Tuesday Top Fifteen: Our Favorite Creators Patrick

Nothing But Comics is about to hit our three year mark and in observance of the site’s anniversary, every Tuesday from now until we finish, one of our staff members will list off their favorite comics creators all time. This week it’s Patrick

Honorable Mention: Klaus Janson, Paul Pope, Ed Brubaker, Joe Casey, Gilbert Hernandez, Chris Claremont, Jonathan Hickman, David Mazzuchelli, Steve Gerber, Christopher Priest, Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon, Chris Bachalo, Darwyn Cooke, Sam Kieth, Steve Englehart

preacher0115. Garth Ennis

Selected works: Preacher, The Punisher, Fury Max, Hellblazer, Battlefields, Unknown Soldier, War Stories, Hitman, Ghost Rider: Road To Damnation, Judge Dredd

A writer whose bad idea’s are always threatening to overshadow the good ones, Ennis is a creator whose extended bibliography is littered with duds. In fact, the last three years or more of Ennis comics have been pretty much awful all around. Yet, when he’s on, there are few comics writers that are superior at his unique strength. Getting his start with Fleetway/2000AD in Great Britain, Ennis first got noticed by American comics readers for his seminal extended run on Hellblazer. Coming onto the series after the books first writer Jamie Delano; Ennis did more to define the character then any writer since. Yet while Ennis initially made his mark on work for hire comics, it would be his creation’s in the 1990’s that would truly define him as one of the mediums most important writers in Preacher & Hitman. Both series would be seminal works of satire that  would forever alter comics for their depth of both insight and depravity. Later on, he would do some of the best Mavel books of the 21st century in Ghost Rider: Road To Damnation, Fury Max & his extended Punisher run. Ennis’s contribution to Punisher cannon is so significant, that every creator on the book since his time is inevitably compared to Ennis and so far, nobody has measured up.
But perhaps his greatest contribution to comics comes in his writing about war. From series focused on the topic like War Stories or Battlefields, his usage of it in work for hire like Fury Max & The Unknown Soldier or his natural way of inserting it into his own creations like Preacher or HItman; Ennis has been comics singular expert on the topic for over twenty years. Not content to glorify or disparge it, Ennis writing explores the human element thoroughly with a highly detailed historical perspective that is never afraid to explore it’s dark side while having the restraint to not dwell in it. Some of the best issues in his best work like Preacher and Punisher were focused on war while his last great comics, Fury Max & Battllefields, are entirely centered on the subject. He is among the greatest writers on the topic in all media and his extended bibliography is a treasure trove on the subject and all it’s minutia.

image14. George Perez

Selected works: New Teen Titans, Crisis of Infinite Earths, Avengers, Wonder Woman, Infinity Gauntlet, JLA, Final Crisis: Legion Of Three Worlds

Perhaps the second most important artist in superhero comics, Perez has been a fixture in the medium since the silver age. His work with writer Marv Wolfman on New Teen Titans & Crisis of Infinite Earths has proved to be two of the most important series in DC Comics history during the Bronze age while his extended work on The Avengers from the 1970’s and 1990’s were each high water marks for the properties. Perez style is deceptively straightforward with some of comics all time great panel composition while having continiously evolved over time. His work on Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu from the 1970’s differe’s from his Wonder Woman which in turn feel’s different from his work Infinity Gauntlet and so on. Furthermore, Perez co-created some of the most interesting and diverese set of charchter’s in superhero comics when the medium was still largely humogonous in it’s portrayal of white males. In New Teen Titans alone, he co-created Cyborg, Starfire, Deathstroke, Raven, Harbinger, Terra & Trigon The Terrible in addition to Taskmaster, The Anti-Monitor & Henry Peter Gyrich along with updates on classic hero’s like Cheetah, Vigilante, Ares or the transition of Dick Grayson from Robin to Nightwing. While his most recent work on books like Superman or Green Arrow have suffered from an erratic work schedule caused by chronic illness, his importance to the medium is undeniable.

