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Top 50 Comic Book Artists: #15-11

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 #15-11 on the countdown. Click here to see a master list of all artists listed so far.

NOTE: I’m fill in the five notable works per creator later on Friday, I figure you folks have waited long enough for the results.

15 Alan Davis – 678 points (14 first place votes)

Here’s a sample page from Davis…

14 Darwyn Cooke – 686 points (21 first place votes)

Here’s a sample page from Cooke…

13 John Cassaday – 728 points (13 first place votes)

Here’s a sample page from Cassaday…

12 Steve Ditko – 749 points (5 first place votes)

Here’s a sample page from Ditko…

11 Mike Mignola – 810 points (12 first place votes)

Here’s a sample page from Mignola…


I’m a huge, HUGE Darwyn Cooke fan, but even I think he placed way too high. If this was a writer/artist poll I’d put him way up there, but just on art alone, it’s hard for me to agree he’s better than Eisner, Aparo, Davis and many of the others who have been on the poll so far.

I agree with everything else, although for me Ditko would have placed even higher.

John Buscema 16????
John Romita SR. 20th??????
Steve Ditko 12th????
Are you kidding me? Don’t tell me that the likes of MacFrlane, Jim Lee and (ugh) Leifeld are going to finish ABOVE these masters in the top 10?!!!!

I was prepared for Jim Lee and McFarlane to be on this list but seriously if they top John Buscema (or Kirby) then I’m done reading websites like this. I would obviously have nothing in common with the majority of people who read comics today and would understand why I find so many comics to be so crappy.

Can’t disagree with anyone here. Maybe the order, but that’s just splitting hairs at this point.

McFarlane is pretty unlikely.

I’m resigned to Jim Lee probably making the top 10.

I wouldn’t worry about Leifeld. Incidentally, does anyone know how you pronounce that? Is it Lye-feeld or Lye-fehld?

Excellent list today! I was getting a little worried about Mignola for a moment there.

I have six left on my list… but I am starting to think none of them might make it. :(

AS –

I can’t help it, I am a typical superhero fan. Of course, I do read non-superhero comics, but the less involved a writer or artist has been with Marvel/DC, the lesser the chance I will have picked up something of him. I know, I suck.

But I voted for Alan Davis, for what it’s worth it.

I lost my list, but am pretty sure Cooke was on it. I blanked on Davis for some reason. Ditko was my number 2. Mignolia was on, then off for no good reason.

At this point in the tally, there’s not even room for personal taste. These artists are all top-tier.

That single Steve Ditko “Sample Page” is the single best page in comics! Seriously, pure storytelling at its best! Feel free to debate it!

Enjoying the list!!!

I feel like you can make solid arguments for any of these guys being on the Top Fifty list, but for my money Ditko is the only one who deserves a position this high (should be higher probably). That’s not a knock against Cassaday, Mignola, Davis or Cooke, all of whom I enjoy, but many of the artists already on this list I’d swap with those four.

It’s interesting that after the last couple batches of no-brainer picks (BWS, Buscema, Eisner, etc.) we’ve got a list today of more contemporary fan-favorites. Man, I had no idea people loved Cooke and Davis so much!

Yes. Artists who are still creating today will likely place higher than they really should on a list like this.

This is the Internet.

(Kirby wasn’t my #1 pick.)

I think I might have had Mignola, but none of the others. They’re all great though.

Great bunch today. I don’t think I had any of them, but they’re all great. I love that Cassaday page.

What a great list! Actually Cooke and Cassaday are 2 of the reasons I got back into collecting comics after a 15 year hiatus. Cassaday for his X-Men and Cooke for his Catwoman. Actually it was Cameron Stewart on Catwoman that got me back but it was Cooke’s remodeled Catwoman that Stewart was working on.

It’s wonderful to see Ditko on here.

My personal favorite Davis is his Miracleman (Marvelman) work. He never looked better.

It’s nice to see all the love for Mignola. And well deserving love it is!

