Top Comic Book Writers 42-39 - CBR - Comic Book Resources

3 months ago 39

The countdown continues! Here are the next four comic book writers that you voted as your favorites of all-time (out of roughly 1,023 ballots cast, with 10 points for first place votes, 9 points for second place votes, etc.).

42. Chip Zdarsky – 231 (6 first place votes)

Chip Zdarsky (a pseudonym for Steve Murray that Murray used for his comic book work) had been doing excellent independent comic books for years before he was paired with writer Matt Fraction on the brilliant Sex Criminals series for Image Comics that brought Zdarsky and his outstanding mixture of humor and pathos to the forefront of the comic book industry. Zdarsky slowly began getting writing gigs for other comic book companies, including a hilarious stint on Howard the Duck and an excellent revamp of Jughead for Archie Comics.

Zdarsky's work is heavily invested in characterization. Dialogue is a key part of his comics, because he has a way of bringing out a good deal of emotion through these interactions, like his Eisner Award-winning Spectacular Spider-Man #310 (which he drew, as well), that showed someone making a documentary about Spider-Man...


He's been writing Daredevil since 2019 (working mostly with artist Marco Checchetto in one of the few long-running creative teams around these days) and there, you can see how well he gets to the core of the character. Here's a flashback bit to young Matt Murdock...


Zdarsky is not afraid of using the absurd, though, too, as his Daredevil run brought back Matt Murdock's twin brother, Mike, but only made him an actual part of the Marvel Universe through some cosmic shenanigans. The concept might have sounded foolish, but Zdarsky not only made it work, but made the pathos of Mike's eventual death really hit hard.

Zdarsky is currently writing both Batman AND Daredevil at the same time, and his opening issue of Batman (with Jorge Jimenez, a star artist who just BARELY missed the Top 50 this time around) opened with a true bang...


Zdarsky hasn't stopped doing independent work, though. His Public Domain series, about an old comic book creator who discovers that he actually might have a real ownership claim for one of the biggest superheroes in the world is excellent...


So many of these comics are similar, but they're similar in the sense that they're all rich characters in fascinating stories. The action levels obviously vary dramatically, but at the core, Zdarsky remains about heart and boy, does it all land really well.

41. Carl Barks – 232 points (7 first place votes)

What was so amazing about Carl Barks' work on Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge was not only the fact that he was a wonderfully skilled artist (he was a born storyteller and the amount of characterization he could get across while working with talking DUCKS is astonishing) but that his stories had such a great DEPTH to them. Kids would not only be entertained by his fun stories, but they would LEARN things about different parts of the world and about world history and myths. Barks has a voracious appetite for knowledge, and he expressed this appetite in his stories.

Not only that, but Barks also had an impressive ability to tell complex stories about the condition, like with the amazing Back to the Klondike. Uncle Scrooge has been taking memory pills (he does not take them too often as they cost ten cents apiece so he doesn't want to be wasteful) and suddenly he remembered an old adventure he had gone on in the Klondike with an old sort of girlfriend, Glitterin' Goldie. He heads to the Klondike to recoup the money he knows she owes him and once there, they go on a series of adventures trying to find her and once they DO find her, Scrooge's nephews (Huey, Dewey and Louie, who Barks used to great effect in his stories, especially the Boy Scout-like group they belonged to, the Junior Woodchucks) regret the fact that Scrooge is going to take this nice old woman for all she has got. Or is he?


40. Dan Slott – 238 points (2 first place votes)

Despite writing comics since the early 1990s (with great work on licensed humor titles like Ren and Stimpy), Dan Slott has become a lot more famous in the world of comics since he took over writing duties on Amazing Spider-Man in 2008 (first as one of the Spider-Man team of writers who launched Brand New Day in Amazing Spider-Man #546 and later the sole writer of Spider-Man with Amazing Spider-Man #648. He continued on the series until Amazing Spider-Man #801, giving him one of the longest runs on any series in Marvel history.

Slott pulled off quite a feat during his run when he had Peter Parker be replaced as Spider-Man for over a year by Doctor Octopus and have the resulting storyline, Superior Spider-Man, work out really really well.

Slott's best traits on Amazing Spider-Man were always the way that he followed in the strong suit of past Spider-Man writers of mixing action-packed adventures with character-driven stories in a blend that feels like a natural extenuation of whatever is going on in the book at that time. So a big event where everyone on Manhattan gets Spider-powers is personalized by the fact that Peter Parker's girlfriend has the powers, too, and it leads her to figure out that Peter has been lying to her about his secret identity. Or, in one of the strongest one-shot issues of Slott's run, Amazing Spider-Man #665, we see the trade-off for Spider-Man and Peter Parker both becoming so successful (Spider-Man being on two Avengers teams and the Future Foundation and Peter now becoming a successful designer at a think tank reverse-engineering the gadgets he creates as Spider-Man into useful technology for everyday life), which is that he is too busy for people like his closest friends. So when Betty Brant is assaulted after Peter stands her up for a standing movie date, Peter vows revenge (naturally) but what does that look like to his friends and family? Peter is out finding Betty's assailant, but to everyone else, he is not there for Betty when she needs it the most. Aunt May calls him and reads him the riot act and brings up something shocking to Peter, that the way SHE recalls the night of Ben Parker's death, she just remembers Peter running away when she needed him the most.

Daaaaang. See? Now that's some character-driven twist right there. And that's the sort of approach Slott takes to his whole Amazing Spider-Man run, you never know exactly how he will zig or zag on any given plot point/character interaction. It makes reading Amazing Spider-Man a true roller coaster ride of never knowing where he will be headed. And when he slows down for the character-heavy stuff, he nails it, like Peter's reaction to the death of J. Jonah Jameson's wife, which was essentially "one death too many" for Peter. Peter vows that he will not let anyone die. And naturally, that cannot work out long term, so seeing him deal with it when it DOESN'T is powerful.

In his last issue, he showed the power of Spider-Man by noting that, while Spidey generally acts in small terms, those acts add up...

And, of course, Slott knows how to bring the funny. Slott's first major Spider-Man work was a Spider-Man/Human Torch mini-series with Ty Templeton that was excellent. Here are some pages from that series that show prime Slott and how well he uses humor to drive his stories...

After his Amazing Spider-Man run ended, Slott had a compelling run on Iron Man (that culminated in an Iron Man 2020 crossover event) and very recently finished a fine run on the Fantastic Four, a series that he left a lasting mark on with the expansion of Marvel's First Family with Thing getting married and adopting two children, and Reed meeting a long-lost sister. Slott just returned to the Spider-Man books with a new Spider-Man series.

39. art spiegelman – 241 points (3 first place votes)

Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize winning comic book work, Maus, demonstrates his great complexity as a writer. Maus is not just a brilliant re-telling of one man's tale of survival during World War II and the Holocaust (with the jews as mice and the Germans as cats). It's also the tale of a man dealing with his father. It's also the tale of how stories are told. And perhaps most fascinating to me is that it also eventually becomes about a man dealing with the fact that his personal story about his father's survival of the Holocaust has become a commercial and critical success. How does one reconcile oneself with something like that? Spiegelman addresses it beautifully in this story. Here's a snippet from later in the series from when Spiegelman deals with the strange turn of events that came about after the release of the first Maus book...

spiegelman continues to be an excellent writer of other work, too, like his brilliant reflection on 9/11, In the Shadow of No Towers

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