Who Is the Most Important Name In Comics Today?

We toss around a lot of names in comics as superstars.  In the last year or so, things have shifted around, and the board's been shuffled. It leaves me wondering who is the biggest power player in comics right now.


Geoff Johns – Geoff is a top flight creator, and the man can sell almost any book, at the same time that he can actually make them very good.  I almost think there's no property he can't turn around if he gets it into his head to do so.  When he's in the zone and believes in a story, he'll make you believe.  I've seen it up close. It's kind of amazing.  He was given the title Chief Creative Officer for DC Comics, and in all this business about restructuring, moving offices, and all that, he looks like he was in on all the decisions.  Johns is tied to all the big upcoming film and TV projects, and if they hit it big, his star will rise higher.




Robert Kirkman – Kirkman is the odd man out in a way, but currently, there's no one doing more successful mainstream comics OUTSIDE of DC and Marvel.  He came up from out of nowhere, and now he's an Image partner.  A series based on the Walking Dead is about to premiere on AMC, the premiere place for original TV right now, and if you were at Comic-Con, that was everywhere.  He has absolute freedom, and can basically write his own ticket to do whatever he wants.





Joe Quesada – Joe took Marvel from the edge of ruin to a multi-media powerhouse.  He didn't do it alone, but he's the face and the voice of Marvel Comics today in the way Stan Lee was in the 1960's.  Quesada's been Editor-In-Chief of Marvel for a decade.  That's a very long time as far as these things go, and it doesn't seem like there's an end in sight.  We don't see a lot of what he does, but obviously, he's doing something right.






Brian Michael Bendis – You get the feeling that Bendis could do whatever he wanted to, but he chooses to keep writing, because he loves it.  Having listened to him for hours and hours on Word Balloon, he's a writer's writer.  He wants to make comics, and he wants to write screenplays, and that seems to be about it.  I don't think there's another writer in comics who has such incredible power to do almost anything he wants to do, and in a way, his power is the most pure, because he's using his success to do exactly what he wants.





Mark Millar – Ironically, in comics, motion pictures are where the real sway lies.  Right now, I can't think of anyone in comics who's had such success in the theaters.  Wanted made a ton of cash, with a sequel on the way.  Kick-Ass seemed like it wasn't going to succeed, but ultimately it did, and there's a sequel on the way.  Superior is on its way to being another big film.  Because of that, he can get anyone to take his meeting, in comics or Hollywood, and we know he's a hell of a salesman. 





Jim Lee – Put aside the jokes about not hitting his deadlines, and you've got a guy who has serious clout.  He sold Wildstorm to DC, and now he's a full on executive.  This is from a guy who was a fan favorite penciller.  Read some of the quotes he gave about the DC business over the past couple days, and you'll hear a guy who knows how to talk the talk of global media business.  He's dealing with DC's digital strategy, of which we've only seen the tip of the iceberg.  The future of DC Comics is largely in Jim Lee's hands, when you think about how all other media has gone digital.  Backing that us is Warner Bros., who are now leaning heavily on the publisher.  It all works in sequence. 




Diane Nelson – I don't know anything about Diane Nelson, other than since she showed up as president of DC Entertainment, we've seen the most significant change at DC Comics in most of our lifetimes.  She's was an executive heavily involved with the Harry Potter license at Warners, the enormous sums of money it generates to this day.  If she turns DC into the IP powerhouse it should be, she'll be pretty hard to beat.






Dan Buckley – Quesada is the creative head of Marvel, but Dan Buckley decides what they publish.  He is the publisher after all.  If you want to work in comics, chances are, your career heavily depends on what Buckley thinks of your work, and whether they can sell it or not.  Buckley mostly works behind the scenes, but I've been in rooms where he's present, and he's clearly a big time heavyweight.  Just because he doesn't flaunt it, that doesn't mean he doesn't have it.  That's real power.





What's your call?  Who's the the biggst gorilla in the room?  We've got only a couple artists, but they've both taken big chairs, and mostly left pencils behind.  The writers have the possibility of being king, but then again, the suits are making decisions.  What say you?



