I’ve previously written articles on the greatest Sci-fi, Horror, and Fantasy writers and now I want to turn my attention to my first love, comic books by looking at the greatest comic book writers of all time. For help, I sought out the wisdom of two wise sages of comic book lore, namely Mania’s own Chad Derdowski and Chris Smits. Along with my own 30 plus years of being a comic fan I think we have a strong knowledge base. BUT…since I know many Mania readers are extremely passionate about comics, this is your chance to give us your two cents before the final list comes out. Below we have come up with a list of some forty candidates that will eventually be whittled down to a Top 20. Are there names we are missing? Which are your choices? You don’t have to pick an entire top 20 but let us know the ones you definitely think should be on there.
Now…here is the criteria. We’re not looking for the best writers today and we’re definitely NOT looking for the “hot” writers that the fan boys go ga-ga over…Think of this as a lifetime achievement award. Writers should have at least 10 – 15 years in the business with a hefty background of work. Yes, Brian K. Vaughan is a fine writer but he’s still too new to be included. We’re looking for people who have made significant contributions in the way of monumental and memorable stories they’ve written or popular characters they’ve created. So go over the list below. I’ve listed the name and a brief line or two noting their important credits. Tell who should or shouldn’t be on here. I will stress that the emphasis will be on those writers who have established a long track record in the business. Give us some feedback and expect to see the final list very soon!
Dave Sim – creator of Cerebus the Aardvark
Mark Gruenwald – Longtime writer on Captain America, Quasar, and the official handbook of the Marvel Universe
Jack Kirby – Co-creator of Captain America. Formed comics most famous writer/artist tandem with Stan Lee; created the New Gods, Kamandi, and The Demon for DC, and co-created many of Marvel’s top characters.
Walt Simonson – Writer/artist who worked on Thor, Fantastic Four, and many other titles
Bill Willingham – Wrote the Elementals, Robin, Fables, Shadowpact, and others…
J. Michael Straczynski – Longtime run on Spider-Man, current writer on Thor and did Rising Stars series for Top Cow
Jim Starlin – Cosmic writer supreme of titles such as Captain Marvel, Warlock, Thanos, and the various Infinity War/Crusade/Gauntlet series’.
J.M. Dematteis – longtime writer on Defenders, Captain America, and Justice League of America. Wrote the “Kraven’s last Hunt” storyline.
Mike Mignola – Creator of Hellboy
Steve Gerber – The late Gerber wrote The Defenders, Sub-Mariner, and Daredevil. Gained fame as the creator of Howard the Duck.
Steve Englehart – lengthy runs on The Avengers, Doctor Strange, Fantastic Four. Wrote Batman: Dark Detective which was used as the basis for the first Batman film
Peter David – Eisner award winning writer of The Hulk.
Chris Claremont – Longtime writer of the X-Men
Grant Morrison – writer of Animal man, Doom Patrol, Justice League, The invisibles, New X-Men, and many more
Len Wein – Creator of Wolverine, Swamp Thing. Wrote the Justice League, Hulk, Thor, Fantastic Four, Marvel Team-up, Wonder Woman.
John Ostrander – prolific writer who worked on The Spectre, Suicide Squad, Justice League, X-Men, Star Wars, and others.
John Byrne – artist and writer. Wrote She-hulk, revamped Superman in the 1980s, Iron man, Avengers West Coast, Namor The Sub-Mariner.
Roger Stern – longtime writer on the Avengers, also wrote Dr. Strange, Fantastic Four, Iron man, Action Comics, and others
Marv Wolfman – One of the most prolific writers of the 70s and 80s. Created The Black Cat and nova. Wrote acclaimed Tomb of Dracula series. Writer of the New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Denny O’Neil – Wrote the critically acclaimed Green Lantern/Green Arrow series in the early 70s. Has written almost every major title at DC including Batman, Superman, JLA, Wonder Woman, and the Flash.
Keith Giffen – Artist/writer. Worked on the Legion of Super Heroes, Justice League
Mark Waid – Longtime writer on The Flash. Also wrote Kingdom Come, Captain America, JLA: year One, JLA, Fantastic Four, Superman: Birthright, and many more…
Roy Thomas – One of the Top writers of the 60s and 70s. Wrote the Avengers for six years, and Conan the Barbarian for ten years. Created The Vision and co-created Ghost Rider and numerous others.
Geoff Johns – One of the best of the modern day superhero writers. Long runs on The JSA and The Flash. Also wrote Action Comics, Hawkman, Infinite Crisis, The Avengers…
Will Eisner – Writer/Creator of the Spirit
Garth Ennis – perhaps the best of the “mature” writers. Wrote Hellblazer, Hitman, Preacher, Punisher, Punisher Max, Bloody Mary.
Kurt Busiek – Two time Eisner Award winner. Creator of Astro City. Wrote The Avengers, Iron Man, JLA, Thunderbolts, and Marvels.
Ed Brubaker - Two time Eisner Award winner. Writer on many titles including: Catwoman, Detective Comics, Gotham Central, Daredevil, Uncanny X-Men, Immortal Iron Fist.
Frank Miller – Writer on Daredevil, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, 300. Winner of numerous Eisner awards for story and art
Neil Gaiman – Writer for the entire 75 issue run of Sandman
Alan Moore – Winner of Nine Eisner awards for Best Writer. Writer of Watchmen, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, Promethea.
Gardner Fox – perhaps the most prolific comic writer of all-time. Wrote over 4,000 comics. Co-Created the Golden Age Sandman, Flash, Hawkman, and Justice Society of America.
Bob Kane – Creator and writer of Batman during the Golden Age
Bill Finger – Early collaborator on Batman with Bob Kane. Helped create Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and Two-Face. Co-created the Golden Age Green Lantern.
Gerry Conway – Longtime writer on Amazing Spider-man. Wrote the acclaimed “Death of Gwen Stacy” storyline in 1973. Wrote the Superman Vs. Spiderman story, the first DC/Marvel crossover. Also wrote Thor and the Fantastic Four.
Jim Shooter – former controversial Editor-in-Chief at Marvel, Shooter started as a writer working on Adventure Comics, The Avengers, Daredevil, Legion of Super heroes. Founded Valiant Comics.
Stan Lee – Created or co-created most of Marvel’s best known characters including Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Thor, Daredevil, X-Men, The Hulk, Doctor Strange, to name a few. Wrote the first 125 issues of the Fantastic Four, first 111 issues of Journey into Mystery/Thor, and first 100 issues of The Amazing Spider-man.
Mark Millar – One of the top modern writers. Wrote most of the “Ultimate” Marvel line including Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four, and The Ultimates. Wrote the controversial Civil War series. Also wrote Marvel Knights Spider-Man, Wolverine, Kick Ass, and Fantastic Four.
Warren Ellis – The prolific Ellis has written for just about every major company on titles such as Excalibur, Transmetropolitan, Hellblazer, Stormwatch, Strange Kiss, and more.
So there you have the nominees we’ve come up with so far. Feel free to add any names we may have forgotten and give us some opinions on those we came up with. I ask that if there are names you are not familiar with, please do some research and check them out. You may find it will open your eyes to a lot of very outstanding writers.