I already did a little article detailing my personal picks of the five best comic artists currently working (which led to a couple of Greg Land defending douche-mails) that sort of disparaged the writers of the industry. Sorry. To make it up, here’s who I objectively, with severe subjectivity, think are the best comic writers currently working in the industry.
A few criteria:
- Must be currently working on an ongoing series, or finished on recently.
- Not looking at webcomics or manga.
- I’ve read enough of their work to appreciate them. This is the most finicky criteria, seeing that I simply don’t have the time to read everything. Some hundred or two comics come out weekly, and we’re in a recession so…
The list after the break! Or, if you got here directly…right NOW!
5. Brian Michael Bendis
This is where I prove my objectivity – I do not like Brian Michael Bendis. Secret Invasion was a wreck through and through, Dark Avengers is broken, and New Avengers has more text than pictures. What Bendis does best is have people sit around and talk. Sure, I like this – sometimes. I like the sit downs in comics when the sit downs matter. Not when there’s two or three every fucking issue.
But you know what? He’s Marvel’s big kahuna. He’s pretty much synonymous with the brand and seeing that his various (and there are a lot) books are constantly amongst the top sellers, people simply love the guy. I feel about this situation the same way I feel about Miley Cyrus – I don’t get the hype, but everyone else is already riding off on the bandwagon.
4. Grant Morrison
I’m ignoring Final Crisis when I mention Morrison. I don’t give a damn about how metaphysical and potentially fourth wall breaking it was, it was a complete mess of incoherent writing and inexplicable events. It was stupid. But Morrison also did All-Star Superman and Batman RIP (the former being possibly the greatest Superman story ever told, the latter being wickedly warped) prior to having a mental breakdown with Crisis.
Starting with the outrageously entertaining Swamp Thing and having Animal Man meet him, Morrison’s definitely one of the crazier writers working. Sometimes things work, other times they just alienate. But that’s what makes Morrison’s stories so great – your guaranteed to get some kind of strong emotion out of it.
3. Bill Willingham
Unlike Bendis, picking Willingham is my subjectivity cap firmly planted on my head. He writes one of my personal favourite ongoing series in Fables. I haven’t read Jack of Fables, the spinoff, so I don’t know how he fares there, but in Fables he created what will probably go down as one of the great comic works.
Unconstrained by the continuity that many other comic writers suffer, Willingham creates a contemporary fairy tale that is instantly accessible and thoroughly breathtaking the entire way through. Though the “big” conflict was recently resolved, Willingham still found a way to propel the series forward and it’s just getting better and better.
2. Robert Kirkman
In my humble, though boastful, opinion Walking Dead and Invincible are #1 and #2 in ongoing series. With Walking Dead, you get a zombie epic that’s better than any work involving zombies, ever. That includes films, video games or books (Sorry Brooks). And the thing is – it’s not the zombies that you care about! It’s the human characters and how they treat each other in this zombie apocalypse that’s truly terrifying. In Invincible you get a hip dilution of superhero comics into something anyone can pick up and enjoy. No nasty continuity issues here. Just gory, action packed fun.
Huh, you ask? If Kirkman’s writing the two best series currently in print, how isn’t he numero uno on my list? The answer’s easy…
1. Geoff Johns
This man is DC Comics. As it is right now, I can’t see DC as a comic book company surviving without Johns. More so than even Bendis with Marvel, Johns is the very lifeblood of DC. He’s taken the helm of Superman, The Legion, Green Lantern, and now he’s poised to headline what is potentially the largest, and maybe greatest, mega event in DC’s history with Blackest Night. He handles the age old problem of continuity like a Steve Jobs manipulates mindless Apple consumers – like his bitch. I don’t think anyone else working today can handle DC’s convoluted continuity as well as Johns. I honestly don’t comprehend how Johns can be working on so many titles, and making it look easy. He is the Dakota Fanning of comic writers – he’s too damn good at what he does to be human.
And no, Johns’ books aren’t in my top 2 spots like Kirkman, but he simply has his hands in so many storylines and titles, and they’re all at such a consistently high quality, that I can’t help but put him here. He has Bendis’ quantity and Kirkman’s quality. More so than any other comic writer in the industry right now, he’s the one writer that can be considered critical to an entire company’s success. If DC for whatever reason loses Johns, it also loses my and probably a ton of other readers hard earned cash each month.
Alan Moore: If this were a list of all time greats, I’d definitely be putting Moore on here. But it’s not. As of late, he hasn’t really been doing anything of note, which is unfortunate because this mad man is one of the greats.
Frank Miller: Also one of the greats, but instead of doing what he does best and writing comics, he’s been wasting his time lately in the film arena. The outcome? The awful Spirit movie.
Mark Millar: The king of ‘shock’ comics is currently busy with Kickass and Wolverine, two really cool storylines, but he’s also shown a lot of weaknesses. He’s not so much a great writer as he is great with ideas. His writing and characters are rather plain, but damn if his events aren’t spectacular. Just look at Pym Falls!
Ed Brubaker: I really like what he’s done with Daredevil and Incognito’s a fun little journey with a former supervillain in protective custody.
J. Michael Straczynski: I loved his work on Supreme Power and Squadron Supreme before he left and Marvel fucked over the franchise. His current work on Thor isn’t as strong, but that’s still upper echelon in anyone’s book.
Neil Gaiman: He’s so entrenched in the movie and novel industries that comics has pretty much become a side job he does occasionally to appease his legion of fans. Case in point – the two issue What Happened to the Caped Crusader. He probably wrote that in a couple of hours and cashed the cheque.
Jeph Loeb: Sucks. He ruined Heroes and was fired because of it. He’s turned Hulk into the very worse mainstream comic series. But I still need to mention him because hundreds of thousands of fans still eagerly await the shit he’s shovelling every month. They loooove that shit.