iFanboy’s Best of 2011: The Best Comic Writers of 2011

10. Jeff Lemire

There has yet to be any hockey in Animal Man. That in itself seems to merit some inclusion on the list. Quite seriously, 2011 was the year we saw Lemire’s work and his range blossom. From the breakout Animal Man to Frankenstein, as well as continuing the adventures of Sweet Tooth, Lemire keeps showing us that he’s got something new in the bag of tricks, and it’s always a surprise.

 

9. Robert Kirkman

While Bobby Hollywood is off making some of the most popular television on cable, he’s also continued to write 3 continuing, creator-owned series. Invincible is a superhero book. The Walking Dead doesn’t need to be explained to anyone any longer. And Super Dinosaur is an incredibly fun all-ages book. He’s hit the point where we expect a level of quality, and don’t talk about it as much anymore, but all three of his comics were excellent all year. Still! That’s sort of amazing.

8. Mike Mignola & Partners

Whether it’s with John Arcudi on B.P.R.D. or Christopher Golden on Baltimore, or by his lonesome on Hellboy, Mike Mignola’s world made big shifts in 2011, and must be recognized. Over at the Bureau, Hell is literally on Earth. Hellboy ended whatever part of his story we’ve been reading for over a decade, and Lord Baltimore killed a hell of a lot of monsters, and that was with just one leg. This was one of the strongest years for the Mignola-verse in some time, and the prospects of the future are very enticing.

7. Jeff Parker

Jeff Parker made me care about comics I had no business caring about. My apathy on the Hulk knows no bounds, but Jeff Parker’s Hulk issues were jumping with gamma infused fun and imagination. Meanwhile over in Thunderbolts, Parker weathered the storms of crossover hell, and managed to make this supervillain-doing-good team even more fun than it was before. Somehow in the middle of that, he manages to keep doing the bizarre and twisted Bucko webcomic.

6. Jonathan Hickman

Jonathan Hickman does not doubt his abilities, and after this year, he has very little reason to. He broke new ground with the Fantastic Four, making it a must read for the first time in as long as I can remember. He took on the high profile, high action team over in The Ultimates, and still put out the creator owned Red Wing, as well as jump started several creator owned projects at Image, besides. Oh yeah, and he writes Leonardo Da Vinci in the Marvel Universe.

5. Brian Azzarello

I’m not going to say with certainty that 2011 was Brian Azzarello’s second act, but it was his strongest year in a long time, and backed up why his name is so valued on a comic book cover. He released a new series from Vertigo with his 100 Bullets collaborator, Eduardo Risso, doing a sci-fi story that is so far impossible to explain, but even harder to miss. He then made a giant impact in the mainstream world by taking over Wonder Woman, of all characters, and making her readable to a bigger audience. That alone deserves some sort of special Eisner category.

4. Rick Remender

Normally, when you take a team of characters that include Wolverine and Deadpool, and promise that they’ll be a badass killing team, you’ll sell a lot of books and make a big splash. What Rick Remender did, that defies historical logic, was make Uncanny X-Force very good, and who saw that coming? Likewise, Remender went and started a Venom series. Venom! Again, it was unexpected, and turned out to be full of heart and excellent. What Remender does, besides write his ass off, is understand how important art is to comic books, and he make sure he’s got the best, if not necessarily the most popular, artists he can get. The guy understands comic book art, and he’s picking out tomorrow’s superstars as his collaborators today. Finally, he put a closing on Fear Agent, one of my most beloved creator owned series, and he did it with aplomb and panache. As always.

 

3. Mark Waid

Mark Waid is testament to the value of doing your own damn thing. For reasons we may never know, things got very frosty between Waid and DC, so he bolted, leaving him with time to keep making Irredeemable and Incorruptible into the great series they are, sustaining their quality after several years, and really pushing the boundaries of what they originally seemed to be in 2011. They should be “must read” titles for anyone who’s a fan of serial superhero fiction. Then he gave Matt Murdock the most needed facelift in comics in Marvel’s Daredevil, reviving the character from a deep hole, and making a lot of readers very happy. Waid continues to be one of the most enduring talents in comics, and this year, he showed everyone why in a big way.

