There are a great many talented men and women who have made their mark in the decades since somebody had the idea to staple newsprint pages together and call it a funny book.  Being an amateur comics historian and general blowhard, I have opinions on a lot of them: Neal Adams is amazing, the late Alex Schomburg was an unsung genius, and far too few people know the wonderful line work of Ramona Fradon.  But, at this very moment, if you were to ask me who’s the best, I’d drag out some Silver Age Action Comics and show you the amazing visions of legendary Superman artist Curt Swan.  (I’ll admit, though, that if you ask me tomorrow, the answer could be different.)  What makes these sort of discussions even better is the fact that there are hardcore fans who will tell you of the brilliance even of those artists that you cannot stand, such as one of my former co-worker’s love of Rob Liefeld, serving to remind us all that beauty is entirely subjective, which lead us into today’s perfectly-rendered query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) isn’t afraid to court controversy, but is afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, Wolfman Jack, Virginia Woolf, Teen Wolf, Wolf Blitzer, the record collection of Zach Woolf and, occasionally, of ghosts, asking: Who is the greatest comic book artist of all time?

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

15 Comments

  1. I honestly can’t make a single choice. There are several comic artists that I think are great, but they have such distinctly unique styles that I cannot fairly say one is better than the rest.

      • It is a pretty diverse list, including Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola, Mike Wieringo, George Perez and others. To really get into the full list and why I like them would probably take an article or three, but it basically boils down to the fact that each of the artists I really like all have something about their particular styles that really draw me in. Trying to compare them to other styles is like asking me if I like kittens, cartoons or pizza better.

        And I’m not saying people can’t or shouldn’t have a favorite, just that it is really difficult for me to choose one out of such a diverse group of styles that I really enjoy.

  2. It has to be Jack Kirby.

    It’s a cliche answer, but his impact on they way comics stories are told is unparalleled. Virtually all modern comics can draw a straight line to his Marvel work in the 60s. It redefined comics storytelling with dynamic panel composition, high action, in your face artwork. He was so incredibly prolific in that era, he was responsible for 1158 pages of art in 1962 alone. That is 3 penciled pages a day, and they weren’t sloppy or poorly rendered! This was Kirby at the height of his ability. Nobody in comics has ever come close to what Kirby did, or the impact he had on all that followed.

  3. I shall cheat a little and give you a more complex answer: My personal favorite has to be John Byrne, because he was THE man when I started reading comics in mid-late 80’s. Loved his artwork in X-Men, Fantastic Four and Superman.

    On the other hand, George Perez drew lots of really great stuff for both Marvel and DC too and hes such a likeable person in real life that he deserves a mention. Perez also has ability to take the most ridiculous looking costumes and make them look cool.
    But my real objective answer to greatest of all time is Jack Kirby. I dont think any other artist has even close to the influence Kirby did to the whole industry, not to mention his output. He just put out page after page after page, no delays, no “artist quirks”, a sign of the true professional.

  4. It’s difficult for me to choose one. I tend to go away from the more classic comic artists like Neal Adams or the bombastic Jim Lee. The angular, heavily shaded work of Mike Mignola, the pulpy work of Francesco Francavilla, the slightly sketchy feel of Rafael Albuquerque, and the punch of Greg Capulo really do it for me. I’m sure I’m forgetting some other impressive artists, but those are the ones that come to my mind first

  5. It’s clear who my favorite comics artist is – George Perez. After him comes Neal Adams, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko. Greg Capullo is working his way up the list, I have to say, since his work on Batman is consistently great IMHO!

  6. I’d say the greatest is Jack Kirby, for all the reasons Bruce said and more. Now favorite at this moment right now, probably Mark Buckingham, and if I could draw like a hybrid between the two I’d be immensely happy. Curt Swan underrated for some reason, but wonderful. George Perez’s ability can’t be denied. Fiona Staples’ work in Saga really makes excellent use of the medium. Keith Giffen is fun, whether he’s doing a Kirby-riff or not. Brent Anderson, Amanda Conner, and Kevin Maguire, just to make sure I got everyone without being too long-winded.

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