I also had Mignola on my list. And I agree with T. that Ditko should’ve been higher, right up there with Kirby.

Still, this has been a great list and I would be really surprised if Liefeld showed up now (although if he does, that will make one hell of a comments section)

Yay, Davis did show up, the world is not completely faulty :)
Haven’t read Cassaday and what little I have read from Cooke hasn’t impressed me that much, but Ditko and Mignola are always welcome.

I totally forgot to put Cooke on my list, so I’m glad to see that the vote, no matter where it placed, wouldn’t have made any difference to the final ranking.

Alan Davis is damm good. Alot of those widescreen comic artists like Ivan reis and Bryan Hitch owe alot to his work.

Alan Davis: Totally don’t get it. I’d love to hear some people’s reasons for including him in their top ten, especially the first place voters.

Ditko was 2 on my list and it was a struggle deciding between him and Jack Kirby. I’m getting a bit worried Kirby is not going to make Top 5, which would be a travesty.

Yes. Artists who are still creating today will likely place higher than they really should on a list like this.

This is the Internet.

Oh for sure, but even given that I think Cooke placed too high. If there was a specific writer/artist countdown I’d have him in my top 3 for sure. I think his greatness comes from the synergy of both his writing and his art. Purely on art alone he’s above average to me, just not as high as he placed here.

But Buscema at 16? The injustice of it all!

I’m waiting for George Perez and Phil Jimenez.

I’m surprised Davis didn’t place higher. One of a very small group of artists that can get me to buy a book based on art alone. He was either my #2 or 3. Mignola was on my list, but got bumped off at the last minute by John Severin, who definitely won’t be making the list at this point. I like Mignola’s writing on Hellboy, but I wish he’d take the time to do some artwork. He almost never draws interiors anymore.

So 7 of my artists have made the list so far… I think the other 3 will as well.

I’m getting pretty interested in who will be the top. Some real giants coming up, for sure.

6 of my writers and 8 of my artists haven’t placed yet (and none placed today in either category). Either I’m keenly in tune with the top 10s or way far outside of the box. ;)

Even though none here were on my personal Top 10, Ditko, Cooke and Mignola have such strong signature styles that I’m glad to see them ranked so high. (I’m actually kicking myself a bit for not remembering Cooke when I did my list.) Davis and Cassady do good, clean work that never really occurred to me to think of as standout stuff.

Ditko’s the only one of this group I voted for. That sample page is absolutely one of the greatest in comic history. His Spiderman and Dr Strange work is just incredible, but honestly when I cast my vote I had to force myself to ignore his later stuff(Speedball, Rom, Etc, Etc) which was to put it as nicely as possible not his best work.

I’m a little surprised that some of my picks haven’t shown up and I don’t think they will, although I think many people would agree with their greatness, namely –
Frank Frazetta
Basil Wolverton
Lou Fine
and the previously mentioned R. Crumb.
Hey I voted for my favorites. These guys art to me is the pinnacle of the medium, I mean who can deny Frazetta’s greatness? I’m sure he is just forgotten in the past and because of his work’s inaccessibility. It’s a shame really.

John Buscema was a hack. He drew the human figure well (very well) but often dispensed with the background (or relied on inkers) and he wasn’t much of a storyteller. Even “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way” was a sort of “how to be a hack” manual. That said, I do like some of his work on Conan and Silver Surfer, especially when he was paired with a sympathetic inker.

mrclam- you’ve just made me cry.

Buscema was my #1 choice, not because he drew figures well, but because he drew action well. He knew how to capture energy and excitement in a panel in a way that I’d hold up to anybody short of Kirby. Hardly a hack.

The famous Silver Surfer cover with the Surfer hurtling at Thor summarizes Buscema’s greatness in a single image.

