(*Note: This article Needs updating for 2014**)
This is a list of 30 Comic Writers that you need to know about in no particular order. This list is in no way a complete list of bad ass writers. Also, I have listed a new notable works beside each writers name. The underlined titles are some of my Super Faves.
Jeff Lemire- Sweet Tooth, Justice League Dark, Animal Man
This guy has really blown up lately. His literary and humanistic style is a breath of fresh air in the world of mainstream comics. And I've heard a lot of good things about his creator-owned titles as well. He has done a great job with some of the weirder "super-hero" characters…except for Shade the Changing Man in JLD…he didn't know what the fuck to do with that guy.
Robert Kirkman- Walking Dead, Invincible, Thief of Thieves
So this guy is on one hell of a hot streak right now. Everything he touches turns to gold. He's written many hugely successful comics in many different genres, such as: horror, super-hero, crime, and now he's trying his hand in action sci-fi with his new title Hardcore. You’ll like his shit.
Mike Mignola and Co. - Hellboy, Baltimore, Lobster Johnson, B.P.R.D.
So if you like wacky occultish horror-esque adventure, Mignola and his Hellboy Universe are the way to go. Way better than the movies. I mean who doesn't like reading about disembodied Nazi scientist heads or Victorian fish men?
Brian Azzarello- 100 Bullets, Joker, Wonder Woman,
This guy broke out with his hard-boiled crime story 100 Bullets. Azzarello is a master of creating believable crime characters and his take on the Joker in "Joker" is a testament to that talent. His style is definitely dark and gritty and crime-y.
Rick Remender- Uncanny X-Force, Punisher, Fear Agent, Secret Avengers
Woah! This guy is explosive! I've never been a huge fan of the "Age of Apocalypse" story, but shit, Remender finally made it AWESOME. His run on Uncanny X-Force is baaad ass, MOST especially the Dark Angel Saga. Although I will say, after a ridiculous run like that, he took a nap for like 5 issues afterwards. But when he's on…he's ON. X-Force is really a good book for him because he tends to write characters who are like constantly on-edge which makes sense for a group of super-assassins trying to save the world through murder; but that might not work in other titles.
Mark Waid- Superman: Birthright, Kingdom Come, Daredevil, Irredeemable, 52
Oh Mark Waid. That guy is one of the most influential writers of the 90s and loves Superman more than all of us combined, but man, after having to deal some bullshit at DC that guy is "done" with mainstream comics. But it kinda worked out because that rift pushed him toward BOOM! Studios as Editor in Chief, which is awesome. Waid is also writing a pretty fantastic Daredevil at the moment and has made Matt Murdock fun again with his refreshing soft plot for the character. You can tell through his stories that Mark is definitely one of the "good guys" and enjoys philosophizing about the ethics of super hero-dom.
Jason Aaron-Scalped, Wolverine and the X-Men, Wolverine, Ghost Rider
Jason Aaron has been doing an awful lot of breathing new life into characters lately. His take on Banner and the Hulk was totally sweet…and as you already know, Wolverine and the X-Men is my absolute favorite comic right now. He has great dialogue, creative new ideas that makes his comics super fun. I mean seriously, making Logan a headmaster? Genius! What great character development. You can tell Aaron loves the X-Men as much as we do. So what are you waiting for? Go out and read Wolverine and the X-Men already!
Scott Snyder-Swamp Thing, Batman, American Vampire
Seriously, this guy is KILLING it right now. He's the hottest writer in comics at the moment. Go Google a list of best 2011 or 2012 writers…he's probably #1 on all of them. Seriously, did you watch my Batman episode about Snyder's Batman? And not only is he doing a fantastic job with Bats…but he's doing an amazing job on Swamp Thing. His character development is hella strong and his dialogue is on point. This guy is one to watch.
Nick Spencer- Morning Glories, Cloak & Dagger (Spider Island mini-tie in), Secret Avengers
This up and coming writer is developing in a great direction. His Cloak & Dagger mini-series left me wanting more! You hear me! Give this guy his own Cloak & Dagger title damn it!
Grant Morrison-New X-Men, All Star Superman, Doom Patrol, Flex Mentallo, Animal Man, 52
Ok, I don't even know how to start this shameless fan-girl rant on the AWESOMENESS of Morrison. This guy has the talent and weirdness of Alan Moore without the hatred towards super heroes. He still loves them and they love him right back (read Flex Mentallo and you'll understand). His New X-Men ROCKED MY FACE OFF. He made me fall deeply in love with Scott Summers (and he made Scott fall for Emma). Morrison reminded us all what a badass that guy is. Not to mention he created some of my favorite new X characters such as Fantomex and Kid Omega. Oh! And let's not forget his All Star Superman…geez…what a masterpiece. Morrison finally got me to respect and understand why Superman is amazing. Also, the Matrix ripped off The Invisibles. But moving on, Morrison is one weird, non-linear, counter-culture, occultist, mother-fucking bad ass. So read his shit or you are an idiot.