  1. I’d say right now it’s Johns and Lee – they’re the ones who A) know the characters that WB owns, and B) have the ear of the big suits who report to the bigger suits who have the money to make the movies and the TV shows and the video games.

    I think, with Green Lantern set to come out next year, WB/DC are where Marvel was just prior to Iron Man. You’ve got your two big franchises crossing over into just about all mediums of entertainment (Marvel – Spider-Man and X-Men; DC – Batman and Superman) and are going with your next tier of characters to try and reach that outside comics entertainment money. Had Iron Man tanked, it’s pretty likely there wouldn’t be Thor, Captain America and Avengers movies. Same side of that coin – if GL is a hit, I think you’ll eventually see that JLA movie and Flash and Wonder Woman and so on. And the creators are guiding those character who may (will?) take that Iron Man leap in the coming years. And those creators, unlike Marvel at this poiint, have the attention of the people who matter to the extent they’re writing actual Hollywood treatments and scripts.

    Or it’s Mark Millar, because he can make siblings procreate and have female reproductive organs collapse.

    And where did that picture of Buckley come from? Isn’t he harder to photograph than a jackalope?

  2. I’d say Geoff Johns followed closely by Bendis. Fans will follow these two no matter what book they’re on and I don’t think anyone has the love for their companies that these guys have. If Marvel and DC ever did another crossover it would be a dream for these two to collaborate.

  3. If we are talking influence, I’d say Johns for DC, Bendis for Marvel and Kirkman for the OTHER.

    To pick one among the three would betray a bias I don’t have.

  4. The @Preacher makes a good point.  Considering how small the market is nowadays, the important names in comics that comics needs to continue to please is its current and hopefully future readers.  Obvious, of course, but needs to be said.

    Much as people are frowning at his work as of late, Jeph Loeb is an important name as well with his recent promotion to managing Marvel’s head of television.  Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, and whatever else comes down the pipeline will go a long way in proving he can get Marvel back to its TV dominance like it did in the 90’s.


  5. Creatively speaking, it’s gotta be Johns. It’s been the tastemaker supreme for a few years now. Now he’s chief creative officer or whatever, but his influence really goes way beyond that: even titles he hasn’t had anything to do with seem to have replicated some of the same "vibe" that he’s tapped into for a while now. You can say there’s positives and negatives to his influence–because things resembling nostalgia porn are kinda backward looking–but you can’t deny the influence.

    That said, guys like Joe Q and Buckley have far more influence and power, it’s just that you can’t see it so clearly.

    And Bendis? He’s writing fewer titles and they aren’t selling as well. I definitely don’t get the sense that he can write whatever he wants to, because his range is pretty limited, in my opinion. And I don’t think he’s a "writer’s writer" at all; none of the big name writers I respect have ever mentioned liking Bendis. I think Morrison might have said "I’m reading Bendis’s Avengers" once in some interview, but that’s it. He’s a fanboy’s writer (and maybe a few fanboys happen to be writers). That’s not to insult Bendis, because I’m quite enjoying his Avengers at the moment, but I definitely don’t think his writing influence holds a candle to Johns’ right now, and what Bendis has been doing lately isn’t nearly as critically lauded as his work from 5-10 years ago.

  6. Great article. I knew the names, but it was really helpful to see the blurbs about them. I didn’t know Kirkman was an Image partner. 

    I’d say its Johns hands down. He’s a writer that basically controls the entire DC Universe and has the fate of the entire comics division in his hands. We were having a convo about him at the shop the other day saying how its only a matter of time before we (comics fans) all turn on Johns (especially if things like BD turn out bad) and using terms like "Dictator" to describe his direction for the DCU because of all the power he yields. 

  7. For the amount of work he puts out and the consistent level of quality – not forgetting the many side projects he has filling up his pockets: Geoff Johns, hands down.

  8. I think that up to now it’s Quesada, but it feels like Johns or Lee could surpass him. Lee has been quietly working away in the background for the last couple of years and we’re only starting to see the results of what he’s up to now.

  9. Bendis writes: Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers, New Avengers, Ulimate Enemy/Mystery, Scarlett, Powers

    That is about the upper limit of comic book writers’ monthly loads.