OK, looking over the people on my list that haven’t shown up yet, I have to say, it’s not looking good for Giffen, Garcia-Lopez, Oskner and Jack Cole. It’d be nice to be wrong, but I can’t really see it happening.

mrclam, I respect your opinion and might have agreed with you in the early 80’s but his work with Palmer on the Avengers in the late 80’s really changed my mind. He drew the heck out of that book and for years. I really love how he not only drew figures, and faces with skill but he could draw backgrounds just as well. He was a true draftsman.
I respect your right to your opinion but I would recommend reading those late 80’s Avengers. You might change your mind.

Very pleased to see Ditko, my number one pick, make the list. Of course,I am rather disappointed to see that only five people (myself included) had him as their number one.Come on, people, Kirby and Ditko divide the world between them- there is no third (Pace T.S. Eliot).

I don’t think that avoiding backgrounds made Buscema a hack, either.

He obviously put quite a bit of thought into panel layouts, shot selection, maintaining a cohesive mood and (as you said) the figure drawing. I’ve read that he didn’t care about *superheroes* per se, but I think it’s obvious he did care about puttin’ out quality work, and he was clearly a fan of *comics* (at least the Hogarth and Raymond style.)

Ya, it’s really starting to not look good for some of mine. Sienkwicz, Gibbons, and Bachalo were already on the list. Kirby, JH Williams III, Neal Adams, and Perez are no brainers. I never expected Guice to make it, but now I’m worried for Cockrum and Harris.

Not looking good for several of mine either including Epting & Pacheco :(

What book was that Alan Davis sample from? That looked awesome!

Mark Andrew –

I am not very good at explaining why I like artists, it’s a very subjective, personal thing to me. Some artists just click with me for reasons I find hard to articulate, but I’ll give it a try.

One of the things I love about Alan David, when he is good (I don’t think the sample page provided is a very good one) is that every one of his characters have an unique body type, face, and body language. There is a page of JLA: The Nail that I really love, where Martian Manhunter is visibly taller and bulkier and square-looking, Aquaman is regal and well-proportioned, Barry Allen is thinner and somewhat bigger-headed, Wonder Woman looks like a Miss America contestant, while Hawkgirl is leaner and harsher in body.

I think most other superhero artists lack this quality. They mostly draw the same body type.

He is also damn good at facial expressions, another rare quality this side of Kevin Maguire. Often, I don’t need the writer to figure out what every character is feeling.

Finally, I love it that his style is at once very clean and very detailed.

I just love Alan Davis and want to have his babies (the other four guys in this batch are all awesome too).

But there are many other things I enjoy about him.

Alan DaviS. jeez.

Ditto to everything Rene said about Alan Davis. One of the main reasons I like him so much is that he is a good storyteller. You can always follow the action in his comics and tell what’s going on. I think there are a lot of artists that work in comics that are good artists but not good storytellers, and for me, when it comes to comics, both are important.

Wow! Thought Ditko was a contender for Top 5.

This list is very unpredictable, which makes for good readin’!

Also, I’m a knucklehead for totally forgetting about John Cassaday!

Cooke was in my top 5, iirc.

He could draw a series about a mailman walking down the street, and I would buy it.

Darwyn Cooke on a Willie Lumpkin series, Trey? I’d snap that up in a second!

I think the rest of my list is toast – Dillin, Staton, CC Beck, Rags Morales, Giffen – WAAAAH!

Rene – I think I get what you’re saying. That makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

MarkAndrew: Few superhero cartoonist are able to utilize the strengths of cartooning and provide a realism that keeps you in the story. His control over his characters acting are a precise balance implicit in this paradox. He utilizes both jester drawing and line weight which has both been influential and indicates a clear understanding of old masters. These elements are the strengths I speak of. This alone would cause him to deserve this position, he should be higher (as should Cooke) for his readable storytelling, attention the background and his ability capture a moment and the essence of each character in a single panel. Bottom line, aesthetically his forms are intoxicating, his storytelling clear, his characters acting is both cartoony and believable and his style consistent.

Carter hall,

The Alan Davis page is from his return to X-Men in 1999. I don’t remember the issue number, but the cover to that issue has Kitty Pryde confronted by Captain Mar-Vell & Thunderbird. It should be easy to track down.