Alan Moore- V for Vendetta, Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Batman: Killing Joke
COMICS HEAVYWEIGHT. Moore is cited more than any other as being an inspiration to a lot of writers on this list and more (including Gaiman and Wheedon)! He's got critically acclaimed comics coming out of his ass. Anyone who wants to get into comics needs to read Alan Moore (seriously, go read the Watchmen if you haven't already). Moore is genius madman but he has a very jaded contempt for super-heroes, so if you are looking for some light fun, I'd steer clear of his shit.
Garth Ennis- Preacher, Hellblazer, Judge Dredd, The Boys
Do like NOT like rape and or the constant threat of rape in your comics? And I'm not just talking about women getting raped here…I'm talking about children and men too. Also, If you are devout Christian I'd advise you to stay away from Ennis.Anyways, this guy writes some fucked up shit. He is very dark, dirty and cynical…but he is also a super talented writer. Both Preacher and Hellblazer are fantastic. Also, if you like Ennis AND you like sci-fi, you might like Warren Ellis.
Mark Millar- The Authority, Kick-Ass, Wanted, Civil-War, Secret Service, Super Crooks
My friend Kirk said it best "Millar is the King of Summer blockbuster comics without being Michael Bay". This guy is going nuts right now with his Millarworld imprint and turning out a gang-load of great work…great and gory and crazy and brutal and shocking work. His anarchic view point is a lot a fun, and he seems to up the ante with each new title. I mean come on, you saw Kick-Ass right? You know what I'm talking about.
Frank Miller- Batman: Dark Knight Returns, Sin City, Daredevil: Born Again, 300, Batman: Year One
Millers older super-hero work is essential, especially his work with Batman and Daredevil. It really doesn't get much better than his Dark Knight Returns. That shit is EPICALLY AWESOME. I'm sure you've seen the Miller movies and you have a feel for this guy; he's pretty gritty and dark but sometimes lacking in the ole humanity department and his work can be construed as "misogynistic "and "homophobic" (Alan Moore's words). Also, his more recent work is kinda lack-luster, stick with his older stuff.
Neil Gaiman- The Sandman, Death: The High Cost of Living
If you're a Goth person you should know who Gaiman is. His work is very literary and he superbly combines elements of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mythology, and biblical allegory. Gaiman writes more novels than comics if that gives you any idea about him. He's a bizarro mix of C.S.Lewis, Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, Poe, Moore, and Lovecraft. Gaiman is an incredible and unique voice in the world of comics.
Ed Brubaker-Catwoman, Captain America, Incognito, Fatale, Secret Avengers,
He is a true master of modern Noir. He's won multiple awards for his crime/noir comics and has also made a name for himself the superhero genre, especially with Captain America. Also, Brubaker had a lot to do with the awesome revamp of Catwoman a few years ago.
Jack Kirby- New Gods, Celestials, and a ridiculous host of iconic titles and cosmic awesomeness
Let's have a chat about his guy. Jack Kirby is a somewhat an un-sung hero of super-hero comics (Stan Lee had gotten a lot of credit for work they both did…Kirby worked with Stan as a co-writer, co-plotter, AND artist…what a power-house). Kirby is a MAJOR innovator and one of the MOST influential creators for both DC and Marvel! His Fourth World cross-title saga laid out a lot of DC's cosmic lore…and his Celestials is the core element of the Marvel Universe continuity. Kirby didn't only help shape super-hero comics with his writing, but also with his ubber-iconic art. He set the standard for artists for years to come (who doesn't love his "power dots"?). Seriously…we should all raise a glass to this man, because we probably wouldn't have the X-Men or Galactus or the Fantastic Four or Thor or Captain America…the list goes on and on. I am bringin this fight to tha streets!
Warren Ellis- Transmetropolitan, Hellblazer, The Authority, Planetary, Secret Avengers
Are you a cynical mo-fo who revels in trans-humanist themes such as nano-technology, cryonics, and mind transfer? Well Ellis is the writer for you! This guy is a juggernaut of the sardonic and a champion of the dystopian sci-fi future. Also, if you like Ennis you'll like Ellis.
Chris Claremont- Uncanny X-Men (1975-1991)
Dude, he wrote X-Men for 17 FUCKING YEARS! He created A LOT of the X-Men canon, not to mention creating a shit-ton of amazing characters (a lot of them female) such as Phoenix, Psylocke, Emma Frost, Sabertooth, Gambit, Rogue, Mystique and Mister Sinister. So, hats off to Claremont everyone for making the X-Men what they are today!
Brian K. Vaughan- Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways, Pride of Baghdad
The ubber-award winning author has penned a bunch of awesomeness and is highly regarded within the comic community. Joss Wheedon loved his Runaways so much that Wheedon took over writing the comic for him after he stopped. But be warned, his stories can be quite the commitment as he loves to write finite meticulous YEARS long story lines.
