Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Most Influential Writers in Comics (Part 1)

A few months ago, I saw this online article about who the editors thought were the most influential comic artists (I'd post a link, but I don't remember what the address is and I'm too damn lazy to look it up). That got me to thinking as to who the most influential writers were. Writers don't get as much attention; as comics are a visual medium, naturally, the artist is the first thing that grabs the attention. In the past 20 years or so, however, writers have gotten more notice, so hopefully this will be interesting. If not, well, here's a goofy Lois Lane cover to tide you over.

Question: Is Lois asleep, or are her eyes closed as she enjoys the bondage? Your answer will tell you alot about yourself.

So, here we go, in no particular order. I will, say, though, that the first two I'll talk about I regard as THE most influential. So, let's get to it!

Stan Lee: While there are certainly many valid criticisms of Stan's work, the fact is that Stan gave a kick in the pants to the industry as a whole. By focusing on continuity and melodrama, Stan helped transform comics into a form we recognize today.

Alan Moore: This almost a no-brainer. When you write a comic that's almost always on Time's Greatest Novels list, you're gonna be on this list. Certainly, Moore helped elevate the status of writing in comics. Moore's credited with ushering in the "deconstruction" trend of comics and superheroes, I don't think that's entirely accurate. Reading his works, I think that Moore just gave serious thought as to what the world would look like if superheroes really existed and applied that to his writing.

Plus, the man has a beard of epic proportions.

That's either comics most acclaimed writer or a deranged prospector circa 1849.

Otto Binder: With his work on Captain Marvel, Binder helped define what made the Golden Age of Comics in particular and the medium as a whole in general. The fact that his Golden Age work was so prolific, including stints for not only Fawcett, but companies like Marvel and MLJ, would help solidify his place on his list. Then, he went on to the Superman books. There, he helped introduce the Legion of Superheroes, Krypto, Supergirl, and a host of other contributions, thereby furthering the Superman mythos and the tropes we associate with the Silver Age.

Jack "The King" Kirby: While his legacy as an artist is without question, I think his contributions as a writer often go overlooked. He created Darkseid, arguably one of the coolest villains in comics. Not only that, but his creation of the rest of the Fourth World, not to mention concepts like Cadmus, Etrigan, Kamandi, and others helped to give the DC Universe a more coherent and rich cosmology. Plus, his work has influenced many of the producers of DC's current animated series. Kirbyesque elements have been found in Superman, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Any one of these programs have probably reached a larger audience than 10 or more current titles, thus ensuring that Kirby will have a reach of influence far outside the comic medium.

Frank Miller: While I'm not a fan, you have to admit that the man sells comics. His violent, noir influenced stories pretty much ushered in the "grim 'n gritty" phase of comics. Plus, with the success of the Batman films, influenced by Miller's writing, not to mention films like 300, Miller is leaving a mark on Hollywood, so much so that he's managed to fool people into thinking he's a director.

Much to our chagrin....

Coming soon, Part 2!

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