    So you let your respect for a writer weigh on whether cats like Morrison respect another writer?

    Alan Moore doesn’t read any of these fools.

  10. Ron Richards.

  11. Whoever runs Diamond because they control delivery.

  12. @JumpingJupiter I don’t know… I think Conor Kilpatrick may surpass Ron very soon.

  13. I’m going to go with all of the above on the DC side of things simply for the buzz they have and can generate, Also it seems like WB is finally getting its ducks in a row to leverage more than just The big names. I think Kirkman would follow closely because as was pointed out he is largely writing his own ticket. But the Marvel Team is the ones to watch out for in the future if they can bring all their properties back in house with Disney backing they can and visibly seem to actively trying to be what DC and WB hasn’t been. I really think that the House of Ideas can do great things with the mouse backing it.

  14. Biggest problem with this industry. Half of these big names were big names also a decade ago.

  15. Christopher Nolan  😛

  16. Quesada was the catalyst for the current state of the industry. Only one who comes close is Jim Lee, not for what he is now, but for what he did with the Image founders.

  17. @froggulper – I find it interesting that you laud Johns over Bendis creatively, but say that Bendis lacks range. Even if Bendis can only write 2 genres, crime and superheroes, that’s one more than Johns. Wanna compare their creator owned work? What’s that, Johns doesn’t have any? Hmm.

  18. Its definitly a toss up between Johns and Kirkman, because if you break it down they’ve both proven that good comics can be made when the chips are stacked against them.

    Johns has made a career out of making "low tier" charecters into some of the most compelling in the industry. twenty years ago if you had said Green Lantern and The Flash were some of the highest selling comics today people would laugh in your face. Not to mention truly game changeing events like Blackest Night and you’ve got a guy who is really innovating on mainstream super hero comics.

    Now with Kirkman you have the exact same skill set but with creator owned comics. Kirkman’s books call back to the early days of Image where Spawn sold like gangbusters simply because it was diffrent. And now with the launch of his own imprint who knows what kind of creator owned comics we could eventually be seeing.

  19. where is Grant Morrison?

  20. @froggulper Johns hasn’t created anything original, and his endings all get about as sappy as an episode of Super Friends. That’s what I call limited.

  21. Did anyone take the cheap shot that Jim Lee has the greatest power to mass ratio yet??

  22. I would say Geoff Johns, I think DC wouldn’t matter if he wasn’t there to breath some life into it.

  23. Kirkman.  And I say that as someone who has never read an issue of Walking Dead or Invincible.  The reason why is that while DC and Marvel are moving to becoming more rounded entertainment hubs, Kirkman has re-invented the DIY (Do It Yourself) style for the twenty-first century.  His day and date digital release is just the latest example of this.  As the comics market continues to shrink and its major companies focus elsewhere Kirkman’s idea of a comic and how to make it really symbolizes the new zeitgeist – high quality, high thought, independent, accessible – which is so important to what has essentially become a niche market.

  24. Mr. Kirkman seems to be one of the few who are actually pushing boundaries.  I don’t know if that makes him the most important, but it certainly makes him the most interesting (to me personally).  He’s also very public with his ideas/methods and seems to be an honest, likable, funny guy.  The dude has a huge beard, gives bear hugs, lives in the backwoods of Kentucky with his piles of cash, and writes two of the most interesting and relevant comics on the stands. I’m interested.

  25. If not for Geoff Johns, DC Would have a LOT of trouble keeping the DCU together as a continuity correct cohesive whole…..

    He’ll be publisher with 15 years.

  26. @Preacher – Agreed.

  27. Kirkman, if not right at this moment then soon to be.

  28. Jim McCann, but  no one knows it, includin him.

  29. Depends on what you define as importance. Nelson is BY FAR the most POWERFUL person on that list, but she’s also going to have the least impact on the comics (print) side of the equation among that group, at least if things go according to plan with DC’s reorganization.