Greg Rucka-Queen and Country, Gotham Central, Batwoman: Elegy, 52
Rucka is another crime guy. Geez, there are a lot of those right now. Anyways, I picked up his Batwoman:Elegy trade and thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be keeping my eye on Rucka. He also seems to write about lesbian detectives more than the average bear, which I enjoy. These characters are always written extremely well and not just as fodder for some sexual male-fantay. Keep up the good work on that front, Rucka!
Brain Wood-DMZ, Demo, Northlanders, Wolverine: Alpha and Omega,
To quote Kirk once again, "Brian Wood is the greatest indie author to happen mainstream comics". So if you want a super-hero comic with indie sensibilities, Wood is the way to go. Also, he is getting ready to take over the X-Men books in both universes this summer and I am very interested to see what he does with my beloved super team! (I heard a rumor that he is planning to have my girl Dazzler come to the forefront…fingers crossed)
Matt Fraction-Uncanny X-Men, Casanova, Invincible Iron Man, The Immortal Iron Fist
He's got some Eisner Awards under his belt and really hit in 2008, but his work has slowed down since. Fraction has also written a bunch of X-Men stuff…but I don't know…he doesn't really wow me. He brought one of my favorite characters, Spiral, into an arc and then proceeded to do diddly-squat with her, which pissed me off (somebody PLEASE let me write a story for Spiral). Anyways, other people like him…so you might like him.
Joss Wheedon- Astonishing X-Men, Buffy, Angel, Fray, Serenity, Runaways, S.W.O.R.D.
If you don't know who Joss Wheedon is and you consider yourself a "nerd" you should be ashamed. Although after The Avengers movie, I think everyone on the planet knows who he is. Anyways, the snappy dialogue and strong female protagonists he writes for his TV shows is also present in his comics. Not only has he written some awesome stuff for marvel, (his Astonishing X-Men is tooo good) but he has also created some of my favorite new additions to the Marvel Universe…like the character "Danger", and the "S.W.O.R.D." organization.
Kevin Smith- Green Arrow, Daredevil, Green Hornet, Bionic Man
So you probably know who this guy is, but you might not know that he writes comics on the side! He apparently brought the Green Arrow title back to life and has been doing well with his other titles like the "Bionic Man". (Which I guess happened because he wanted to make it as a movie, but producers felt that his script felt too much like a comic book)
Alejandro Jodorowsky- The Incal, Technopriests
OMG, this guy is NUTZ in the best way! He is this crazy dude from Chile who brings all sorts of sci-fi weirdo goodness to the medium. His shit really got going in the 80's (he did a lot of work with GENIUS ARTIST Moebius) and created his own crazed space opera called the "Jodoverse". The Jodoverse incorporates a lot of concepts derived from his film adaptation for "Dune" which obviously fell through…although one day I hope to go to an alternate dimension where Jodorowsky directed Dune. I forgot to mention this guy is also a director (his movie Sante Sangre is fucking out of control). Anyways this guy combines tarot, Zen Buddhism, Shamanism, and a shit ton of Philosophy into his work. He also tried to sue the 5th Element for ripping off The Incal, but lost because Moebius himself approved of and worked on the movie, or something.
Adam Warren- Empowered, Gen 13, Livewires, Dirty Pair
As a female, I really adore Adam Warren because in my opinion he writes the BEST female characters. He is obviously influenced by manga and I am convinced that he is really a girl in disguise. PLUS, his manga/american art style is fantastic (have you seen his pencils?), that dude can draw the shit out of the human body…AND the human body wearing CLOTHES. Anyways, I really respect that in Empowered he writes about an inherently "good" female super hero, who also really enjoys monogamous sex. Go ahead...try to name some other "good" female heroes who openly like dick. Now name some "bad" female villains who openly like dick. The list is extremely unbalanced, and that bothers me. A lot of men don't know how to write a woman who likes sex without making her a slut because these guys have some unhealthy Madonna/Whore complex, it's such a drag. So thanks for your good work Adam Warren!
Brian Michael Bendis- House of M, Alias, Secret Invasion, Powers, Ultimate Spider Man, Daredevil
Seriously, Bendis is one of the most successful writers working in mainstream comics. His books have had consistently high sales for over a DECADE. He's a staple of the super-hero genre. You're definitely going to read something of his at some point.
Geoff Johns-Teen Titans, Blackest Night, JSA, The Flash, 52
So if you like Smallville, you should check this guy out because he was a writer on that show. Johns is mainly a DC writer and his job has been to "fix" hackneyed characters and teams through reducing the team/character to a single simple core idea…for example “The Flash needs to slow down”. This formula has so far been working out well for a lot of us.
Jeph Loeb- Batman: Long Halloween, Batman: Hush, Daredevil: Yellow
This guy has racked up tons of awards for his writing and much of his earlier work is considered "classic". He likes his characters to have A LOT of inner-monologues and writes a mean murder-mystery. Also, everyone agrees his best work is when he pairs up with artist Tim Sale.