Comic book review: A guide to the best writers and artists
Throughout the years, there have been many comic book writers and artists. Some leave their marks on fans, while others names escape even the most knowledgeable comic fans. But those who do leave a mark leave it for a reason. Here is my list of the top five comic book writers and artists of all time.
#5 - Alan Moore
Most notable work: "Watchmen" (#1-12, 1986). Moore was one of the first writers in comic book history to write stories aimed at adults, which was displayed very well in his work on "Swamp Thing", "Hellblazer" and the 1986 limited series, "Watchmen". What made his work on the "Watchmen" so popular was because it showed superheroes in a different, unflattering light. One funny thing about Moore is he does not want his name attached to movies based on his work, like "Constantine" and "V For Vendetta".
#4 - John Byrne
Most notable work: "Superman: the Man of Steel" (#1-6, 1986)
Byrne first made a name for himself as an artist on the "Uncanny X-Men" with writer Chris Claremont, who wrote the classic "Phoenix Saga" storyline. It was not until Byrne went on to both write and draw "The Fantastic Four" where his light began to truly shine. His best work was on both the 1986 Superman revamp "The Man of Steel" and the first 24 issues of "Superman". His type of science fiction writing packed with action was a perfect fit for the last son of Krypton.
#3 - Jeph Loeb
Most notable work: Batman "Hush" (#608-619, 2003)
What makes Loeb such a good writer is his characterizations of people and his perfect dialogue. Loeb's work with Jim Lee on the "Hush" story line put the book "Batman" on top of the sales charts eight out of 12 months. He also wrote a modern classic story for the book "Superman/Batman" about the reintroduction of Kara Zor El: Supergirl. Not only a comic writer, he also has written for some of the most popular shows on television today: CW's "Smallville" and the second season of ABC's "Lost". He is currently a supervising producer and writer for the hit NBC show "Heroes".
#2 - Frank Miller
Most notable work: "The Dark Knight Returns" (#1-4, 1986)
Miller's biggest contribution to comic writing is the gritty and witty dialogue. In the early 1980s he made a name for himself on his memorable run on "Daredevil", where he created the now popular character Elektra. What made this run so memorable was he killed a very popular character (Elektra) suddenly without warning. However, his most famous work came in 1986 where he helped put some new life in Batman in "the Dark Knight Returns". After his success at DC Comics, he went to the then little known label Dark Horse and created the now famous film noir-type stories of "Sin City".
#1 - Stan Lee
Most notable work: "The Amazing Spider-Man" (#1-100, 1963-1971)
This should come as no surprise to anyone. This man pretty much changed the way comic stories were told. Before, superheroes had perfect lives and no problems. But when Lee wrote some stories like in "The Amazing Spider-Man" or the Iron Man stories in "Tales of Suspense," heroes suddenly had problems like dealing with prejudice (X-Men), or having heart conditions (Iron Man). What also makes Lee the greatest writer of all time is he was writing for pretty much every book Marvel Comics was publishing at the time in the mid to late 1960s. All of them were top quality. And what was even more amazing is that all the books, unlike today, came out on deadline!
#5 - George Perez
Most notable work: "Crisis on Infinite Earths" (#1-12, 1985)
His crisp, clean detailed artwork along with the dynamic writing of "Marv Wolfman" is what made their run on "The New Teen Titans" such a success. His work on the DC Comics mega event "Crisis on Infinite Earth" is considered classic, especially the cover to issue seven where Superman is holding the dead body of the original Supergirl.
#4 - Todd McFarlane
Most notable work: "The Amazing Spider-Man" (#300-329, 1988-1990)
What McFarlane did on his run on "The Amazing Spider-Man" was make Peter Parker and the rest of the characters look more modern than how past artists on the book depicted them. In an extra on the "Spider-Man" DVD, McFarlane pointed out that some of the artists were still making Parker have side burns, trying to hang on to the look another artist gave him, named John Romita.
#3 - John Byrne
Most notable work: "The Fantastic Four", "The Uncanny X-Men", "Superman" (1980s)
Not only is Byrne a great writer, he is also a great artist. The artwork on "The Fantastic Four" is considered definitive. What makes Byrne such a great artist are his layouts.
They are breath taking. The look he gave Superman is considered classic and a fan favorite. A fun thing Byrne did from time to time in his "Superman" run was have little wink and nods to his past work, like how the cover to "Superman" (# 8) was very similar to his "Fantastic Four" (#249).
#2 - Jack Kirby
Most notable work: "The Fantastic Four", "The X-Men", "The Avengers" (1960s)
Kirby and Lee are the Lennon and McCartney of comic creative teams.
They could do no wrong with their runs on "The Fantastic Four", "The Avengers" and other Marvel titles. His looks for the original X-men line up is considered the definitive look. His clean, crisp artwork is what made him such a popular artist with comic book fans.
#1 - John Romita
Most notable work: "The Amazing Spider-Man" (#39-97, 1967-1971)
Todd McFarlane said it best. "John Romita is the Norman Rockwell of Spider-Man". When artist Steve Ditko left the book "The Amazing Spider-Man" over creative differences with writer Stan Lee, Romita was hired and the definitive look for Spider-Man was born.
What made Romita the greatest artist of all time was his splash pages and clean artwork. When I think of Spider-Man, the image in my head is Romita's version.