2. Jason Aaron

It is my contention, and the contention of many others, that Scalped is the best comic book being produced in issue form today. It’s an intuitive masterpiece of characterization and plot. If Jason Aaron only wrote books with the same tone as Scalped, he’d be one of the best guys out there. But that’s not even close to all he does. Over the course of 2011, Aaron penned Wolverine, and even some of those issues were different kinds of Wolverine stories than others he’d written. He took Logan over to lead the school in Wolverine and the X-Men, introducing another kind of writing in his bag. Incredible Hulk? Completely different kind of superhero book. Earlier in the year, he finished up Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine, which was a delight to all who read it. He also wrapped up a wonderful arc on Punisher MAX. The guy can do funny, dark, action, and anything in between. In 2011, Aaron released 55 single issues of comics. He’s also a hell of a hard worker, it would seem.

1. Scott Snyder

A whole lot more people know Scott Snyder’s name today than they did a year ago. With the announcement of the new 52, it was clear that DC was going to bet big on Snyder for their future, and he carried the hell out of that banner. I’ve written an alarming amount of Pick of the Week reviews on Snyder books, and it’s getting harder to find another way to say he’s very good. It’s fair to say that Batman is one of the most popular books of the relaunched DC Universe, and even more than his acclaimed Detective Comics run, it’s made the guy a superstar. He backed that up with reinventing Swamp Thing for a new audience, which no one has ever been successful with since Alan Moore. Meanwhile, if American Vampire was the only thing he was doing, he’d still be one of the best writers in comics. Then, just for good measure, he’s doing some creator owned hobo horror with Severed at Image Comics. It was a banner year by all measures for Scott Snyder, and it still feels like he’s just getting started. In all these projects, he’s been lucky enough to work with some of the best artists in the industry, and to his credit, he hasn’t wasted them at all. He knows the value of those guys, and knows where to let them shine. Finally, he brings more enthusiasm and passion to the job as anyone I’ve met in comics, and that’s really saying something in an industry that runs almost completely on passion.

Comments

  1. lifesend lifesend says:

    I can’t argue with this list. I’m trying to think of someone else worth mentioning and I can’t, except for Chester Brown, but that’s based on only one book. Maybe Grant Morrison? Yeah, I’d probably replace Parker with Morrison, simply because I never read a book he wrote.

  2. Walter Walter says:

    How did the writer of Batgirl, the stephanie brown version, not make this list?

  3. Scott Snyder totally deserves the number 1 spot. His books are the best.

  4. DFWRob DFWRob says:

    It’s a good list. Quite frankly with the dozens of comic book writers working in the medium getting it down to 10 is always going to be a challange.

    The one glaring ommision to me though is Brian Q. Miller who finished up his run on Batgirl which until the flashpoint reboot was one of my favorite series in comics.

    I think an argument can also be made for Bendis for succesfully pulling off the death of Ultimate Peter Parker and a reboot of the Ultimate Spider-Man series. Even though his other work on the Avengers series has been very “meh”.

  5. zombox zombox says:

    While I don’t disagree with Snyder being #1, Remender should be 1b. Both for the quality and quantity of work. Help released around 35 excellent issues this year. Almost 3 years of material and not a single dude. Snyder was similarly prolific in both quality and quantity… Easily the 2 best writers this year.

  6. Gerry Lopez Gerry Lopez says:

    Great list. I would hate to have to put these names in any kind of order, but if I were being nitpicky about it, I would probably put Lemire closer to the top 5.

  7. That top 4 matches mine exactly. Don’t forget that Waid also wrote the very fun Ruse limited series this year as well.

  8. A perfect list. Everyone on this list deserves their place.

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      Seconded. I wish I had more to say about it. I want to nitpick and throw in my two cents… but there just isn’t any room or reason. I don’t think I could make this list any better. Damn you, Josh! I want to argue and be mad!

  9. Minion Minion says:

    I look at this list and then I wonder about all of those people who said Marvel had a terrible year. I think they were only reading Bendis and Fraction books.

    • ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

      I think that’s primarily the reason. In my opinion, Bendis & Fraction have dragged the entire Marvel universe under a shadow pall.