Re: Artists who probably didn’t mak the countdown: I don’t see Bernie Wrightson showing up, either.

I’m always glad to see Ditko, but I wish he’d been higher. Oh well.

Alan Davis is a personal favorite, for all the reasons Rene listed. Plus, I like the slick surface, humor, and action scenes. Check out the end of JLA: The Nail. Every character has his or her distinct attack, and their big battle has clear, logical flow. Davis keeps track of his characters. Compare it to a modern artist who throws all the characters in the mix and has them blast each other or whatever.

The rest of these guys are first rate. I voted for Mignola, and almost voted for Cassaday & Cooke.

C.C. Beck was my #11, dantecat. But yeah, at this point it would be quite a surprise if he showed up.

“I mean who can deny Frazetta’s greatness? I’m sure he is just forgotten in the past and because of his work’s inaccessibility. It’s a shame really.”

I was really hoping for Frazetta to show up. He wasn’t on my list, but he seemed to be the only artist from the EC Comics bullpen that had a legitimate shot at making the top 50 (maybe Kurtzman had potential too). To think that, at that time, ALL of the top artists were all working at EC, and it looks like not a single one will make this list.

Cooke has a great line and his models and colors are gorgeous, but the way he lays out a page always betrays his background in storyboarding in a way that leaves me disappointed in the whole product no matter how many individual panels may strike a cord with me (plus he tends to work with iconic figures so he’s got something of a crutch there). I would put Allred over Cooke, personally. However, as opposed to T, I think Cooke is a much better artist than he is a writer, where I find him to be simplistic, using narrative tools like a blunt axe, and too enamored with the past to excavate a cohesive and honest story from the nostalgic sandbox he digs in. He’s still a major talent inside the big two who deserves to be on the list, and I found his forward to my copy of Essex County very insightful.

dang I was hoping Mignola would crack the top ten, and I’m really surprised Ditko didnt make it either.

Cooke’s New Frontier is still on my ‘to read’ list. I’m surprised he made it this high, but other than a couple X-Statix fill-ins I really havent read anything he’s done.

The top ten is gonna be REALLY interesting…

Ditko and Cassaday were totally expected (and deserved). Mignola was expected, although I was getting a bit nervous about him (I voted for him, but never thought he’d be this high). Cooke I’m surprised about.

And Alan Davis I’m quite pleasantly surprised about. He narrowly missed my list, but I really love the guy and I’m thrilled to see him after assuming he wouldn’t make it.

To those that don’t “get” his appeal, here’s my take:

The guy has no weaknesses. He’s great at humor, and can manifest that through facial expressions as well as Kevin Maguire, or physical slapstack as well as Humberto Ramos. He’s great at classic and dynamic superhero action in a league with John Byrne or Jim Lee. His physiques and movements show great technique and understanding of form & proportion, like a Gil Kane or John Buscema. And like his british contemporary Dave Gibbons, his panel progression/pacing/story-telling ability is fantastic. His art also has a great balance of being nicely detailed, but not overly “liney” like McFarlane or something.

And Uncanny #213 is just one of the best covers ever. No super-hero/super-villain battle has ever looked more epic and visceral on a cover.

So Alan, ya done us proud.

Alan Davis was somewhere in the middle of my list, and I second (or third as the case may be) all of the responses and rebuttals to Mark Andrews’ comments.
This is a solid selection, by the way: Ditko, Mignola and Cooke were all artists I did not include, with pangs of regret, especially in Ditko’s case.

About Frazetta, I’d guess most people nowadays (me included) know him for his illustrations, covers and so on, and less for his comics.
It is kind of sad though that apparently no EC bigs make it (well, can’t criticize too much because i didn’t vote for them either, but looks like almost nobody I voted made it anyway).

Ookerdookers and Butler: I had Jack Davis in my top ten. I suppose in a way Alan Davis is representing for him and C.C. Beck in terms of jesture and line quality. Frezetta deserves a place there along with the rest EC. I would guess Kurtzman will make the writers list, but that list has been awful, so who knows.

