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?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

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.

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15 Comments

  1. July 28, 2014 at 11:33 am — Reply

    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.

    • July 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm — Reply

      I think you could share the ones you think are great without saying one is better than the others :) Now I’m curious ;)

      • July 28, 2014 at 1:29 pm — Reply

        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. July 28, 2014 at 11:46 am — Reply

    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. July 28, 2014 at 11:48 am — Reply

    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. July 28, 2014 at 11:55 am — Reply

    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. July 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm — Reply

    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. Kirby
    July 28, 2014 at 12:54 pm — Reply

    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.

    • July 28, 2014 at 6:52 pm — Reply

      I can’t believe I forgot Mark Buckingham. His fable work consistently pleases me to no end.

  7. Frank
    July 28, 2014 at 2:37 pm — Reply

    George Perez. He was the first artist that really made me pay attention to the detail of the artwork.

  8. Rob
    July 28, 2014 at 3:11 pm — Reply

    Steve Dittko for his sheer mastery of storytelling.

  9. Ian
    July 28, 2014 at 5:19 pm — Reply

    Perez for me!

    • Ian
      July 28, 2014 at 5:19 pm — Reply

      Although it would be Alex Ross if he were able to generate any kind of vilume

      • Ian
        July 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm — Reply

        Volume even

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