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13. Jerome Opena

Selected works: Uncanny X-Force, Avengers, Infinity, The Punisher, Avengers: Rage of Ultron, Fear Agent

Having entered comics in the early 2000’s, Jerome Opena has established himself as one of the two best comics artists of the 21st century. Debuting in Star Wars tales and having done extended work on Lone with writer Stuart Moore, Opena exploded onto the scene with writer Rick Remender on Fear Agent. Opena would further establish himself with Remender on The Punisher before fully realizing his tremendous talent on the iconic Uncanny X-Force. Opena’s illustrations on the title were ground breaking with what is now proven to be the best X-Men series since Morrison’s time on the New X-Men title. With Remender, Opena drew an epic morality play with boundless imagination and creativity. Opena would further expand his style with Jonathan Hickman on the opening arc of his Avengers reboot and the Infinity event while re-teaming with Remender on the excellent Avengers: Rage Of Ultron graphic novel. Having been Marvel’s best illustrator for the better part of the last decade, Opena returns with Remender to creator owned comics with this fall’s Seven To Eternity, which if the preview art is any indication, looks to be another epic evolution for the artist.

image12. Mike Mignola

Selected works: Hellboy, BPRD, Cosmic Odyssey, World of Krypton, Rocket Raccoon, Alien: Salvation, Batman: Gotham By Gaslight, Sledgehammer ’44, Abe Sapien, Baltimore, Bram Strokers Dracula

Not since Jack Kirby has an a creator had such success in his creations as Mike Mignola with his Hellboy charachter and it’s exapnsive universe. Starting as a convention sketch, Mignola has mined a sprawling universe where silver age superhero tropes collide with Lovecraftian mythology for some of the most imaginative and compelling genre comics of the last thirty years. Moreover, Mignola’s expanded Hellboy mytho’s has provided a wider audience to some of comics most dynamic creators like the brothers Gabriel Ba & Fabio Moon, James Harren, Richard Corben, Dave Stewart, Duncan Fegrado, Ryan Sook, Michael Avon Oeming, Paul Azeceta, Jason Latour, Max Fiumara, Tyler Crook and more. In addition to his Hellboy work, Mignola has an engrossing cataouge of work at DC and Marvel. From Cosmic Odyssey to Gotham By Gaslight to Rocket Raccoon; Mignola’s pre-Hellboy comics represent some of the best and most unique of their era with his signature style. His art is an exercise in simplicity and negative space that’s proved adaptable to almost any kind of comics story before devoting his time exclusively to the gothic horror of Hellboy. Whether considering his creator owned work or the comics he started on, Mignola’s importance is unparalleled.

image11. Bill Sienkiewicz

Selected works: Moon Knight, The Shadow, New Mutants, Elektra Assassin, Daredevil: Life & Death, Daredevil: End Of Days

Hailing from a small town New Jersey, artist Bill Sienkiewicz would help redefine comics art almost from the moment he got his start doing Moon Knight at Marvel, Sienkiewicz lush and beautiful visual storytelling has become the standard for a particular strain of comics surrealism that he remains a master of. Often imitated but never duplicated; a Sienkiewicz comic is immediately identifiable for it’s classically rendered painting mixed with jagged 1980’s subway graffiti style for a mind blowing visual narration. Very much a product of the vibrant artistic movement of New York City in the 70’s and 80’s; his style is a contrast in the beauty and grime of that period. In that sense, his mid to late 1980’s work remains the high point of his artistry on classic’s like New Mutants, Elektra Assassin, Stray Toasters & The Shadow.  Yet even past what was his most prolific period, Sienkiewicz has stayed a fixture in comics remaining one of the best cover artists in the medium in addition to one of it’s great interior illustrators and inkers for comics like Nightwing/Huntress, Daredevil: End of Days, Wolverine & more. A dynamic talent with boundless ability and imagination, Sienkiewicz remains comics great stylist.

