The countdown continues! Here are the next four comic book writers you voted as your all-time favorites (out of approximately 1,023 votes cast, with 10 points for first-place votes, 9 points for second-place votes, etc.).
42. Chip Zdarsky – 231 (6 votes for first place)
Chip Zdarsky (a pseudonym for Steve Murray whom Murray used for his comic book work) had made excellent indie comics for years before he was paired with writer Matt Fraction on The Shining Sex criminals series for Image Comics that brought Zdarsky and his exceptional blend of humor and pathos to the forefront of the comics industry. Zdarsky slowly started getting writing gigs for other comic companies, including a hilarious stint on howard the duck and a great overhaul of Jughead for Archie Comics.
Zdarsky’s work is heavily invested in characterization. Dialogue is a key part of his comics, as he has a way of bringing out a lot of emotion through these interactions, like his Eisner Award-winning Spectacular Spider-Man #310 (which he also drew), which showed someone making a Spider-Man documentary…
He wrote daredevil since 2019 (mostly working with artist Marco Checchetto in one of the few long-standing creative teams these days) and there you can see how deep he gets to the heart of the character. Here’s a little throwback to young Matt Murdock…
Zdarsky is not afraid to use the absurd, even if, like his daredevil run brought back Matt Murdock’s twin brother, Mike, but only made him a real part of the Marvel Universe through cosmic shenanigans. The concept might have seemed insane, but Zdarsky not only made it work, but also 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 Batman number (with Jorge Jimenez, a star performer who barely missed the Top 50 this time around) opened with a real bang…
Zdarsky did not stop doing freelance work, however. His Public domain series, about an old comic book creator who discovers he might actually have a real claim of ownership for one of the world’s greatest superheroes is excellent…
Many of these comics are similar, but they are similar in the sense that they are all rich characters in compelling stories. The action levels obviously vary greatly, but basically Zdarsky stays on heart and boy, it all lands very well.
41. Carl Barks – 232 points (7 votes for first place)
What was so amazing about Carl Barks’ work on Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge wasn’t just the fact that he was a wonderfully gifted artist (he was a born storyteller and the amount of characterization he could achieve working with talking DUCKS is amazing), but that his stories had such great depth . Children would not only be entertained by his funny stories, but they WILL LEARN about different parts of the world and about the history and myths of the world. Barks has a voracious appetite for knowledge, and he expressed that appetite in his stories.
Not only that, but Barks also had an impressive ability to tell complex stories about the human condition…er…duck, like with the incredible Back to the Klondike. Uncle Scrooge was taking memory pills (he doesn’t take them too often because they cost ten cents apiece so he doesn’t want to waste) and suddenly he remembered an old adventure he had had in the Klondike with some old sort of girlfriend, Glitterin’ Goldie. He heads to the Klondike to collect the money he knows she owes him and once there they embark on a series of adventures trying to find her and once they find her, Scrooge’s nephews (Huey, Dewey and Louie, whom Barks used to effect in his stories, especially the Boy Scout type group they belonged to, the Junior Woodchucks) regret that Scrooge is going to take this nice old woman for all she has. Where is he?
40. Dan Slott – 238 points (2 votes for first place)
Despite writing comics since the early 1990s (with great work on licensed humor titles like Ren and Stimpy), Dan Slott has become much more famous in the comic world since taking over writing duties on Amazing Spider-Man in 2008 (first as a member of the writing staff of Spider-Man who launched Brand New Day in amazing spider man #546 and later the only author of Spider-Man with amazing spider man #648. He continued the series until amazing spider man #801, giving it one of the longest runs of any series in Marvel history.
Slott achieved a feat during his run when he replaced Peter Parker as Spider-Man for over a year with Doctor Octopus and the resulting storyline, Superior Spider-Man, works really well. .
Slott’s best traits on Amazing Spider-Man have always been the path he followed in the strong suit of former Spider-Man writers of blending action-packed adventures with character-driven stories in a mix that feels like a natural attenuation of whatever is happening in the book around this time. So a big event where everyone in Manhattan gets spider powers is personalized by the fact that Peter Parker’s girlfriend also has the powers, and this leads him to realize that Peter lied to her about his secret identity. . Or, in one of the strongest single 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 part of two Avengers teams and the Future Foundation and Peter now becoming a successful designer in a retro-think tank). engineering the gadgets he creates as Spider-Man useful technology for everyday life), that is, he’s too busy for people like his closest friends. So when Betty Brant is mugged after Peter backs her up on a stand-up movie date, Peter swears revenge (naturally), but what does that look like to his friends and family? Peter is on the hunt for Betty’s attacker, but for everyone’s sake, he’s not there for Betty when she needs him most. Aunt May calls her and reads her the riot act and brings something shocking to Peter, that how SHE remembers the night Ben Parker died, she just remembers Peter running away when she needed him most.
Daaaaang. See? Now that’s a character-driven twist. And that’s the kind of approach Slott takes for his entire Amazing Spider-Man run, you never know exactly how he’s going to zigzag or zag over any given point/character interaction. It makes reading Amazing Spider-Man a real roller coaster ride without ever knowing where it’s 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 swears he won’t let anyone die. And of course it can’t work long term, so seeing him deal with it when it’s NOT powerful.
In his last issue, he showed the power of Spider-Man by noting that, while Spidey usually acts on small terms, those acts add up…
And, of course, Slott knows how to bring the funny. Slott’s first major work on Spider-Man was a Spider-Man/Human Torch mini-series with Ty Templeton which was excellent. Here are a few pages from this series that show Prime Slott and how much he uses humor to drive his stories…
After his amazing spider man race over, Slott had a convincing run on Iron Man (which resulted in a iron man 2020 crossover event) and very recently finished a great run on the The Fantastic Four, a series on which he left a lasting mark with the expansion of Marvel’s First Family with Thing marrying 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 votes for first place)
The Pulitzer Prize-winning comic for Art Spiegelman, Maus, demonstrates his great complexity as a writer. Maus isn’t just a brilliant retelling of the story of one man’s survival through World War II and the Holocaust (with Jews as mice and Germans as cats). It is also the story of a man dealing with his father. It is also the story of how stories are told. And perhaps most compelling to me is that it’s ultimately about a man coming to terms with the fact that his personal story of his father’s Holocaust survival has become a commercial and critical success. How do you come to terms with something like this? Spiegelman talks about it beautifully in this story. Here’s a clip from later in the series when Spiegelman deals with the strange turn of events that happened after the release of the first Maus book…
Spiegelman also continues to be an excellent author of other works, such as his brilliant reflection on 9/11, In the shadow of no tower