Wednesday, October 16, 2002

my top 12 best comic book writers

These are the writers I particularly enjoy reading. Their combined work make the case for comics as both a literary and entertaining medium. I tried to narrow my list down to 10 but found it impossible; hence, my top 12:

12. James Robinson – for Starman. Robinson has a flair for imbuing colorful superheroics with the richness of everyday life. In Starman, he showed his respect for the things of the past, creating moving stories that allowed for richness of character (even his city was a character in itself).

11. Paul Chadwick – for Concrete. Chadwick wrote about the life of a man trapped in the indestructible body of a golem. The power of his writing, like Robinson, was in being able to show the relevance of the mundane world. Concrete was a ordinary man with his own insecurities and hang-ups, thrust into the extraordinary.

10. Jason Lutes – for Berlin. No spandex, just the horror of lives caught in the shadow of World War II. Lutes, in this ongoing series, explores the nature of love and hope, terror and horror, with a cast of finely written characters.

9. Brian Michael Bendis – for Ultimate Spiderman & Powers. Dialogue is Bendis’ forte. In USM, he reinvigorates an old title with fresh ideas and wonderful lines that ring “true”. With Powers, especially in the early issues, he shows his capacity for tone, beat and cadence.

8.Matt Wagner – for Grendel and Mage. Wagner’s ambitious Grendel was a opus on the psychology of people who danced with the devil. Mage’s conceit was the rebirth of heroes of mythology and legend in a modern-day setting. Both worked exceedingly well.

7. Adrian Tomine – for Optic Nerve. Intensely personal, Tomine’s vignettes offer glimpses into the workings of the mind of a gifted artist. Little things do not overwhelm but contribute to the sincere depth of reflection.

6. Grant Morrison – for Doom Patrol. Before his popular takes on X-Men and JLA, he wrote the mindfuck that was Doom Patrol. Filled with esoteric concepts that would serve as precursors for his work with The Invisibles, Morrison imbued the title with an other-worldliness that has been unmatched since then.

5. Mike Mignola - for Hellboy. Mignola’s gift is for concept, mood and dialogue. Hellboy proves his ability to tell a sequential graphic story with just the right mix of words and art.

4. Alan Moore – for Miracleman. It was hard to select just one work that epitomized Moore’s talent, but with Miracleman he took a concept and ran off with it, and no one has been able to follow – though many have tried to walk in his footsteps.

3. Warren Ellis – for The Authority. Kick-ass attitude with simply-drawn but sharply focused caricatures of characters. His over-the-top, big-screen style influenced a new generation of writers whose emulation often proved less than edifying.

2. Neil Gaiman – for Sandman. For sheer beauty and “literariness”, no one writes like Gaiman. His ability to write eloquent stories in a variety of modes surprised and delighted me. Even at his lowest point (The Dream Hunters) he was still head and shoulders above the crowd.

1. Mike Allred – for The Atomics. Surprised? Don’t be. Allred’s writing is terse and funny, honest and exciting, simple but powerful. He isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but he sure is mine. Read and enjoy him, if you dare.


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