image10. Jim Starlin

Selected works: Captain Marvel, Warlock, The Infinity Gauntlet, Cosmic Odyssey, Batman: The Cult, Dreadstar, Breed, DC Comics Presents

As Marvel was embraced by America’s 1960’s counter culture; Jim Starlin would embody those ideal’s better then any comic’s creator has since his debut doing finishes on Amazing Spiderman. His next job would be illustrating three issues of Iron Man. In that short amount of time, Starlin would create both Thanos & Drax The Destroyer; the latter a member of the insanely popular Guardians Of The Galaxy film and the former, a fixture of the entire Marvel cinematic universe whose presence has been built up through almost the entire history of the film series. In addition to the aforementioned characters, Starlin would go on to co-create fellow Guardian Gamora along with DC villain’s Mongul and KGBeast. But most importantly; Jim Starlin created the concept of the infinite. Before Starlin; comics had approached ideas of the universe, theology, the multiverse, death, existentialism ect Starlin embraced all of it and wove the seems between all these concepts; most prominently in his time on Marvel’s Captain Marvel & Warlock. Before Captain Marvel & Warlock, hippies and acid heads had to extrapolate the counterculture psychedelic themes they were searching for in silver age comics; Starlin not only made all this readily apparent in his work but went beyond that to explore what it actually meant.  Captain Marvel & Warlock will always be Starlin’s most prominent work; they’re each important evolutions for the medium. But Starlin didn’t stop there by any means; he would explore and expand on similar themes in his later work like the excellent Cosmic Odyssey with Mike Mignola and his creator owned Dreadstar & Breed. He’d create some of the most bat shit crazy Batman comics in the 1980’s with the Joker becoming Libya’s UN Delegate in Death In The Family, Batman wearing a Ronald Reagan disguise in Night Of The Beast & an underground homeless army set on destroying Gotham at the behest of a maniacal preacher in The Cult. He wrote what’s become the gold standard for superhero event comics in Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet and then followed it up with the almost as good Infinity War & Infinity Quest.  He created a one shot comic to raise money for famine in Africa, wrote a Captain Marvel graphic novel that was entirely about the character accepting his death at the hands of cancer and co-created Shang Chi with Steve Engleheart after they were inspired by seeing their shadow’s cascade across a giant building while tripping on acid in Manhattan’s financial district. This is all to say that to approximate Starlin’s many achievements and innovations in comics in this format is nearly impossible, would be impossible for me to do in a whole article and probably requires an entire hardcover biography to really capture the magnitude of his work and life in the medium. His impact can never be overstated and continues to expand as he Is still creating some of the strangest and most thought provoking comics after over fifty years in the medium. It’s been one strange trip for Starlin and I’m just happy to be along for the ride.

tumblr_lnq9ncfxzg1qhg2u2o1_5009. Frank Quitely

Selected works: All Star Superman, We3, JLA: Earth 2, The Authority, Multiversity, Flex Mentallo, New X-Men, Batman & Robin, Jupiter’s Legacy

After spending years working in underground comics, Frank Quitely collaborated with fellow Scottish comics creator Grant Morrison on the Vertigo miniseries Flex Mentallo and the rest is history. Having forged a creative partnership with Morrison and their fellow Scotsman Mark Millar, Quitely has been comics best artist with a major publisher for close two twenty years for his arts epic scope, dynamic movement, stunning detail, expressive visual storytelling and innovation. If it’s accepted that Grant Morrison and Mark Millar are two of the most important comics writers post bronze age, it’s undeniable that Quitely’s work with the writers has been irrefutably essential in their strongest work. That’s because Quitely’s ability to capture his expansive imagination visually is second to no one else in comics. At his best, Quitely creates comics that fully realize the mediums potential. A comic is only as good as it’s artist so it goes without saying that a Quitely comic is rarely anything less then phenomenal.