  30. I think it is both Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison actually.

    Both of those men help change DC to what it is today. Johns made Flash, Green Lantern, and other secondary characters become the hits they are today. I bet ya WB would not even consider making a Flash or Green Lantern film if it wasn’t for Johns. As for Morrison; he helped create comics in the abstract way for DC. Even today his work on Batman is stuff you would probably never see before. I very much doubt anyone else could come up with the thread of: RIP-Final Crisis-Return of Bruce Wayne to tell an epic story. 

  31. If Grant Morrison were to walk away from DC Comics right now, they’d weather it. If Geoff Johns left, it would be disastrous. I believe that completely, and it’s why Morrison isn’t on the list.

  32. I love how no one thinks its Mark Millar.  "Do YOU think its Mark Millar JOSH?" had me laughing my ass off.  Well, at least you made the list Mark, even if ya aint gonna win.

  33. Right now it is Robert Kirkman.To do what he’s doing outside of the Marvel and DC Universes is outstanding.Think about the hottest comics and projects related to them and his name would be prevalent.

  34. @josh: Well we’ll see when Morrison only has the one Batman book coming out. Cause if Batman and Robin doesn’t do well then we know why. But then again I have big faith in Tomasi and Gleason so I don’t see that happening.

    Also, a lot of Morrison’s ideas (since 52) have been used heavily in a lot of DC stories. So I think he deserves a bit more recognition then that. 

  35. This question just makes me think that there’s one insignificant guy, like a night watchman, without whom the comics industry would just fall apart somehow and he doesn’t even know it.

  36. I’ll throw my lot in with Kirkman as well. He’s proven he CAN play with the big boys when he wants to, but more importantly, he’s shown that independent (and non-superhero) comics can be wildly successful if done well. Isn’t that more important than being the current "it boy/girl" for one of the big two? Sure, Joe Q, Johns, Lee and Bendis have been huge to the recent successes of their companies, but can we honestly say there wouldn’t be Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Avengers titles on the stands and movies in theaters if it weren’t for them? There WOULD BE no Walking Dead comics or TV show without Kirkman. Neither would there be Invincible, Astounding Wolf-Man, or Sea Bear vs. Grizzly Shark! Outside of possibly Y:The Last Man, I don’t know that there has been a single book that has pushed the boundaries of how successful non-superhero comics can be the way The Walking Dead has. I think when we look back on the 2000s as a decade and how the industry changed, the impact made by Kirkman will be more significant than any of the others on this list.

  37. I say Kirkman and if not right now, then right after halloween for sure. I think Walking Dead will be a hit with the mainstream and bring him more attention. I know my local shop is selling out of Walking Dead collections left and right and that means people are interested in this show.  

  38. Kirkman.

    Has the body of work (pun intended), has the chops, has had superb success, has more succss coming his way, has proven a visionary on where to go next and not limiting himself as just a comics writer. He is, a writer above all else and is managing his biz (his own franchise) very well. And BKV close behind. And Rob is a likable fella, that does take you a wee bit farther. And I like him! In fact, I wanna get a bear hug from him. That’s not gay. much less than a double dutch rudder.

  39. Defenitly Joe Q or Buckley. Thisguys have the real control over what gets publish on marvel. Jim lee a Close 3º, but not so big as those two.

  40. Most important is probably Joe Q since he runs Marvel.  However, Kirkman is definitely the one I respect the most.

  41. The biggest name in comics is Lee. STAN LEE!

  42. People will remember Johns and Bendis’ runs on the big characters, but they’ll leave and the someone else will take over.  I really believe the creator owned stuff has more impact (for the top few creator owned books, of course) so I think Kirkman and Millar will ultimately be the biggest.

    Also, Millar’s stuff on the mainstream characters, shorter runs, will ultimately be more accessable.  Bendis’ Avengers run is great, but it will ultimately be like 200 issues and seem daunting.  The Ultimates 1 and 2 are going to be more widely read for longer, I’m willing to bet. 

  43. The question is "Who Is the Most Important Name in Comics Today?"

    Now, what that means is sort of up to you, and it feels like a lot of people are applying the person who they feel is their favorite.

    But what I was really thinking was, who is the person who most affects, both directly, and indirectly the comics that you end up holding in your hands on the grandest scale?

