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CSBG Archive

Top 125 Comic Book Writers: #65-61

Here are the next five writers on the countdown, based on your votes for your favorite comic book writers of all-time! Here is the archive of all the writers featured so far!

I’ll give you two sample pages for each writer.

65 Joe Kelly – 151 points (1 first place vote)

64 Carl Barks – 152 points (3 first place votes)

63 Len Wein – 154 points

62 Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost – 163 points (4 first place votes)

61 Bryan Lee O’Malley – 165 points (1 first place vote)

21 Comments

Wow – Shockingly much weaker than most recent selections

(for my tastes at least)

What a lovely scene with Uncle Scrooge. Great pick!

Yes! Barks again. I’m quite the fan, voted him #1, both as writer and artist.
(and the pick is from the same story as his Artist rating)
So people, as in people who read mostly about men in thights, rate him higher as a writer than an artist?
Well, taste and all that…
I do hope Rene Goscinny shows up in the remaning list (60-51).

God, that fucking Rhino story. Flashbacks to the letter pages circa Grim Hunt: inundated with fans writing in to praise Kelly’s awful, sentimental tripe. The sad thing is, before the Rhino snore, Kelly proved his salt as a Spider-writer with a great story in which Black Cat and Spidey team-up to shut down an insurance fraud scheme led by Diablo. Then, he comes back and writes this moody-broody, cry-cry rubbish, and what’s worse, the fans just eat it up. It goes to show, you don’t win readers by writing good stories; what matters more is to write stories that are “SERIOUS” and “IMPORTANT!!!”

Barks was #2 or #3 of my writer list, didn’t put him on my artist list though. For me he is a good artist but storytelling is still the point where he clearly is better than almost anyone else (and good pick for the pages, I love that story…)

And I too am still hoping Goscinny will make an appearance.

Otherwise, hmm, writers I haven’t really read enough to make any kind of judgment.

Why do you sometimes list the comics where these selections came from, then sometimes you don’t? Just curious.

God, that fucking Rhino story. Flashbacks to the letter pages circa Grim Hunt: inundated with fans writing in to praise Kelly’s awful, sentimental tripe. The sad thing is, before the Rhino snore, Kelly proved his salt as a Spider-writer with a great story in which Black Cat and Spidey team-up to shut down an insurance fraud scheme led by Diablo. Then, he comes back and writes this moody-broody, cry-cry rubbish, and what’s worse, the fans just eat it up. It goes to show, you don’t win readers by writing good stories; what matters more is to write stories that are “SERIOUS” and “IMPORTANT!!!”

Some of Paul Jenkins Spider-Man stories were good, but many of them also fell into the category of what you just described.

Joe Kelly should be on this list for his Deadpool run alone. HIs work on Action Comics and JLA were solid as well.

Joe Kelly should be on this list for his Deadpool run alone. HIs work on Action Comics and JLA were solid as well.

I guess I just don’t get Joe Kelly then, because those were pretty bad to me as well. Although all were better than his Space Ghost miniseries.

I’m really surprised Len Wein ranked ahead of Gerry Conway and Doug Moench. I know Wein is justly recognized for having created Swamp Thing, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus, but as a writer, I don’t think he’s written a lot of beloved comics outside of the original Swamp Thing run.

I’m certainly not saying he’s a bad writer, and I don’t dislike him. But I don’t see people showing the degree of passion for any Wein stories that they show for Conway or Moench comics, like the death of Gwen Stacy, the classic JLA/JSA team-ups, Master of Kung Fu, the Moon Knight run with Sienkiewicz, Batman: Prey, etc.

Nice to see Barks show up… I feel like he and Wein were the last of the truly notable absences (as far as incredibly influential writers of the Golden, Silver, and Copper ages go). Anyone I’m forgetting?

Actually, we haven’t see Gardner Fox yet, so I’m sure he’s still to come.

And I’d sort of like to see Fabian Nicieza turn up, even though I think most of the stuff from his prime in the early 90s doesn’t really hold up well. He was the first writer I loved and started buying things just because his name was attached.

Forgot about Jim Shooter and Mike Grell. I’d like to see them still show up as well.

And for anyone that hasn’t dusted them off in 20 years, Shooter’s early Valiant stories hold up EXTREMELY well, particularly the Solar and Magnus stuff. I really recommend people rediscover them.

I never read Deadpool, but I hated Kelly’s work on JLA and Action Comics. (with the exception of the Batman/Plastic Man issue)

i’m unsure how people can not like Joe Kelly’s writing. His Obsidian Age in JLA was epic, as well as being intricately plotted. His one Supes story ‘What’s so funny…’ is a great story & has so much meta-meaning to it. His Deadpool [at least the first year i read] was unlike almost anything at the time. i even like the Deadpool/Daredevil annual that he did. And his Space Ghost was absolutely amazing! Great writing on these titles.

T & DanCJ, what is it that you don’t like about the writing of these works? i’m interested in your opinions & why they differ from my perspective. Thanks!

DFTBA

Kelly is often “miss” for me, but I think Obsidian Age is a really solid modern take on a stock JLA story.

I loved what he did with the Rhino. (And then they went and ruined it all later.)

Some of Paul Jenkins Spider-Man stories were good, but many of them also fell into the category of what you just described.

I’m not sure why you bring this up. Did I miss Paul Jenkins earlier in the list?

