For most of my formative years, I had virtually no concept of the creators behind comic books. Marvel was my first love, and aside from the occasional Stanly the Manly appearance before the Fantastic Four cartoons, the universe existed independent of authorship in my mind.
This is, of course, far from true, and as I’ve become more familiar with comic books, I’ve realized how many writers, artists, letterers, inkers, colorists, editors and more go into the production of my truly favorite comics of all time.
As an avid bibliophile, I’ll always have a fascination with comic book writers, and plenty of comic book readers will read work entirely because of the author’s reputation. Reading according to an author’s catalog of comics is a useful sorting parameter, and can help you enjoy some of the all time best comics.
I’ve ranked all my favorite comic book writers below, along with links to each other’s body of work, in chronological order.
There are zillions of additional talented creators, and ranking all these works I love was like pulling teeth, so definitely let me know creators you’d like to see on this list in the future!
The Best Comic Book Writers of All Time
1. Alan Moore
Much like ranking the Beatles number one on a best rock and roll bands retrospective, there’s a temptation to out think myself on my favorite comic book writer of all time. Taken in isolation, a case could be made for many of the creators mentioned on this list below, and there are plenty of modern arguments why Alan Moore’s body of work is overrated, damaging, or simply boring.
Moore’s body of work is also loaded with all-time great works, as well as a surprising number of light-hearted works that exhibit a love for the comic book medium as a whole. That Moore could deliver Watchmen one decade and then turn around and deliver Tom Strong the next is a testament to his skill.
Simply put, Alan Moore is the writer who made me want to think about comics forever and ever amen. His body of work is incredible:
2. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee (The Manly) (With a nod to Steve Ditko)
It’s much harder for me to pick a second favorite comic book writer, so essentially I’m copping out and voting for the brain trust behind Marvel Comics. There are all sorts of opinions on who deserves the most credit among the Marvel creators, but there’s little denying that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko produced incredible work together.
Reading Lee & Kirby comics requires some seriously nostalgia-tinted glasses, but if you’ve got them on, nothing’s as fun or cultivates a life long love of comics like early Fantastic Four or Amazing Spider-Man.
Stan Lee’s body of work is pretty well encapsulated in my Marvel 1960’s reading order, as he was writing darn near every title for much of the decade.
Jack Kirby, on the other hand, had already co-created Captain America with Joe Simon, and would go on to produce some inspired cosmic odysseys, including DC’s Fourth World characters like Darkseid! He’s absolutely the King, and the longer I love comics, the more I stand in awe of the work of Jack Kirby.
3. Neil Gaiman
While Alan Moore’s excellence made me want to think about comics forever, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman convinced me there would forever be comics worthy of thought. Sandman is the smartest comic series I’ve ever read, the rare art where skill and command of craft meets exponentially expanding literary ambition.
Explaining Sandman to new readers is darn near impossible, typically resulting in self-induced migraines as I stumble upon this one truth: It’s a beautiful love letter to the art of storytelling and imagination. With guys with Jack O’Lantern heads.