image8.  Warren Ellis

Selected works: The Authority, Planetary, Transmetropolitan, Moon Knight, Hellblazer, Iron Man: Extremis, Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E, Global Frequency

Look at the best Image comics series of this sites existence and then single out all the series choosen with creative talents that got their start after Warren Ellis’s iconic series The Authority, Planetary and Transmetropolitan. There is almost a near certainty that any of those Image Comics series is being created by a comics professional that got their start on the Warren Ellis forums or was brought into comics by a creator that had come out of the Warren Ellis forums. Creating a fan forum is nothing remarkable but it’s success is key in understanding the importance of Warren Ellis; because where every other comics creator saw their forums as just forums, Ellis saw it as space to foster a community of like minded individuals and those said like minded individuals could network with another and trade ideas, which in turn would allow the most talented of the bunch to learn from one another and further evolve their own style. And in consequence, you now have Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, all got noticed and met one another through Warren Ellis’s web forums and as such, we now have Sex Criminals, The Wicked + The Divine, Hawkeye, Young Avengers, Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly, Bitch Planet, Cassanova, Darth Vader, Young Avengers and many more of the best and most vital comics series of the past decade. Ellis didn’t go out of his way to make these books happen and it seems doubtful that he lobbied anybody at Marvel or Image to get these series published; he simply understood the potential for his forums and created the conditions for it’s success.

There is so much to love about Warren Ellis; his sharp wit, piercing insights, boundless imagination and fearless story choices make every series he does essential reading. But what has become Ellis’s greatest strength and the way by which he has most effected the medium is by his inate ability to see potential and then execute on it in his vision. It’s how The Authority became the template for superhero comics, how Iron Man: Extremis and Moon Knight became the new standard for the characters after he wrote their books, how he can make great comics from otherwise bad comics publishers like Avatar or Dynamite and why Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E, Transmetropolitan, Planetary and his brief time on Hellblazer have proven to be so ahead of their time that comics are just catching up to them now now. Too many public figures are self described futurist and too many comics creators make up those public figures. The only real futurist I know that isn’t a scientist is Warren Ellis and that’s because he understands how the future is made. Potential, vision and execution; for Ellis that consistently equates to brilliance.

image7. Brian K Vaughan

Selected works: Y The Last Man, Saga, Paper Girls, Runaways, Logan, Batman, The Pride of Baghdad, Swamp Thing, Dr Strange: The Oath, Ex-Machina, The Walking Dead: The Alien, The Private Eye

In terms of comics creators on this specific list, nobody comes close to Brian K Vaughan in his importance for comics right at this very moment. Vaughan started on superhero comics with Marvel but would soon establish himself as one of comics most vital talents from his own creations in Y. The Last Man, Runaways and Ex-Machina. After a brief stop in television, Vaughan has fully realized his potential within the last four years in a series of iconic creator owned series like Saga, The Private Eye & Paper Girls. A Brian K Vaughan comic is immediately recognizable for it’s brilliant observations, profound character work and casually endless imagination. Vaughan is the rare comics writer that is a master of having his unique idea’s transfer seamlessly into an amazing story with a dynamic cast. His science fiction and fantasy comics always act as sharp and insightful metaphors for their time periods without ever beating readers over the head with it’s message. As a comics writer, he innately understands the importance of his artist and his comics are often some of the most spectacular looking books on the shelf from week to week. As genre art continues to be defined by it’s connection to nostalgia for what proceeded it, Vaughan perhaps represent the best possible outcome for that trend. A creator whose work wears it’s influence proudly on it’s sleeve, Vaughan’s comics almost always transcend them to become something singular to his own voice and with idea’s that are looking directly at the world in the time of it’s creation. That is all to say that Vaughan at his best creates comics that are timeless and based on his output over just the last year alone, that doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon.

image6. Jim Steranko

Selected works: Strange Tales, Nick Fury: Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D, Captain America