  44. Well, Kirkman is my favorite writer, and as of now I only buy Image books. John Layman said Kirkman inspired him to do Chew, and he started a major leap forward for Image that is bringing all these great new series, so Kirkman is the most important name of the comics I read.

  45. I think the most important name in all of comics would have to be Quesada. He runs marvel, Marvel has the majority of the share of comics sales. If Image went brankrupt and vanished, it wouldn’t really be that big of a deal to the industry as a whole. Sure, some great comics would be gone and a few creators wouldn’t have jobs, but comics as a whole would be OK. If Marvel collapsed and went away, Diamond would go away, and comics would be gone from your local shop until a new way to get them there was worked out. technically, the same thing would happen if DC went away, but as Marvel sells more than Dc by a slim margin, I’m putting Marvel at top. 


    Also, I know I’m going to sound like an idiot (excuse the phrase) fanboy here, but Diane Nelson is kind of hot. And not just because she compares so favorably to pictures of Bendis. OHHHHHH SNAP! 

  46. Important implies long lasting, which is the direction I was taking.  I’m not going to pretend to know what the executives are actually doing, so I stuck to the creative side.  Bendis seems important now, but a couple years after he leave Avengers, his run will be not have much of an impact on what is current.  Look at how different Daredevil is from when he left a few years ago.

    Kick Ass, Walking Dead, Invincible, etc, will be remembered and read and will always be driven by their creators, which makes them more important, in my opinion.  Bendis has some creator owned stuff, but he’ll be remembered much more for Avengers.

  47. @Josh. That person would be Stan Lee. I can think of no other person who has been more influential in affecting the comics that I end up holding in my hands today. I suppose it’s more indirectly than directly at this point in his career, but on name power alone, even today, there is no bigger name than Stan Lee.

  48. Going with Johns and Kirkman for the reasons Josh cited in the article. Kirkman has cache that extends beyond the regular comic reading community, and that’s important in terms of expanding the overall readership. And he’s only going to get more influential in the years to come. 

  49. @Sircox How is that a problem? Because there’s stability, or because you don’t like them?

  50. the names are Ron, Conner and Josh, not necessarily in that order.  

    y’all are overthinking this 


  52. It’s finally happened. You’ve pushed him too far. I hope you’re satisfied.

  53. My heart says Kirkman, my brain says Nelson.

  54. Paul Jenkins.  Fluent in grief.

  55. Hulk is strongest one there is.

  56. @josh: No offense but the way you just clarified this even further I think Morrison should be considered even more so.

    Again Morrison help make DC just the way it is the same way Johns did. Although Johns took another step by going into management. But look at all of the storylines Morrison help create with 52, his Batman work, Superman, Final Crisis; even know there are (supposedly) plot threads being expanded for his ‘Multiversity’ project.

  57. @akamuu lol. ass.

  58. Considering the question is Most Influential Name in "COMICS".  Its gotta be Joe Q.  He is the final creative say for the marketshare leader in the industry.  That makes him the most influential.  Buckley just makes sure that the product that Joe Q gives final approval makes it to the us as consumers. We want it because of the quality of the product not how it arrives at its final destination.

  59. Well. here’s my uninformed option … 

  60. Deadpool of course!

  61. In seeing Josh’s explanation of who most influences the comics that get in our hands today, I would have to say Johns. He is the creative driver behind the majority of the DCU these days, and there’s no functional equivalent at Marvel (or they would get my vote).


  62. I’d say Bendis is the functional equivalent. He has controlled the center of the Marvel universe for a good many years by helming the Avengers books and the big events.

  63. @scorpion fer shizzle

  64. Kirkman!  The comic book industry as a whole benefits greatly from the ideas and practices that Kirkman stands behind.  

    @josh-regarding your notion of who is affecting what comics get into readers’ hands:  unfortunately, in that respect(at least on the grandest scale of the industry as a whole) I think that right now Kirkman might not be that person, but if not, he definitely needs to be. 

  65. I’d like to say Johns or Kirkman, they’re great, but when all is said and done, the people with the most clout are the suits. So I’m say Buckley closely followed by Nelson.




    (although i strongly suspect the kirkman dna would eventually overwhelm the host, with slide shows on comic book sales and all powerful bear hugs)