When I am interested in buying comics, the first thing I look at isn’t the cool image on the cover, but the credits along the top of the page. Then, the first name I look to is the writer. That’s the deciding factor for me. In the past, some people looked at comic book writers as two-bit hacks who couldn’t cut it as screenwriters and found work in the funny pages instead, but that’s not the case today. Plenty of people have found comic book writing to be their calling in life; it’s not a stopgap between more prestigious employment, nor is it an easy way to earn a buck.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a great artist attached, and, as luck would have it, that’s frequently the case with the industry’s best writers. They have the clout necessary to snatch up the best artists.
It’s alway saddening to see a good artist go to waste when working with a lousy script. For example, one of my absolute favorite artists right now is Frazier Irving. I recently found an Iron Man mini-series drawn entirely by him and thought it would be amazing. Frazier Irving has an eye-catching, cyberpunk style and it seemed like if he were working with Iron Man it’d be a perfect match. Unfortunately, Iron Man: Inevitable had a crummy, convoluted, and cliche story that not even Irving’s work could save. Afterwords, I found a mini-series about The Inhumans drawn by Frazier Irving and written by David Hine and it was worlds better. You wouldn’t think so either, since The Inhumans are basically b-list characters.
Bottom line: writing matters.
For the next week or so, I’d like to share who my top five favorite comic book writers are, and I’m going to focus on ones who are currently working. I’ve decided to leave out great writers who only publish comics sporadically these days, such as Neil Gaiman, Jeff Smith, and Alan Moore. I’m mainly interested in the writers who publish something every single month and sometimes more.
If you’re looking for something else to read besides comics, check out my book The Madness of Art Short Stories.
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