Enigmatic, sleek and just cool enough; Jim Steranko was a comet turned deadly meteor of comics silver age; burning brightly for a short period of time and then changing everything in his wake. Fresh out of Redding, PA by way of motorcycle to Marvel’s New York offices, Steranko’s brief time illustrating and writing for Nick Fury and Captain America forever changed each character and by proxy, Marvel comics as a whole. At this point it’s just accepted conventional wisdom that Steranko is the creative force behind the best Captain America and Nick Fury comics of all time as his work on the titles define iconic. The small sample size  of his comics is breathlessly vivid in it’s storytelling and craft.  So much of Steranko’s work, the imfamous four page spread to the debut of Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D and it’s iconic opening chapter, completely altered the medium by breaking down and reconfiguring the conventional wisdom of visual story telling. And then almost as quickly as he had rocked comics, he was gone. Over a dispute with Stan Lee about a short horror comic and it’s HP Lovecraft homage, Steranko stepped away from comics to further his career in advertising, book publishing, music and literal magic. While occasionally popping up for a cover or promotional art, Steranko’s absence has been mitigated only by his seismic influence on the comics medium. There is rarely a new comic every Wednesday that doesn’t owe a debt to Steranko in one way or another in spite of his limited output. His influence transcends his total body of work and continues to be a foundational force in the practice of visual storytelling via comic books.

image5. Walt Simonson

Selected works: The Mighty Thor, Starslammers, X-Factor, Orion, Robocop vs Terminator, Avengers, Star Wars, Fantastic Four

A creative juggernaut with a style and voice all his own, Walt Simonson comics are a force of immediate excitement and immersion. Having started out on his own Starslammers, Simonson was comics most dynamic and exciting illustrator of his generation. Simonson is one part the design aesthetic of Jack Kirby mixed with a cartoonish yet sharp angled line and exhilarating visual story telling. In that sense; Simonson is the master of superhero comics action, effortlessly blending the imaginative and  invigorating in equal measure. His Mighty Thor, Starslammers, X-Factor & Orion are essential reading for any comics readers but especially superhero readers as his highs within the genre top almost all of his counterparts. In an era that brought the world the likes of Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Mike Mignola, Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri and Bill Sienkiewicz while seeing star artists like John Byrne & George Perez at the height of their popularity; Simonson’s comics work stands as the gold standard for it’s creativity and casual innovation of that era. Nobody has ever tried to replicate Simonson because nobody can; he remains in a class all his own to this day.

image4. Alan Moore

Selected works: The Watchmen, The Saga Of The Swamp Thing, Miracle Man, Batman: The Killing Joke, Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, Superman: For The Man Who Has Everything, Supreme, Prometha, From Hell, Star Wars, Spawn 

Alan Moore can be easy to not like. If you read comics, it’s highly probable he has made public statements belittling you in addition to comics and comics creators that you love.  As he’s burned bridges across the industry, his work has continued to suffer for exposure and quality as he’s aligned with gross out fest Avatar and it’s low rent PR arm Bleeding Cool, two entities that would have been so far beneath Moore at the height of his powers it’s hard to imagine how he managed to get here in the first place. Moore announced his retirement from comics recently and it’s probably for the best at this point. Yet to discount Alan Moore for being an asshole altogether or to let that even somewhat detract from the importance of his work is a grave mistake as his overall contributions to the genre is unparalleled.