      There has been some good stuff from the House of Ideas this year, just not as much as in years past. And, the good stuff has also had somewhat less fanfare than the clunkers.

  10. Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

    There would be a great many honorable mentions if I was doing honorable mentions. Which I’m not.

  11. TomiH TomiH says:

    Snyder or Aaron, either one deserves top honors.

  12. depending on the issue and the week, you could move all of these names around and still be correct. They’ve all had a great year.

  13. Good list, though I would include Jaime Hernandez and Terry Moore. Their approach to writing a black and white style is unrivaled.

  14. Personally, I’d rank Remender at number 1

  15. JohnNevets says:

    Since I haven’t read everybody on the list, I really shouldn’t comment, but I’m going to anyway. Based on the little I have read of Mr. Lemire this year, and how everybody talks of him, I was a bit surprised he was only in 10, I would have thought closer to 5-7.

    Also I understand why Brian Q. Miller wasn’t on the list, but I do think he deserves all the love he’s getting in the comments plus some. I really hope to see some more stuff from him soon. The only other person I’ve seen write Steph (and internal dialogue in general) that good has been Paul Montgomery.

    • JohnNevets says:

      Yes.., but not in comic book form. He used to do a series of articles (maybe he will again) called “Tuesday Showdown” where he pitted different charcters against each other and left it as a cliff hanger for the rest of us to fill in in the comments. He did one where Batgirl take on Spiderwoman and it was tone perfect for Miller’s version. He also did a letter column for Batgirl and Damion that was pretty good.

  16. koryrosh koryrosh says:

    Great list, though Gray and Palmiotti at least deserve an honorable mention.

  17. Hurray for Kirkman! My favorite writer! I haven’t read anything by most of the writers on this list, but it seems like a good one. Josh forgot to mention the Infinite for Kirkman, and I know he doesn’t read it, and it may not be as good as those other three, but Josh made it sound like he doesn’t have any books besides the three he mentioned. Good list though.

  18. Abjekt Abjekt says:

    I’m so glad Jeff Parker made this list – his Thunderbolts work this year has been outstanding. Didn’t get bogged down by Fear Itself tying in, even made it totally relevant for his book. He’s got the team dynamic down to a T and is able to mix action, humour and characterisation with fantastic skill.

    Really would like more people to check him out, he needs more praise!

  19. Bryce31 Bryce31 says:

    Great list, but I’d put Lemire at No. 2 behind Synder.

  20. debaser17 debaser17 says:

    I’d put Lemire at #2 also, barely missing out on #1 only because Animal Man has yet to take to the ice for a bit of shinny….

  21. KillTheG1mp KillTheG1mp says:

    Scott Snyder: I totally agree! I have yet to read American Vampire and Severed (waiting for trades) but ever since I read those Detective Comics a while ago I got hooked, the guy has talent!

    • Jesse1125 Jesse1125 says:

      I’m not a horror/suspense comic guy(mostly just stick to capes and cowls) but dam if Snyder’s work on Severed is something else.He made me glad I expanded my comic horizons and he’s building up to an awesome finale.

  22. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    Interesting list. Of course, can’t agree with every part but that’s what lists do don’t they?

  23. chop360 chop360 says:

    You hit the nail right on the coffin, it would be hard to make a top 10 list but you pulled it off with style and finesse. I totally agree with Snyder and Aaron being at #1 and #2. Snyder and Aaron are two of my favorite writers right now. The only thing i might change is making Remender a little higher on the list, but that is just a minor change.

  24. It’s a good list and I agree with most of the choices. I would definitely take Aaron, Remender, and Kirkman off the list cause for my personal tastes they aren’t near the top ten. If I had a to make a list I would probably have it as:

    1) Scott Snyder
    2) Mark Waid
    3) Jeff Parker
    4) Jonathan Hickman
    5) (tie) Peter Tomasi/Kieron Gillen

  25. Natebot Natebot says:

    Glad Jeff Parker made the list, he’s one of the better writers at marvel and really deserves as much recognition as possible. His hulk book and thunderbolts are two of the best things marvel puts out.

  26. markish markish says:

    Kieron Gillen would be on my list. He wrote far more of my POTWs than anyone else this year… Granted they were all issues of JIM, but I really liked his Uncanny too.