IAMFeAR: you need to read New Frontier and see what all the fuss is about. For those of us who love the Bruce Timm DC stuff, Cooke embodies that pure comic style in a way that seems definitive. Plus he draws Wonder Women correctly for the first time in her history in that book.

I understand the regard for Ditko and Cassaday, but I think there is a bit of a divergence between the aesthetic preferences of those and those that like Davis and Cooke here. Interesting.

Wally Wood hasn’t shown up, has he? Kriegstein, either. I don’t recall seeing Jack Cole, Lou Fine, Mac Raboy, Reed Crandall, or Kurtzman, either. I wouldn’t expect most of the artists who didn’t do much (or any) work for Marvel or DC pre-1980s to show up.

Yeah, Wolly Wood too. As great as this list is, it is very imperfect and confined. So what the top five are going to be Ware, Wood, Kirby, Clowes and Cole. I can dream.

I ALMOST voted for Kurtzman as a writer, then saw on my list someone I couldn’t leave out, so I reluctantly bumped him. If there was an artist/writer list, he’d probably be on my top 10 (given that the top 10 I did make had a significant goof that I don’t know what I was doing there).

Cassaday certainly deserves a place here for Planetary alone. Great stuff.

Ditko was my number 2. And because I forgot to mention it on the other list with JRSR, as much as I love Ditko on Spidey, the Mary Jane reveal would NOT have worked with Ditko still on the book.

Speaking of Ditko leaving, and thinking of Kirby too, several people mentioned that those 2 should be on the writers list as well if only for their contributions to the plotting of their respective books with Stan. It leads me to wonder how much the other artists of that era did plotting-wise with Stan’s stuff. F’r example, I just read the DD Essential vol.2 with Gene Colan art (beautiful!), and I wonder how much of the bigger panels/more splash pages was Gene wanting to draw bigger and how much was Stan, let’s say, REDUCING the amount of story in each issue. Something to ponder.

Davis, Cooke, and Mignola are all pretty good too.

I’m much more confident as to who is on the top 10 writers vs this list. The artists list was a pleasant surprise all around.

Fully half of my artists list was EC – Johnny Craig was my number one. Feldstein, Kamen, Ingels – all in my top five. Feldstein was my number one writer. So, yeah, it’s a little sad to see no love, or worse, no awareness of EC. Hmmph, maybe Wood will still show up on the list. Doubt it though.

Ditko deserves better than #12. Obviously some people haven’t read his Dr. Strange.

Darwyn Cooke’s NEW FRONTIER is interesting to me, because it was a magnificent book in both writing and art, except for the last issue. It really let me down, it looked like a magnum opus, and then it ended in very cliched all-the-heroes-together-fighting-a-monster.

Maybe I’m just getting too cynical? Perhaps it was the inevitable ending, but I think stories like James Robinson’s THE GOLDEN AGE manage to have a very similar ending but in a much more visceral, brutal way that is still heroically triumphant, but without undermining all the nuanced grey that came before.

The end of the animated version of NEW FRONTIER is even worse, almost cringe-inducing.

I’d place Cassaday and Cooke way lower, and Mignola higher (although his sample page is from back when his style wasn’t very interesting).

Alan Davis got one of my votes. I can look at his work allll day. When its come to superhero comics, I think he’s absolutely perfect. The facial expressions are the real kicker for me. Every panel he manages to convey even the most subtle emotion from the characters. His action scenes too are just incredible, filled with so much energy and playfulness. Its a shame he doesn’t do more work, because I truly adore the man’s art.

Uncanny #213 made me a comic book fan for life. Alan Davis is just a PERSONAL favorite of mine; that doesn’t mean I would vote him #1, but his style just works for me. I love his faces, even though and perhaps because they have a distinct look.

wouldn’t argue with any of these other great artists either

Mike Mignola.John Romita sr. and Steve Ditko deserve no less than top 10, along with Jack Kirby and JR jr.

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