There’s no one particular series or era that can best exemplify Moore’s importance as he spent decades making some of the best and most important work in the medium. From his early work for hire with Marvel he was writing on a level above everybody else. Moore’s iconic turn on Miracle Man and his mind bending Swamp Thing run would lead to his most influential run of work in Watchmen, The Killing Joke, V For Vendetta and From Hell. A fallout with DC Comics would remove the spotlight from Moore somewhat but the high quality of his work on early Image books and his own America’s Best Comics line represent some of the best comics of their time. Moore’s writing is complex, heartfelt and thoughtful. Long being said to have made comics “grow up” from his iconic DC series, the better description is evolve which he never stopped doing afterwards in spite of the industries attempts to shut him out. Alan Moore’s comics are a journey like nothing else and continue to reveal new and exciting truths about themselves for years after their initial release. In that way, Moore’s best comic work is often evergreen allowing for multiple readings overtime. In addition to the actual quality of his work, few comics pro’s have done more or suffered as much for it as Moore had for creator rights. As DC Comics continuously went back on their word with Moore while exploiting his own creations, Moore has vocally stood up to the corporate subsidiary through all means possible and comics now, with it’s creator owned renaissance and the variety of work for hire books, is undoubtedly better for it. No matter what Moore may say and no matter how much his work may have suffered recently; his place in the medium is set in stone and comics has done nothing but benefit from his brilliance.

image3. Moebius

Selected works: The Incal, Silver Surfer: Parable, Arzach, The Airtight Garage, Blueberry, Inside Mobieus

Real name Jean Giraud, Moebius is comics master illustrator and the mediums most important non superhero creator. Hailing from France, Moebius’s began working in comics in the mid 50’s, first gaining notice for his Blueberry western series. It would be in 1975 when Moebius genius would be fully realized in his founding of the “Les Humanoides Associes” art collective and the anthology series “Metal Hurlant” or as it’s known in the United States, Heavy Metal. Reading Heavy Metal issue’s from that period, it’s stunning to see the scope of imagination and level of quality throughout the issue’s many strips. It is also remarkable to see just how far ahead Moebius was of his peers in comparing all their work at the time against his and really, comics still hasn’t caught up. Moebius’s creates surrealists comics with a line style that could probably best be described as casually hyper detailed. Moebius comics are completely unpredictable but consistently profound. His imagination and ability were limitless and that spirit continues to permeate comics at their best.

image2. Jack Kirby

Selected works: Fantastic Four, Captain America, The New Gods, Khamandhi The Last Boy On Earth, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, Devil Dinosaur, Eternals, 2001 A Space Odyssey , Infinity Man & the Forever People, Mister Miracle, Black Panther, Challengers Of The Unknown, Journey Into Mystery, Avengers, Thor, Tales To Astonish

The DC vs Marvel studios battle for summer tent pole supremacy reached peaked absurdity levels with the petition to “shut down” Rotten Tomatoes because “their critics give DC movies bad reviews” Yet within all the noise, one fact that was completely overlooked was Jack Kirby. Marvel’s Civil War was compossed of characters almost entirely created by Jack Kirby while in Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice, Kirby’s Stepenwolf was set up as the big bad for the Justice League film with his Parademons, presumably to get to Darkseid in the following movie. This would be a monumental achievement for the creator, competing movie studios each utilizing his creations for two of the most hyped movies of the summer. Jack Kirby never did live to see the heights that superhero’s had achieved in cinema but I don’t think he had to because time and again, the imagination of his comics work superseded anything else and even with all his creations filling multiplex’s across the world over, it still does by a pretty wide margin.

There’s a difference between “best” and “most important” Brian K. Vaughan is the best writer at Image Comics, Robert Kirkman is the most important. Jack Kirby is both in terms of superhero comics creators; the quality, volume and influence of his work across the genre is unprecedented and will probably always stand alone as the gold standard. Jack Kirby was a brilliant artist that could draw several beautifully complex and visceral monthly issues on time. He was a smart storyteller that could follow multiple connecting thread lines from several different comics series while still making each single issue of each single series feel complete. He introduced a level of complexity and humanity into superhero comics that had never been there prior. He was a brilliant designer as can be attested to the longevity of his character’s superhero costumes and looks; nobody will ever change Galactacus, Darkseid, Black Panther, Mr. Miracle, Nick Fury, Orion or Black Bolt because they looked absolutely perfect the first time out. His imagination and casual philosophy about time and space is unaccompanied  it it’s thoughtful excellence. There is not a single creator on this list or any future one that does not owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kirby. Even over twenty years after he passed away, Kirby is still the king, we are his subjects and he is honored indefinitely.

