Since I am a comicbook aficionado, or should I say a sequential art aficionado, from way way waaay back (my first loves were The Avengers and X-Men of the mid seventies, and Mad Magazine), it was only a matter of time until I put my list-making obsession to work for a subject such as this. So here goes. First off, please allow me to mention the multitudes of talented comicbook writin' folks (both of the superhero and non superhero variety) that did not make the list. And remember, many of these guys and gals (though being the rather misogynistic artform that it is, not many gals) have acted as both writer and artist, but this list is just for their respective writing talents. We'll get to the best comicbook artists in another, future list.
So, these runners-up are, in no particular order, Jim Starlin (Captain Marvel, Infinity Gauntlet), Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, The Authority, Marvel's Civil War), Marv Wolfman (Tomb of Dracula, Crisis on Infinite Earths), Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Criminal, Incognito, Gotham Central), Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias, New Avengers), Walt & Louise Simonson (Thor, Fantastic Four, X-Factor, Superman: Man of Steel), J. Michael Straczynski (The Amazing Spider-Man, Ten Grand, Twilight Zone), Scott Snyder (American Vampire, Batman, The Wake), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Warren Ellis (Hellblazer, Transmetroplitan), Denny O'Neil (Green Lantern/Green Arrow, The Question), Joss Whedon (Runaways, Astonishing X-Men), and my current fave writer, Matt Fraction (FF, Hawkeye, The Immortal Iron Fist). And yes, there are many more (Brian K. Vaughn, Peter David, Garth Ennis, Mike Mignola, Gail Simone, Gardner Fox, Jim Shooter, Jay Lynch, Spain Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Jeff Lemire, et cetera), but I'm tired of typing, so let's move on.
To type a little more, there are three rather famous comics writers/artists that many will probably question why the fuck they are not on this list. But alas, I could only find room for eleven comicbook writers on this top ten list (yeah, I cheated a little to squeeze in an extra), so these three goodfellas had to accept honourable mention status. The first is Art Spiegleman. The importance and historical significance of his books Maus and Maus II, would make him a good candidate for this list, but alas (again) he just missed out. The second is Will Eisner, author of The Spirit and Contract with God. Hell, he even has an award named after him, but still, he just misses out. The other just-misser is Robert Crumb. Yeah, I know, he's a legend, but his talent tends to go more toward the drawing rather than writing side of things (drawing for other writer's works), so he is left on the cutting room floor. But enough of this. Let's get a-goin'.
And awaaaaaaay we go...
Gilbert, Jaime, and sometimes Mario, created one of the most enduring, elaborate series' in alternative comics history. First published in 1982, and still going strong today with brand new stories, Love and Rockets was a groundbreaking work in the early days of the 1980's alt comics scene. A love story to the punk movement of the day, as well as an extremely intricate comic book world.
Often described as the Poet Laureate of Cleveland, Harvey Pekar is most famous for his ongoing American Splendor comicbook series. Drawn by an array of underground comix artists (including Robert Crumb and Spain Rodriguez), the series tells the story of Pekar's harried life and times. Hey, and the movie adaptation with Paul Giamotti, ain't half bad either.
Best known for being the creator, editor, and oft times writer of the satiric and quite iconic Mad Magazine back in the rag's early days, Kurtzman, who has a comics award named after him (The Harvey), was one of the great innovators, one of the great movers and shakers, one of the great auteurs of the comic book scene. Oh yeah, and he did comics for Playboy too.
From 1975 to 1991, Claremont didn't just write the Uncany X-Men - he was the Uncanny X-Men. Creating some of the best stories in comics history (I grew up loving these pre-saturation days mutants), as well as being the creator of some of the best characters in Marvel's gallery (Rogue, Psylocke, Kitty Pryde, Phoenix, Gambit, Sabretooth, are just some of the man's creations) gets this guy on any list worth reading.
Writing and drawing stories that young people of all ages can relate to, the sadly little known Clowes' quirky narratives, non-linear storytelling, and wry humour (as well as his unique artistic style), make him the best indie, non-superhero comicbook writer around. Fun stuff indeed. He did have a bit of a run-in with Shia LaBeouf recently, so maybe that will get his recognition up. He deserves to be read by more people dammit!
5. Neil Gaiman
Enter Sandman. Gaiman, one of several Britons on this list, and a Hugo and Nebula award winner, was brought on by DC Comics, via their Vertigo imprint, to re-invent an old and forgotten character. I guess he did okay with these stories. Yeah, just a bit. His Sandman stories are now some of the best and most important works in modern comics. And he created Coraline as well.
(Animal Man, All-Star Superman, Batman Incorporated)
Comic book writer, playwright, and occultist, this Zen-like Scottish guru put his formidable narrative sequential art skills to bear, and did major revamps on everyone from Animal Man (Buddy Baker has never been better than under Morrison's wing), to the JLA, to the "New" X-Men, as well as incorporating the Caped Crusader. Plus he was also the main creative force behind my all-time favourite Superman story.
Credited as being the guy who gave Batman his balls back in the seminal Dark Knight Returns (possibly the greatest superhero comic book of all-time), badboy Miller is also the man responsible for doing the same with Daredevil, as well as the man who created, then killed, then resurrected Elektra. He also did a little series called Sin City. You might have heard of that one.
Yep, that's right. Stan and Jack were the guiding forces behind the reinvention of the superhero comic book that ushered in the Silver Age of Comics. Without these guys (Stan as writer and Jack as artist, and uncredited co-writer) there would be no Marvel Comics. There would be no Fantastic Four. No X-Men. No Incredible Hulk. No Marvel Comics. They were the Dylan and Elvis of the comic book world.
This cat may be delusional as all get out, as well as more than just a bit batshitcrazy (and I love him for it), but when it comes to writing comics, from superheroes to anti-superheroes, to every twisted beast in between, Alan Moore, the Shakespeare of sequential art, is more than just the creme de la fucking creme of the whole goddamn crazy bunch of 'em. Much much more. Much much Moore.
That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.