Anyway, I love most of Jenkins run, and I can’t remember too many stories that fell into the moody-broody, cry-cry category. I’m referring to a specific kind of storytelling Kelly used in three of his Spider-Man arcs (American Son, the Rhino, and Grim Hunt). The best point of comparison in Spider-Man would be late-period DeMatteis, where the story is nothing special, aside from being atonally dour, but the characters seem exaggeratedly affected by it, as though the plot of the story were the most heartrending thing to happen in their entire lives. That’s stretching matters a bit thin when the characters are Spider-Man, Harry Osborn, the Rhino, etc.

Paul Jenkins wrote some very sentimental stories in his run, but I don’t think many of them had the histrionic quality of Kelly’s, where characters literally wail and scream about what’s happening to them, as the narration clobbers the reader over the head with the story’s supposed emotional import.

I pulled the Rhino issue from my longbox so I could give an example. This is a passage I copied from the captions of ASM #625, starting at around the half-way point and omitting nothing to the end. Words in all caps were printed that way originally.

I’m THERE. Blood pumping and adrenaline in my mouth and every instinct telling me to run, but I’m there. I’m there to work. To tell YOU what I see. Tell you the earth MOVED and I’ll never look at an animal the same way ever again, because of HIM.

The second I lay eyes on him, I know. Aleksei Sytsevich DIED on the Tri-Borough alongside his wife. Because the thng running at us isn’t HUMAN any longer. Not in any way that counts. He can’t be… He has no heart.

A sound comes out of Spider-Man that’s so soft it screams. It’s the sound of his heart breaking. The last thing I’d hear for the next ten minutes. I sucked in physics. I’m laying it out there so you can understand why I CAN’T understand how two men hitting one another did what it did. We are THROWN HUNDREDS of feet into the air and showered in glass and asphalt and cars. I start bleeding from one ear and my nose, vessels in my head RUPTURING by the sheer proximity to the epicenter of the impact.

‘Epicenter.’ See, I did pay attention a little bit… but where I failed science, I do know a few things about the way the world works. I understand the power of LOVE, corny as it sounds. The power it has to heal, and the absolute power to DESTROY.

Was he a man who dressed like an animal? Was he an animal pretending to be a man? I don’t have a clue. But I know one thing… He LOVED someone, and it was beautiful. And sometimes, I think when something beautiful in this world is taken away with such violence… The universe reacts in kind.

The New Rhino is dead. Aleksei Sytsevich is dead. Long live the old Rhino.

I should add that the passage above was supposed to be an article Norah Winters, professional reporter, was writing for Front Line, the newspaper that employs her.

So do you see what I’m saying? It’s the sense of self-importance, as much as the issues with tone, that makes Kelly’s BND stuff unreadable to me.

T & DanCJ, what is it that you don’t like about the writing of these works? i’m interested in your opinions & why they differ from my perspective. Thanks!

I don’t think I can be much help. I either like a story or I don’t and Kelly’s work (with the exception of the Batman/Plastic Man issue of JLA) has completely failed to grab my interest. His JLA run in particular felt like a poor attempt to emulate Grant Morrison’s work. His Action Comics stuff I’ve only read in the main Superman TPBs of that era so I haven’t read What’s So Funny… yet. I hear so much good stuff about that that I’m optimistic about liking that one.

The only other Joe Kelly I’ve read was Steampunk which was incomprehensible.

I’ll cut his Superman stuff a bit of slack as I really like Joe Casey, but didn’t enjoy his stuff in that Superman era either – but I disliked JLA and Steampunk so much that I’ve pretty much given up on him.

Joe Kelly’s Deadpool was absolutely the superhero best comic of its time. Incredibly hilarious and incredibly human – one thing I love about Kelly is that even though he can be one of the funniest writers in the medium, and he can be totally loopy, he’s not afraid to be deadly serious and be fully immersed in the depths of human drama. (He’s not the complete opposite of J.M. DeMatteis, another favorite of mine). With some books he’s one or the other, but in his best works – Deadpool being the prime example – he’s both.

His all-too-short-lived X-Men run was brilliant (the best run in between Claremont’s first run and Morrison), I loved his Spidey stuff although it was uneven in parts. Bad Dog was brilliant, very similar in tone to Deadpool (what happened to it?)… JLA and Action Comics were good, but certainly not his best, IMO. He’d be in my top 20; glad he’s on this list somewhere though.

Ed (A Different One)

April 28, 2011 at 6:36 am

Wow – I never realized before how much that original Swamp Thing looks like the Abominable Charles Christopher from Karl Kerschl’s webcomic (or I should probably say that the other way around since Swamp Thing came first). I’m sure there was some influence there.

And since I drug the poor man’s name into this completely unrelated post, I feel compelled to provide the link and give him a little plug. It’s a light, airy little webcomic most days, with a loose but overarching plot with more serious tones in it. The art is fantastic. Check it out if you’re curious.

http://www.abominable.cc/

@DanCJ:

Thanks for responding. i wish that you were able to articulte what it is that you either like or don’t like, but i can understand that it can be hard to put into words. i find that true for myself as well.

i disagree that Kelly’s run felt like an attempt at Morrison. i do think there are similarities, but i actually find Kelly’s more dense & the payoff better than Morrison [at least on JLA]. i love being confused in the beginning of a story and having a great payoff [a lot like the Moffett version of Doctor Who] and i think that Kelly delivers, at least in the stories i have read.

Thanks again for the response!
DFTBA

i love being confused in the beginning of a story and having a great payoff

I love that too, but for me Kelly’s JLA had the confusion without the payoff.

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