image1. Grant Morrison

Selected works: All Star Superman, New X-Men, Doom Patrol, Animal Man, Multiversity, Batman: Gothic, We3,   JLA, Marvel Boy, DC One Million, Kid Eternity, The Invisibles, Flex Mentallo, Seaguy, Joe The Barbarian, Kill Your Boyfriend, Batman Inc

Here is the brilliance of Grant Morrison boiled down to it’s essence; give the guy a concept and he can instantly understand it’s most base level appeal. From there, he can mine it to it’s most infinite of possibilities. Morrison is like comics ultimate engineer, he see’s a foundation and then is able to build upon it as high as possible. That combined with his encyclopedia level of knowledge of any and all subjects has made for some of the greatest comics from the bronze age going forward. The list of essential Grant Morrison comics is robust and career spanning; from his early work on Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Kid Eternity and Batman: Gothic, his ascension in the 1990’s on JLA, DC One Million, The Invisibles, Kill Your Boyfriend and Flex Mentallo, his brief stint with Marvel on New X-Men & Marvel Boy, his mid 2000’s vertigo stint on We3, Seaguy & Joe The Barbarian, his return to superhero comics on All Star Superman, his extended Batman run and Final Crisis, all the way up to last year’s tour de-force Multiversity along with creator owned series Nameless, Annihalator and Klaus; there was never a time since Morrison was writing comics that he wasn’t among it’s best and most imaginative creators. That’s over thirty years of remaining on the cutting edge of the medium. In 1988, he was among the best writers and thought leaders in comics, he maintained that status in 1995, in 2000, in 2005, in 2010 and most certainly in 2015; a year we picked more Grant Morrison comics for This Weeks Finest more then any creator has been in one year at Nothing But Comics by a healthy margin. Most comics creators that gained popularity with Morrison in the mid to late 1980’s are either working on the margins or out of the industry altogether. Alan Moore is retiring from the medium with a whimper to overwrite bad novels and Frank Miller can barely put together a final Dark Knight Returns series without the aid of an entire comics team following off his base level ideas. Meanwhile; Morrison released Multiversity, Nameless and Annihalator in 2015. Morrison’s continued relevance is no accident; it’s because of his enthusiasm and brilliance. I’ve never heard another comics creator more passionate about the medium and I’ve never read another comics writer that was capable of coming up with the depth and complexity Morrison’s has while still being easy to understand, true to their source and wildly entertaining. There is no writer that has made think or feel more then Grant Morrison, nobody has taken my mind to the places he has and no one has done more to expand my personal consciousness then he has.

A couple years ago, my father asked me what I had been reading and my partner at the time blurted out “comic books” when trying to explain why this was, the best reason I gave was, with comics unlimited story potential, a lot of them are trying to explore the meaning of life, the source of the universe and all the other big science questions that seem far off and overwhelming yet endlessly fascinating through story and art. Morrison wasn’t the first comics creator to approach these questions and he won’t be the last.  But for the entirety of his time in mainstream comics, he’s been the absolute best at it. He’s expanded it further and he’s done so with more love and passion then any of his peers from any decade. He doesn’t just make comics smart or smart comics fun; he expands them to their full potential. In a comics world were Jonathan Hickman can make an event out of Secret Wars, Scott Snyder has free reign to do as he likes on Batman, Geoff Johns can write a one issue oversized love letter to the DC Comics silver age that spans across time and space, Tom King can turn The Vision into an existential examination of American domestic life and Image Comics continues to push the boundaries of the medium in any number of ways, Morrison’s DNA is at the core of all of that. He could quit right now and have place in the pantheon solidified. But he hasn’t stopped yet and knowing Morrison, he’ll probably figure out a way so that he never will and we’d be as we are now; all the better for it following him further then any of us could ever imagine.

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