Jan 7, 2019

50 Creators, Ben's List

Because Duy got his list wrong, I’ve decided to do my own list of the most influential and important comic book creators to me.  Yes, I know his list is personal and subjective, that doesn’t mean he can’t definitively be wrong.

50 Creators
Ben Smith

If you click on a creator's name, it'll take you to an Amazon link for a recommended book by that creator.

In no order:

Bill Watterson
Every time I think I might try and create my own comic strip, I sit down to draw it and all I can think of is Watterson’s style.  He is far and away the best comic strip cartoonist to ever do it.

Mike Zeck
The first comic book artist I ever knew by name, he will always be my favorite artist.  Kraven’s Last Hunt is a masterpiece.

John Byrne
The second comic book artist I ever knew by name, and mostly because I got him and Zeck mixed up at times.  The greatest superhero artist of the ‘80s. George Perez fans can bite me. (Editor's Note: The objective ranking is Byrne is better for the first third of the 80s, Perez is better for the back third, and they're kind of neck-and-neck in the middle there. But by the 90s it would no longer matter. But George is better in every other decade and also better as a human being, so George wins.)

Frank Miller
Nobody gets fans angrier by continuing to produce new material more than Miller.  In their defense, when you’re competing with your prior work as one of the ten most influential comic book creators ever, it makes it hard to accept anything new that isn’t a masterpiece.

Walt Simonson
Enough has been said about his Thor, so go read his Fantastic Four, it’s pretty great too.

Stan Sakai
This word gets overused, but Sakai is a genius as a storyteller.  If you’ve never read Usagi Yojimbo, you’re not really doing this comic book thing right.

Brian Michael Bendis
One of the first comics I read when I rediscovered the medium in the early ‘00s was Ultimate Spider-Man #13 when Peter Parker reveals his powers to Mary Jane.  I remember thinking comics had reached a whole new level while reading it.  Not only did it make sense that a teenage boy would do that, it was rule-breaking in a lot of ways because that wasn’t how comic book heroes acted.  Anyone that grew up reading comics, we all imagined having to brag to someone about having powers, and this was the first time a comic really did it.

Sara Pichelli
She’s fairly new to be on my list, but that’s how much I love her style.  She’s probably my favorite artist working today.

Jack Kirby
Steve Ditko
Stan Lee
John Romita Sr.

‘Nuff said.

Jack Kirby and Stan Lee

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Stan Lee and John Romita

Larry Hama
Doesn’t get enough credit and recognition for shaping entire childhoods by creating nearly every G.I. Joe character.  His comics put the cartoon to shame.

Chris Claremont
Claremont defines the X-Men so much for me that the characters collectively represent my second favorite comic book superheroes ever (behind Spider-Man) while anything with the X-Men since then is lucky if it reaches “that was fun.”  There’s no greater disparity between one creator and all the rest on a specific franchise I can think of.

Dave Sim 
Cerebus is a fascinating look at a brilliant creator’s descent into madness over the course of 300 issues.  It’s at times hilarious, an insightful parody, political satire, a heartbreaking look at love lost (which hit me hard at the time) before it descended into sexism and insanity.

Sean Phillips 
Ed Brubaker
They make this list for Criminal alone, but I might like Sleeper even more.  Plus, Brubaker was the first writer to ever have me buying Captain America on a monthly basis.

Marjorie Liu 
Liu always delivers, but even more so on my favorite new character of the past 20 years (and nothing else even comes close) X-23.

Bill Sienkiewicz
Arguably the greatest comic book artist that ever lived.

Jim Lee
Probably the first artist after Zeck and Byrne that I collected every comic they worked on that I could find.  His modern work often looks rushed and has questionable posing, but I still stand by his early X-Men work.

Alan Moore
V for Vendetta and From Hell deserve as much attention as Watchmen.  Top 10 is still overrated though.

Jim Shooter
Shooter presided over my favorite era of Marvel comics, and wrote Marvel Superhero Secret Wars, one of the most influential comics of my childhood.  Not only that, he created the premise and background of the Transformers, the most important cartoon of my life.  Not a bad Legion of Superheroes writer either.

Don Rosa 
Carl Barks
I loved the Ducktales cartoon as a kid because of its globe-trotting adventures, and the Barks comics it was inspired by are even better.  Rosa took the ducks to even bigger highs with The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

Top: Barks
Bottom: Rosa

JH Williams III
Marcos Martin
Only a few times in my life have I been blown away by the layout, inventiveness, and overall artistry of a comic book.  Williams on Detective Comics and Martin on Amazing Spider-Man are moments I’ll never forget.



Dan Slott 
Slott’s concepts for stories are so good they make me jealous.  Spider-Island, Superior Spider-Man, and Spider-Verse were all good enough to cement his legacy as one of the best Spider-Man writers on their own, but combined with the rest of his run he arguably ranks as the second best to ever do it, after Ditko.

Roger Stern
Stern was the pinnacle of what I would call straightforward superhero storytelling, before creators began to reinvent and deconstruct the genre.  The spiritual ancestor to Slott.

Jim Aparo
Jose Luis Garcia Lopez 
I wasn’t the biggest DC reader as a kid, but I knew what they were supposed to look like thanks to these guys.



Bob Budiansky
Without Transformers comics I’m probably not even writing this right now.

Bill Mantlo
Mantlo may have never been the most talented Marvel writer, but he ended up working on some of my favorite comics (Rom, Micronauts, Cloak and Dagger) all the same.

Alan Davis
Arthur Adams
Two of the best X-Men artists of the ‘80s and they’re still kicking ass in 2018.

Alan Davis

Art Adams
Geoff Johns
Another fantastic idea guy.  I never would have predicted I’d be a Green Lantern fan before he revolutionized the entire franchise.

Mark Waid
Not many writers can give you great runs on a comic like Legion of Superheroes and also on a comic like Daredevil.  Waid’s ability to find what makes a character great makes him extremely versatile as a writer.

Steve Gerber
Howard the Duck is mostly remembered as a joke because of the terrible movie, but there was a reason he warranted a movie in the first place. That reason is Steve Gerber.

Mike Allred
X-Force/X-Statix remains one of my favorite comic book runs ever and one of my top periodical rereads.

Jeff Smith
If there was one comic I’d give to a young kid to entice them into reading comics, it would probably be Bone.

Ron Frenz
Tom DeFalco
Not the best Spider-Man creative team, but one of my favorites.

Paul Levitz
There are few comic book properties I love more than the Legion of Superheroes and Levitz is arguably the definitive LoSH writer.

Charles Schulz 
You can’t go wrong with Snoopy.

Howard Chaykin 
One of my favorite experiences meeting a creator, and I love his hard-boiled style.

Steve McNiven
The first modern artist that became an instant buy for me.

Humberto Ramos
Chris Bachalo
Both of these guys were acquired tastes for me, but once they won me over, they became two of my all-time favorite Spider-Man and X-Men artists.

Stephan Pastis
Another cartoonist I’m jealous of and can’t get his style out of my head anytime I try to doodle something of my own.

Brian Bolland
The Killing Joke has its problems in today’s society (or in any time period’s society) but it’s still one of the most beautiful looking comics ever produced.

Brian K Vaughan 
Y the Last Man was the first creator-owner book I remember following from the beginning to the end.  The first issue was one of the greatest first issues of a comic series I’ve ever read.

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