
Giffen began plotting other series on his own, with the first major success likely being Ambush Bug…
Giffen then went on a dramatic run of successes as a plotter for DC. First as the plotter for the Justice League International series of books…
and then as the architect of the Legion of Super-Heroes “five years later” series of stories.
Giffen worked on a number of other titles for DC in the 1980s and early 1990s, including L.E.G.I.O.N., Lobo, the Heckler and TWO crossover series, 1989’s Invasion! and 1992’s Eclipso: The Darkness Within.
During the 1990s, Giffen did work for Image and Valiant (including a notable run on Magnus: Robot Fighter).
After a few years out of the spotlight, Giffen has returned in a big way the past decade, with an award-winning return to the Justice League characters plus being the initial writer on Marvel’s popular cosmic line of characters (starting with Giffen’s Annihilation crossover).
Giffen is currently working for DC Comics on a few series, including a solo stint on Doom Patrol and a plotting stint on Booster Gold.
26 J. Michael Straczynski – 420 points (2 first place votes)
Noted TV writer Joseph Michael Straczynski first had a stint in comics in the 1980s, but that was short-lived and before he was famous for his work on the TV series Babylon 5.
In the late 1990s, Straczynski created two notable series for Top Cow comics. The “what if regular people gained superpowers?” series Rising Stars…
and the journey through the dark recesses of America in Midnight Nation (with Gary Frank).
Around this time, Straczynski began working for Marvel Comics, as well, with a very popular long-running stint on Amazing Spider-Man (mostly with artists John Romita Jr. and Mike Deodato)…
Towards the end of his Spider-Man run, Straczynski also had a notable reboot of the Thor title (with artist Olivier Coipel).
He also began work on The Twelve, a murder mystery involving a number of obscure Golden Age characters thrust into the present.
A few years back, Straczynski began working for DC Comics, first as the regular writer on Brave and the Bold, but more recently as the writer of both Superman and Wonder Woman (he has since pulled back to more of an advisory role in both titles).
Very recently, Straczynski wrote an acclaimed graphic novel with artist Shane Davis that depicts a new take on Superman (sort of like “Ultimate Superman) called Superman: Earth One…
The book was a massive sales success, and Straczynski and Davis are currently working on its sequel.