Top 100 American Comic Book Artists

So, geek that I am, I was surfing for profiles on comic book artists, forget which one at the time, maybe Richard Corben or something.

In the process, I ran across a site dedicated to “The Top 100 Artists of American Comic Books.”

It is an interesting list, more so because it gives a brief biography of 100 artists than as a rating of those artists. They have a pretty narrow criteria for who makes their list and it leaves off people like Hal Foster, the late, great comic strip artist of Prince Valiant and Alex Raymond, known for creating the Flash Gordon strip. The list also leaves off Underground Comix artists completely, so there’s nothing on Richard Corben, Jeffrey Jones, or Robert Crumb.

I do enjoy the list, for nothing more than a historical perspective on the artists, what they did, and when they did it.

But I do have some disagreements with the list. I’ll give them props on their Top 20. There’s nary an artist there I disagree with and putting Jack Kirby at #1 more than makes up for any other errors in the list. Although I’m sure there are some that might think #1 and #2 should be switched and Will Eisner should be the Top Dog.

Although I could make a case that Bill Everett at #75, Joe Orlando at #74, and Bill Elder at #72 are all too low, my real gripe begins with Carmine Infantino at #65. Anyone who read DC in the 1960s, knew his work. He was nearly to DC what Kirby was to Marvel. In fact, it was Infantino who rang in the Silver Age, reintroducing The Flash to a new generation.

Another shame is Bernie Wrightson at #61. Bernie drew many great covers for DC, notably for House of Mystery and House of Secrets. His work on the first ten issues of Swamp Thing alone should have put him into the Top 25.

John Romita Jr at #52 and Jim Lee at #51 certainly deserve better. And I find it hard to stifle my anger over the fact that Jim Starlin, one of comic’s stellar artists, failed to even make the list.

But once you get to the Top 20, as I said, it’s hard to complain with such greats as John Buscema, Jim Sterenko, John Romita, Sr., Barry Windsor-Smith, Joe Kubert, Gil Kane, Al Williamson, Steve Dikto, Frank Frazetta, Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, and Neal Adams.

So if you’re interested in seeing where your favorite artist falls on this list, or just want to reminisce about the history of comics, here’s the link to the list.

The Top 100 Artists of American Comic Books


Goodbye, Will

One of the all-time great comics illustrators and humorists, Will Elder, passed away yesterday at the age of 86.

I remember him mostly from the Mad Magazine paperback reissues in the 60s. I was far too young to have seen his stuff first hand, but those paperback reissues were filled with hilarious brand of illustration. And on occasion, my dad would let me read (or I snuck) a Playboy or two to see Will’s cartoon feature, Little Annie Fannie.

I think what was most compelling about his drawings was the detail, no, the busyness of the artwork. You could look at any panel of his for the longest time because there was always something going on in the background, on the sides, everywhere. It was a gag within a gag within a gag.

Here’s a sample of his artwork, borrowed from Mad
Will Elder Restaurant

(Click on thumbnail for enlargement)

If you’d like to read more about Will and his bizarre sense of humor, there are some good anecdotes over at Wikipedia.

Now, there’s less laughter in the world. Goodbye, Will.