    But all ten are deserving. I’d maybe argue with Azzarello because he didn’t put out a huge amount and Wonder Woman is excellent, but maybe not in my top ten..

    Then you have Brubaker, Roberson, Simone, Morrison, Spencer, Fraction (unless you really HATED FI), Slott, Rucka, etc… There are a whole lot of excellent writers putting out excellent comics at the moment. Good stuff.

  27. kennyg kennyg says:

    Congrats to Scott Snyder for topping this list, it was much deserved.

    I would have put Hickman higher. His work on FF and SHIELD is amazing – such ideas, such scale. And the Ultimates run is just as amazing.

    I would have put Azzarello lower, though. Not a hater, but others ranked below him did better work, in my opinion.

    One notable absence for me was Cullen Bunn. I’m loving The Sixth Gun, and I know he did some Marvel stuff too recently, but maybe his volume of work was not large enough. He also got kind of caught in the whole Fear Itself debacle, although his stuff was actually good!

  28. sitara119 sitara119 says:

    glad mignola made the list. i would’ve liked to have seen morrison and johns as well. but, thats ok. i’ll make my own list and put them on it. that should keep me happy for at least ten minutes or so

  29. kmob181 kmob181 says:

    I have 22 books on my pull list. 13 of them are written by just 6 of the writers on this list. Conclusion: Josh may share an E.T.type bond with my temporal lobe.

  30. Ruo21 Ruo21 says:

    You forgot about Matt Fraction.

  31. tripleneck tripleneck (@tripleneck) says:

    One name I don’t see on here is Ed Brubaker. I’d submit as evidence his pre-relaunch Cap, Cap & Bucky, and mostly Criminal: LOTI.

    These kind of lists are a matter of taste and that’s cool with me. A taste I’m trying to acquire is Jeff Parker on Thunderbolts. General consensus around here is that’s it’s awesome and so I’m buying it and I like it, but I feel like something hasn’t clicked in for me yet. People say it’s fun and I see the fun written on the page, but it doesn’t feel like transparent fun to me, like where I’m just having fun without thinking about it. I’m always trying to figure out who these characters are and what their powers are. I just don’t have a natural connection to these characters, I guess.

    I’ve read other books this past year where I had little knowledge of the characters and I had more fun. For instance, I really dug Cullen Bunn’s mini-arc on Superman/Batman: Sorcerer Kings. I didn’t know those supporting magical characters and yet it was made clear who they were and what they could do in the space of only a few issues. To me, that arc was just pure fun. I started reading Snyder’s American Vampire WWII miniseries cold with no previous knowledge of the main title and had a blast. I’m not into vampires and I still loved it. I didn’t know any of those characters or their background context before I started reading. Another title I started reading this past year is Savage Dragon because every issue is fun and looks great. I’ll admit the continuity is too long and complicated for me to figure out at this late date, but I just get the new issue and enjoy and figure a few more things out each time.

    So here I am not hating Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts, liking it ok, but still wondering what the password is on the book so I can have the awesome time everyone else is. Maybe I just missed the really great issues further back in his run that got everyone bonded to the title?

  32. LucasEwalt says:

    Rick Remender and Scott Snyder are my 1A and 1B in some fashion

  33. sqw3r says:

    No Joe Casey? Really? His best year since wildcats run.
    Butcher Baker, the Righteous Maker
    Vengeance
    Awesome start on Haunt
    Doc Bizzare M.D.
    5 or 6 issues of Godland.

  34. tomdpimp tomdpimp says:

    No Dan Slott? Spider-Island was the best event of the year and this has been the strongest year for Amazing since BND started.

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      This is justa guess, but I don’t think Josh reads Amazing Spider-man, and all the other writers on this list have had multiple successful books this year. While ASM double ships every month, it’s only one successful book.

  35. skydog skydog says:

    I think the list is great. some i read. some i don’t. It seems there’s a quality as well as quantity equasion to the rankings. That being the case, it makes perfect sense that Snyder tops it. For example, I like John Layman from Chew.
    Good author, consistent quality, but that’s his only book. Therefore, I wouldn’t expect to see him on the list, nor would I pretend to say that he should receive honourable mention. Another list for another time, perhaps.